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OPINION

Profiling the People’s Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, By Abba Dukawa

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‘’The Contest for the Speakership of this 9th Assembly is now over and its time to move on. Our country is presently confronted with a myriad of problems and it is our responsibility as members of this institution to set aside political, ideological and other differences that may distract us from the assignment the Nigerian people have sent us here to perform. Whatever political party each one of us may belong, we must be conscious of the fact that Nigerians are truly desirous of good governance and are looking to us to be the agents that will through meaningful legislation combat security, poverty, corruption and other problems and contradictions that have held our country back and stunted our development. ‘’ Speaker Said

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila returned to Nigeria in 2003 from U.S where positioned himself in the political affairs of Surulere constituency 1 where his constituents peoples recognized that they would be better served if he had a chance to represent them at the House of Representatives. He succeeded in ousting the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from Surulere constituency 1, and clinched his party’s nomination for the seat. Party leaders recognized his true commitment to party ideals and worked with him to emerge 2003 victorious at the general elections.

His performance in the House: He has demonstrated his true passion for issues concerning his constituents and Nigeria as a whole; he worked passionately to address matters of great concern to him and quickly earned a reputation as a true and brilliant legislator. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila had sponsored the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly amongst all the legislators. He was the first and only legislator to bring a motion on the floor of the House for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity, which led to the swearing-in of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Acting President than.

Many do not knew the role he played in formation of APC in 2014, speaker Femi Gbajabiamila as the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives led his colleagues into the merger that gave birthed to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Under Femi’s leadership of the APC caucus in the House, the party increased its numbers, earning them the majority.

 

FIRST SHOOT AT THE OFFICE OF HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER IN 2015

On June 8 2015 House of Representatives speakership election, one of the events Hon Femi would be remembered for is his experience in the race for the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives. He had emerged as favored candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of speaker, and with a majority in the House of Representatives; he was expected to carry the day. On that day former of the House Mr. Yakubu Dogara and other “rebel” members of the APC slogged in with PDP members as opposition in the green Chamber in hotly contested election. But this was not to be so. Femi Gbajabiamila narrowly lost the election to the former Speaker Yakubu Dogara in an election which he described As an Act of God. Due to his wide acceptance within the party and his members, he was overwhelmingly elected Leader of the 8th House of Representatives on July 28, 2015.

As narrowly lost the election to former Speaker Dogara described it as an Act of God after four years three days, he has been emerged speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The speaker Femi is a forth termer and Majority leader in the 8th house of Representatives After polling 281 votes out of 358 votes against Bago who got 76. Hon Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila emerged as speaker of the ninth national assembly Tuesday afternoon 11 June 2019.

In his acceptance speech said 9th Assembly under his leadership is going to be a House of reforms or if you like a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. Moving forward therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good.

Early years and education: Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila was born on the 25th of June 1962 started his elementary education in Lagos at the Mainland Preparatory School at the age of four and proceeded to Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos in 1973 for his secondary education and graduated around 1978. After completion of his secondary education in Nigeria, he enrolled at the King Williams College, Isle of Man, United Kingdom for his ‘A Levels’ where he graduated at the top of his class around 1980. Upon his return to Nigeria, the young Olufemi was accepted into the University of Lagos, Nigeria for a three-year LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree programme. He graduated with honors in 1983 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law school and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984. To further his education, Gbajabiamila decided to go back to school, this time in the United States. He attended John Marshall Law School in Atlanta Georgia where he graduated top of his class earning himself a Juris Doctorate.

Dukawa wrote in from Kano can be reach at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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OPINION

Serial lies about Amnesty Programme, By Murphy Ganagana

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme is set to graduate no fewer than 137 persons trained in different vocational skills, its Official has said.

It is a sad commentary that the Niger Delta people face the paradox of having an amazing wealth in crude oil but are buffeted by a whirlwind that has choked genuine efforts to turn around the situation in a region that is bare in human capital and infrastructural development.

