United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
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Stella Obasanjo’s Death; Nigeria is a Big lie (A Sober/Annoying Perspective)

Prince Charles Dickson (pcdbooks@yahoo.com)

Jos, Plateau Nigeria

"As we mourn the tragic loss of our first lady, we should put it in perspective and not get too emotional. This way we will hopefully avoid the frenzy that accompanied the equally tragic death of Ibrahim, General Abacha’s son, back in January 1996. At that time, the reader will remember, we lived to outdo each other in exaggerating his virtues and attributing to him achievements he never made, simply because he was the First Son".

I picked this as my opening paragraph from Mohammed Haruna’s piece ‘official media and Nigeria’s black Sunday’. However my sympathies to Mr. President on his loss. Loosing one’s wife irrespective of the circumstances is no fun but I will attempt to put the whole episode in the perspective of a nation that has been bedeviled with all sorts and manner of crisis as a result of a crippled leadership.

Mrs. Stella Obasanjo to ‘them’ was a paragon, amazon, she was a pride to the African woman, an epitome of strength to her husband, and she was an angel, a conscientious supporter of her husband, kind hearted, irreplaceable. The words kept following, infact a newspaper reported that the Ogun State Governor’s wife had not eaten since Sunday, I called a government source that confirmed…while some of these encomiums, she sure deserved. But the hypocrisy is also self- glaring especially judging by the character of some persons who have condoled the President on his sad loss, I say safely most are grieving more than the bereaved.

Nigerian leaders are the ‘fakest’ of kinds… in a show of ‘notice me’ some are calling for her name to be immortalized, her name should be this and that, well as much as I do not have any problem with that. I will also recommend that the victims of the ill-fated Bellview plane crash should be immortalized.

At the first Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Atiku, some Ministers we are told was in tears as Stella’s only son representing the family at the meeting spoke…he asked that, "The nation rather than mourn his mother that she should be celebrated". Emphasis mine.

I join Mallam Mohammed Buhari former Military Head of State, in facilitating with the President on this loss without grudge, but like it is said sometimes death when it comes is a gift and has no enemy. To Nigerians, we have been oppressed by a leadership that lies, so I can expect that no government official will have the guts to tell us what killed our honourable First Lady, but too bad we know, and the truth is bitter in this case even disgusting. But, the truth is the only thing that can set us free as a nation not all these wild goose merry go round Paris and London inspired reforms.

How do we immortalize, celebrate and mourn all at once a death, which has come through a self-inflicted means. The Federal Government has not immortalized Chima Ubani, Dele Giwa, Alfred Rewani, Bola Ige…this nation is strikingly amazing in a world of her own. What killed the First Lady, what killed Abacha, How did Abiola die? Was there a coup (whether fathom or vision), did IBB bring Obasanjo to power? Are Governors rogues or leaders, did Orji Uzo Kalu at any point donate paper notes as money in Bornu State, does Obasanjo have a Platinum or Gold card, what did Obasanjo do to the World Bank list of stolen money by his predecessors given to him in 1999? Is our President a wicked man or simply tough, does he want a third term, maybe a Mugabe styled leadership? Was Ben Bruce the First Lady’s Boy, man friend or brother and cousin, is Olumuyiwa…?

Nigeria is a rumour, a big masquerade, the citizenry have no right to see the face behind the mask. We are fed lies by leaders, while image denting stories fly around and no one gives a hoot, not even one person can step up categorically say proclaim the truth. That is why El-Rufai the President’s Abuja henchman will swear that he was asked for bribe and Mantu and co. will swear they did not request for such, the President will also plays swear games with his Vice. What lessons are giving the younger ones, what picture are we painting, looking at the mirror do our leaders like what they see. My nine old friend looked me in the eye and said "Uncle I heard auntie Mairo tell Hassana not to bleach that it kills, that it killed the President’s wife".

