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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

CHRISMAS DAY BOMBINGS, JONATHAN MEETS SULTAN

Christmas Day bombings: Jonathan meets Sultan

On December 27, 2011 · In News
| 12:46 pm
ABUJA (AFP) – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met the country’s main Muslim spiritual leader Tuesday after Christmas Day attacks blamed on Islamists that killed 40, including worshippers as they left church.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, made no comment as he entered Jonathan’s official residence on Tuesday afternoon.
Muslim leaders have come under pressure to take a more active role in seeking to stop attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the Christmas violence.
Sympatisers at the Suleja blast scene on Christmas Day.
The sultan’s Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs issued a statement condemning the attacks.
“Security agencies must fish out the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and make them face the wrath of the law, regardless of their status, so as to serve as deterrent to others,” the statement said.
The council added that authorities “also must take proactive measures to nip in the bud the re-occurrence of such dastardly acts before they happen in order to create a sense of security and safety in the citizenry.”
Nigeria has seen scores of attacks claimed by Boko Haram, but some analysts said the Christmas bombings marked a dangerous escalation in a country divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
The deadliest of the Christmas violence was a bomb attack at a Roman Catholic church outside the capital Abuja as worshippers were leaving a mass, with at least 35 killed there.
Jonathan, a Christian from the south, has faced major opposition in the north of Africa’s most populous nation

Friday, 23 December 2011

PDP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE OF BAYELSA STATE HAS AN IMPRESSIVE WORK EXPERIENCE & SERVICE. HE IS A YOUNG AND DYNAMIC PERSONALITY. HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO MARKET A PROGRESSIVE, PEOPLE-ORIENTED DEV. AGENDA.

.
He joined the Nigerian Police Force, in 1986;
he gained admission into Rivers State
University and Technology, Port Harcourt to
read Law from where he graduated with LL.B
(HONS) in 1992. He then proceeded in 1993,
to earn his Bachelors in Law School, Lagos
whereupon he was called to the Nigerian Bar
the same year.
Upon his graduation from University in 1993,
Hon. Dickson was appointed a Cadet Assistant
Superintended of Police in 1994 hence he
proceeded to Nigerian Police Academy Kano
for Officer training. He served in the Nigeria
Police Force for almost a decade before he
voluntarily withdrew his service and began
his practice the Profession of law.
As a lawyer he worked with SERENA DAVID
DOKUBO & CO holding the position of
Associate Solicitor from 1994 to 1995 and
moved to ALUKO & OYEBODE, a prominent Law
firm in Lagos also as an Associate Solicitor in
1995 to 1996 after which he founded the
firm of SERIAKE DICKSON & CO in Port Harcourt
and later Yenagoa and became its Managing
Solicitor from 1996 to 2006.
Between 1996 and 2005, he also served
variously as pioneer Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Yenagoa from
1996-1998, State Chairman, Alliance for
Democracy ( AD) 1998 to 2000, National Legal
Adviser, Alliance for Democracy (AD) 2000 to
2002, National Legal Adviser of the foremost
Pan-Ijaw Socio-Cultural Body, the Ijaw
National Congress (INC) 2001 to 2003. He was
the founding secretary of thr Great Committee
of Friends (The Green Movement). He was also
a member of National Executive Committee
(NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)
representing Bayelsa state. Hon. Dickson is a
member of various international bodies.
In all these offices and responsibilities, he
discharged his duties to the best of his
abilities and in most cases surpassed the
expectation of many. In 2006 Hon. Dickson
was sworn in as the Commissioner for Justice
and Attorney General in Bayelsa state, a
position he held until 2007 when he
contested and won the House of
Representatives seat for Ekeremor/Sagbama
Federal Constituency, a position he was re-
elected to in 2011
He became Chairman of the Justice Committee
at between 2007 and 2011, and chaired
several ad-hoc committees and sponsored
and worked on several bills, some of which
have become acts of the National Assembly.
Between 2007 to date, he has shown
admirable leadership qualities and served the
people of his Ekeremor/Sagbama Federal
constituency, Bayelsa state and the nation at
large, diligently with honor, loyalty and
dedication to duty.


WHAT AN INTIMIDATING CREDENTIALS! NO
DOUBT THAT HON. SERIAKE DICKSON SHOWN
THE WORLD THAT HE IS THE RIGHT & THE BEST
PERSON TO PILOT THE AFFAIRS OF BAYELSA
STATE COME 2012. HE KNOWS THAT WHEN ONE
BREAKS GOALS INTO INCREMENTS & START
CONTROLLING/MANAGING TIME & RESOURCES
IN A JUDICIOUS MANNER, GOOD THINGS BEGIN
TO HAPPEN. HE KNOWS THAT WITH DISCIPLINE,
MEN HAVE THE FREEDOM TO GIVE THEIR BEST
PERFORMANCE. HON. SERIAKE DICKSON IS
ACQUAINTED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT
WHEN A LEADER IS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND
WITH A BASE OF MORAL, ETHICAL VALUES TO
WORK FROM, A GOALS' PROGRAM TO FOCUS ON,
& THE OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK OF
AUTOMATICALLY SEEKING THE SOLUTIONS TO
SOCIETAL PROBLEMS WITH THE EXPECTANCY OF
FINDING THOSE SOLUTIONS, HE FREES THE
CREATIVE RIGHT BRAIN TO DO EXACTLY THAT.
THIS VIRTUOUS MAN, HON. SERIAKE DICKSON, IS
UNDOUBTEDLY THE MAN THAT BAYELSANS &
INDEED BAYELSA STATE NEEDS AFTER 5YEARS OF
TOTAL DECEIT BY GOV. SYLVA ADMINISTRATION.
LET'S VOTE HON. SERIAKE DICKSON FOR
GOVERNOR OF BAYELSA STATE COME FEBRUARY
2012.
ONE OF THE REASONS TIMIPRE SYLVA LOST THE PDP TICKET

ARTICLE 21 OF THE PDP CONSTITUTION prohibits members of the Party from taking it to court without exhausting internal mechanisms for redress. The same ARTICLE 21, gives the Party Power to discipline any erring member who commits any breach of its constitution – that is any member who says or does anything likely to bring the party into disrepute, hatred or contempt. Sylva has ridiculed the Party several times.

Sadly, Gov. Timipre Sylva has taken the matter to court. On one occasion, Timipre Sylva accused the party of killing democracy. At a lecture making the 15th anniversary of Bayelsa State, Governor Sylva said NIGERIA IS A DISASTER (The Hard Truth, October 6-12 front page). How could a serving PDP Governor Lampoon a PDP led administration, one accuse the ruling party of lacking internal democracy. This is why the interference of the PDP
it Governors is not constitutional but prejudicial to the course of justice. Governor Timipre Sylva took the PDP and INEC to Court. It is now time for both parties to abide by the rule of law. Any PDP Governor who makes any public statement about a matter that is already in court should either be ignored or sanctioned. Let us allow the Law Court to explore the full gamut of the law.

Sylva’s is an incurably bad case because there were so many extra-judicial killings and cult-wars which he sponsored. Add this to the billions of Naira he has stolen and the private businesses he finances with Bayelsa money, his supporters should be negotiating how many years he will spend in jail after leaving office.

BAYELSANS WANT TIMIPRE SYLVA TO ACCOUNT FOR THEIR RESOURCES!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The symbolism of Jonathan’s bow and subsidy removal

President Goodluck Jonathan’s remarkable action in laying his 2012 budget proposals on the table of the House of Representatives and making a bow to the legislators was a milestone. It was the first time that a President would lay his spending plans to the legislators and at the same time make a bow to the legislators.
Past Presidents had after finishing the budget address handed over the budget document or speech to the Senate President sitting on the dais.
None had stepped down to lay the budget document on the table of the House or to make a bow. President Jonathan after laying the budget on the table bowed twice to the lawmakers.
The only other time a President bowed to the legislators was on January 25, 2007 when President Olusegun Obasanjo presented the provisional report of the 2006 census to the two chambers.
President Jonathan laying the Budget Proposal before the National Assembly. Behind him is the Special Adviser on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Joy Emodi.
President Obasanjo’s action then was to a certain degree compelled as he was forced to lay the census report based on the provisions of the constitution.
The significance of yesterday’s development it was being suggested last night could be a proactive move by the presidency to court the legislature ahead of the promising herculean battle to convince the National Assembly to go along with him in the controversial plot to remove subsidy from the prices of petroleum products.
Remarkably, the President did not make any mention of the controversial plan yesterday being that both chambers have formally rejected the move.
Following the budget address the President was hosted to a cocktail in the National Assembly basement. It was the first time a President would have eaten in the National Assembly premises.
Yesterday’s action underlined the yet cordial relationship that has been underpinned by the networking of his legislative aides headed by Senator Joy Emodi, the Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters.
Supporting the President’s entreaty for cordiality yesterday was his promise of more collaboration ahead of the issue of subsidy removal.
As he concluded his address yesterday and with a view to the battles ahead, the President said: “As we collectively resolve to create a brighter and enduring future for all Nigerians – a future of hope and prosperity not lack, fear or hatred, we must prepare to overcome any adversity that may arise.
Accordingly, we must all be determined and committed to follow through with the difficult but balanced choices that we make in piloting the affairs of this great nation.”

