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ICT to save Nigeria N1.5trillion in foreign education – Adebayo Shittu

ITRealms : The Minister of Communications, Alhaji. Adebayo Shittu has said that recent commitment of the Federal Government to the deve...

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ICT to save Nigeria N1.5trillion in foreign education – Adebayo Shittu

The Minister of Communications, Alhaji. Adebayo Shittu has said that recent commitment of the Federal Government to the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) could drastically reduce the huge amount of N1.5 trillion being spent on Nigerian students studying in foreign educational institutions, reports ITRealms.

He was optimistic that if the Federal Government succeeded in establishing the proposed ICT University of Nigeria, the country will not only develop world- class local capacity, but also reduce the strain on the Naira through reduction of foreign currency sourced for the training of citizens outside the country.

The minister said government is prepared to use ICT to foster youth empowerment and development through granting of loans, sponsorships and financial support among other innovative schemes to lucrative business ideas.

The minister made this disclosure at a lecture titled; Jobs Nowhere But Jobs Everywhere: ICT To The Rescue Of Unemployed Youths And Graduates at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan at the weekend said about 20 million youths and graduates are currently unemployed.

Stating the acknowledgement of the Buhari’s administration to use ICT as a critical pillar to leverage on job and wealth creation as well as on economy and a critical tool in diversifying the Nigerian economy and recognising the role of ICT in making it a reality, he said, government established one form of ICT infrastructure or the other across the six geopolitical zones.

He disclosed that the plan to build a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in Abuja is part of the preparations for the 4thIndustrial Revolution is on course. Similarly, and that a plan to “build a $1 billion-dollar ICT company” to boost indigenous technology has been articulated.

Elaborating on the planned ICT University, Shittu said,” We already have the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) which is for short term training programmes, in six locations across the country and we will transform this Institute into the ICT University of Nigeria. This unique University would by God’s grace take off effectively in September 2017 and would be run as a Public Private Partnership with the best business and entrepreneurship models.

“I have engaged with several stakeholders at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson and am still talking to many more stakeholders. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the respective university campuses as their own.

“I am happy to report that this project is receiving a global boost and endorsement. The committee set up has been working round the clock on the realization of this objective, and has indeed submitted its final report on Tuesday 18th July 2017. A Vice Chancellor and other senior officials would soon be appointed.

“The ICT University will be a multi-campus institution of the present Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) located in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Asaba and Yola.”

He said a recent World Bank report revealed that ICT is transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global and accordingly, ICT is influencing employment both as an industry that create jobs and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of works in new and more flexible ways. He added that the ICT sector alone contributed N500 billion into the nation’s economy in 2014 and created about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years. The statistics also show that the sector attracted about $30 billion of foreign investment from 2003 to 2014.

The minister, therefore urged Nigerian Universities to take a cue from what is happening in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem value chain and put their various faculties on the path of growth and prosperity by leveraging on ICT. He also promised that the government would provide the much needed infrastructure and favourable policies that would create the enabling environment for young people to innovate unhindered in the various start-ups and innovative centres across the country.

“The digital revolution that has the power to transform societies is already underway. Success belongs to those who innovate and seize available opportunities. I want to assure you that I will go talking with development partners home and abroad on the importance of investing in ICT today to leap-frog the nation’s growth for today and the future.

“If we must achieve the desired goal of placing Nigeria on the global ICT mark thereby using it as major tool for job creation, earmarking investment for ICT is not enough. More importantly, we have to decide that we are going to do it by developing and churning out fit-for-purpose youths from our institutions for the exceptional ICT market and opportunities at the global level”, he said.


Ayo Midele/GEE 

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Egmont's suspension of Nigerai: A case for NFIC Bill

Three weeks ago, the hammer of the world’s watchdog on money laundering and terrorist financing, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units fell on Nigeria for non-compliance with global best standards. The crux of the matter is the absence of autonomy for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit-NFIU.

The suspension which was announced at the Egmont Group meeting held in China from July 2nd to 7th, 2017, was following the refusal of Nigeria to make NFIU autonomous in its funding, operations and management of financial intelligence. The failure of Nigeria to pass a law making the NFIU independent is the kernel of the matter.

If Nigeria fails to comply with the group’s demand for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU by January, 2018, the country will be expelled from the global body, which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

When expelled, Nigeria will no longer be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other one hundred and fifty member-countries, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad will be hampered.

Another major consequence will be the blacklisting of Nigeria in international finance, and this could affect the issuance of Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards by Nigerian banks. In fact, financial instruments from Nigeria may not be honoured abroad.

