Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON ... CAN ANY GOOD ISSUE FROM THESE PEOPLE'S MOUTHS? : PDP pushed me out because I’m a Christian – Maku replies Mark, Ali ... DailyPost

labaran-maku
The Campaign Organisation of former minister of information, Labaran Maku, says its attention has been drawn to repeated accusations by some leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who continuously portray the governorship candidate of the All Progress Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Labaran Maku as an ingrate for dumping the PDP to pursue his ambition in APGA.
A statement on Wednesday signed by Zakari Edego, Director Publicity, Maku Campaign Organisation observed that the accusations have amounted to blackmailing President Goodluck Jonathan of allegedly sponsoring Mr. Maku to contest the governorship of Nasarawa State on the platform of APGA.
Last week at the PDP rally in Keffi to flag off the campaign of Alhaji Yusuf Agabi, the Senate President, David Mark, accused Mr. Maku of being ungrateful because he left the PDP to emerge as the governorship candidate of APGA in Nasarawa State.
On Tuesday, 27th January, 2015, various speakers at the presidential campaign in Lafia repeated the same accusations.
Maku said while he has high respect for Senator Mark and Dr. Ahmadu Ali and wishes not to join issues with them, he finds it especially curious that Senator Mark has remained mute over the defection in his own native Benue State of Former Minister of State for Trade and Investment Dr. Sam Ortom and former PDP National Chairman Senator Barnabas Gemade who have gone all the way to the opposition APC to contest for the governorship and senatorial positions respectively.
“Why has Senator Mark not condemned these defections from his native Benue state? Why the undue attention on Mr. Maku and Nasarawa State?” it quipped.
“The import of these attacks on the APGA governorship candidate clearly shows that there is panic in the PDP in Nasarawa State following the emergence of Mr. Maku as the Flag bearer of APGA.
“The truth of the matter is that Mr. Maku never told anyone even while contesting for the governorship ticket in the PDP that the president was behind him, neither did he suggest to anyone when he decamped to APGA that President Jonathan supported his decision.
“The PDP primaries was marred by irregularities including the change of delegates’ list and the manipulation of religion to impose Alhaji Yusuf Agabi as candidate. Some delegates’ lives were openly threatened at the ill-fated PDP primaries at Nasarawa town if they ever voted for Mr. Maku.
“Before Mr. Maku left the PDP, he followed the due process to seek redress over the highly bungled governorship primaries including petitioning the PDP Governorship Primaries Appeal Panel under the chairmanship of the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu on the irregularities and other anti-democratic activities that led to the imposition of Alhaji Yusuf Agabi as the candidate of the PDP.
“However, the Appeal Panel neither acknowledged nor invited Mr. Maku to defend the appeal he filed against the conduct of the governorship primary election.
“Since loyalty is crucial in party politics, why was Mr. Maku, a loyal party member and leader of the party in Nasarawa state for four years schemed out of the PDP primaries on the basis of religion?
“Another pertinent question to ask is why scheme out a loyal party member who stood by the party and defended its policies and programmes at the state and national level for many years only to turn around to use his loyalty against him?
“The real issue in Nasarawa state is that some people within and outside the state believe that no Christian should ever be governor of Nasarawa state. Therefore, Mr. Maku is being persecuted purely for religious reasons.
“The attacks on him are orchestrated to sustain the status quo in Nasarawa, which is already leading to destruction of the state by insurgents and mercenaries. This development portends danger to the future unity and development of Nasarawa state and our dear country.
“Mr. Maku’ s well considered decision to leave PDP for APGA was actually intended to bring out the real hidden issues that have continued to undermine the unity and development of Nasarawa State.
“In doing so, he is fully aware that he will be blackmailed and maligned because he ever dared to challenge the status quo by those who want a divided state.
“It is equally curious how some of the PDP chieftains openly expressed their anger because Mr. Maku is campaigning for the president in Nasarawa State even though his new party, the APGA, has adopted Mr. President as its own presidential candidate because of his sterling leadership qualities and many achievements in office.
“The Maku Campaign Organisation views the sustained attack against the APGA candidate as a desperate measure by some leaders of the PDP to distract him from campaigning to defeat their candidate and the incumbent in the upcoming governorship elections as Mr. Maku is experienced enough in politics to know there is no way a sitting president will support him in an opposition party against his own party.”