Bayelsa: Any Sylva lining for Timipire?, SYLVA IS GOING DAWN

The judicial action instituted by Governor Timipire Sylva to retrieve a ticket he once held is drawing to a close. Given the level of high level intrigues that outmaneuvered the Governor, could there be a silver lining in stock for him?
These are undeniably edgy days for Governor Timipire Sylva of Bayelsa State and his associates. A Governor that could well have been sitting comfortably on a winning wagon is today hanging perniciously for political survival.
Last Monday the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja further stretched the nerves of the Sylva camp with its decision to reserve judgment on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP against the ruling of a Federal High Court that had earlier given a breather to the Sylva camp.
The decision puts both Governor Sylva and his traducers in the local chapter of the party and also at the national level on a waiting game to determine the legitimacy of the PDP’s nomination of Rep. Serikae Dickson as the party’s gubernatorial candidate ahead of the rescheduled February election.
Besides the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the Bayelsa political combatants are also in anxiety over another pending judgment from the Supreme Court on the tenure extension case involving five Governors and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The Supreme Court after hearing from parties to the case and learned friends of the court had equally reserved judgment on the case.
The developments in Bayelsa follow the determined efforts of opponents of the Governor to bar him from a second term in office.
That the opponents of the Governor comprised mostly of associates of President Goodluck Jonathan who is an indigene of the state lent credence to speculations that the hands of the President were deeply involved in the issue.
Remarkably, till now the presidency has not openly tilted towards any of the two camps in the divide between Governor Sylva and his opponents.
Given the silence of the presidency on the issue it is as such remarkable that all sides in the dispute are now waiting on the courts on the way to go.
Just days after the PDP barred the Governor from participating in the November primaries the Governor won a judicial victory when an Abuja high court ordered the party to suspend the gubernatorial primary election it conducted in Bayelsa state on November 16, pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice that was entered before it by the incumbent governor of the state.
In giving the ex-parte injunction, Justice Gabriel Kolawole specifically warned that, “in the event, perhaps, unlikely that the 2nd defendant (PDP) in defiance of these orders, take steps which may be prejudicial, perhaps subversive of these orders and of these proceedings before the return day which I have fixed at 22/11/2011.
“This court will without much ado, proceed to making such necessary orders to nullify such steps or decisions taken once they are served with the processes and/or orders made herein in order to uphold and protect the sanctity of the court’s processes and to vindicate the integrity of the court as the established constitutional arbiter between the state and the citizens and between the citizens inter se.”
The PDP, however, feigned ignorance of the order and for some days even though the order was pasted on its premises refused to acknowledge it until it was convenient for the party to contest it.
Governor Sylva’s case is built on the assumption that having won the earlier primaries conducted in January before the postponement of the election that there was no sufficient ground to have disqualified him in the subsequent primaries that took place last November.
After stonewalling for some time the party eventually took its case to the Court of Appeal, a move that inevitably compelled Justice Kolawole to on November 22 stay proceedings on the original prayers sought by the Governor.
When the case resumed last Monday at the Court of Appeal the PDP counsel in a bid to justify the party’s position submitted that Governor Sylva breached the party’s constitution which requires members having dispute with the party to seek internal mechanisms of resolving the issue.
But given the array of opponents and insinuations on the personalities pitched against the Governor, some were to ask, “to whom should the Governor take his case?”
The PDP’s counsel, Chief Olusola Oke also cited section 87 of the Electoral Act which bars the courts from interfering or stopping the conduct of a party primary.
Pleading that it was not given the opportunity to respond to the issues brought before Justice Kolawole, the party as such pleaded with the Court of Appeal to discharge the injunction given by the lower courts that would have otherwise forced its hands to welcome Sylva.
Governor Sylva who is represented by Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN on his part argued that the High Cout was sufficiently fit to hear and give the order it gave. Chief Fagbemi cited section 6(6), 251 and 252 of the 1999 constitution relating to the powers of the courts.
He also drew the attention of the court to what some have interpreted as the apparent determination of the PDP to dilly-dally on the case in a way to frustrate his client.
The Governor’s political advisers are convinced that irrespective of the delay that the Governor could be returned to power in the same way Mr. Rotimi Amaechi was returned as Governor of Rivers State if he is recognized as the authentic holder of the PDP gubernatorial ticket.
After listening to all the parties the 5-man panel of justices presided by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, reserved judgment on the case indefinitely, saying the date would be communicated to all the parties.
With all sides to the dispute now waiting anxiously for the judgment the people of Bayelsa are as such at the cross roads on the way to go. Even more is the Governor Sylva whose hope for a silver-lining is now tied to the pronunciations of the courts.

PRESIDENT JONATHAN MEETS WITH STUDENT LEADERS ON DEREGULATION



President Goodluck Jonathan met with a broad section of student leaders under the auspices of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Tuesday and sought their support for the ongoing programme by his administration to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil industry.

The President who was accompanied by the Vice-President, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Ministers, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe explained that the future of Nigeria will depend on the difficult decisions we make today in growing the economy to create jobs and prosperity for young Nigerians.

The President stated that presently the country runs an annual budget of 26% capital expenditure and 74% recurrent.

He said apart from the fact that this lopsided expenditure pattern cannot meet the economic aspiration of Nigerians, even the 26% capital budget is borrowed annually because of the huge budget deficit government is compelled to implement.

The President told the student leaders that the situation in which Nigeria has to borrow to carry out capital projects as well as part of its recurrent expenses was an obvious road to disaster.

He said in the midst of all these difficulties staring the country in the face, the country has continued to bear a huge subsidy burden of N1.3 Trillion on fuel consumption.

He noted that the situation was so precarious that in the first 8 months of this year alone, government was forced to dole out N1.3 Trillion in payment to offset cost of subsidy to fuel importers.

He said currently, Nigeria which is in desperate need to rehabilitate its infrastructure in all sectors is compelled to spend almost One-Third of its annual budget on fuel subsidy.

President Jonathan explained that if this continues, in 2 to 3 years, the economy will crash.

He said in the past, every government avoided taking the difficult decision on this matter and instead resorted to borrowing to carry out government transactions thereby piling up huge domestic debts that today threaten the future of young Nigerians and future generations.

The President said having carefully considered this dangerous trend in the economy, he was left with no option than to tell Nigerians the truth of where we are in and to take the difficult but unavoidable decisions that will halt the obvious drift into crisis.

He said as President, he also has the option of playing nice by running to the banks to float bonds and borrow more money, thereby increasing the nation’s already unacceptable domestic debt level.

He said this option will be extremely selfish on his part and insensitive to the well-being and aspirations of present and future generations of Nigerians.

He said his administration has therefore opted for a full-scale deregulation of the downstream sector of the economy which will help lift government stranglehold and open the sector to investors who have been waiting at the gate for years for government to open up the sector.

He disclosed that presently 20 licences have been issued out to investors to build private refineries in order to refine enough products for domestic consumption and export, but that none has been able to take off because of government price control mechanism on fuel.

He said like we witnessed in the case of the telecoms revolution in the last 10 years, young Nigerians have no reason to be afraid of a deregulated downstream sector of the oil industry which will create jobs for hundreds of thousands of our school leavers.

The President pledged to adopt new measures and solutions in managing the economy in order to attract huge inflow of private resources to promote economic growth and wealth creation.

The President told the student leaders led by the current national leadership of NANS that as President, he would do everything in his powers to hand over a country future generations will be proud of.