Let me look at the whole episode with emotions but, without unnecessary sentiments. One, it is a big shame and palpable contradiction for a government that has spent billions on its health sector with all sorts of programmes initiated to still have the misfortune of losing her First Woman on an operating table in far away Spain. If indeed the President’s wife was ‘sick, ill or indisposed’; the Presidential Villa has a Presidential Clinic with a Presidential Doctor. So why Spain, for a woman everybody has since her death confirmed to be hale and healthy? Does it not confirm that our leaders are unsure of the gospel they preach? They build spectacular hospitals that cannot dispense ordinary choloroquine, our leaders cart tax payers’ monies away to some foreign student doctors for back ache, neck pain, frequent stooling, mild head ache and stomach upset and they refuse to pay medical doctors and health personnel in our hospitals.

Governor Ngige was away on medical vacation in Houston, Texas U.S, when the First Lady died, the Biafran Warlord Dim Ojukwu also came back from such medical check up. Which way forward. If the rich do not have hope in the same institution they pump billions of Naira and Dollars why shouldn’t the poor take solace in his cheap native medicine.

Next in my perspective look is this thing we call cosmetic surgery. One look at the First Lady’s face would tell the whole story better, at 60 years, no matter the kind of enjoyment. It should be a thing of joy to age gracefully, however not for our leaders of nowadays, everyone is struggling to beat nature. The list is not exhaustive from cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, face left, face enlargement, erasure of winkles, anti-aging, laser surgery, corporal surgery, liposuction, tummy tuck, nose improvement, inverted nipple, to breast this and breast that, chin tuck, neck lift, lap band. I won’t bore you because I’m even bored now and this is only a percent of the list of possible ways to alter how Almighty Allah created us.

It was for a ‘vain’ reason that our beloved Stella left the country to Spain the land of the Iberians. Whether Mrs. Remi Oyo did not know, was not told or not sure, better still was not authorized. The bitter truth is that our President’s wife died trying to look a mile more beautiful, she died trying to cheat age. Nobody was there to advise her on the increasing dangers associated with cosmetic surgeries. Nobody could tell our dear Stella that spending between 9,000- 30,000 Pounds in a nation of abject poverty was going to cost her the very life she sought to elongate and beautify.

It is the painful truth that the President’s wife had before now been indulging herself in this expensive and dangerous pastime called facial make over and body enhancement. She had gone to Molding Clinic in Marbella before, but there’s always a day when everything that can go wrong, sure goes wrong. When a nation’s First lady died of shock resulting from a massive asthma attack due to the cosmetic nonsense she was doing to herself.

I can almost hazard that this itself must have hurt Mr. President very deeply. How can Mr. President explain that he endorsed his wife to visit a clinic that had a record of being medically negligible on occasions, that the President was aware that the clinic in Marcella is strictly for high net worth clients, for the super rich, models, actress and African/ Nigeria leaders who steal public funds and not forgetting vain woman, that the clinic with rooms comparable to any suit in a five star hotel that the President would have lodged in, with satellite TV,DVD, internet connection, attached with hydro-massage, hydro- sauna and Jacuzzi. Did our President know all these facts and if he did he or she should have the rate of professional malpractice.

If only Stella Obasanjo knew that Nigerian loved for despite her face or tummy, breast or buttocks, she should have been told a fine face needs no paint. Someone should tell me how much the President’s wife expended on the beauty venture called Vanity Fair.

I am happy the President has since resumed duties today (two days after mourning). He is a brave man; we pray God grants him more strength to bear his loss. At this junction the reader should share with me some undisputable truth. That the President’s wife would have been 60 on the 14th of November 2005, plans for her birthday was reaching a frenzy point with millions already expended in here and there arrangement. Political jobbers and thieves in government had already bought jewelries and cloths on credit for the mother of all parties.

It was for this occasion that mummy went to do tummy tuck, facial lift and all the lifts. She had earlier done a laser eye surgery (a process that requires rays from a laser beam, no knife or scalpels). Oh death, vanity upon vanity.