It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some major international transactions. Nigeria’s membership of the Egmont Group ensured the removal of Nigerian banks from the blacklist of international finance. The blacklisting had prevented the banks from engaging in correspondent banking with foreign institutions and also denied Nigerians access to foreign credit cards.

Joining the Egmont group of FIUs was not easy for Nigeria. It is in fact, one of the greatest legacies of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. The suspension of Nigeria is a heavy blow; a major setback, and If Nigeria is expelled, then the country is in real mess.

Nigeria claims to have its FIU as an autonomous Unit in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; a situation that has exposed the country to international ridicule and embarrassment. Events over the years clearly show that there is no semblance of autonomy enjoyed by the NFIU.

The constant leaking of sensitive intelligence to Nigerian media, contrary to global best practices and the indiscriminate removal of FIU Directors by successive chairmen of the EFCC say it all.

In 2014, the Egmont Group warned Nigeria that it may suspend her if she refuses to enact a law granting NFIU autonomy. This warning never made any difference, as those opposed to the move worked very hard to suppress information and bend the rules. Now, that which stakeholders tried to avoid has finally happened. The worst- expulsion will certainly happen if we do not call the enemies of the country to order and do the needful.

There are four types of globally acknowledged Financial Intelligence Units. The first is the administrative type-FIU, which focuses on the traditional functions of an FIU- to collect, analyze and disseminate financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other authorized entities. This type of FIU does not engage in law enforcement or prosecution.

Next is the law enforcement type of FIU, which performs Police functions of arrest, detention, interrogation, investigation and prosecution; in addition to the traditional functions of an FIU, thereby becoming the custodians of Intelligence, as well as the end users.

The third type is the Judicial FIU, which engages in collation and analysis of financial intelligence, investigation, as well as prosecution of offenders; while the fourth is the hybrid type of FIU, which is a combination of the elements in the three earlier mentioned, depending on domestic preferences.

Nigeria joined the Egmont Group in 2007, opting for an administrative type of FIU. Having registered as an administrative FIU, it must be outside a law enforcement agency. The claim that we have our FIU in EFCC is indeed ridiculous. More laughable is that the EFCC Act describes the EFCC as Nigeria’s FIU.

The major advantage of an administrative-type FIU is that it focuses on the traditional functions of an FIU and not encumbered with police and prosecutorial duties. Indeed, the mandate of the FIU is different from that of law enforcement agencies such as the police and the EFCC. While law enforcement agencies carry out investigations and also prosecute, FIUs do not. This allows for specialization, separation of powers and responsibilities, checks and balances, transparency and accountability. Concentration of multiple responsibilities in the FIU beyond the traditional duties makes the FIU susceptible to abuse of such powers.

For example, in the United States of America, just like Nigeria, where there is more than one law enforcement agency, the FIU is located in the Department of Treasury/Finance. This is to separate the functions of intelligence collection from police duties (investigation) and judicial functions (prosecution), lest there will be over concentration of powers and abuse of such powers.

Similarly, countries such as Canada, Australia, Belgium and France have their FIUs located in their respective Ministries of Finance.

Of all the 14 countries in West Africa with an FIU, Nigeria is the only jurisdiction that currently domiciles its FIU in a law enforcement agency - EFCC, even when it is registered as an administrative-type FIU. This is a misnomer. Ten of the West African countries have their FIUs domiciled in their respective Ministries of Finance, while two others have theirs domiciled in Central Banks and one in Ministry of Justice.

The surest way out of the country’s present quagmire is the enactment of a law that grants autonomy to the NFIU. This is the exact thing the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency/Center Bill presently being considered by the National Assembly seeks to achieve.
The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center Bill will ensure that the NFIU is not tied to any agency but will have adequate measures to build an independent financial intelligence system.

The Bill seeks to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center asthe central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analyzing and disseminating financial and other related information to all law enforcement, security agencies and other relevant authorities, as well as exchange of intelligence with over 150 FIUs globally.

NFIC is to serve all law enforcement agencies, regulators and other authorized agencies (EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NDLEA, CBN, CUSTOMS, POLICE, NAPTIP, CBN etc) and domiciling it in any of the interested agencies/parastatals will mean giving undue advantage to one over the others.

In Ghana, the FIU has an independent board and Executive Director. It is located under the Ministry of Finance. In Gambia, the FIU is located in the Central Bank; while in Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo, it is located under the Ministry of Finance.

More so, the mandate of an FIU is different from that of law enforcement; while law enforcement agencies carry out investigations and also prosecute, FIUs do not.

Nigeria opted for an administrative FIU when it registered with the Egmont group in 2007. Having registered an administrative FIU, the operations have to be outside a law enforcement agency.


