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‘We won’t cover corruption in oil industry’


President Goodluck Jonathan has said his administration has no reason and intention to cover up any ascertained misdeeds uncovered by various fact finding groups in the extractive industries, especially in the oil and gas industry.

In his address at the Board Retreat for members of the National Stakeholders’ Working Group of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State yesterday, Jonathan said his commitment to transparency and accountability especially in extractive industries, was why his administration initiated and submitted itself to public scrutiny through several fact-finding panels and objective criticisms.

The president whose address was delivered by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, said his administration’s goal was to use any lesson from the scrutiny to reform the system to serve the interest of the country.

“To give more practical expression to our commitment in this regard, I have given necessary directives towards open and unrestricted support to NEITI to carry out its statutory functions. I see the regular conducts of NEITI audits and prompt implementation of its recommendations as the gateway to accelerate the much needed reforms not just in the oil and gas sector but also in the general conduct of government business.”

While appealing to all to support the Federal Government efforts to pursue the reforms to logical conclusion, Jonathan said government was resolute in building better systems and procedure that would strengthen the capacity of relevant government agencies and halt mismanagement, inefficiency and lack of transparency in the extractive sector, stressing that such would not be compromised. The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said the body was delighted that the Federal Government had assembled a rare breed of professionals in various fields in the extractive sector to take the NEITI and EITI implementation in Nigeria to a enviable level. “I am pleased to announce that NEITI has almost concluded comprehensive audit activities of the oil and gas industry from the 2009 to 2011, the reports of the two audits would be examined by the board here in Uyo. It is our hope that the NEITI will publish these reports on or before the end of the years.”

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Jonathan vows to keep Nigeria one

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has said that Nigeria will remain a single entity, noting that his government would not succumb to the pressure of overseeing the disintegration of the country.

The president made this remark at the emir’s palace in Hadejia, Jigawa State, when he paid the emir a courtesy visit on the first day of his two- day working visit to the state.

According to him, “those clamouring for the division of the country are myopic because it will not be.”

He further said that he was ready to use everything within his power to make Nigeria one country.

The president also vowed to transform the country through his government’s reform programmes.

He stated that, “we are out to transform and develop Nigeria by all means based on the transformation agenda,” adding that, “we shall stabilise power, uplift the status of our road networks to global standard.”

He also commended the state governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, for the security measures adopted to make the state peaceful.

Meanwhile, President Jonathan has stated that government would only succeed when there’s cordial relationship between the three arms of government.

He said this in Dutse while commissioning the multibillion naira state secretariat.

He, however, noted that when the legislature is easily manipulated by the executive, it would not only become irresponsible to the electorate, but would make government to lose focus and finish its term without adding value to people’s lives.

Adamu Amadu, Dutse

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Truck Driver, Ph.D

PEOPLE shocked that doctorate degree holders are applying for jobs as truck drivers may not appreciate the extent of the unemployment situation.

Statistics are unreliable, but revelations that six Ph.D holders and 704 others with Master’s degree applied to Dangote Group as truck drivers raise questions about our education and our uses of the educated.

“All these things are verifiable, and they all graduated from reputable institutions which is satisfactory; and our plan is to eventually make them self dependent,” Aliko Dangote said at a mentoring session of the World Bank Youth Forum.

Debates over if a Ph.D holder should apply for a truck driver’s position, miss the point. Such debates are at the perplexing level of encountering a national challenge that has been on for many years.

Thirteen thousand applied though Dangote had only 100 openings. How would you compare that to the 39,000 applications that a federal broadcasting agency received 10 years ago when it advertised eight positions? The problem has been lingering, and growing with the thousands who graduate from higher institutions annually.

High unemployment rates have devastating impacts including the fact that families that invested their fortune in education, in the hope that the educated would rescue other family members, are stuck with their unemployed young ones.

It is a long frustrating process that leaves generations of Nigerians wasting. When university graduates, especially higher degree holders, apply for jobs ordinarily meant for those who are not so educated, we should worry too about increasing unemployment rates among the uneducated.

The attraction for most of the applicants could be the generous conditions of the employment. Apart from their salaries, and trip allowances, Dangote said the truck becomes completely theirs on clocking 300,000km, about 140 trips between Kano and Lagos.

Many would not like to miss the opportunity of owning their own business after serving Dangote. Few jobs offer that type of incentive today. Our Ph.D truck drivers could be budding entrepreneurs, who missed their calling. Dangote is providing something different, more than a job.

The eminent danger is that next year, more people, some from the dwindling universities, could leave their teaching positions for the Dangote offer. We are in the final stages of misapplication of our resources, particularly those who have completed high levels of education and should at least be teaching.