The First Lady could not content herself with the goodwill and charity she had garnered from her pet project ‘Child Care Trust’ she could not be rest assured of the place kept for her by activists, democrats and civil society for the role she played in making noise about her husband’s incarceration by the Abacha junta.

She was not content, she wanted a sweeter skin, flattened tummy, dignified gait and posture. If only the First Lady knew that rather than recuperate in the Marbella home of Senator Daisy Dajuma, she would die, she would have thought twice.

Of course despite all these shortcomings her Child Care Trust did touch lives even, if it is the lives of the children of the rich, she still touched lies. The woman, who stood by Obj throughout his period of incarceration, was a woman of steel, her resolve to keep looking sixteen even at sixty is a testimony to her resolve. A word is enough for the wise. Vanity upon vanity so says Solomon the wise one. May Almighty Allah help us.

This regime worse than military, says Eduok, ex-Chief of Air Staff
By Chidi Obineche
Culled from Daily Sun : Monday, November 22, 2004

The current democratic government is not flying, says former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Nsikak Eduok.

In fact, the ex-Air Chief adds that Nigerians were better off during the military era and submits: "Nigeria has never been as rich as this moment, but Nigerians have never suffered like this time. Go out to the farms, the villages and talk to people. Ask them how they are feeling now and how they felt when the military was in power. It is very wrong and stupid for any politican to say that the worst civilian regime is better than the best militay regime.

“That is a callous and irresponsible statement because if you put them side by side and compare them, some military regimes are far better than civilian regimes.”

Eduok, who spoke with Daily Sun at the recently held South-South Peoples Conference in Calabar, Cross River State. He had been asked to compare the civilian regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo with the immediate past military regimes, of which he was a key player to which he replied:

“Ask Nigerians how they feel now and how they felt when the military was in power. Now, you make some laws that cannot be implemented. How do you say the NLC cannot demonstrate when they feel bad? How can you do that? Did you have that in any military regime? You should educate me on this. Nigeria is so rich now, but people suffer so much and they are dying before their time.”


How is life in retirement?

Fine. No problem.

You are looking quite trim and younger than when you were in service. What is the secret?

God loves me. And I try my best to love God too. It is God’s blessings. Two, I train and run a fitness farm in Nigeria today and I am a fitness consultant. Have you heard of my fitness farm?


It’s quite big.

Why are you here? (South-South Peoples Conference)

I am here to show solidarity to the South-South. It is my home. God created me and placed me in the South-South, so anywhere I go, I still remember that I come from a place – South-South. So I have to identify with the cause of the people of my zone.
We are really hurt because we have not been given our rightful place in the scheme of things. So we are hurt. We could have been far away from where we are now if we were properly treated. So we are coming to put our heads together, to see how we can use our constitutional rights to change our position in the scheme of things.

What are you doing to bring the problem to the attention of the government?

Don’t forget that even before the final point of Saro-Wiwa, the derivation money was 1 per cent. It was during our own time in government that things began to change. We are the people who established OMPADEC. I took part in the discussion to form OMPADEC. And we dedicated 5 per cent of the federation account to it, every month it was transferred from the Central Bank in Lagos to the Central Bank branch in Port Harcourt. It was automatic. We took that decision the very day we formed OMPADEC. Are you with me? It was working.
That showed that we were even conscious of the fact that the oil producing areas should be properly treated.

After OMPADEC, that is during the late General Sani Abacha’s regime, we realised that there was need to bring more development to the areas, and came up with PTF. Do you understand? So it does not mean that government has not really recognised the need to address the oil producing areas’ problems.
But we are in a situation where the Constitution says let us run a true federation which gives you better control of your resources. And then you distribute to the centre. But the centre now comes to take everything you have and gives you just an insignificant portion. So, if you want to respect our own constitution, let us do it the way we agreed – A true federation.

Are you calling for a Sovereign National Conference?

Of course yes. If you don’t sit down and discuss how the country should be governed, how can you then forge ahead?
Your former boss, IBB is interested in running for president in 2007. With the clamour for a South-South president which you support, where does that leave him?