Majority of the administrative FIU types all over the world are administrative and none, apart from Nigeria is domiciled in a law enforcement center. They are mostly domiciled in the Ministry of Finance, Justice or Central Bank.

In addition, it is a misnomer to have an independent Board for the proposed Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center within an EFCC that has a Board with an Executive Chairman. It will not work, as there will be conflict. There cannot be an independent Board within a parastatal.

Also, it is always best to separate the functions of intelligence collection from Police duties so as to avoid overconcentration of powers and the natural consequence of abuse. NFIC as being contemplated today will address inter agency rivalry.

It is on record that Nigeria applied for membership of the Financial Action Task Force and the FATF assessment team is expected in Nigeria in November, 2017, and without the NFIC law in operation, Nigeria cannot be admitted. The country remains disconnected from the secured Web of the Egmont group of FIUs. Only a truly independent FIU can guarantee a way forward for the country.

In the light of the international obligations and standards imposed by various international instruments, to which Nigeria has acceded to, it is imperative that steps are taken to properly define and establish the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center, by clearly defining its mandates in the law.

As the National Assembly deliberates on the NFIC Bill, stakeholders must jettison every form of sentiment and support the move to align Nigeria with international best practices, especially, at this critical period of terrorism, which financing is mainly done through money laundering.
Only a truly independent Financial Intelligence Center can address the country’s security challenges through effective money laundering and terrorist financing checks.

Civil Society, Media and all sectors of the country’s economy must join the crusade to save the country by strengthening the legal framework against corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

All hands must be on deck!

Dr. Walter Duru is a Public Affairs analyst; Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption- MIIVOC and Chairman, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria- FOICN. Reach him on: walterchike@gmail.com

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Abuja hosts DStv customer forum

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja at the weekend played host to the subscribers of pay TV service, DStv, a brand of MultiChoice Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

The forum, ITRealms gathered was held on Saturday, 22 July to interact with a session of DSTv customer in the central business district area of Abuja.

The Public Relations Manager, MultiChoice Nigeria, Caroline Oghuma, told ITRealms that the Customer Forum, is a regular customer engagement initiative by MultiChoice Nigeria aimed at having face-to-face interactions with customers in a bid to deepen relationships.

She also said, the forum provides a platform for valuable discourse with customers through constructive feedback on their experiences from using various DStv services and products.
“We value every opportunity to meet with our customers to receive their feedback on our services”, she said.

While acknowledging series of challenges in any business, she said what is important is that the business finds ways to address and proffer solutions to them.

“We have heard our subscribers and will work on enhancing the quality of our services based on the issues raised today. At MultiChoice Nigeria, we are reshaping our business to improve our customers’ experience, whenever and wherever they engage with us” said Oghuma.

Pointing out that issues raised and addressed at the forum included signal loss, subscription disconnection at due date, customer care services, content scheduling, program repeats and other hardware related issues.

On the issue of subscription disconnection, subscribers were advised to make renewals on or before their due dates to avoid interruptions in their DStv services.

“You can either pay through the Quickteller online platform or simply walk into any of our offices or dealer offices and make over-the-counter payments”, Oghuma said, stressing that it was not all complaints however as some customers had some commendations to give the company.

One of such commendations came from Victor Nwoyi. He said: “I would like to use this forum to appreciate DStv for its upgrades. As a business entity, it is not easy to thrive in a country like ours. For DStv to thrive this hyper-inflation and economic recession; DStv is not doing badly in Nigeria. God bless DStv”.

Present at the forum included DStv dealers and sales representatives as well as representatives of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), regulatory agencies of MultiChoice Nigeria.


Chuks Egbune/GEE 
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Catholic Medics say technology without adequate safety is immoral

The Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (ACMPN) has declared that the application of any technology without adequate assurance of safety is immoral, reports ITRealms.

Rising from its 12th scientific conference and annual general meeting with the theme Genetically-Modified Organisms: How Harmful, Harmless or Beneficial? which took place at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt from 6th to 8th July, 2017, the group noted that food and adequate nutrition are among the basic needs of people; and so the case for improved methods of food production and distribution is legitimate and noble.

ACMPN in a communique made available to ITRealms at the weekend and endorsed by the National President, Dr. Emmanuel Okechukwu and Secretary, Local Organising Committee (LOC), Dr. Nera Kadiri-Eneh, pointed out that strict control is necessary in the introduction and deployment of new technologies in such area as the manipulation of genetic materials across species, the effects of which we may not predict or mitigate.