Maku’s campaign team urges its teeming supporters to disregard all insinuations and threats and sustain the tempo of the campaign for Mr. Labaran Maku and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to emerge as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and governor of Nasarawa State in this year’s general elections.

AND WHAT DO WE NOW SAY TO THIS? : Boko Haram: Nigerian Military warned of Baga, Monguno raids – Amnesty International ... TheCitizen

Civillians in Baga
Nigeria’s military failed to protect civilians despite being warned of impending Islamist attacks on two north-eastern towns where hundreds died this month, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
Boko Haram militants warned residents of Baga “almost two months ago” that they would come there to attack troops and local militias before their January 3 raid on the town, the London-based group said in a statement, citing an unidentified military official.
Boko Haram told locals the next target would be Monguno and the military was informed, Amnesty said. Boko Haram captured Monguno, 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Baga, on Sunday, according to militia member Hassan Ibrahim.
“It is clear from this evidence that Nigeria’s military leadership woefully and repeatedly failed in their duty to protect civilians of Baga and Monguno despite repeated warnings about an impending threat posed by Boko Haram,” Netsanet Belay, Amnesty’s Africa director, said in the statement. “These attacks are an urgent wake-up call for the Nigerian leadership, the African Union and the international community.”
Boko Haram has escalated its violent campaign to impose Shariah, or Islamic rule, in Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation, killing more than 4,700 people last year, double the amount in 2013, risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft estimates. As it attacked Monguno on Sunday, it also made a failed attempt to take Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
About 5,000 people fled Monguno to seek refuge in Maiduguri, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, a spokesman for National Emergency Management Agency, said on Monday.
Varying casualty figures have emerged since those attacks. Amnesty said the raids on Baga and Monguno alone “claimed hundreds of lives.” The military has said initial evidence shows no more than 150 people were killed in the violence around Baga.
Calls to the mobile phones of army spokesman Chris Olukolade and government spokesman Mike Omeri didn’t connect and they didn’t immediately reply to text messages requesting comment.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of more than 170 million people, will hold elections next month in the face of increasing violence by Boko Haram. The insurgents control an area the size of Belgium in the northeast, U.K. Foreign Office Minister of State Hugo Swire said this month.
At least 30 people were killed in Boko Haram assaults on two northeastern towns of Madagali and Michika in the state of Adamawa on Monday, according to Adamu Kamale, a member of the region’s legislature representing the area. – Bloomberg.

A LONG LOST INITIATIVE ... A LOST MORAL GUMPTION : 2015: Arrest Dokubo, Tompolo for war threats – Danjuma ... TheCitizen

Theophilus Danjuma
A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), has called for the arrest of an ex-Niger Delta militants, including Mujahideen Dokubo-Asari and Government Ekpudomenowei (akaTompolo)   for threatening to declare war against the nation if President Goodluck loses the February 14 election.
Danjuma, who described the threat as “unguarded and reckless,” warned that “miscreants” must not be allowed to hold the country by the jugular.
Dokubo-Asari, had at a meeting on Friday at the Bayelsa State Government House, Yenagoa, urged an end to what he termed, the intimidation of the Ijaw by other Nigerians.
“For every Goliath, God created a David. For every Pharaoh, there is a Moses. We are going to war. Every one of you should go and fortify yourself,” he said.
At the meeting were Governor Seriake Dickson, Ekpudomenowei, Victor Ebikabowei (aka Boy Loaf), the   Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Kingsley Kuku and the   President General, the Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri.
Boyloaf also said at the meeting that if the North succeeded in regaining power on February 14,   the people of the Niger Delta would take their oil back.
However, Danjuma while inaugurating the Kwankwasiyya City alongside   Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Wednesday wondered why Dokubo-Asari and Ebikabowei were heating up the polity.
He reminded them that since Nigeria and its resources belonged to everyone,   no one   must hold the government to ransom.
The former Defence minister, therefore, urged the necessary government agencies to immediately arrest the ex-militants.