That’s your own opinion. You said my former boss is interested in running for presidency, that’s your opinion.

But he said it, that he has tremendous goodwill across the nation. That he has people who can stand up for him, especially his former boys when the time comes.

Listen, let me tell you something. We should not waste our time thinking of what other people are doing in other zones. Because it will create the impression that you are defeatist – a coward. Don’t concern yourself with what somebody is doing outside your zone. Let us find our people, encourage them to vie for the presidency and we will campaign and support them to win.

All Nigerians have the constitutional rights to vie for the presidency. It issue is not about who is interested. The issue is we are interested. That is the point. So we must do everything within our constitutional rights to win the presidency.

Has IBB gotten in touch with you?

(Laughs) Is it has he gotten in touch with me or have I gotten in touch with him?

Have you gotten in touch with your former boss?

What did he tell you?

It is just like you now. You’re my friend now, so I can pick up my telephone and call you and ask how are you doing. We are all Nigerians. He is my boss. He is my boss. Yes.

But there is no presidential aspirant from the zone yet?

Who says that? What makes you see somebody outside but you cannot see anybody good inside your house, when you have a thousand and one inside your house, very, very qualified. What are the criteria? Draw the criteria for qualification for the presidency, our men and women meet these criteria. We are going to have a handful.

Is it possible to have one presidential candidate from the South-South?

So, if there are a thousand and one aspirants in the zone, what to do is to set up criteria, and articulate some issues and prune down the number, and finally a God anointed candidate from the South-South will emerge. When you deceive yourself before you start, you’re a goner.

How do you look at Nigeria?

We are surviving. I wouldn’t want to speculate anything now. That is why I support the calling of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), to discuss the structure you are talking about. It is not fair for us to start speculating now.

Your new position on SNC is confusing, because you top brass in the military frustrated it before now?

That’s your own private opinion. You don’t know what we discussed when we met in the PRC or Armed Forces Ruling Council, (AFRC). Nigeria’s former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe was there. Go and talk to him. There is nothing you say now that we in uniform did not say in Council. But in the military, if you talk too much they call you to order – my friend, enough. Yes sir. But now we have reached a situation where nobody can shout you down. You make your own point, I make my own.

PDP, a fraudulent imposition – Soyinka

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, last Friday spoke to newsmen in Lagos on the state of the nation. OLAOLU OLADIPO was there. Excerpts:

How justified is the call in some quarters for the extension of the tenure of the incumbent regime?

The question can only be answered this way. Is it legitimate? Legitimacy is the key word here. We ask, what is legitimate? Is the legitimacy, that of the first comer? If its legitimacy is that of the first comer, then let us go and invite back the British colonial powers, to say, you got here first in terms of an entity known as Nigeria, therefore continue. Or is it the legitimacy of the gun, or a legitimacy of the gun by other means? Is there an entity, for instance, who had robbed this nation blind, now using that wealth to continue to perpetuate itself in power? I want us to enlarge our minds about the real politics that is going on in this nation. I want us to enlarge our minds about politics of goings-on and go beyond simply the manipulation of one individual or the other. Of course, individuals are at the heart of it all. We have to consider, has this nation been enslaved by a cultic group? When we talk of secret cults, are they to be found only in campuses? Or are there certain corners where they meet, like a certain former police officer was quoted to have said that there are places where they drink beer and pepper soup and plot? It is not only by the gun that one plots to keep a people under subjugation permanently? You can do it by ill-gotten wealth, the money which you took from the people, that is just a double jeopardy which we all seem to undergo. The resources that have been taken from the people have become the very instruments of their oppression.

How do you see the crisis between the President and his deputy?

I don’t want to comment on the crisis between the two. Like I have said before, the PDP is an illegitimate government, so what happens within the PDP is a situation which we have predicted ages ago. The party is a gathering of incompatibles motivated by one thing, which is not the interest of the people. So if the two people at the top are bashing each other, I am not interested because I dismiss that party as possessing any claim to legitimacy. I have said it over and over again that the two elections that have brought it into power were fraudulent. There have been killings at such a level which this nation has never experienced before. We are almost like in the Abacha period.