Earlier, the Minister of Finance and Chairperson of the Economic Management Implementation Team, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had briefed the student leaders in statistical terms about the danger signals in the economy which needed urgent measures to address.

She said the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry was only one of these measures, as government was also taking other measures to address issues of leakages in the economy and aggressive strategy to earn more from the maritime and other sectors of the economy.

She said presently, Nigeria offers the cheapest fuel in West Africa and one of the cheapest in the world including among many oil producing nations.

She showed the students statistics of fuel prices in several countries of the world, which showed clearly that even after deregulation, fuel prices in Nigeria will be among the cheapest in the world.

The Minister explained that the reason why in some countries prices were high after deregulation of their downstream sector was because most countries levy tax on fuel and that in order to keep prices at reasonable levels after deregulation, government has decided not to levy tax on fuel.

She further stated that the President had given the go ahead to deal with all issues of leakages in the economy against which measures are currently being taken.

The Vice-President, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo in his presentation, disclosed measures mapped out by government to reinvest proceeds that will accrue from deregulation in critical infrastructure, and in welfare programmes for Nigerians.

In their response, the student leaders welcomed the dialogue and urged Mr. President to do something about the ASUU strike and to increase investment in education.

The students said they were worried about increasing reports of corruption and urged the President to take strong measures against anyone involved in the abuse of public trust.

They also said although students have their differences with government, they will not allow anyone to influence their decisions and actions as far as the critical issues facing the future of the nation were concerned.

The President pledged to continue the dialogue with ASUU to resolve the ongoing dispute between the government and university teachers.

He said government has made education one of its key priorities and was investing heavily to renew infrastructure in higher institutions as well as opening up new opportunities for youths through the establishment of nine new universities.

The overall objective of his administration, he said, was to restore high quality and discipline to the Nigerian education system. The President appreciated the level of articulation and maturity exhibited by student leaders during the dialogue.

The student leaders said part of the reasons why Nigerians were critical of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry was the issue of lack of trust because of failure of governments to deliver on promises in the past.

They said as young Nigerians, they were interested in the way the economy was run and praised the President’s promise not to pile up debts for future generations.

They called on the President to allocate more resources to the welfare of students through the provision of potable water and facilities in higher institutions.

They pledged to continue consultations with their colleagues on the issues raised by the President

kidnapped Italian freed

YENAGOA (AFP) – An Italian construction worker kidnapped in Nigeria’s main oil region has been freed after being held for a day and following a ransom demand of more than $700,000, officials said Thursday.
“He was released on the 10th of December,” said police spokesman Eguavoen Emokpae. A secret police official said a more than $700,000 ransom had been demanded for the Italian involved in a road construction project, adding four people had been arrested over the kidnapping.
It was not clear whether any ransom had been paid.

Jonathan budgets N250bn for Niger Delta agency President Goodluck Jonathan

Seventeen days to end of the year, President Jonathan yesterday asked the House of Representatives to approve N249.5 billion as the 2011 budget for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

This is coming a week after the National Assembly approved the president’s virement requests in which the Ministry of Niger Delta got additional N10 billion to spend during the fiscal year.

Earlier in the year, the Federal Government published lists of N883 billion contracts approved from March to August, out of which projects sited in the Niger Delta gulped a total of N760 billion. NDDC projects during that period were valued at N23.7 billion.

In a letter to Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, dated December 12, President Jonathan said the 2011 NDDC budget had an increase of 4.64 per cent over the N240.58 billion approved for the commission in 2010.

House Leader Mulikat Akande-Adeola (PDP, Oyo), who moved motion for the debate on the general principles of the budget, said N46.7 billion of the total amount was coming from allocation to the NDDC in the 2011 Federal budget, N95.4 billion as revenue brought forward, N109 billion as contributions from oil companies and N525 million from the commission’s internally generated revenue.

Akande-Adeola said capital expenditure would gulp N232.1 billion translating to 70 per cent of the budget, N7 billion would be spent on recurrent costs, N9.4 billion as personnel cost, while N877 million would go for non-capital projects.

The House leader said the budget presentation was delayed because of wrangling between management and board of the NDDC, and the non-availability of the cumulative three per cent contribution by major oil firms until recently.

“Better done late than never,” she added.

Before the debate began, Adeola-Akande sought the leave of the House to have some relevant rules suspended in order to take the debate immediately

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Jonathan, Sylva Battle In Bayelsa guber election

The battle for the control of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Coucnil area of Bayelsa State between loyalsist of President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Timipre Sylva yesterday deepened with the resolution of the members of the Legislative arm of the arm of the council to empower the Vice Chairman, Hon. Felix Bony-Ayah as the Acting Chairman of the Council area of the State.

Also the Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state also announced the suspension of the Chairman of the Party at the Local Government, Ben Foreman for alleged anti-party activity and threats against loyal party supporters in the council area.

The resolution of the legislative arm of the Council was taken following the invocation of the Section 45 sub sec 2 of the Constitution over the long absence of the Council Chairman, Chief Tiwe Orunimighe from office and his refusal to refusal to appear before a 7-man Disciplinary Committee set up by the Local Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The members of the legislative arm said though every efforts have been made to confirm the whereabouts of the Council Chairman in the last few weeks, the effect of the prolong absence of the council boss is affecting the administrative work of the council and the non-payment of salary and allowances of workers of the local government in the last two months.

The resolution taken followed the reading of the petition submitted before the Legislative arm the Vice Chairman of the Council, Hon. Felix Bony-Ayah by the Chief Whip, Hon. Perelade Jones-Ere.

Confirming the development, the Leader of the Legislative Committee on Information and Conflict Resolution, Hon. Oyinkoro Kene said the members of the legislative arm after an exhaustive deliberation on the petition against the Council Chairman discovered that all issues raised against him were correct.

According to him,”we even got a newspaper publication reporting that the Council Chairman is being hunted by the operatives of the anti-graft agency. We have summoned him but he is nowhere to be found. We also believe that governance cannot be in a vacuum. Our people want us to report back. Now, for the last two months, salary has not been paid. There is nothing for us to do but to invoke the relevant portion of the constitution.”

“The absence of the Council Chairman was done without due process and according to section 145 sub sect 2, we have resolved to make the Vice Chairman to act in the capacity of the Chairman. We are pleading with the people of the Southern Ijaw Area and Bayelsan to rally round the Vice Chairman because the Chairman is nowhere to be found. It is a fraudulent act for a council boss to disappear from duty. If the Chairman refuses to surface within the next 90 days, the Vice Chairman would be made the substantive Chairman.”

The members of the Legislative arm of the Council has however adjourned and went on recess to resume sitting on the 9th of January,2011.

Meanwhile the Leadership of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the State yesterday received the resolution of the members of the Executive Committee of the Party in the Local Government suspending the Chairman, Mr. Ben Foreman, over alleged anti-party activity.

BAYELSA DO OR DIE GUBER, PEOPLE AND POLITICS

IN a way, Professor Chinua Achebe was right. When he was offered the Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, national honour for the year 2011 by the President Goodluck Jonathan regime he turned it down on the ground that the problems that prompted his rejection of same offer in 2004 still exist in the country.

Even though some praised him for saying no to yet another award in a country where politicians virtually empty public treasuries to get nominated even for the most mundane of awards, some thought that Africa’s most respected novelist had taken the “game” a little too far.

One of Achebe’s reasons for rejecting the Obasanjo Greek Gift was that the regime condoned the abduction of an elected governor and the destruction of public buildings by his local political agents. Surely, the governorship election in Anambra State in February 2010 was not even won by the candidate of the President’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. It was difficult to make the connection between what happened in Anambra under Obasanjo and what took place there under Jonathan.

In fact, Dr. Reuben Abati, the presidential spokesman, reminded Achebe that the Jonathan administration in 2011 supervised one of the best general elections in the nation’s history only in April this year, which were widely acclaimed locally and internationally. This regime distanced itself from the “do-or-die” methods of brazen impunity the Obasanjo regime used to conduct democratic affairs in the country.

But how does one describe the methods that President Jonathan’s PDP has adopted in the ongoing process towards the election of a new governor in his own home state, Bayelsa, in February 2012?

Only in October this year as the various governorship candidates warmed up to pick up forms from the PDP, the President assured them all of a level playing ground, urging them to go into the field and canvass for support unhindered.

It was based on this assurance that we saw an enthusiastic series of heavy politicking at the national secretariat of the Party when aspirants like Governor Timipre Sylva, media mogul Ben Bruce and former Labour Party candidate, Timi Alaibe, queued for forms.