“You should arrest Asari Dokubo, Tompolo, Boyloaf and other Niger Delta militants for making reckless statements, which in any way does not mean keeping Nigeria as one entity. They   create a war situation.
“Those were reckless statements coming from irresponsible individuals; they should be condemned and   arrested immediately,” he said.
In a situation like this, the issue of entrenching peace in the country is what is needed most. We should not allow some miscreants to hold us to ransom,” he said.
Danjuma, who served as a Defence minister during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, added,   “Nigeria belongs to everybody and we must do everything possible to safeguard her unity.”
He also asked politicians to stop making utterances capable of overheating the polity.
The former minister said, “As we are approaching election time, we must strive to ensure that important issues are thoroughly discussed but not personalities. We want to have a perfect election where no one would have an axe to grind with anybody.
“Once   politicians base their campaigns on issues not personalities and avoid anything capable of causing disaffection, I am confident that we would have foul-free elections.”
He commended Kwankwaso for providing physical infrastructure in the last four years and described the Kwankwasiyya City as one of the modern edifices in the current democratic dispensation.

THINGS FALL APART : David Mark is a hypocrite, says Labaran Maku ... PMNews

Labaran Maku: accuses Mark of ignoring defections in Benue
The Labaran Maku Campaign Organisation has replied some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, who accused him repeatedly of working against the interest of the party, by deciding to contest the governorship election on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA .
But in posting a response, Maku singled out Senate president David Mark, who he accused of hypocrisy, leaving out President Goodluck Jonathan and Senator Ahmadu Ali, all of whom questioned his loyalty to the PDP at the rally 27 January in Lafia.
“While Mr. Maku has high respect for President Jonathan and Dr. Ahmadu Ali and wishes not to join issues with them, he finds it especially curious that Senator Mark has remained mute over the defection in his own native Benue State of Former Minister of State for Trade and Investment Dr. Sam Ortom and former PDP National Chairman Senator Barnabas Gemade who have gone all the way to the opposition APC to contest for the governorship and senatorial positions respectively.
“Why has Senator Mark not condemned these defections from his native Benue state? Why the undue attention on Mr. Maku and Nasarawa State?
“The import of these attacks on the APGA governorship candidate clearly shows that there is panic in the PDP in Nasarawa State following the emergence of Mr. Maku as the Flag bearer of APGA.
“The truth of the matter is that Mr. Maku never told anyone even while contesting for the governorship ticket in the PDP that the president was behind him, neither did he suggest to anyone when he decamped to APGA that President Jonathan supported his decision.
“The PDP primaries were marred by irregularities including the change of delegates’ list and the manipulation of religion to impose Alhaji Yusuf Agabi as candidate. Some delegates’ lives were openly threatened at the ill-fated PDP primaries at Nasarawa town if they ever voted for Mr. Maku.
“Before Mr. Maku left the PDP, he followed the due process to seek redress over the highly bungled governorship primaries including petitioning the PDP Governorship Primaries Appeal Panel under the chairmanship of the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mua’zu on the irregularities and other anti-democratic activities that led to the imposition of Alhaji Yusuf Agabi as the candidate of the PDP.
“However, the Appeal Panel neither acknowledged nor invited Mr. Maku to defend the appeal he filed against the conduct of the governorship primary election.
“Since loyalty is crucial in party politics, why was Mr. Maku, a loyal party member and leader of the party in Nasarawa state for four years schemed out of the PDP primaries on the basis of religion?
“Another pertinent question to ask is why scheme out a loyal party member who stood by the party and defended its policies and programmes at the state and national level for many years only to turn around to use his loyalty against him?
“The real issue in Nasarawa state is that some people within and outside the state believe that no Christian should ever be governor of Nasarawa state. Therefore, Mr. Maku is being persecuted purely for religious reasons.
“The attacks on him are orchestrated to sustain the status quo in Nasarawa, which is already leading to destruction of the state by insurgents and mercenaries. This development portends danger to the future unity and development of Nasarawa state and our dear country.
“Mr. Maku’ s well considered decision to leave PDP for APGA was actually intended to bring out the real hidden issues that have continued to undermine the unity and development of Nasarawa State.
“In doing so, he is fully aware that he will be blackmailed and maligned because he ever dared to challenge the status quo by those who want a divided state.