How do you see the call by some people to have you at the vanguard of a revolution?

I am honoured and I am flattered. This is something we have to discuss, you just cannot throw an open challenge to me and expect a kind of response. This movement is collective. Let me put it this way. You people (newsmen) can assist us in making PRONACO conference a success. There may have to be a change of date because we did not reckon with the fact that the period would fall within the time Muslims would be having their Ramadan. We have received series of protestations and appeals for a shift in date. So, there may be a change. When the change is announced, don’t be bothered. What we are trying to do is to get everybody on board. If the Muslim population says, ‘Please, could you shift the date a little bit forward’? we have to listen. But the thing which pains me is the census exercise, which has been tagged along with the Ramadan period. To me, the timing of the census is an attempt to sabotage PRONACO.

From what you have said, the PDP seems to be a predatory government. How do we get it off our back?

First of all, it is imploding, haven’t you noticed? It is not only because Atiku and Obsanjo are at each other’s throat. No, PDP is a manifestation of political self-destruction. There is no way PDP could hold. There are far too many contending forces in the party. Like I said, the motivation is not in the people’s interests. The honourable people within the party will find that they cannot continue to stay there. PDP, take my word for it, is on the path of self-destruct. It is deservedly so because it is a fraudulent imposition on this nation. Whether you are talking about Anambra or you are talking about the original judgment, which was even found to be in favour of (General Muhammadu) Buhari or the revelations that have been coming from INEC.

You said the two previous elections have been flawed…

(Cuts in) The word is not ‘flaw’. ‘Flaw’ is a mild word to describe the elections, they were fraudulent. They were fraudulent and that have been attested to by one of the principals of the political party. Others have been saying it, and more would have said it, it is just that they are afraid of getting killed.

INEC is trying to reform the electoral process. Part of the reform is the electronic voting system. How do you see this?

I am not against it, I am not against innovations, technology and so on. The question is who is operating it? You can programme equipment in advance. And if the kind of INEC that we had in the last election is the one in charge of the electronic system, I do not trust the results they would bring out. So, it is not the methodology or the technology itself. The question is: do we have faith in the person that will operate the system?

The PUNCH, Thursday, September 15, 2005

Culled form Daily Independent: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

12 shot as Delta community, soldiers clash

By Uwakwe Abugu                                                                                              

Bureau Chief, Warri


Twelve persons were shot and wounded at the weekend by soldiers attached to the Military Joint Taskforce when 200 youths from Ojobo, Burutu Council in Delta State, invaded Beniseide flow station to protest alleged marginalisation. The station is operated by Shell.

In a statement, the community claimed that 21 were injured and  that 17 of them were flown to the Shell clinic in Warri for treatment; however, taskforce spokesman Major Said Ahmed, who confirmed the clash, said  12 persons were shot.

Shell operates about 45 oil wells and produces about 75,000 barrels of crude oil in the area, claims the community.

It alleged that a lieutenant attached to the taskforce (names withheld) “shot sporadically at the unprotected, frustrated, marginalised people of Ojobo town numbering over 200 out of which 21 were injured”

But Ahmed countered, saying: “They will always allege. The elders of the community wanted to have a meeting with Shell officials and the youths disrupted the meeting.

“They attempted to disarm one of the soldiers who now shot into the air to scare them away; in the process, 12 were wounded but 10 of them have been discharged now”.

The statement was issued by Ojobo Community Chairman James O. Torukro.  It explained that the crisis, which degenerated at the flow station at the weekend, had its roots in the alleged failure of a contracting firm, Parker Drilling Company, to comply with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it had with the community on September 20.

It also insisted that the firm, which has a contract with Shell, has employed “only six unskilled workers …. With a meagre salary structure” contrary to the community’s quota stipulated by law.