“We commend the efforts by the government in establishing the GMO regulatory and development agencies. However, it would appear that both funding and technical capacity render them ill-equipped to effectively and efficiently carry out their essentially patriotic roles. In the current scenario, the processes of regulating GMOs are skewed in favour of the international promoters and merchants of GMOs who wield strong financial influences. 

"Thus, without substantially exploiting the existing safe and natural technologies neither of agricultural advancements nor of our vast land and water resources (including the new pro-biotic microbial technology), dabbling into the controversial GMO technology is overtly precarious,” the group said.

They stressed their endorsement of the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria expressed at the sensitization workshop on faith-based perspectives on GMOs which was co-hosted by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria on February 7, 2017 in Abuja, to the effect that in order to protect the health of Nigerians and the integrity of our agricultural landscape as well as national food security, the Precautionary Principle should be applied.

In addition, ACMPN said they aligned with the position of eminent Nigerian Christian and Muslim scholars convoked by the Nigerian Inter-Religious Committee (NIREC) which in 2016 evaluated some 250 documented evidences and interacted with the Nigerian GMO regulatory and development agencies on the issues of GMO safety.

Further, the committee concluded that there are illegal GMOs already circulating in the country as foods, which are unknown to, and unregulated by the designated agencies. Also, other illegal and unverified GMO crops are in dissemination within the country’s agricultural map. This situation is highly deplored as it portends grave dangers to family health and national food security.

A total of 77 participants from 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory as well as 14 dioceses attended the events.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Pix: Onu Ogbonnia, Minister Science & Technology
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Mohammed mourns Adebayo Faleti, says a colossus is gone



The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described the death of renowned author, poet, broadcaster and actor, Pa Adebayo Faleti at the age of 86, as a huge loss to the country's Creative Sector in particular and to the entire nation in general, reports ITRealms.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, the Minister said Pa Faleti was a trailblazer and a colossus across many genres, who left an indelible footprint in the Nigerian landscape.

He said generations of authors, poets, broadcasters and actors owe Pa Faleti a debt of gratitude for his dedication, hard work and love of country.

Alhaji Mohammed commiserated with the family and friends of the departed, as well as all practitioners in the sector, and prayed that God will comfort them and grant repose to the soul of the departed.


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Packaging technology for showcase in West Africa

The producers of process and packaging technologies are for showcase at the forthcoming West Africa Agrofood 2017 slated for Accra, Ghana, reports ITRealms.

The German trade fair specialists, FairTrade confirmed to ITRealms that the 4th edition of Agrofood & Plastprintpack West Africa slated for 05-07 December 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana.

ITRealms gathered that producers of process and packaging technology obviously see great chances for business in Ghana and the surrounding West African countries, hence they are participating in this event.

Official national pavilions, ITRealms gathered, have been confirmed by Algeria, Belarus, France and the Netherlands, in addition to leading exhibitors from 10 countries.

According to VDMA German Food Processing and Packaging Association, Ghanaian imports of process and packaging technology increased by 10 per cent in 2016 to 77 million euro whereas West African imports of the same also went up by 10 per cent to 557 million euro.

Also, the association said, Ghanaian imports in the plastics, printing and packaging sector rose sharply last year, as Plastics technology up 4 per cent to 23.4 million euro; Printing and paper technology up 32 per cent to 22.4 million euro; and Packaging technology up 2 per cent to 30.1 million euro.


FairTrade told ITRealms they were not surprised that producers of process and packaging technology saw the opportunity in Ghana and its surrounding West African countries.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Genetically-Modified Organisms: How Harmful, Harmless or Beneficial?

Communique@ITRealms: 

PREAMBLE
The Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (ACMPN) held its 12th scientific conference and annual general meeting with the theme Genetically-Modified Organisms: How Harmful, Harmless or Beneficial? It took place at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt from 6th to 8th July, 2017A total of 77 participants from 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory as well as 14 dioceses attended the events.

The pre-conference retreat and daily Holy Masses were celebrated by the national chaplain of the Association (Rev. Fr. Dr. Emmanuel Anagor). We received a goodwill message from Dr. John Lee - president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), headquartered at the Vatican.

The conference addressed thissues of genetically-modified organisms (foods) and their introduction in Nigeria from various perspectives. The keynote address (Let Us Exercise Caution in Trying to be Masters of the Earth) was presented by the Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Port Harcourt, His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Camillus Etokudoh, represented by Very Rev. Monsignor Dr. Pius Kii.