Jobs are so scarce that some make a living from scams that promise jobs. The incident in Abuja where thousands of unemployed graduates protested at the Ministry of Interior because officials denied them access to submit application forms is instructive: the ministry was not recruiting.

Governments’ policies are important to reverse this trend which is a ticking bomb.

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Is this country under a curse?

The JTF has taken the bull of sectarian violence in the North East of Nigeria by the horns. We pray daily for them, for Gods favour. May their zeal never wane.

Our nation had for a long time taken terrorism for granted until this stage where we now live with it. Learning to live with terror is a horrible thing, and that’s what we must now do since we appear not to be ready to deal with the evil from its roots.

We are a nation of mostly Christians who say we love God and our neighbour, but right under our noses politicians steal from government coffers, flaunt such wealth before us even in churches and we pray for their long life.

We are also mostly Muslims, who say Allah does not support violence, but under our noses our relations kill and maim innocent strangers and our neighbours; we conceal their identities, waiting and working to use the sufferings inflicted upon people through violence to attract government largesse.

My Pastor knows that his congregants are deprived, that someone in government is sitting on what belongs to them, but he asks them to pray and fast, do early morning cries and night vigils; he prophesies to them, but by noon time, he visits his politician friends in power, prays for them, knowing fully well that they are all worse than armed robbers.

The Bible enjoins us to pray for our leaders, so why don’t we pray that all thieves be caught and shamed, and that the wealth of this country becomes trouble in the hands of all that have stolen from it?

My Pastor’s friends in power, steal the money, use that same ill-gotten wealth to intimidate and harass us, while my Pastor boasts to us that he was visited by the thief. My Pastor is not a good man!

My good friend is a Muslim Alfa, or Mullah, he preaches strong messages from the Holy Quran in his big mosque and has huge followership.

He tells me that Allah supports fairness, honesty, hard work, and justice, and I am convinced, but many a time my friend visits his members and tribes men in power, they connive to foster lack of development in their area hoping to blame the “infidels” from the other zones of the country for their plight.

They destroy their own, take away their money, keep them perpetually poor, and feed them with the opium of the blame game, blaming the education from ‘infidels’. My Alfa friend is not a good man!

How can a nation where their religious leaders have been compromised prosper? How can a nation that professes God, confesses God, but cheats in the name of God, steals in the name of God, deceives each other in the name of God, and kills in the name of God, be at peace ?

It will be hard in my opinion because God sees our hearts, and never sleeps nor slumbers. Will God compromise his standards for Nigeria? God does not change, and will not do so because of Nigeria.

The two main ruling religions in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam, believe that God created man, God is God of Equity, fair play and justice, God wants us all to love each other as we love ourselves, but there’s not one aspect of the Nigerian life you look into and see that type of fear of God by our leaders.

On security for example, the JTF, SSS, NPF, NSCDC are all toiling round the clock to solve the challenges of Boko haram. Life has become rough for these men because of our wickedness.

It is difficult to convince any one that our Northern leaders do not know who Boko Haram is, and that we cannot infiltrate all Governors, Senators, to compile those of them that hobnob with the sect. We surely know what to do, but we are not doing it because the country is under a curse! There must be a curse.

The book of Amos, Chapter 8,verses 3 to 7,the Bible (NIV) declares: “In that day declares the sovereign Lord, The songs in the temple will turn to wailing, many many bodies- flung every where ! Silence!

Hear this, you who trample the needy, and do away with the poor of the land saying- when will the new moon be over that we may sell grain and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?

Skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy with a pair of sandals, selling the sweepings with the wheat.

The Lord have sworn by the pride of Jacob, I will not forget anything they have done”.This nation has offended and is offending God, and the curse must follow! A few facts on the effects of this curse include that:

We are the seventh largest oil producing nation in this world, but we don’t have working refineries and fuel to run our cars, generators and machines.

We have enormous agricultural potentials and resources, but we spend billions of dollars on food imports; we are over 160 million people, but we do not trust each other, the demon of ethnicity has hindered us.

We have huge educational resources with over 40% active youth population, but we send them to universities and tertiary education institutions to condition them for four to six years depending on the course, to learn to accept life without electric power, good hostels, library, and research laboratories, good roads, health care and government failure as the way forward, they graduate and remain grateful to the politician for owning one Okada.

We are endowed with hardworking and knowledgeable health care professionals but we run overseas to treat headaches, and diagnose minor tumors and surgeries. Our neighbours to the north: Mali, Somalia, Sudan, are all terrorists dens and hives, but we leave our borders as porous as ever.