One by one, all three were denied the forms under one pretext or the other, which showed the President was not willing to follow through with his pledge of a level field. By then, it had become clear that he had an anointed candidate, Seriake Dickson. Bruce and Alaibe took their exclusion without a fight.

The governorship primaries of the party that followed on November 19, 2011 conformed to a typical Obasanjo politics of exclusion. Not only was Sylva refused the opportunity to vie in the primaries, he was not even allowed by security agencies to leave the Government House while the exercise lasted at the Sampson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa.

The Party ignored an order of an Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, directing it to postpone the primaries until November 22. It was ordered to show cause why a fresh governorship primaries should be held by the Party in the state when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had already been furnished with a ticket earlier given to Sylva after the January 6, 2011 primaries. PDP conducted the primaries and announced President Jonathan’s candidate, Dickson, as the winner.

After initially mulling the idea of seeking the renewal of his mandate on an alternative platform, Sylva decided to stay in PDP and fight it out.

The truth is that any political adventure in any other party other than the PDP in a state like Bayelsa is likely to flop. That of Bayelsa is even more so because it will be an uphill task to mount a campaign against the party of the President, a son of the state.

It is an emotional hurdle to expect Bayelsans to vote against their son in Aso Villa. When will Bayelsa produce another president of Nigeria? Which state has produced an elected president of Nigeria more than once?

Sylva knows that it is safer and smarter to fight the President’s candidate from inside the PDP than outside. Then it will be easier to continue to tell people that the President is behind him; it is only some evil people around him and in the PDP that are fighting him. Sylva is also pushing ahead with his campaigns to fulfill the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act.

The Judiciary, they say, is the last hope of the common man. It would appear, as Sylva’s case seems to indicate, it is also the last hope of some high and mighty individuals as well. Especially, when such individuals are ranged against higher principalities and powers. Sylva is hoping that the Judiciary will see him as the persecuted underdog (as in the case of Chibuike Amaechi who has been very active in lending Sylva the Governors’ Forum’s helping hand). He is hoping that the judges will be irked by the PDP’s revival of its cult of impunity and give him favourable verdicts.

It is now for the courts to decide if his case deserves such favours. It is a major test case for the judicial regime of Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship Dahiru Musdapher. Nigerians expect verdicts that will advance the course of justice in our democracy. Let the law prevail over politics. If any of the parties to this political dispute has done disservice to our democracy, the courts are now in a position to punish offenders and reward the injured.

Political parties need to be reminded that even though the law gives them wide-ranging powers to conduct their internal affairs without outside interference, they are, however, bound by the law and the Constitution.

2012 BUDGET SPEECH BY GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN

2012 BUDGET SPEECH

Delivered by: His Excellency

Dr. GoodluckEbele Jonathan, GCFR

President Federal Republic of Nigeria

Before: A Joint Session of the National Assembly, Abuja
Tuesday, 13 December 2011

PROTOCOL
I am delighted to present the 2012 Federal Budget Proposal before this esteemed Joint Session of the National Assembly. ThisProposalcomes at the end of a long consultative process with key stakeholders and it translates the development plans of government unveiled in the Transformation Agendainto concrete actions.



This budget is a stepping-stone to the transformation of our economy and country in our walk to economic freedom. This esteemed Assembly would agree that this path would neither be easy nor uncontested; but witha sharp focus, hard work, determination and making careful choices we will overcome.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

In the past year, the global economic recovery slowed down significantly and downside risks are on the increase as many countries, particularly in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), have faced serious challenges leading to fiscal retrenchment and austerity measures in the face of high and rising levels of sovereign debt.
The Euro Zone crisis in particular has time and again thrown financial markets into turmoil as several countries in this economic and monetary union continue to face difficulty in servicing their debts. On the other hand, although many emerging and developing countries, like India and China are experiencing relatively robust growth, downside risks remain as well. In fact, global growth projection has continuously been revised downward and is now 4% for 2012-2013.



These developments have implications for our economy as, aside from the impact on the inflow of Foreign Direct Investments, they could also lead to lower demand for our primary export commodity. We are living witnesses to the extent of volatility that can afflict the international oil market with prices plummeting from US$147/barrel in July 2008 to about US$38/barrel four months later. Thus, although the oil price is currently over US$100/barrel, there is no guarantee what it would be in the future.



We cannot subject the well-being of Nigerians to such large fluctuations and must therefore protect ourselves by managing our finances prudently including by adopting a conservative benchmark oil price for our budgets.



There are also uncertainties in the area of international food prices which make it imperative that we take steps to safeguard our position through policies that would promote food security. So far, the Nigerian economy has weathered these storms well but efforts need to be reinforced to ensure macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth.





DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT



This year marked another milestone in our democratic experience, with the successful elections and peaceful transition. We now need to build on the mandate that Nigerians have entrusted to us to deliver the dividends of democracy through stronger economic reforms to deliver growth and create jobs. I have created an Economic Management Team (EMT) that I chair,and an Economic Management Implementation Team (EMIT) chaired by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, to help us deliver on this economic agenda.



The robust growth recorded in the first half of 2011 underscores the resilience of the Nigerian economy and the prudence of our economic policies. Our growth in the 2010-2011 period has been broad-based.



The economy recorded impressive growth of 7.85 percent in 2010 and 7.72 percent as of the second quarter of 2011 compared to 5.2% forecast for sub-Sahara Africa. Medium-term prospects are also bright, with real GDP growth projected to remain strong over the period. Furthermore, we intend to pursue a programme of greater fiscal discipline complemented with appropriate monetary policy in order to help stabilize our declining foreign reserve.



The non-oil sector continues to be the main driver of growth with increased crop production, growth in wholesale and retail trade and increased financial sector activities backed by the banking sector reforms. Contributions by the oil sector continue to improve as average daily oil production rose to 2.45 million barrels per day in the second quarter of 2011 compared to 2.35 million barrels per day in the corresponding period in 2010.



At the same time, food inflation has been on a downward trend from 14.1% in October 2010 to 9.7% in October 2011, but it is still a matter of concern as our objective is to move to lowor mid-single digit inflation.





REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2011 BUDGET SO FAR



We are approaching the end of a peculiar fiscal year for our nation. The 2011 Elections, the subsequent inauguration of a new Administration last May and the passage of the 2011 Amendment Budget in May 2011 all affected the implementation of the budget in 2011. Provisional data on the implementation of the 2011 Budget as at October 2011 indicate that revenue performance improved during the year over the situation in 2010.



Oil revenue receipts achieved the targeted levels as a result of relatively higher oil prices and production levels than benchmarked while non-oil receipts, though short of the projection for the period, are tending towards the set targets for 2011. As of mid-November, about 67% of the released funds had been utilized and we expect it to reach 70% by the end of December which is fairly good considering the circumstances. You will agree with me that 2010 and 2011 Budgets were relatively expansionary, and we must now inject a dose of caution.



With the support of the National Assembly, the Government is determined to pursue a programme of far-reaching fiscal consolidation so as to reduce our deficit and domestic borrowing to more manageable levels.

We have introduced measures toactualize this programme in the 2012 fiscal year both in the areas of improved revenue collection, recurrent expenditure reduction and increasing the share of capital expenditure in aggregate spending, in contrast with the trend of recent years.





PRIORITIES OF THE 2012 BUDGET



At a time when rating agencies are downgrading countries globally, the Outlook on Nigeria was recently upgraded from negative to stable by Fitch Ratings; this was largely a reflection of two things: a) the new economic programme, including the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework that government has put in place with important reforms and a clear programme of fiscal consolidation; b) the successful political transition following the 2011 elections.



In furtherance of its efforts, the government has significantly scaled up the flow of resources to key areas of priority including Security, Infrastructure renewal and development (including power and roads), human capital development and food security to give a more inclusive growth and attention to job creation. Yet, there is much that still needs to be done. The Transformation Agenda spells out the strategic direction of my Administration.

In this respect, being the first budget under this Agenda, the 2012 Budget has been designed with the theme: fiscal consolidation, inclusive growth and job creation.



To achieve the above objectives, we have established four main pillars, namely,

(a) Macroeconomic stability;

(b) Structural reforms;

(c) Governance and institutions; and

(d) Investing in priority sectors.