“It is equally curious how some of the PDP chieftains openly expressed their anger because Mr. Maku is campaigning for the president in Nasarawa State even though his new party, the APGA, has adopted Mr. President as its own presidential candidate because of his sterling leadership qualities and many achievements in office.
“The Maku Campaign Organisation views the sustained attack against the APGA candidate as a desperate measure by some leaders of the PDP to distract him from campaigning to defeat their candidate and the incumbent in the upcoming governorship elections as Mr. Maku is experienced enough in politics to know there is no way a sitting president will support him in an opposition party against his own party.
“We therefore urge our teeming supporters to disregard all insinuations and threats and sustain the tempo of the campaign for Mr. Labaran Maku and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to emerge as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and governor of Nasarawa State in this year’s general elections.’

AFTER EXPOSING THE LIES AND FALSEHOOD BEHIND THE JONATHAN CAMPAIGN : Buhari’s Certificate: PDP to pass vote of no confidence on INEC – Fani-Kayode ... PMNews

Femi Fani-Kayode, Director of Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation
The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the issues surrounding the certificate of APC Presidential Candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, or face a vote of no-confidence from the party.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Director, Directorate of Media and Publicity of the organisation, said this at a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja.
The briefing, he said, was to raise issues that played up on the certificate of Buhari, adding that Buhari had made a shocking and belated disclosure on January 27, that the INEC had his documents without being specific about the documents he was referring to.
This, he said, was yet another “squalid attempt to give Nigerians the impression that INEC has his certificate.
“If this is true, it represents a somersault from his original position which was that INEC has his affidavit and it once again reveals Gen. Buhari for what he is.
“With this latest antic, Gen. Buhari is obviously trying to smuggle a newly acquired certificate into INEC through the backdoor.
“If this is true and if INEC allows such a thing to happen, it would put a serious question mark on its impartiality and credibility.
“It would mean that it has collected his newly-acquired certificate, 40 days outside the stipulation of the Law.”
Fani-Kayode said that Gen. Buhari had also referred Nigerians to INEC’s Legal Adviser on the issue, adding that the same legal adviser had earlier in response to numerous inquiries in December 2014, told the newsmen that INEC had published all that the presidential candidates submitted.
He had said that in the case of Buhari, FORM CF001 (no certificate attached) and affidavit which was a court papers and not personal document was submitted.
Fani-Kayode, therefore, wondered at what point the affidavit transmitted into additional documents or when additional documents were provided to INEC in line with the law.
“The electoral body must come clean on this matter; otherwise we will be compelled to pass a no-confidence vote on it.
“If INEC is complicit in the desperate and despicable attempt to extricate Gen. Buhari, without compliance with the provisions of the law, from this lingering embarrassment, we will have no other choice than to harbour the suspicion and fear that the electoral body is already compromised and can lend itself to the ungodly agenda of truncating our victory when our candidate wins.”
He, however, urged the election observers to keep watch of the unfolding events regarding Buhari’s qualification or otherwise, stressing that in other countries, it was about obeying the rule of law and not about protecting the political interest of an individual.
This, he said, was especially so since a free, fair and credible election was not about the day of voting alone, but also the processes leading up to the elections

WHEN THE POT BEGIN CALL KETTLE BLACK .. UNVEILING THE ATTACK DOG IN NOI INA OKUPE STYLEE : Okonjo-Iweala attacks Soludo, says he’s Nigeria’s worst CBN governor ever ... PremiumTimes

Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Wednesday took the former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Chukwuma Soludo, to the cleaners over his criticism  of President Goodluck Jonathan’s management of the country’s economy, saying his comments amounted to committing “intellectual hara-kiri”.
The Minister, who spoke through her Special Adviser on Media, Paul Nwabuikwu, accused Mr. Soludo of single-handedly mismanaging the country’s banking sector between May 2004 and May 2009 and plunging the country into “an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion”.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, apparently livid, described the former CBN governor as “an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space” who is “so derailed” to “commit intellectual harakiri by deliberately misquoting economic facts and maliciously turning statistics on their head to justify a hatchet job”.