Our Police Force has been conditioned through 33 years of military rule, and 11 years of lies, and big- big grammar under democracy, to accept their lot, to fight more and better equipped criminals and terrorists.

Our Police Force has been conditioned to be ineffective, because we know that an effective police force will investigate our numerous crimes against the poor of the land, and bring us all to book.

Our leaders jostle and clamor for Police security aides and cover because they all know that they have taken what does not belong to them; We have all the resources from God, to keep and maintain less than 4% unemployment rate, but our graduates ride Okada and Keke NA PEPE with pride, we make laws to confiscate their okadas, and destroy their legitimate property in a situation where unemployment rate hovers around 35%; Our mega Pentecostal Churches are led by people who benefited from free education in one form or the other, but today, they build schools that their members children can hardly afford, they raise money from the congregation, build schools which only “unbelievers” can afford to pay for their children.

Our bankers pick up awards from overseas, they declare huge mouthwatering profits, but industries are leaving the country, lending is only short term in support of services and trading; We supply electric power to nations around us who do not experience power outage, while we have children who clap when they find power in their houses, yet some governors are determined to scuttle the plan to give their people power. You tell me God is happy? I disagree, He cannot be happy with us!

The two mirrors for any society is in their law enforcement agencies led by the Police, and the conduct of their religious leaders. Where these two have been conditioned or compromised by their leaders, suffering will abound as it is in Nigeria, and Gods judgment will be imminent!

Mr. CLEMENT UDEGBE, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos.

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LASTMA and KAI Career Evaluation Training Programme

Cross section of Batch 3 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) at the induction parade of the ongoing Career Evaluation Training Programme for Law Enforcement Officers at the Public Service Staff Development Centre, Magodo, Lagos on Monday, October 22, 2012.

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FG moves to reduce cancer deaths

LAGOS— A new data from the National System of Cancer Registries has revealed that no fewer than 7,000 new cases of cancer were recorded across 11 Tertiary hospitals in the country, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has disclosed.

To this end, the Federal Government has begun the procurement of two mobile cancer screening vans, 10 radiotherapy and nuclear medicine equipment to drastically reduce rising number of cancer related deaths as well as ensure proper screening and treatment even in the local communities.

Reeling out the measures already mapped out by the Federal Government in his keynote address during the opening ceremony of the 4th International Cancer week in Nigeria, with the theme; “Together it is Possible to Fight Cancer,” Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu declared that the fight against cancer in the country was holistic.

Chukwu, who was represented by the Director of Procurement in the Federal Ministry of Health, Engineer Samson Opaluwah, said the 7,000 new cases documented in the new data carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, IHVN, corresponds with the average estimated 100,000 new cases of cancers reported in Nigeria annually.

From the data, 60 percent of cancers occur in women and 39.8 percent in men. Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that breast cancer incidence has gone up at least four times over the decade and in 2010, it accounted for 40 per cent of women cancers, closely followed by cervical cancer 17.9 percent, lymphomas and ovarian cancers are next.

Chukwu explained that the two mobile screening vans, which will be fully equipped with cancer screening equipment, would be used to screen people in the local communities for breast, cervical and prostrate cancers.

He stressed that aside from early detection and prompt treatment intervention, the government has increased human capacity, through local and international training.

To further buttress holistic approach to tackling cancer deaths, he said: “Over eight resident doctors, nurses and pharmacists are in training in readiness for the 10 Radiotherapy and nuclear medicine equipment, which are being procured to increase the number of cancer treatment centres.”

“In partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, there are ongoing effort to upscale 10 more teaching hospitals to offer radiotherapy and nuclear medicine services in addition to the five existing ones,” he added.

Lamenting late presentation of cancer patients to the various treatment centres, the minister disclosed that palliative care services have been upgraded to care for them. “We have 29 doctors, 42 nurses, 12 social workers in palliative care so that these patients get the best quality of life at the terminal stage.”

Pointing out that key to palliative care was pain, Chukwu announced that the Federal ministry of health has increased the importation of Morphine for the production of liquid morphine at the federal manufacturing laboratory, yaba to increase access to pain control at an affordable cost.

“Dialogue is currently ongoing with cancer drug manufacturers as to develop strategies to bring down the cost of treating cancer”, he stated.

In her address, the National Coordinator, National cancer Control Programme, NCCP, Dr. Patience Osinubi, who spoke extensively on the theme of the conference, said it buttressed the relevance of the roles of all relevant stakeholders in the fight against cancer.

“The theme is a cry on call to all relevant stakeholders to put in their best in the struggle to down scale the alarming incidence of cancer globally which Nigeria is not spared,” she said.

Chioma Obinna

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