Other dignitaries that addressed our conference were:
· Dr. Rose Gidado (Nigeria chapter coordinator of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology) – Family and national food security ramifications of GMOs;
· Dr. Bassey Nnimmo - GMOs and biosafety;
· Dr. Rufus Ebegba (Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency) (represented) – Biosafety and the regulation of GMOs in developing countries;
· Prof. Best Ordinioha – The medical and health implications of GMOs;
· Prof. Victor Wakwe - Ethical perspectives on the introduction of GMOs in developing countries;
· Dr Kinsley Douglas – Retooling the community-based strategies to improve family health in Nigeria;
· Dr. A. Fajola – How best to involve medical doctors in health insurance to achieve universal health coverage; and
· Dr. Emmanuel Okechuwu – Bioethical approach to infertility management and introduction to NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology).

A society is measured by how well it cares for its vulnerable members particularly women, children, disabled and the aged. The deaths and destructions currently being endured by Nigerians in different parts of the country are unacceptable, and we urged the government to step up efforts in order to reassure citizens of its capacity to protect lives and properties. Because when a farmer is killed or people are kidnapped or murdered or maimed, or school children are molested, families and the nation suffer irreparably. 

Observations
The following salient points featured in the various presentations, discussions and interventions.
1. Food and adequate nutrition are among the basic needs of people; and so the case for improved methods of food production and distribution is legitimate and noble. However, the application of a technology without adequate assurance of safety is immoral.

2. Specifically, strict control is necessary in the introduction and deployment of new technologies in such area as the manipulation of genetic materials across species, the effects of which we may not predict or mitigate. For example, it took the global community about two centuries to recognize the grave harm which the on-going industrial/technological developments have brought to the environment and human health (depletion of ozone layer, global warming, flooding, skin cancers, etc.).

3. We commended the efforts by the government in establishing the GMO regulatory and development agencies. However, it would appear that both funding and technical capacity render them ill-equipped to effectively and efficiently carry out their essentially patriotic roles. In the current scenario, the processes of regulating GMOs are skewed in favour of the international promoters and merchants of GMOs who wield strong financial influences. Thus, without substantially exploiting the existing safe and natural technologies neither of agricultural advancements nor of our vast land and water resources (including the new pro-biotic microbial technology), dabbling into the controversial GMO technology is overtly precarious.

4. We endorsed the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria expressed at the sensitization workshop on faith-based perspectives on GMOs which was co-hosted by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria on February 7, 2017 in Abuja, to the effect that in order to protect the health of Nigerians and the integrity of our agricultural landscape as well as national food security, the Precautionary Principle should be applied; and

5. Further, we aligned with the position of eminent Nigerian Christian and Muslim scholars convoked by the Nigerian Inter-Religious Committee (NIREC) which in 2016 evaluated some 250 documented evidences and interacted with the Nigerian GMO regulatory and development agencies on the issues of GMO safety. The committee concluded that there are illegal GMOs already circulating in the country as foods, which are unknown to, and unregulated by the designated agencies. Also, other illegal and unverified GMO crops are in dissemination within the country’s agricultural map. This situation is highly deplored as it portends grave dangers to family health and national food security.

Recommendations 3:

1. The conference called on the government to re-commit to working for all Nigerians; and to truly develop a national consciousness on shared values. To lead Nigerians to possess, take ownership and protect this nation morally, socially, politically, and economically in a truly independent and progressive manner. The protection of lives of everyone, including the unborn Nigerians is a sacred duty for all, especially those in authority.

2. The government to adequately train the personnel, equip and fund the national agencies mandated to protect the health and lives of citizens, the environment and our natural resources. In this way, these agencies will not become mere facilitators and local proxy organizations for global businesses and so-called development partners whose underlying targets may be inimical to the strategic interests of Nigeria and her peoples.

3. We advocated for government to legislate and strictly regulate and monitor the introduction of GMOs in the country including express labelling of the products.

4. There should be adequate funding for research and development by the GMO regulatory agencies so that Nigeria can derive any benefits from the GMO technology. But more importantly, to protect our people and environment from the many possible dangers thereto: decreasing food productivity, food gene extermination, corruption of soil ecology, food insecurity and biological imperialism as well as various health hazards on human beings, the environment, animals and plants.

5. The conference called on Catholic doctors to engage in health insurance and especially community-based health insurance to help citizens access health care, and for Nigeria to achieve universal health coverage and, so improve its currently unacceptably low indices. It also called on all doctors of goodwill to adopt healthier, ethically and culturally adequate approaches in their maternal, child and family health care, rather than the values of the “culture of death”.

6. The Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria re-committed itself to promote the sanctity of human life, marriage between a man and a woman, natural family planning and NaProTechnology in pursuit of family health and national development.

Conclusion
We thanked God for a successful scientific conference and annual general meeting.

Signed:
Dr. Emmanuel Okechukwu and Dr. Margaret Mezie-Okoye President Chairman, LOC for the Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (ACMPN).