The people are also protesting alleged failure by Parker Drilling to give them the contract to supply materials and are raising eyebrows over the presence of more than 10 firms working for the company which do not employ indigenes of the area.

The Rig 75 operated by Parker Drilling Company is said to have been shut temporary owing to the incident.

Shell Corporate External Relations Manager Don Boham confirmed on Monday that “the traditional rulers and community representatives are dialoguing with officials of Parker Drilling and Shell’s community liaison officer to resolve the situation”.

Contrary to the figures quoted by Ahmed and the Ojobo community, Boham said “some 17 youths were injured in the commotion and treated on site and at the Industrial A rea clinic in Warri.

Warri: Soldiers, Youths in Bloody Clash

21 wounded
From Onwuka Nzeshi in Warri, 11.22.2004
Culled from ThisDay Online

About 21 persons were shot and wounded at the weekend when irate youths clashed with armed soldiers in an attempt by the militant agitators to seize and occupy an oil flowstation at Ojobo, Burutu local government area of Delta State.

THISDAY checks revealed that the youths numbering over 200 swooped on the Benisede flowstation, but they were swiftly resisted by armed security personnel who set out to dislodge them.

Before the incident, THISDAY learnt that youths of Ojobo had been at loggerheads with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over the oil multi-national's community relations policies and practices. The youths and a cross section of the community claimed the Ango Dutch oil firm (Shell) and her agents were not fair to the community considering the quantum of oil drilled from their land and rivers.

Beneseide flow station, produces about 75,000 barrels of oil per day from 45 oil wells.

Elders of the community were said to have been meeting with representatives of Shell and a contracting firm, Parker Drilling with a view to resolving the differences. One account said that it was during one of such meetings that the youths attacked soldiers who were monitoring the meeting.

According to the account, the meeting was to enable the oil company and the community leaders draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pave way for a cordial relationship between both parties and advert whatever crisis there was to be.

Trouble was said to have started when youths of the community vehemently opposed the position of the oil company on certain vital aspects of the MOU, especially areas dealing with youths empowerment and employment.

Elders at the meeting were said to have tried in vain to calm down the situation but it soon degenerated into fisticuffs as armed security personnel monitoring the deliberations moved in to restore order.
Military sources claimed that some of the youths engaged the soldiers in physical combat and tried to seize their rifles. The exchange resulted in the release of a volley of bullets by the equally enraged soldiers.

At least 21 persons reportedly sustained gun shot wounds and were subsequently conveyed to Shell clinic, Oguru for emergency medical attention.

However, hours after, a group of youth leaders from the troubled town issued a statement alleging that over 20 of their kinsmen have been gunned down by soldiers on the orders of Shell.

But Public Relations Officer of the Joint Task Force, Major Saheed Hammed, in a chat with THISDAY yesterday evening denied the allegation levelled against the soldiers.

Also reacting to the incident yesterday, Shell's corporate external relations manager, Mr. Don Doham, confirmed the incident but explained that the shooting incident occurred on the rig which the youths forcefully occupied.
Boham said the youths invaded and occupied Rig 75 and that they vacated the facility as at press time.
"They occupied the rig belonging to Parker Drilling and demanded immediate commencement of community development projects, a review of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as well as direct dealing with service contractors to review work contract for six of their members," said Boham.

The rig, he said, was working for SPDC at her Benisede Well 22 when the youths invaded it. Boham further explained that only 17 of the invading youths sustained injuries in their scuffle with armed security personnel.
He also told newsmen that those injured have been treated while dialogue is continuing between the traditional ruler and community representatives on one hand and officials of Shell on the other.

There have been frequent clashes between youths agitating for more welfare packages for their communities from oil companies and members of the Joint Task Force comprising of men of the armed forces set up by government to gurantee security of operations by the firm.

The youths have also accused government of neglecting their communities which suffer degradation as a result of oil drilling while the people also lack basic amenities and employment opportunities.
To drive their points home, the youths have resorted to taking expatriates working at drilling sites as hostages or seizing oil rigs. The resort to criminal activities in the agitation for their rights have often led to frequent clashes with military men.