Macroeconomic Stability



Government is determined to pursue policies that will ensure a stable macroeconomic environment through a strong and prudent fiscal policy, manageable deficits, sustainable debt-GDP ratio of no more than 30%, and single digit inflation, thereby promoting real growth. We believe that these measures would engender a stable and competitive exchange rate and help to reverse the declining trend of our international reserves.



Our domestic debt profile has risen sharply in recent years, currently standing at about 16.4% of GDP. This cannot be allowed to continue and become a new burden on our children. So in addition to looking at the expenditure side of our national balance sheet, we are also paying strong attention to the revenue side.



In this regard, we have initiated steps to increase revenues by blocking leakages from various sources, improve corporate tax collection, and boost internally generated revenue. We also believe that we should be able to earn a lot more revenue from the maritime sector. As part of the on-going port reforms, government will work vigorously to increase our revenue from maritime and related activities.



Starting in 2012 for the medium term, we shall focus on cutting recurrent expenditure to sustainable levels through reducing waste, inefficiency, corruption and duplication in government. Recent reviews of public expenditures provide a basis for taking such measures. In order to make capital spending more effective, government is introducing a new template for analyzingthe financial and other factors including the economic rates of return, job creation, and environmental sustainability.



Similarly, Government will continue to prioritize its expenditures while focus will be on the completion of viable on-going capital projects. It is our intention to fund and bring the large portfolio of on-going projects to completion in the next few years while also taking on flagship projects already identified in the Transformation Agenda.



From 2012, there will also be a robust programme to strengthen our oil reserves base, and increase oil exploration activities in identified inland sedimentary basins, outside the Niger Delta, with the requisite potential for the production of oil and gas, particularly the Chad Basin.



Structural Reforms



My Administration is pressing forward with key structural reforms. We are implementing the privatization of the power sector based on the Power Roadmap which I unveiled last year. We believe that the power sector can benefit from liberalization and privatization by attracting investors in the same manner as the telecommunications sector has done. In the same vein, government will come up with policies to encourage investment in the downstream sector through liberalization so as to create jobs for our people.



We have also embarked on reforming our ports and customs and we intend to continue vigorously on this path so as to reduce the cost of doing business for our private sector actors. No longer are we going to be content for clearance of goods in our ports to take 3-4 weeks with attendant demurrage and costs while it takes 48 hours elsewhere.



In this regard, I have set up a Committee chaired by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance with a mandate to remove the bottlenecks at our ports and another Committee made up of private sector users of the ports to monitor implementation. We also intend to work hard to improve the infrastructure at the ports. Other impediments such as those arising from bureaucratic and costly paperwork will also be removed.



With regard to the petroleum sector, the Federal Government is conscious of the need to bring the Petroleum Industry Bill debate to conclusion so as to give investors the comfort and policy certainty that they require. My Administration is determined to bring this matter to closure by engaging with all stakeholders and I therefore call on the National Assembly to work with us in this regard.



Governance and Building Institutions

Our reforms can only endure if they are founded on strong systems and institutionsthat promote transparency and we are taking steps to strengthen ours. As you are aware, we have already resumed the publication of revenues allocated to the three tiers of Government as this will promote transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.
Similarly, the recent passage of the Freedom of Information Act has further strengthened the hands of citizens in monitoring the activities of government and I acknowledge the role of the National Assembly and civil society, in making this a reality. The fight against corruption is a collective responsibility and my Administration will strengthen our anti-corruption agencies such as the EFCC and ICPCto enable them discharge their mandate. Finally, we recognize that we can only succeed in our effort to transform the economy if we have a vibrant civil service and we fully intend to embark on reforming the public service for optimal service delivery.



Investing in priority sectors: Creating Jobs



Against the background of the above reforms, this Administration will promote job creation and inclusive growth by investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development and securityincluding more support for the police, defence and counter-terrorism operations.We shall also give priority attention to Information and Communications Technology, Solid Minerals development, Manufacturing, Aviation and Creative industries in order to further develop these sectors that are known to be sources of growth and job creation.



Let me now comment on a few sectors.The Agricultural sector is being totally transformed to enable us move from traditional farming to modern agriculture as a business both for our small and large-scale farmers. Our objective is to ensure food security whilst also promoting exports in agriculture value chains where we have a comparative advantage. We intend to process and add value to different crops such as rice, cassava, sorghum, oil palm, cocoa, cotton etc.



This approach is central to our transformation strategy. Accordingly, this Administration has adopted enabling measures to support the development of private sector-driven marketing institutions, and push for policies that would promote our agriculture to create jobs.



To unleash the potential of this sector, the Federal Ministry of Finance has put in place a mechanism to share risks with the banking sector by guaranteeing 70% of the principal of all loans made for supply of seeds and fertilizer by the private sector this season. In addition, to get the inputs to farmers at an affordable cost, we are subsidizing the interest rate on these loans to bring it down from 15% to 7% per annum. The Minister of Agriculture and the Central Bank are collaborating to extend these services for credit availability for the medium term.



We are introducing further fiscal policy measures to support the development of the agricultural sector. In this respect, the duty on machinery and certain specified equipment for the sector will, effective January 31st 2012, attract zero duty. We will further look at supportive fiscal policies for the rice and wheat sectors to stimulate domestic production.


Government is also introducing policies to encourage the substitution of high quality cassava flour for wheat flour in bread-baking. Bakeries will have 18 months in which to make the transition, and will enjoy a corporate tax incentive of 12% rebate if they attain 40% blending.With effect from March 31st 2012, importation of cassava flour will be prohibited so as to further support this programme.



All equipment for processing of high quality cassava flour and composite flour blending will enjoy a duty free regime as incentive to bakers for composite flour utilization.Consultations with the sector to ensure a smooth transition are on-going.



It is common wisdom that the best way we can grow our economy and create jobs for our people is for us to patronize Nigerian-made goods. This is why we are introducing enabling policies to drive this process. In this regard, we are introducing fiscal policy measures that will encourage the purchase and utilization of locally produced commodities.



From July 1st 2012, wheat flour will attract a levy of 65% to bring the effective duty to 100%, while wheat grain will attract a 15% levy which will bring the effective duty to 20%.



Similarly, there will be a levy of 25% on brown rice to bring it to 30%. In addition, to encourage domestic rice production, a levy of 40% will be placed on imported polished rice leading to an effective duty rate of 50%. Effective December 31st 2012, all rice millers should move towards domestic production and milling of rice, as the levy of 50% will be further raised to 100%. Let me add here that no waivers or concessions will be entertained for rice and wheat importation.



We have also commenced implementation of the Power Roadmap which aims to create a robust power sector through the privatization of the generation and distribution of power as well as create an enabling environment for investment. Institutional arrangements have been made for a Bulk Trader company to intermediate between power producers and distributors in a market setting, thereby giving Independent Power Producers (IPPs) the confidence to invest in generation capacity.



Government, in collaboration with our development partners hascreated a credit risk management initiative to provide Partial Risk Guarantees (PRG) to give comfort to gas producers in respect of payment. Similarly, effective January 31st2012, equipment and machinery in the power sector will attract zero duty.



The Government recognizes the provision of affordable housing as a social need and, also, a veritable source of socio-economic development and job creation. Owning one’s own home is a basic aspiration of every human being, and our people are no different.



To this end, based on a new housing policy, Government is working with our development partners to create an effective mortgage finance system in the country and to develop value chains in the building materials segment. This will give the necessary stimulant to the sector to accelerate its development and also help to reduce the cost of construction, thereby energizing the construction industry.



It is a well-known fact that government alone cannot solve the infrastructure problem, which is why we have invited the private sector and international investors to partner with us through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.



As estimated in the First National Implementation Plan of the Nigeria Vision 20:2020, we need N32 trillion for the execution of capital projects over a four year-period, of which the private sector is to contribute N13 trillion. In this respect, we are creating the enabling environment to attract private investments by having a clear regulatory framework.

Government will, in addition to ongoing critical infrastructure projects, execute new flagship projects with positive multiplier effects across the country throughPPP arrangements in the next three years.

In our continuing effort to improve on our human development index, we are conscious of the need to avoid the trap of focusing on economic growth as an end in itself, but rather, a means to improved human development through ensuring better health care,education and wealth creation.



To this end, my Administrationwill continue to invest in these sectors to improve on the quality of education for our children especially young graduates from our educational institutions, support Public-Private Partnership arrangements for skills development and improve the quality of our health service delivery.