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Operation Araba in history: How Murtala murdered Ironsi, Fajuyi

The ancient city of Ibadan comes alive on Friday July 29, 2017 as dignitaries from all walks of life converge to remember that gallant, brave and outstanding soldier, Col Adekunle Fajuyi, who was murdered 50 years ago by Northern military officers who massed on the capital of the Western Region to take out then Head of State, Major General Johnson Aguiyi- Ironsi.

The International Conference at the University of Ibadan is the place to be as prolific writer and teacher, Prof Niyi Osundare, speaks on “Fajuyi and the Politics of Remembrance”. Fiery preacher, Pastor Tunde Bakare and Prof Wale Adebanwi will spice his thoughts. I spoke with a 27-year-old a few weeks back and I was shocked he had no idea who Fajuyi was. And it quickly dawned on me that those who stopped the teaching of History in our schools have succeeded in wiping off the   memory   card of our pertinent stories .They want us to be blank but we must keep telling our stories.

Adekunle Fajuyi did not commit any crime than the fact that he was playing host to Ironsi on July 29,1966 when Northern officers who staged a revenge coup following the Kaduna Nzeogwu-led coup of January 15,1966 struck.

Disgruntled Northern officers led by Murtala Mohammed, TY Danjuma, Martin Adamu and others spearheaded a rebellion within the army after the event of January. On one occasion, Murtala called Ironsi a “fool” in the presence of other officers and threatened to avenge the death of his Northern officer colleagues. His position as the Inspector of Signals became quite veritable for the planning of the revenge coup nicknamed “Operation Araba”(Araba is Hausa word for let’s divide it).

Murtala and his Northern colleagues had totally lost confidence in the Nigerian federation and their plan was to break Northern region from Nigeria. Their politicians had earlier pulled out of the Federal Parliament in 1953 after the crisis that followed their rejection of Enahoro’s motion that Nigeria should become independent in 1956.They produced an eight-point demand which effectively wanted a confederal Nigeria as a precondition to return. As their coup began on July 29, 1966, it was Murtala who coordinated the take-over of the International Airport in Lagos,an edifice to be named after him 10 years later.

When he and his troops arrived the airport, they hijacked planes to ferry their families back to the North as a prelude to the exit of the region from Nigeria. An Igbo officer (Captain Okoye) was captured by them and tied to an iron cross and beaten to death. In Military units across Lagos, Kaduna and Ibadan, Northern troops went gaga and murdered their Igbo colleagues in gruesome manner, eliminating hundreds of them.

The arrowhead of the whole operation was Murtala who had close links with NPC as his Uncle Inuwa Wada was the Defence Minister. When Danjuma and co arrived Ibadan they made for the Government House where there was a detachment of 106 Artillery commanded by William Walbe from Plateau State on guard.It later came   to light that Walbe was part of the conspiracy. He later became ADC to Gowon. By some act of naivety Fajuyi’s ADC was one Lt Adamu, while Ironsi had Lt Sani Bello.

In an interview granted to an Hausa paper, Rariya in 2013, Jeremiah Useni who was a Lieutenant at the time of the coup said the following : “But while that was going on, words started going round about what the Igbo officers were saying: That they had killed the snake, but had failed to cut off the head. Which meant those of us left might make them suffer later, that there was therefore the need to finish us off. Instead of them to show remorse and apologise, they were planning another sinister attack.

We were together with Col. Remawa at the time, he was serving in Abeokuta, and we heard of a grand plot to kill our emirs. A meeting of all emirs was called in Ibadan, all our emirs gathered in Ibadan, that the head of state, Ironsi, would address them. So we said, are we going to let him come, address them and leave? Or should we just kill him or what?   Our fear was that he was in the company of our emirs, and you know bullets do not select whom to hit. What do we do? We don’t want even a single emir to die.

“We also considered arresting him at his lodge before he goes to meet with them. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi was the governor of South West at the time, and the head of state, Ironsi, was staying in his house in Ibadan. So we don’t want a situation where they would say he conspired with us. So we decided the best thing to do was to open fire there even if Governor Fajuyi was also caught, so that they would just be buried together, and that was what happened.” When the soldiers seized Ironsi, Fajuyi insisted on going with him as he considered it a betrayal of valour to abandon his guest at the most decisive hour.

They pushed them into a Land Rover and drove them to Lalupon on Iwo Road where the duo were shot dead. When the killings were done with, senior Northern officers converged at the Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos. Brigadier Ogundipe who was the most senior surviving officer could not face them given their mood and had to send Chief of Staff (Army) Lt-Col Yakubu Gowon to mediate. It was 28-year-old Murtala who was most recalcitrant as he insisted that Northern troops should destroy Lagos, pull out to the North and secede.