Ironically, parochial interests, greed and an unbridled sense of entitlement have beclouded sound reasoning of some persons who claim to be leaders of the region and possess a monopoly of knowledge on how to run interventionist agencies established by the Federal Government to address developmental challenges.

For these elements, there is no line between darkness and light; morality or absurdity. What is paramount is the means to acquisition of illicit wealth, power and fame, not the common interest of the Niger Delta people whose balloon of hope they’ve consistently deflated whenever it was inflated.

That is the scenario being enacted in their desperation to take over the office of Prof. Charles Dokubo, Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, whose unblemished integrity they’ve unsuccessfully been trying to blur with tar. My worry, however, is that the drama has taken an absurd dimension.

Recently, Pointblanknews, an online portal notorious for blackmail and promotion of fake news on Amnesty Programme published an “exclusive” report that Prof, Dokubo had fled the country to the United States “after being implicated in an N23billion looting under the cover of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno”, who it alleged, was his godfather.

The news portal claimed its investigations revealed that the presidency had asked Prof. Dokubo to prepare his hand-over notes and hand over to the most senior civil servant in the Amnesty Office, but the NSA advised Prof. Dokubo to escape the prying eyes of security operatives and go into hiding in the US.

It further said the presidency was concerned with security reports detailing fraudulent contracts and payments of over N10billion and the looting of the Boro Town Amnesty Programme training facility in Bayelsa State to cover up N13billion fraudulent contracts. It summed up that a total of N23billion Amnesty funds were looted between 2018 and 2019.

These are pointblank lies sponsored and recycled overtime by self-styled leaders to distract Prof. Dokubo from working to achieve the objectives for which the Programme was initiated, except for the recent addition that he had fled the country; when, in fact, he travelled to the Washington DC on official duty after being duly cleared for the trip by the authorities.

It turned out to be an unfortunate outing for the purveyors of fake news who were unaware that Dokubo had returned to Nigeria on the day the “exclusive” was splashed on PointblankNews, which has elevated junk journalism to a nauseating level. As a face-saving measure, the publishers deleted the report from the news portal same day to befuddle undiscerning members of the public, in a clear case of mischief.

That was a misadventure in which the publishers of PointblankNews had a bloodied nose and quickly needed a pad to clean up. So they went to town the next day, September 3, with another fabricated report that Prof. Dokubo had laundered over N5billion in two Turkish banks in connivance with three senior management staff of the Amnesty Programme, including the directors of Administration, Procurement, and Legal Adviser.

The report also claimed that investigation on the case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had been stalled because Dokubo is a nominee of the NSA, General Monguno, who is also the godfather of the acting chairman of EFCC. It further claimed that companies registered and owned by some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s principal aides and leaders of the All Progressive Congress, were awarded fraudulent contracts at the Amnesty Programme.

But it fell short of expectation on ethical standards as no mention was made of the two banks in Turkey where the alleged sum of N5billion was laundered and how it was perpetrated, neither were other details of alleged contract scams provided.

Rather than indulging in concoction of fake news in furtherance of their smear campaign against Prof. Dokubo with the objective of removing him from office, the publishers of PointblankNews might have earned for themselves, an inch of credibility (if there was any left for them), if only they had done a bit of checks and cross-checking of what was availed them as facts.

That way, they would have known that the unfortunate incident of vandalization and looting of the Amnesty Programme Vocational Training Centre at Kaiama, Bayelsa State by hoodlums in February, this year, had been under investigation by security agencies, particularly the Police, which has concluded its assignment and submitted a report to the appropriate authorities. I hope that the findings will be made public soon to put to rest the chain of fallacy churned out as exclusive news on PointblankNews about that incident.

I have no doubt that discerning and well-meaning Niger Deltans and Nigerians are conscious of the ignoble role of Pointblanknews to please their paymasters by discrediting Prof. Dokubo. Which is why, reports celebrated on the portal in recent times are mainly about Dokubo and the Amnesty Programme.