“Soludo has shamelessly pandered to so many past leaders that Nigerians are asking one more time – what position is Soludo gunning for now?” she asked.
“There is definitely an issue of character with Prof. Charles Soludo and his desperate search for power and relevance in Nigeria. Nigerians should therefore beware of so-called intellectuals without character and wisdom because this combination is fatal,” she added.
More to come…..
Meanwhile, read full statement by the minister below.
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BEYOND BELIEF: SOLUDO’S SELF-SERVING ARTICLE ON ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT IS DEFICIT IN FACTS, LOGIC AND HONOUR
(Response to “Buhari Vs Jonathan: Beyond the Election, by Charles Soludo”)
For anyone who has not read Professor Charles Soludo’s article on January 25 2015, I would encourage them to do so. It is littered with abusive and unbecoming language. It shows how an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space can get so derailed that they commit intellectual harakiri by deliberately misquoting economic facts and maliciously turning statistics on their head to justify a hatchet job.
We hope all the intellectuals in the international circles, in which Professor Soludo has told us he flies around in, will read what a Professor of Economics has chosen to do with his intellect.
In this one article, Soludo has shamelessly pandered to so many past leaders that Nigerians are asking one more time – what position is Soludo gunning for now? He claims in his article that he has had his own share of public service, yet he has failed twice in his attempts to be Governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential candidate of various parties. There is definitely an issue of character with Prof. Charles Soludo and his desperate search for power and relevance in Nigeria. Nigerians should therefore beware of so-called intellectuals without character and wisdom because this combination is fatal.
But let us turn to the main subject of Soludo’s discourse. So much of what is written is outright nonsense and self-seeking aggrandizement that need not be dignified with a response. It is totally remarkable that Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the man who presided over the worst mismanagement of Nigeria’s banking sector as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria between May 2004 and May 2009, can write about the mismanagement of the economy.
Nigerians must be reminded of his antecedents as CBN Governor, and even prior to that, as the Chief Economic Adviser to the President.
The consolidation of the banking sector was a good policy idea of the Obasanjo Administration, but Soludo went on to thoroughly mismanage its implementation leading to the worst financial crisis in Nigeria’s history. So what did Soludo do?
After consolidation, the regulatory functions of the Soludo-led CBN were very poorly exercised. As Governor, he failed to adequately supervise and regulate the now larger banks – an anomaly in Financial Sector Supervision.
In fact as every Nigerian knows, in his time there was very little separation between the regulators and the regulated, which is a violation of a key requirement of Central Banking success. This led to infractions in corporate governance in many banks as loans and other credit instruments running to hundreds of billions of naira were extended to clients without following due process, and several of these loans could not be paid back. This massive accumulation of bad debts, or non-performing loans as they are called in the banking sector, meant that our banks were ill-positioned to deal with the global financial crisis when it hit.
In fact, the banking sector was brought to its knees and required a massive bailout by Nigerian tax payers.
This bailout was done by his successor (now Emir of Kano), who cleaned up all the bad debts and transferred them to the newly-established AMCON (Asset Management Company of Nigeria), from where they are managed today.
So let it be noted for the record books that Soludo’s single-handed mismanagement of the banking sector led to an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion (being the total face value of AMCON-issued bonds) to clean up.
Let it be noted also that this amount, which is more than the entire Federal Government 2015 Budget, constitutes the bulk of Nigeria’s “contingent liabilities” mentioned in Soludo’s article.
It is only in Nigeria where someone who perpetrated such a colossal economic atrocity would have the temerity to make assertions on public debt and the management of the economy.
Let us now look at some of the points he makes. Luckily, Soludo has told us that he has been busy travelling internationally, hobnobbing with his global partners.
It is obvious from this article that from the rarefied heights at which he is flying he is completely out of touch with what is happening with the management of this economy.
Take his comments on the mismanagement of the economy and the imposition of the austerity measures. The present fall in oil prices, a global phenomenon over which Nigeria has no control, has given every charlatan the opportunity to attack the economy, and by extension the managers of the economy.
It is true that the economy grew well during the second-term of former President Obasanjo as a result of the reforms supported by the President and implemented by the Economic Management Team. Please note that the Finance Minister under whose leadership that good performance took place, including massive unprecedented debt relief, is still Finance Minister today.