Fellow Compatriots, we recognize that we can only achieve the developmental goals in a secureand peaceful environment. Accordingly, safeguarding the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country is at the heart of ongoing reforms in the security sector. As you are aware, we have since commenced strategic programmes to upgrade the skills of officers in the security agencies while modernizing security infrastructure across the country.





THE 2012BUDGET
The 2012 budget is based on a set of assumptions reflecting Government’s determination to maintain prudencein the face of continued uncertainties in the external environment. Accordingly, the budget is based on the following:



Oil production of 2.48 million barrels per day (mbpd) up from 2.3mbpd for 2011;

Benchmark oil price of US$70/barrel, a cautious revision from the US$75/barrel approved in the 2011 Amended Budget;

Exchange rate of NGN155/US$;

Projected GDP growth rate of 7.2%; and

Projected inflation rate of 9.5%.



2012 Revenue and Expenditure Profile

Based on the above assumptions, the Gross federally collectible revenue is projected at N9.406trillion, of which the total revenue available for the Federal Government’s Budget is forecast at N3.644 trillion, representing an increase of 9% over the estimate for 2011. Non-oil revenue is projected to grow significantly in 2012 as recent efforts to reform revenue collecting agencies and the implementation of initiatives to further develop non-oil sectors are expected to yield results.



The aggregate expenditure proposed for the 2012 fiscal year is N4.749 trillion, which is a modest increase of 6% over the N4.484 trillion appropriated for 2011. I am pleased to note, however, that the declining share of capital is being reversed so it will account for about 28% of total expenditure in 2012 compared to 26% in 2011. We intend to continue on this path so that by 2015, it will have risen to almost 33%.
This underscores the need to intensify our efforts to curtail recurrent expenditure, which we have already embarked upon under the policy of fiscal consolidation as evident from the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework. The share of recurrent expenditure in the 2012 Budget proposal is 72%, down from 74.4% in 2011, and we intend to continue on this downward trend up to 2015.

The aggregate expenditure comprises N398 billion for Statutory Transfers, N560 billion for Debt Service underscoring the real need to address the rising domestic debt profile, andN2.472trillion for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure. We are conscious of the need to control the cost of governance. Government will streamline agencies with overlapping mandates as a way to realign public expenditure.



In this respect, I have received the preliminary Report of the task force which I set up for this purpose and we shall implement relevant recommendations. We are also pursuing the biometric verification of workers and pensioners as part of our effort to control cost.



Capital expenditure has an allocation of N1.32 trillion representing a 15% increase over the amount approved in the 2011 Budget. The emphasis is on the completion of critical infrastructure projects.



Based on the above, the fiscal deficit is projected at about 2.77% of GDP in the 2012 Budget compared to 2.96% in 2011. This is within the threshold stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and clearly highlights our commitment to fiscal prudence as a way to create more space for the private sector.





This will also have a salutary effect on our domestic debt profile, which has risen significantly in recent years. We are determined to rein in domestic borrowing, and through this, ensure that our debt is at a sustainable level.



As I mentioned earlier, government has made significant progress in putting the finances of the nation on a sound footing and laying the foundation for rapid and sustainable economic growth.



Allocations to some critical sectors of the economy are as follows: Security - N921.91 billion; Power [including Bulk Trader, Nelmco, and Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO)] -N161.42 billion; Works - N180.8 billion; Education [excluding Universal Basic Education Commission, Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund (PTDF) & Education Trust Fund] - N400.15 billion;Health - N282.77 billion;and Agriculture & Rural Development - N78.98 billion. Others are: Water Resources - N39 billion; Petroleum Resources – N59.66 billion; Aviation - N49.23 billion; Transport - N54.83 billion; Lands & Housing - N26.49 billion; Science & Technology - N30.84 billion; Niger Delta - N59.72 billion;Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) - N45.57 billionand Communications Technology - N18.31 billion.







Fiscal Policy



Fellow compatriots, you will agree that the budget is not an end in itself but rather, an instrument for the promotion of economic growth, wealth creation, poverty reduction and service delivery to the citizenry. Government desires that we should begin to experience a commensurate increase in gainful employment and social well-being of Nigerians with the rate of economic growth.



This Budget seeks to act, not only to create jobs, but to also lay a solid foundation for sustainable economic growth which would deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. In this respect as you may recall, I hosted a retreat in October this year with the organized private Sector (OPS) at which a number of issues including fiscal policy were extensively discussed.



I wish to reiterate here that the principal objective of my Administration’s fiscal policy in the area of tariffs and trade is to promote industrialization and the growth of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the economy and above all to generate employment for Nigerians.



As part of the process to realize this objective, we have commenced the review of the 2008-2012 Customs and Excise Tariffs to correct identified anomalies and introduce policies that will help in the promotion of industrialization in the country when the review is concluded. In addition, to ensure a level-playing field for businesses, this Administration, beginning from the 2012 fiscal year, will where necessary, only grant concessions or waivers on a sectoral basis. The focus of any concessions will be on expanding domestic production for local consumption and boosting exports, development of value chains, and boosting employment.
The Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme has, over the years, contributed significantly in the diversification of the economy through the promotion of non-oil exports. Efforts have therefore reached an advanced stage to review and streamline the Scheme to make it more effective as an instrument for the promotion of non-oil exports. We shall also aggressively pursue economic diplomacy within the framework of ECOWAS to ensure that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) achieves its objective of promoting intra- ECOWAS trade and that it is not used as a vehicle for dumping goods in the region. In particular, we shall review the application of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) to the oil palm and other sectors.
For some time now, especially with the advent of the consolidated salary structure, there has been agitation over the lopsided nature of the Personal Income Tax Act and the fact that the tax free allowances were inadequate. I am pleased to announce that I have signed the Personal Income Tax Amendment Act 2011 into law which amongst others has the benefit of reducing, on the average, taxes paid by low income earners and providing a more equitable tax structure for individuals. This law also provides for Tax Appeal Tribunals to listen to, and address concerns of individual taxpayers as a cost-effective administrative intervention prior to recourse to the courts.
Other fiscal changes to be gazetted shortly, include tax waivers on all bonds and related instruments issued by corporate and other tiers of Government, tax rebates as incentive to companies that create jobs, regulations to support taxpayers' self- assessment, and regulations to support the growing quest of those involved in social and community development to get tax incentives for those donating to their causes.
As you may recall, Government initiated a new multifaceted National Job Creation Scheme with the provision of seed funding of N50 billion in the 2011 Budget. Implementation of this programme has commenced in earnest.

This Administration believes that it is time to give Nigerian youthsan opportunity to enjoy the dignity of a job, the support for innovation, the confidence to be an entrepreneur and, the sheer optimism to be an employer of labour along with the security of an income that can contribute to our economic development. We are conscious of the fact that we have the task of transforming the huge potential of our youths into real, tangible outcomes which all of our people can experience and call their own.
In this respect, Government is focused on stimulating entrepreneurial activity and setting a framework for young people with creative tendencies to showcase their business acumen, build capacity and create jobs. In this spirit, and to move beyond the conventional paradigm of job creation, the Government, partnering with the organized private sector and our development partners, took bold steps to initiate the YouthEnterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programme which I launched in Abuja in October and has since been launched also across the six geopolitical zones.
This programme is targeted to, not only create a new generation of innovative real sector entrepreneurs in Nigeria, but, in the medium term, also generate jobs for youths across the country.
I believe that this move will drive the future technological and socio-economic development of our country.YouWin will lead to the creation of about 100,000 jobs through support to our young entrepreneurs.

CONCLUSION
Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members of this esteemed Assembly,the Proposal I lay before you this day seeks to sustain sound macroeconomic growth that will translate to achieving socio-economic transformation, and gainful employment for our people. But, we can only progress in this course and turn our possibilities into realitywhen we diligently adhere to the implementation of well thought-out and articulated developmental policies.
The 2012 Budget, as our collaborative effort, has taken the welfare of Nigerians as top priority. In an environment of global uncertainties and domestic challenges, the strong support of the National Assembly is invaluable for us to achieve our set developmental goals.
As we collectively resolve to create a brighter and enduring future for all Nigerians - a future of hope and prosperity not lack, fear or hatred, we must prepare to overcome any adversity that may arise. Accordingly,we must all be determined and committed to follow through with the difficult but balanced choices that we make in piloting the affairs of this great nation.
Finally, I wish to appreciate the enduring partnershipbetween the Executive andthe Legislature in discharging our shared responsibility for nation-building and I note, with thanks, the patriotism, commitment and support that Distinguished and Honourable Members of this esteemed Assembly have consistently demonstrated.
Once again, I encourage us to dialogue openly, frankly and in good faith over thechallenges that face us as a nation.It is my hope that the National Assembly will consider and pass the 2012 Budget Proposal expeditiously;and I foresee even moreproductive collaboration to the benefit of all our people.