No more deal with militants — Obasanjo

Soni Daniel, Port Harcourt

President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday said that government would no longer negotiate with any militia group that causes a breach of the peace in any part of the country.

Obasanjo gave the warning at the foundation laying of a $20 million syringe factory, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He said government was determined to visit all forms of rascalism with severe punishment.

He advised anyone or group that believed that the negotiation with the militia in the Niger Delta last October, indicated weakness on the part of the Federal Government, to have a rethink.

The President had almost concluded his speech when a group of youths under the aegis of “Rivers Youths for Peace”, surged forward to applaud him for the peace effort in Rivers State in particular, and the Niger Delta in general.

Pointing directly at the youths, he said, “Let me say that we did not meet and negotiate with some of you out of weakness but we saw the need to give the militants, the opportunity to change for the better.

“Henceforth, there will be no amnesty for any individual or group that promotes violence and destruction of property in any part of the country.

“I am therefore, asking all of you to be of good behaviour because the government will certainly punish all acts of rascalism from now onwards.”

Although the October peace deal generated a lot of controversy, Rivers State Governor Peter Odili granted amnesty to Alhaji Asari Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force and Mr. Tom Ateke of the Niger Delta Vigilance.

Earlier, the President lamented the effects of malaria and HIV/AIDS in Africa and stressed the need for a concerted effort to stem them.

Obasanjo regretted that the economy of most African countries had been negatively affected by diseases that could have been prevented many decades ago.

He said, “Sustainable development is possible in Africa if diseases that impact directly and indirectly on the people are tamed. The continent’s Gross Domestic Product would have increased by millions of dollars if malaria had been eliminated years ago.”

He lauded the African Health Foundation for putting up the syringe factory in collaboration with the government and some multinational companies.

Obasanjo said the initiative signified a new relationship between the government and some countries which believed in strengthening the health facilities in Nigeria.

The President appealed to the youths in Port Harcourt not to disrupt work at the factory because it was set up to generate employment for them and other Nigerians.

Before his arrival in Port Harcourt, Obasanjo had earlier visited Owerri, Imo State, where he said that he had not appointed a Minister of Petroleum Resources because of intense jostling by Nigerians.

The Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, had given assurance to the Preseident that everything would be done to make the syringe factory work.

Odili stated that his government believed in the reforms being carried out by the Obasanjo government and would, therefore, follow the President in whichever direction he went.

The Chairman of the Pan African Health Foundation, Mr. Yuichi Ishimaru, disclosed that the company had raised $6million out of the $20million needed for the completion of the project.

The PUNCH, Wednesday, December 1

2007: PDP's zoning of presidency to North a fraud — S-South leaders

By Osaro Okhomina
Vanguard Thursday, December 02, 2004

BENIN CITY — PROMINENT leaders of the South-South geo-political zone yesterday declared that agitation for the presidency in 2007 was not a negotiation instrument but a demand being made by the people of the region across party lines, describing the purported agreement reached by the caucus members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the zoning of the presidency to the North as a fraud and unacceptable to the position of the zone.

The meeting presided over by former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark resulted in the adoption of a constitution for the operations of the South-South Peoples Assembly and the reaffirmation of their stand that the agitation is not an appeal but a demand by the region for its rightful position in 2007.

Leaders present at the two-day meeting held in Benin City, Edo State were the former Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe (rtd), First Executive Governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Chief Hope Harriman, General David Ejoor, Admiral Festus Porbeni, Chief A.K Horsefal, Chief Ewa Ita-Henshaw, Senator Dagogo Princewill, High Chief Abel Ubeku and Senator Franca Afegbua.

Addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting, the Publicity Secretary of South-South Peoples Assembly, Senator Anietie Okon and the Chairman of the Steering Committee, Chief Raymond Dokpesi declared that the decision of the South-South leaders to insist on presidency in 2007 was based on the need to right the wrongs of the years of political neglect of the region.