When the Military Governor of the East, Lt-Colonel Ojukwu managed to reach Ogundipe, the latter told him that Northern troops had stated their conditions for a “ceasefire”: (1) the repatriation of Northerners and Southerners to their respective regions (2) the secession of Northern Region from Nigeria.

Ojukwu’s   response was “let them go if that is what they want”. He later urged Ogundipe to take charge since Ironsi’s whereabouts was unknown and promised to make a broadcast 30 minutes after Ogundipe in his support. But Northern officers were no longer in the mood for a Southern rule. Ogundipe got it in clear terms when a Northern Sergeant told him: “I do not take orders from you until my (Northern) captain comes”.

A Northern Private equally refused to obey orders from the Military Governor of Lagos State, Major Mobolaji Johnson. When Gowon gauged the mood of his northern colleagues, he called the head of the Police Special Branch, Alhaji MD Yusuf and informed him that the Northern soldiers had drafted a speech declaring the secession of the Northern region from Nigeria.

He asked for a lawyer to look at the speech which   was influenced by Murtala and Major Martin Adamu.A Northern judge,Mr Justice Bello who was in Lagos at the time told the soldiers that all the nation’s money was locked in the Central Bank of Nigeria in Lagos and asked them how they would pay their soldiers after secession without   access to the CBN.Some of the soldiers quickly went to throw cordon around the CBN.

The Northern officers were joined by the British and American ambassadors, Sir Francis Cumming-Bruce and Elbert Matthews, respectively. Among other civilians with them were two Northern judges,head of Northern region’s civil service, Ahajji Ali Akilu,Muktar Tahir, Chief Justice Adetokunbo Ademola,Mr Justice Bello,the chairman of the Public Service Commission, Alhaji Sule Katagum. There were also permanent secretaries such as Alhaji Musa Daggash, Abdul Aziz Attah, Yusuf Gobir, Allison Ayida, Ibrahim Damcida, etc.

Police representatives included the Inspector -General of police, Alhaji Kam Salem and the head of the Special Branch,MD Yussuf From three days they argued ferociously over the soul of Nigeria with the civilians trying hard to convince the soldiers that the North had everything to lose if it should secede as it would be landlocked between the South and the sea.It was a cul-de-sac as the coup was not planned with any objective for Nigeria as a whole but a mere revenge against the Igbo and to move the North out of Nigeria. After they failed to convince the meeting on secession and with the country without a government for three days, the Northern officers agreed to drop their plan to secede but only on the condition that the most senior officer among them Lt-Col Gowon be appointed the Head of State.

This was done for the 32-year-old in spite of the presence of more senior officers in the chain of command (all Southerners) like Brigadier Ogundipe,Commodore Wey, Col Robert Adebayo, Lt -Cols Nwaw, Imo Kurubo, Effiong,Njoku and several other Lt-Cols who were commissioned before Gowon. Adekunle Fajuyi The initial coup speech given by Gowon was poorly edited that it still dripped with the poisonous mindset of Murtala and his “Araba” colleagues.

Hear him: “I  have now come to the most difficult part, or the most important part, of this statement. I am doing it, conscious of the great disappointment and heartbreak it will cause all true and sincere lovers of Nigeria and of Nigerian unity both at home and abroad, especially our brothers in the Commonwealth.

 “As a result of the recent events and the other previous similar ones, I have come to strongly believe that we cannot honestly and sincerely continue in this wise, as the basis of trust and confidence in our unitary system of government has not been able to stand the test of time. I have already remarked on the issues in question. Suffice to say that, putting all considerations to test-political, economic, as well as social-the base for unity is not there or is so badly rocked, not only once but several times.

I therefore feel that we should review the issue of our national standing and see if we can help stop the country from drifting away into utter destruction” (Yakubu Gowon, August1, 1966). The “difficult part” that was to cause “heartbreak” had been deleted from the speech of course and it was time to Go-On-With- One-Nigeria on their own terms. When the same folks today tell us that the “unity of Nigeria is not negotiable”, they are definitely not talking  about the unity they once questioned as narrated above. I think what they are saying is that “our conquest of Nigeria is not negotiable"



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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fefegha commends Dickson over UNIAFRICA VC

The Education Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Elder Markson Fefegha has commended Governor Henry Seriake Dickson over the appointment of Prof. Christian Daniel Jacobs as Vice Chancellor of University of Africa, Toru-Orua, reports ITRealms.

He also gave kudos to Dickson for his choice of Dr. Ghalib Fahad as Dean, School of Foundation Studies of the University.