I am indeed grateful for your kind attention.

May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Words of wisdom and knowledge

prophets are sent to utter the deep things of God for the conviction of sin. The power of prophecy is the power of God that we cannot use to condemn people. Such power cannot condemn, it blesses; such power cannot destroy, it delivers. Anyone that has this gift of God to loose, to bind, to heal  you will never see them condemn, destroy or criticise others. It’s forbidden. If you are one that condemns, criticises or prays against your fellow brothers, it means you have no power of God.
First, the baptism of the Holy Spirit grants power, joy and peace for service. When you have joy and peace, you have everything. It is when you look round and you see people doing better than you, you will become envious.
We are created to be at the centre of our own world; this is what we are created for, this is what we are to live for and this is what we are to die for. When you are at the centre of your own world, you will even bless your enemy. When people say, “You are stupid,” you will say, “God bless you.” But when you are not at the centre of your own world, you will be unnecessarily hostile. Those who are being criticised also need to be careful because when people begin to talk too much about you, it makes you too proud. You will ask yourself, “Am I the only person in this world? Why me? Only me?” If you are not relevant, people will not talk about you.

Written by T.B. Joshua

Usman Jibrin, first military Governor of Kaduna State, dies at 69

On 9 September, retired Group Captain Usman Jibrin, former military governor of the defunct North-Central State and later the old Kaduna State, died in his hometown Marmara in Nasarawa State.
His younger brother, Senator Walid Jibrin, told newsmen that the late Jibrin died in his sleep in the early hours of the day. Some family sources said he had been ill. He was aged 69 years.
Jibrin was born in 1942 in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. He attended Abuja Middle School and Government College, Kaduna, and started his working life with the radio and television station in Kaduna.
In 1963, he joined the Nigerian Air Force. Rising to the rank of Group Captain in 1975, he was appointed military governor of the then North-Central State by the then Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed. After Kaduna State (then comprising the present Kaduna and Katsina states) was carved out of the North-Central State in February 1976, he was appointed its first military governor and continued in that office under General Olusegun Obasanjo, who became Head of State following the assassination of Mohamed. He retired from the military in 1978, amidst policy disagreements with Obasanjo.
Jibrin settled into retirement as a private businessman, but was also appointed to several boards, by successive federal governments. In the early 1980s, he was appointed a state Chairman of the Green Revolution Programme under the Shehu Shagari administration. He was later appointed to the chairmanships of the Nigerian Productivity Research Institute, Ilorin, Kwara State; Jos Steel Rolling Mill, Plateau State; and Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank. He was a member of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), under the Gen Sani Abacha administration, and also served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Ahmadu Bello Foundation. In 2010, he was Chairman of Nasarawa Community Bank.
In his later years, Jibrin devoted himself mostly to Islamic activities. He was treasurer to the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (the umbrella Muslim organization in the country) and also a member of the board of directors of Jaiz International Bank, an Islamic financial institution.
News of his death drew tributes from several quarters. In Kaduna, a Government House statement said the State Governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, received the news of Jibrin’s death with great shock. Yakowa described Jibrin as “a responsible elder statesman, who contributed immensely towards the development of Kaduna State in particular, the North and Nigeria in general,” adding that “his demise was a great loss to the north and the nation’’.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF),  a pan-northern Nigerian political organization,  said it was saddened by the news of Jibrin’s death. A statement by the ACF's National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony Sani, observed that in his public life, Jibrin “demonstrated easy grace, public intelligence and patriotic courage in his unwavering pursuit of peaceful coexistence and prosperity of Nigerians and the North in particular". It concluded that: “The best way to remember Group Captain Jibrin, therefore, is to live up what he stood for: common good”.

Jibrin’s remains were buried later in the day, at the cemetery in Marmara. He is survived by four wives, 22 children and several grandchildren.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

JONATHAN WAS NEVER ON EFCC LIST OFCORRUPT GOVERNORS

The Presidency has noted with concern the
lead report in today’s edition of a national
newspaper, The Daily Trust, which contained
malicious, disrespectful and disparaging
remarks about President Goodluck Ebele
Jonathan purportedly authored by an
official of the United States Embassy over two
years ago.
We are completely at a loss as to what
purpose the Daily Trust expects its report
which is wholly based on erroneous opinion
and false conjecture to serve other than the
objectives of those who persist in seeing no
good in the Jonathan Administration and
doing everything possible to distract the
President from his Agenda for National
Transformation.
It is a matter of public record, as the editors
of the Trust well know, that no charge of
corruption was ever made or sustained
against the President while he served as
Governor of Bayelsa State, while his many
achievements as governor of the state speak
for themselves.
The report also includes an unjustifiable
attempt to impugn the President’s integrity by
rehashing a well-worn fictional account of
alleged corruption by the First Lady which has
been dismissed as arrant nonsense by the
former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu
Ribadu.
For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever,
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has never
been on any EFCC list of corrupt governors
and we challenge anyone to prove otherwise.
In point of fact, it was his record of
achievement and incorruptibility in public
office that recommended him to the
leadership of the PDP as a worthy candidate
for the Vice Presidency in 2007.
Furthermore, the cable which purports to be
the source of the story is unverified.
Moreover, even the alleged cable itself cites as
its source "reports" and yet the newspaper
went ahead to report an alleged incident
which was not in the purported cable and
involved the seizure of large sums of money
from the President's wife while he was
governor.
The incident described above never
happened and is at best a figment of the
reporter’s imagination. Let me state
categorically that at no time was $13.5 million
or any other sum seized from Dame Patience
Jonathan at the Lagos airport or any other
airport.
The former Executive Chairman of the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,
Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who was in office at the
time President Jonathan was a governor
stated categorically that the allegations were
just lies inserted into the media for political
purposes.
Malam Ribadu's precise statement on this
issue made on the 13th of October, 2010 was
as follows: "We investigated it and there was
nothing connected with Mrs. Jonathan. Even
as at that time those who were desperately
looking to make a political mile out of every
opportunity decided to use that to link it with
them simply because they wanted to kick
them out of office at that time".
Finally, let me state that President Jonathan
remains committed to Press freedom and
freedom of speech which is why he signed
the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With
the passage of this bill into law, the
expectation of the President is that such a law
could be utilized by the Press to thoroughly
investigate allegations before they are
released into the public arena as truth.
The FOI law allows reporters to request for
records from the EFCC which when perused
would establish the truth about any matter
that has been before the EFCC. With the FOI
law, there is no longer any excuse for
speculative journalism beyond laziness.
Reuben Abati, Ph.D
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
6 September 2011

Monday, 5 September 2011

How to Campaign forPolitical Office

Whether your goal is to run for city council
or governor, a well-organized political
campaign is important for success.
Moreover, one of the most demanding
activities possible consists of running a
political campaign. A lot of hard work and
pressure is at stake, as a candidate either
wins or loses on Election Day. Although
nothing can eliminate the stress and
uneasiness of Election Day, having an
effective strategy to run a campaign for
political office can help reduce some of the
pressure.
Difficulty:
Moderately Challenging
Instructions
1. Define your campaign goal. Know what
policy issues are important to you and
voters. For example, if you are
campaigning to be a state legislator in a
rural area, land and water rights would
likely be pertinent issues. Focus groups
can provide helpful feedback on what
issues might be of concern to
constituents. Also, focus groups allow
you to have direct interaction with voters.
2. Hire appropriate staff. Hire a campaign
manager with experience in running a
political campaign. Likely, a campaign
manager has found effective strategies to
run a political campaign and knows
tactics to win an election. Consider hiring
campaign assistants who can contribute
to the campaign until volunteers join.
3. Build a coalition. Gain political campaign
support from local union workers, faith-
based organizations, minorities, parents,
teachers, students, public health groups,
community groups and environmental
groups. Involve yourself in local party
politics to become familiar with others in
office and their constituents. Coalitions
can help support you and win votes.
Grassroots organizations can result in a
successful campaign.
4. Create a fundraising plan. Ask for
volunteers and donations using door-to-
door literature, word of mouth or a letter
or e-mail message. Work with your state
Republican Party or Democratic offices to
find volunteers who affiliate with the
same political party as you.
5. Educate voters on your proposed policies
and why you would make the best
candidate. Distribute literature so voters
know what issues you support. Distribute
fliers and lawn signs to make voters
aware of your presence in the political
race. Work with the media, as it can be a
powerful tool in conveying your message
to voters through newspaper articles,
billboard signs or radio and television
interviews and advertisements.
6. Stay in touch with voters. Attend
community events and greet people in
informal settings, such as malls or
grocery stores, to interact with voters.
Remember names and information.
Voters want to see you as a genuine
person, not as a stiff politician who is out
of touch with voters.
7. Celebrate victories. Recognize donations
and efforts made by volunteers and staff
members. Although a political campaign
is demanding, it should be fun. Any
achieved interim goals should be
celebrated.
Tips & Warnings
Oftentimes, one must experience defeat
before victory. For example, Richard
Nixon experienced defeat for president
of the United States in 1960 and for
governor of California in 1962 until he
was elected as president of the United
States in 1968.
References
The White House: Richard M. Nixon