According to Senator Aniette Okon, "the driving force in these campaigns and the provocation has been our disappointment at the years of deliberate and properly thought-out policies to disjoin the wealth of these nation so as to address the condition of the Nigerian people. And it is not the issue of sentiments that we control the wealth. It is that we have these propelling conviction that we have the human assets, tested over time and that can provide a breath of fresh air and initiatives in tackling Nigeria’s problem.

"I do not agree with you that it has been all a mess because somebody has come from South-west. What we are going through is the transition period in the management of the economy. It is unfortunate that the reforms have put pressure on Nigeria. We believe there is the need to substitute the present arrangement with people that are comfortable with their macro-economy. Even if the South-South wants to ride on sentiments, ours will be that we believe we have remained the anchor for the stability of this country in its most trying periods. We all believe that these are the issues of legacy. We are saying that the problem in this country is that when the federation was being created and handed back, they subsumed the treaties signed. So, let nobody be mistaken on where we stand as we march into history."

On the purported gentlemen agreement of the PDP, he said " let me tell you without fear of contradiction that there was no such agreement. In the first instance, what they said was that it was in a minute of the meeting. If anybody produces any minute of such meeting, it would be a forgery because I served as a National Publicity Secretary from formation and at no meeting of the caucuses was any such agreement reached. If they say a gentlemen agreement exist, the first act of gentleness should have come from Gemade and Rimi. Don’t let us talk about agreement that does not exist."


North not afraid of break up— Dikko

By Habib Yakoob, Kaduna
Culled from Vanguard Posted to the Web: Sunday, March 06, 2005

AMID the raging controversy triggered by the fear that the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) discussion of Nigeria’s oneness could lead to the nation’s disintegration, northern leader, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, says the north is not afraid of staying on its own and can survive in the event of a break up. Though Dikko vowed that the North would do anything to make Nigeria stay together, he said it was wrong to believe that without oil, the north is “useless”.

“You see, let me tell you this now, that the North is not afraid of breaking away, but it will do anything within its power to stay together with other Nigerians. But if it is forced upon us to stay away from the south, we shall not perish, we can survive”, Dikko, arguably one of the most powerful politicians of the second republic who served under former President Shehu Shagari as Transport Minister,  told Sunday Vanguard, in an exclusive interview.

According to him, the North has a lot of resources, including enough arable land to produce cash crops, which, he noted, could generate much money than petroleum is generating for the whole country. The veteran politician, who is leading Kaduna State delegation to the on-going National Dialogue, argued that these resources had been largely untapped because past leaders allowed themselves to be consumed by “cheap monies” from  federal allocations.

“The big mistake we all made was that with the discovery of oil everyone turned away and expected revenues only from this source. We want cheap monies, cheap dough from oil”,  he observed, adding that it was this tendency that led to the collapse of the famous “groundnut pyramid”.

Now, Dikko said, the north through his newly formed Arewa Union (AU) was attempting to task the northern governors to concentrate on the development of the north, by concentrating on four points of action to develop and prepare itself for any eventuality. But he stressed, “ Breaking this country into two or three will not be in the interest of any of us”.

Dikko also said that giving the on-going National Dialogue three months to finish its assignment was not ideal, because, according to him,  the issues to be discussed are weighty and serious. “To me I would suggest that we are given nine months in which to finish this assignment”, he stated.

The second republic transport minister also debunked insinuations that the confab is a gathering of some old men who were largely the source of the same problem the conference is meant to address, arguing that none of delegates “deliberately caused” the problem of this country. “ If we made mistakes, we should be forgiven because nobody is infallible, the NPRC delegate said.

Dikko said the youths clamouring for the exit of the “oldies” had not demonstrated that they could handle well the affairs of this nation. “We see them in all the tiers of government, and we are not encouraged that they can even do better than our efforts”, he added.

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North not afraid of break up— Dikko

North not afraid of break up— Dikko