It is unfortunate that the publishers of PointblankNews have gone a step further by dragging the names of respected top government officials who have no business with the Amnesty Programme in the mud, in a desperate bid to get at Dokubo. My prayer is that his detractors will soon come to terms with the futility of their actions and succumb to the supremacy of the will of God, the Almighty. No human should play God.

*Ganagana is Special Assistant (Media), to the Coordinator, Amnesty Programme

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OPINION

A vision and flyers to fly with: A case study of Mallam Isa Pantami and Kashifu Inuwa

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By Hashim Suleiman

 

Let me start this piece from the year 2014 when me and my bosom friend Babukar Tanko through our always interactive and progressive discussions devoid of gossips and unrealistic dream birthed an idea about how we must encourage our young men especially those from the Northern part of Nigeria to imbibe the basics of how leadership comes by through capacity building and integrity. We basically wanted to encourage the government, private sector and political institutions to engage worthy young men as they were capable of injecting faster and most recent innovations in achieving their goals, many articles related to these have also been written by me and published in several media fora.

This entire idea birthed One Heart Initiative for Equity and Good Leadership which in-turn championed #30PercentOrNothing affirmative action and was coordinated nationally by my humble self. It was a non partisan effort aimed at speaking to both youths and institutions to harness one another, the entire aims and objectives is story for another day.

In the course of the above stated activities inter alia, we were also very interested in attending preaching classes and motivational speaking events and I remember vividly when Sheikh Zakir Naik came to Nigeria and was at the Ansarudeen Mosque at Maitama, Abuja, we were there at one of the days and his preaching about how the northern Muslims of Nigeria must embrace people of other faiths in the country with the aim of getting them attracted to the faith was aptly in tune with the aims and objectives of our vision and goals.

Subsequently that year was the Ramadan fast and all roads in Abuja led to Annur Mosque where there was a quintessential Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who had come to liberate Nigerian Muslims with a preaching that was very easy to decipher, we attended all of it and in the course we heard it was a young Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who was also  a PhD holder and was coming to contribute to the much needed awareness regarding Islam and  the general progress of the society as no society can grow without commensurate knowledge and awareness. At the end of the entire Tafsir session for the year 2014, I and Babukar were not the same people again and our vision for youth liberation and involvement in progressive activities got richer by no small means.

Thereafter, we moved on with our campaign for youth involvement and was always also echoing how the youth must behave appropriately to deserve such honors while the institutions must also select appropriately if they wanted to truly harness the ingenuity were highlighting in young people. Remember, the 2015 general election campaigns were also on at that moment and we visited all political parties, support groups, select private sector organizations and esteemed individuals. The entire idea was well received and the lot of it also afforded us an opportunity to understand better the complexity of the problems associated with young people and progress in Nigeria even though some appreciable number of them have done great things in personal capacity e.g Adebola Williams and Jaafar Jaafar etc.

In all of the above however, it was clear to me that if you have vision, then the most potent ingredient you need for it’s coming to fruition is people who will believe in it and fly with, we were blessed to have some of those in our movement and they were always ready to contribute their energy and resources to the success of the vision simply because they were convinced by the idea that the message was carrying.

Considering that it was a deliberate effort and self sponsored coupled with the complexity of the problems and lack of commensurate number of flyers to carry the vision, our activities retracted and we resorted to social media activism and motivational talks. The last major event we attended was the maiden dinner organized by Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari where we categorically told the young men there that they had to switch their social media handles from mockery to advertising government policies as some of those policies could be complex for those at the downtrodden to decipher and participate.

So now we are in change and there are lots of expectations, promises and the need to do things differently. We watched and observed and made comments where necessary then boom came an announcement about the appointment of Mallam Isa Ali Pantami as the DG of NITDA and the first thing I did was to reach to my phone and called Babukar Tanko, I said my friend change has come and he replied he was also about calling me. Change had come in the sense that the person we heard his preaching the other time about the sort of ideals that were essential for a new society had joined the team of a change government and again he fits into ideals and vision of our wanting to see excellent young men join the team of the management of the country. Everyone then moved on and there was a new perception from our side regarding the change movement. Further to that again, there was the coming in of people like Tolu Ogunlesi, Mallam Bashir Ahmad, Ismail Ahmed, Ife Adebayo, Abdulrahman Baffa Yola and others numerous to mention. It was generally not bad for us at One Heart Initiative.