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Gunmen kidnap First Classtraditional ruler in Bayelsa State

On 1 September,
unknown gunmen kidnapped a traditional
ruler, His Royal Majesty, King Godwin Igodo,
the Ebeni Ibe of Atissa Kingdom, in Obogoro,
Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa
State. The royal father is a First Class Ruler in
the Traditional Rulers Council in the state.
According to local residents, a group of
armed men came in a speedboat to
Obogoro, a riverside settlement near the
state capital, Yenagoa. Around 9.45pm, they
got to King Igodo’s residence. The sources
said the royal father, well into his seventies,
had retired for the night, but the armed men
woke him up forcefully and dragged him
out. They marched him to their waiting boat
at the waterfront and sped off into the
creeks.
At the time of this report almost 24 hours
later, the kidnappers had not established
contact with the King’s family, but the state
police command had dispatched a team of
investigators to the areas around the
community. The Police Public Relations
Officer in the state, Mr Eguavoen Emokpae,
told newsmen that the police was making
frantic efforts to ensure the release of the
monarch.
This is the second time a First Class monarch
from Bayelsa State is being kidnapped in the
last three months. On 26 June, King Oweipa
Jones-Ere, the Ebenanaowei of Ogboin
Kingdom, was kidnapped at a dredging site
in Emohua LGA of Rivers State. The
kidnappers demanded N25 million ransom.
He was freed seven days later but it was not
known whether any ransom was paid.

Gunmen kidnap First Classtraditional ruler in Bayelsa State

On 1 September,
unknown gunmen kidnapped a traditional
ruler, His Royal Majesty, King Godwin Igodo,
the Ebeni Ibe of Atissa Kingdom, in Obogoro,
Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa
State. The royal father is a First Class Ruler in
the Traditional Rulers Council in the state.
According to local residents, a group of
armed men came in a speedboat to
Obogoro, a riverside settlement near the
state capital, Yenagoa. Around 9.45pm, they
got to King Igodo’s residence. The sources
said the royal father, well into his seventies,
had retired for the night, but the armed men
woke him up forcefully and dragged him
out. They marched him to their waiting boat
at the waterfront and sped off into the
creeks.
At the time of this report almost 24 hours
later, the kidnappers had not established
contact with the King’s family, but the state
police command had dispatched a team of
investigators to the areas around the
community. The Police Public Relations
Officer in the state, Mr Eguavoen Emokpae,
told newsmen that the police was making
frantic efforts to ensure the release of the
monarch.
This is the second time a First Class monarch
from Bayelsa State is being kidnapped in the
last three months. On 26 June, King Oweipa
Jones-Ere, the Ebenanaowei of Ogboin
Kingdom, was kidnapped at a dredging site
in Emohua LGA of Rivers State. The
kidnappers demanded N25 million ransom.
He was freed seven days later but it was not
known whether any ransom was paid.

Friday, 2 September 2011

BREAKING: Ambassador Saidu Pindar dies in car crash in Kaduna State

On 31 August, Alhaji Saidu Shettima Pindar, Nigeria’s pioneer Ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe, died a car accident. The accident occurred on the Kaduna-Zaria road in Kaduna State.
Ambassador Pindar was born in Biu, Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, on 19 August 1954. He obtained an Electrical Engineering Diploma from Kaduna Polytechnic in 1976, Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1980, and subsequently a Master’s Degree in Communication Engineering from the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in United Kingdom.
He started his working life with the Borno State Civil Service, rising to become the Director of Engineering/Chief Engineer at the Borno Radio and Television (BRTV) before transferring to the Federal Civil Service in 1987.
In October 1998, he was posted to the Embassy of Nigeria, Rome, Italy, as Minister-Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary. While on that post, he received commendations from the Italian Ministry of Interior, the Italian Immigration and Frontier Service and a Christian NGO for his commitment towards combating human trafficking and for his compassionate treatment of trafficked Nigerians.
In 2000, he was appointed Nigeria’s pioneer Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe. At that post, he was credited with contributing immensely to the ratification of the Treaty establishing the Nigeria-Sao Tome & Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ). He voluntarily retired from the Federal Civil Service after 32 years of public service. In 2004, he was conferred with a National Honour, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
Even in retirement, he remained active in private business as well as in political and public life. He was the founder and promoter of Maitama Amusement Park, a leisure and entertainment centre situated in the high brow Maitama district of Abuja. He was also the Executive Chairman of Subotech Engineering Ltd, a company supplying and installing broadcast equipment nationwide. Politically, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In October 2009, he was appointed by then President Umaru Yar’Adua, into the board of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Authority (NSTP-JDA).
Ambassador Pindar was a member of several professional bodies, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).
He was a founding member of the Biu Emirate Development Association (BEDA) and also the Biu Forum. In recognition of hiscontributions to the development of Biu Emirate, HRH Alhaji Umar Mustapha Aliyu, the Emir of Biu elevated him from the position of Jarma of Biu to Waziri of Biu in January 2005.
A philanthropist, he sponsored hundreds of students in various schools in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi State under the Shettima Pindar Foundation.
He was happily married and blessed with children

Peace: MORE COMMISSIONERS FOR BAYELSA STATE

Peace: MORE COMMISSIONERS FOR BAYELSA STATE: Twelve Commissioner nominees are to appear before the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for screening next week Tuesday. The nominees ...

SAINT MIENPAMO: UN bomb attack: Nigerian government reassures fore...

SAINT MIENPAMO: UN bomb attack: Nigerian government reassures fore...: On 29 August, the Federal Government reassured the diplomatic community in Abuja, that it would make every effort to safeguard their emba...

UN bomb attack: Nigerian government reassures foreign envoys of security

On 29 August, the Federal Government reassured the diplomatic community in Abuja, that it would make every effort to safeguard their embassies and personnel, following the 26 August suicide bomb attack at the United Nations House.
Addressing over 50 diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, said the UN House attack had made it necessary to intimate them of steps being taken by the government towards their security. The minister then invited the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Hafiz Ringim, to update the diplomats.
The IGP told the envoys that following the UN House blast, President Goodluck Jonathan summoned the heads of all security agencies to a meeting, “where far-reaching decisions were made on how to ensure, not only the security of foreign missions’ property and facilities, but of their personal as well”. He said the Presidency subsequently mandated security agencies, particularly the IGP, to meet with the diplomats on how to strengthen security around their personnel and facilities.
In furtherance of that mandate, the IGP informed the diplomats that security agencies would be meeting them soon, to re-assess their security needs and work out new modalities for ensuring better security in their missions. He said: “We will go round, from mission to mission, and discuss what specific security assistance you require that would make you feel more secure”.
The IGP said he was aware that some of the missions and diplomats had already requested for information and for additional security coverage, following the bomb attack. He said he had been mandated to grant all such security requests, as much as is possible.
He said: “Security agencies have been directed to leave nothing to chance and nothing can stand in the process of providing each and every one of you the necessary security that you need, in order to function peacefully and effectively while you are in this country”.
Updating the diplomats on investigations of the 26 August blast, the IGP disclosed that “our security agencies have made some arrests”, but he did not provide any details. He said: “The President would soon make pronouncements in that regard to you and the nation”.