But thorough examination of the facts on performance under the Jonathan Administration will also reveal that at a time when global economic performance was mediocre, with GDP (gross domestic product) growth averaging about 3 percent per annum, Nigeria’s GDP growth – averaging about 6 percent per annum – is indeed remarkable.
Even more interesting is the fact that the oil sector did not drive this economic performance, but the non-oil sector (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Telecommunications, the Creative Economy, and so on), which shows that the current Administration’s diversification objective under the Transformation Agenda is working. Transformation equals diversification
This current government managed to control inflation, which he Soludo, was not able to do during his time at the helm of monetary policy in Nigeria.
When he left the Central Bank in 2009, inflation – which hurts the poor and vulnerable in the society the most – was above 13 percent per annum.
Now, inflation is at single-digit, at 8 percent per annum. What about exchange rates? Well this administration again managed to stabilize the Naira exchange rates, such that between May 2011 and the end of 2014, official exchange rates against the dollar rarely moved out of the N153 to N156 band.
It is only with the recent dramatic fall in oil prices and the consequent impact on our foreign reserves that the exchange rate has become quite volatile.
The drop in oil price has been heavy and rapidly impacting all oil producing nations significantly. Nigeria is no exception and appropriate fiscal and monetary policy measures are being put in place to manage this situation.
In fact, history will recall that careless remarks by Prof. Soludo (then Chief Economic Adviser to the President) hypothesizing a possible Naira devaluation, condemned the Naira to a free fall towards the end of 2003.
Ray Echebiri, in his 2004 article in the Financial Standard, wrote that not even the assurances given by the then CBN Governor, Mr. Joseph Sanusi or President Obasanjo that any plans to devalue the Naira existed only in the head of Professor Soludo could halt the fall of the Naira from N128 to the dollar in the official market to about N140 between September and December 2003.
It is true that our foreign reserve accumulation is less than what it should be, but the reason for this has been fully given, not as excuses, but simply as fact: lower oil production and crude oil theft along with the refusal to save in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) are the reasons. Contrary to what Soludo said, oil production under President Obasanjo was higher than current levels.
Quantities produced averaged 2.4 million barrels per day, bpd; 2.22 million bpd, and 2.21 million bpd in 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively, but has declined now to between 1.95 and 2.21 million bpd due to vandalism of the pipelines and the resulting “shut-ins” to fix the problem.
It is true that had production been at the previous levels and had there been willingness to save, we would have had more money in the ECA and also in the reserves.
But, the overriding setback to savings is that the State Governors felt it was their constitutional right to share the money. Please recall that even as we speak the States have taken the Federal Government to the Supreme Court on this issue.
Soludo’s claim that 71 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line is misleading and disingenuous. He uses 2011 statistics on poverty by the NBS to support his argument, while ignoring more recent figures.
But, as stated in the Nigeria Economic Report 2014 by the World Bank, poverty rate in Nigeria has dropped from 35.2 percent of population in 2010/2011 to 33.1 percent in 2012/2013.
By the way, the reason why our poverty numbers have been so wrong is that the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, under Soludo’s supervision as CEA and Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission, departed from the international standard method of poverty measurement. Is he now ignoring the right economic statistics to wilfully manipulate information?
No doubt we have a problem with unemployment in this country and we must deal with it.
Indeed, this Administration is dealing with it and stands proud of what it has accomplished so far and is pushing hard to accomplish much more.
As a first step, the Administration, through the office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President and the NBS, worked hard to determine how many jobs we need to create in a year. What you don’t measure you cannot make progress on. Why didn’t Soludo do this when he was CEA?
We need to create about 1.8 million jobs a year in this country to cater for the new entrants into the labour market, but we also need to deal with the backlog of the unemployed and the underemployed, e.g. those selling on the streets.
Dealing with this global challenge of unemployment is not an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion easy task for any country, as can be seen from the experiences of developed countries particularly in the euro area.
But the Jonathan Administration is making good progress, creating an average of about 1.4 million jobs per year by driving quality growth in key sectors like Agriculture, where the bulk of new jobs are being created, Housing, Manufacturing, Financial Services, and the Creative Industries like Nollywood.