Going forward, we began to hear about NITDA taking over major headlines over quintessential performance that was associated with capacity building, saving money related to execution of IT projects by the Federal Government as well as major efforts aimed at ensuring Digital compliance by the nation. These news never stopped coming and Mr. President himself had to attend the e-Nigeria summit for 2017 and because of the content he followed it up with attendance at the 2018 version. There was general acceptance by the public that NITDA had been transformed into an unusual government organization in Nigeria. These achievements and more catapulted Dr Isa Ali Pantami to become the Minister of Communications in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the general acceptance of all Nigerians as square peg in square hole.

Almost immediately after the appointment, there was the filling up of the vacancy at NITDA with Mr. Kashifu Inuwa and a look at his resume revealed him to be the one who has been flying with the vision of his predecessor. This further revealed the wisdom and the secret behind the successes NITDA had experienced all along. More fascinating is how both have formed uncommon synergy to consolidate their already started efforts at rejuvenating the ICT industry in Nigeria which will now spread to the associated communications industries.

Messages like these are essential to be brought to the fore for purposes of enlightening the public in relation to loyalty and belief in credible  visions including mentorship and patriotism. Also very importantly to note is how criticism of policies of government must not be based on partisan considerations and bandwagon information. A closer look into events and activities could reveal information enough to make you form an objective assessment of ventures.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Hashim Suleiman wrote from FCT, Abuja. oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

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OPINION

Is LADOL truly a Nigerian company? By Desmond Orjiakor

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By: Desmond Orjiakor

Even with the signing of the Nigerian Oil and Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010, many Nigerian investors still exploit the old loopholes in the system to take advantage of this law.

Many Nigerians still parade foreign-owned companies as local entities to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the NOGICD Act at the detriment of the Nigerian economy.

LADOL, for instance, prides itself as a local company and is reaping the huge benefits that accrue to local companies in Nigeria but its shareholding structure appears to question this claim.

It is not an offence for foreign companies to operate in Nigeria.

After all, President Muhammadu Buhari has travelled all over the world to woo foreign investors to come into Nigeria and harness the investment opportunities his administration has created.

Also, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has also made tremendous efforts to improve Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business to attract foreign companies.

Buhari and Osinbajo’s efforts have paid off by attracting many foreign companies and investments since 2015.

All these investments by foreign companies operating in Nigeria have provided employment for Nigerians and helped to grow the Nigerian economy.

The Nigerian government has also provided benefits for these foreign companies to thrive.

But it is worrisome when some foreign-owned companies parade themselves as local companies because they shortchange both the Nigerian economy and truly Nigerian companies.

Foreign-owned companies, which should enjoy the benefits provided by the Nigerian government for foreign companies have claimed to be local companies to enjoy the benefits in the NOGICD Act.

A peep into the shareholding structure of LADOL, for instance, reveals that the ownership is foreign-dominated because this conglomerate, which claims to be a bona fide Nigerian company, has its substantial 84 per cent shares held by foreign companies.

The two foreign companies that own the 84 per cent stake in LADOL are Sable Offshore Investment Limited, registered in British Virgin Island, and Alsba Ventures, also registered in the British Virgin Island.

While Sable Offshore Investment Limited has 53 per cent stake in LADOL, Alsba Ventures Group has 31 per cent.

When two foreign companies establish a company in Nigeria, the company can be rightly regarded as a foreign company.

So, substantially, and legally too, it can be argued that LADOL is a British Virgin Island company and not a Nigerian indigenous company because it is owned.

Dr. Desmond Orjiakor is an Abuja based public affairs analyst.

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