According to him, choice of the Vice-Chancellor and Dean has further reinforced the governor’s commitment to establishing world class institutions to expand the frontiers of knowledge as well as appointing versatile and renowned intellectuals, with a penchant for quality service delivery and international best practice to facilitate development in the Niger-Delta region.

He said with the appointment of the duo, the University of Africa is set to take off as planned this September and advised intending students, who are seeking quality education to take advantage of the window of opportunity open to them. 

Elder Fefegha pointed out that, the university is not only ready and dedicated to changing the erstwhile narrative of the region by offering qualitative education, but also distinct in its vision of inculcating in our youths, the ability to transfer their knowledge to capacity for sustainable development.

Dr. Ghalib Fahad (PhD) is an experienced academic who has spent over thirty years in the United Kingdom educational sector, Director of various Undergraduate and Post graduate programmes in Middlesex University Business School, London, for over two decades. 

He has a range of administrative and external university experience and leadership. Supervised several Doctorate Degrees and countless Master’s Degree Programmes. 

Prof. Christian Daniel Jacobs (D. Ed, PhD) is a renowned international academic and researcher. He has more than forty years’ experience in the tertiary domain at the University of Pretoria and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He is the previous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chrisland, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He is an author of numerous textbooks with contributions in Educational Psychology, Entrepreneurship, Quality Assurance and E-Learning. He was the study leader and promoter of forty eight Masters’ Degree students and twenty three Doctoral students.

The education commissioner also used the opportunity to commend Dickson for the appointment of Prof. Timothy Epidi, as the new Provost of the Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Sagbama. 

Further, he expressed appreciation to the pioneer provost, Prof. Saviour Agoro, for his selfless service and sacrifice in instilling moral and academic discipline in the institution during his tenure and wished him well in his future endeavors, while also urging the new provost to consolidate on the pioneering efforts of academic excellence the outgoing provost has set.


Uj. N. Dominic/GEE
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Mushin apprehension worries TMG

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has expressed concern over the tension building around the elections for the Local governments and the Local Council Development Authorities (LCDAs) in Lagos State, this Saturday, reports ITRealms.

The TMG, through its Chairperson, TMG – Abuja, AbiolaAkiyode – Afolabi  and South West Coordinator, TMG, Lagos, SulaimonArigbagbu, told ITRealms they were particularly worried about the incessant violence in some areas of Lagos, especially in Mushin due to issues surrounding the nomination of candidates and the tension building up in some quarters due to undemocratic activities of some of the major political parties in the run up to the election and the impact of such tension for the coming elections. 

“We are also concerned about the speed with which the Lagos State House of Assembly passed an amendment to the Lagos Electoral Law regulating the conduct of election to allow for the substitution of a party candidate before the elections,” TMG lamented.

The new bill, they noted, allows a political party to withdraw and substitute candidate not later than three (3) days to LASIEC verification. Just as it also statesd that any candidate could withdraw from contesting not later than three (3) days to the election by personally taking a letter of withdrawal to the State Secretary of the party involved who must also personally take same to LASIEC not later than 12noon, three (3) days to the election.

TMG is worried about the implications and dangers such amendment portends on the credibility of the Saturday, 22nd Lagos State Local Government Area (LGA) Council elections as scheduled by LAISEC. Conduct of credible, free, fair and legitimate elections cannot be achieved in this kind of arrangement with an amendment taken place just three days to election. 

Furthermore, we are also apprehensive of the implications of the multiplicity of court cases relating to party candidatures giving the fact that the election is just three days away. Such conflicting decisions could cast aspersion on the credibility and legitimacy of the elections.

“We also express displeasure over the latest pronouncement by the authorities of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LAISEC) regarding its planned accreditation plan and observer's deployment for the Saturday Local Government Election in Lagos State,” TMG said.

Our concern is further heightened by the refusal by LASIEC to deploy Card Reader for the conduct of this coming elections. This is an anti-climax to the widely acknowledged improvement to our Electoral System during the 2015 General Elections.

 As a flagship organization on election and governance monitoring in Nigeria, TMG is seriously concerned about plethora of allegations trailing the preparations for the election and the lopsided observer’s deployment plan adopted by LAISEC. TMG urges the commission to reconsider its decision on these issues. 

TMG further called on LASIEC to ensure highest standard in the conduct and administration of the coming Lagos LG/LCDAs elections, by carrying out their responsibilities in accordance with law, and without fear or favour.

“We hope that LASIEC is committed to an open, genuine, free and appropriate process that is devoid of any suspicion misgiving in the process leading to the election,” they urged.


Ayo Midele/GEE 
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