In addition we have special programs to promote job creation among the youth and these include:
– Promoting entrepreneurship among the youth through the “Nagropreneurs” program to support 750,000 youth farmers with grants and training, and the YOUWIN program that is directly supporting up to 5,400 young entrepreneurs with grants, training, and mentorship and so far beneficiaries are creating an average of 9 jobs each, for themselves and others. About 22,000 jobs have been created by the first 2,400 youwinners.
– Graduate Internship Scheme: that is reducing the vulnerability of unemployed graduates by enhancing their employability. The Scheme targets up to 50,000 unemployed graduates in the 36 states of the Federation and FCT and about 22,000 graduates have so far been placed by the program.
– Community Services Scheme under SURE-P: developed to empower young unskilled Nigerians, women and people with disabilities. About 120,000 mostly young workers have been engaged across the country
On the issue of debt, Nigerians deserve to know the truth and we have said it before. The truth is that the government borrowed in 2010 to pay an unprecedented 53.7 percent wage increase to all categories of federal employees as demanded by labour unions.  The total wage bill rose from N857 billion in 2009 to about N1.4 trillion in 2010, and as a result, domestic borrowing increased from N200 billion in 2007 to about N1.1 trillion in 2010 to meet the wage payments. Where was Soludo at the time? Why did he not react to the borrowing then? Was it because he wanted to pander to labour in preparation for his political career?
It is noteworthy that since 2011, the Administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been prudent with the issue of debt and borrowing. The Economic Management Team not only looks at debt to GDP ratio, where Nigeria has one of the lowest numbers in the world at 12.51 percent but it looks at debt service to revenues. That is why in spite of the rebasing and a larger GDP, the administration has taken a prudent approach to borrowing. The prudent approach helped to drive down domestic borrowing from N1.1 trillion in 2010 to N642 billion in 2014. In fact for the first time in our nation’s borrowing history we even managed to retire N75 billion of domestic bonds outright in 2013.
Despite the present tough situation, we do not plan to go on a borrowing spree but to keep borrowing modest at a level sufficient to help us weather the present situation. We have already ramped up efforts to generate more non-oil revenues for the government while cutting costs of governance. Therefore, Soludo’s claim that this Administration is reckless with debt does not hold true.
Since Soludo seems so ignorant to what has been achieved by the Jonathan Administration, let us present just a few examples of them here again. This information is easily verified.
We are improving infrastructure across the country. For example, 22 airport terminals are being refurbished, and five new international airport terminals under construction in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja, and Enugu. Soludo’s kinsmen in the South East now have an international airport in Enugu, and for the first time in Nigeria’s history can fly direct from Enugu to anywhere in world for which they are very grateful to this Administration. But with Soludo being up in the air with his international travels, he has not touched ground in the Southeast to observe this development for himself.
Various road and bridge projects have either been completed or are under construction. Those completed include the Enugu – Abaliki road in Enugu/Ebonyi States, the Oturkpo – Oweto road in Benue State, the Benin – Ore – Shagamu highway, and the Abuja – Abaji – Lokoja dualization, and the Kano – Maiduguri dualization. The Lagos – Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge are under construction.
Rail from Lagos to Kano is now functional, as is parts of the rail link between Port Harcourt and Maiduguri. All these have brought transport costs down. We recognise that more needs to be done in the power sector, but bold steps (like the privatisation of the GENCOs and DISCOs) have been taken, and our gas infrastructure is being developed to power electricity generation
In Agriculture, over 6 million farmers now have access to inputs like fertilizers and seeds through an e-wallet system, which is more than the 403,222 that had access in 2011. Rice paddy production took off for the first time in our history, adding about 7 million MT to rice supply. An additional 1.3 million MT of Cassava has also been produced and as a result, the rate of food price increase has slowed considerably, according to the NBS.
In Housing, we have put in place a new wholesale mortgage provider – the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC) – to provide affordable mortgages to ordinary Nigerians, starting with those in the low-middle income bracket. This sector will help the economy grow as we tap it as an economic driver for the first time. Mortgage applications from 66,000 people are currently being processed and 23,000 have already received mortgage offers
Our Manufacturing sector is reviving with new automobile plants by Nissan, Toyota, etc. This is in addition to the backward integration policy in key sectors like petrochemical, sugar, textiles, agro processing and cement, which Nigeria is now producing 39,000 MT and exporting to the region.
The Creative sector is now a factor in our GDP, with Nollywood alone accounting for 1.4 percent, creating over 200,000 direct jobs and nearly 1 million indirect jobs. This is the first Administration to recognise its importance and support its further development with a grant program.
A new bank – the Development Bank of Nigeria – will soon be operational and this bank will help bridge the access to finance gap, which is a major constraint for the private sector especially SMEs. The bank will provide long-term (5 – 10 years) financing at affordable rates for the first time in our nation’s history.
This is the path that the government has been on before this fall in oil prices. The response to the economic shock has been spelled out to the Nigerian public over and over again, and the Administration intends to focus on managing this crisis appropriately. This year will be difficult. To say anything less to Nigerians will be untruthful. It would have been better if there had been a bigger cushion of the Excess Crude Account to manage this situation but despite this the nation can rise to the challenge.
More importantly, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Economic Management Team are seeing this as an opportunity to diversify the revenue sources of an already diversifying economy. In fact let me at this juncture use this opportunity to comment on Soludo’s appalling statement that rebasing brings no policy value. Rebasing has enabled us to better grasp the new diversified nature of our economy. This provides the basis for our present drive to support different sectors with appropriate policy instruments to enhance their development. Rebasing has also enabled the Administration to create the platform from which to drive our work on increasing non-oil revenues. These are areas of critical policy value.
Soludo mentioned the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, noting that this Administration has not been vocal or clear on its direction with this agreement. On the contrary, the Administration, particularly the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, has been clear on this issue but since Soludo has been in the air he probably has not been aware of this. Just recently, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment reiterated again to the corporate sector that Nigeria has not signed and does not propose to sign the EPA in its present form.
The point is that this government has been pursuing the right economic policies, and its efforts have been acknowledged nationally and internationally. Let me say that there are objective ways to measure performance. There are international institutions globally accepted to do this. They have acknowledged this Administration’s good economic management up to the recent crisis and even now.
We cannot go by someone’s subjective view, driven by bitterness and bile. We need to look to the truth and to professionalism. This is where Professor Soludo totally fails. For the other gratuitous, political, and personal attacks, we are sure that those mentioned will respond appropriately. It is a sad day for Nigeria and the economics profession that someone like Soludo, a former CBN governor should write such an article. If Soludo wants to regain respect, he should return to the path of professionalism. He certainly needs something to improve his image from that of someone whose sojourn into National Economic Management ended in disaster for the banking sector, his sojourn in politics, ended in overwhelming rejection by the electorate, and more recently, his sojourn abroad, has put him out of touch with the reality of the Nigerian economy.
Paul C Nwabuikwu
Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance

JONATHAN AND HIS OPPRESSIVE PRESENCE : Passengers miss flights as Airport road is shut for Jonathan ... DailyTrust


Many passengers travelling to various destinations across the country early yesterday morning missed their flights as the road to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, Abuja was blocked to allow smooth passage for the president and his entourage.
The blockage resulted to a traffic logjam on both sections of the road as passengers hurrying to catch up morning flights were held up for over two hours.
Airport sources said though the road was blocked by security operatives to create unhindered passageway for the president, which was a routine, movement to the airport was also held down by the military’s stop-and-search and an event at the Nigeria Immigration Services headquarters.
Some passengers could not hide their frustration and anger over the gridlock as they had to resort to trekking to the airport to meet up with their flights. 
Daily Trust gathered that passengers who had scheduled Lagos, Enugu and Calabar flights around 11 a.m. were mostly affected.
The situation, it was learnt, prompted some airlines particularly Arik Air to delay its 11 a.m. flights to Lagos and Enugu and likewise its Calabar flights scheduled for 11:20 a.m. to accommodate the affected passengers.
However, Aero Contractors Airline passengers who were not fortunate to make it for the 11 a.m. Lagos flight missed out.
Traffic on the road normalised at noon when our reporter visited but witnesses described the situation as terrible and uncalled for.