Wednesday, 30 September 2009

As Nigeria Wobbles To 49: ARG Ask For A New Template(News Release)

                                                      Map Of Nigeria

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) using the occasion of the 49th Anniversary of our “fumbling and wobbling” as a country to rally the constituent units of Nigeria to ask for a paradigm shift that would usher in true Federalism as a panacea for development and national rebirth.

Any path taken either by an individual or community for 49 years and is leading farther from the desired destination should be subjected to review if such an individual or community is not prepared to end in perdition.

In most of the 49 years of our existence as a country, we have abandoned the route that any multi-ethnic country like Nigeria should take by adopting over-centralization in a supposed Federal Republic.

At a time when the British who amalgamated us have gone to adopt water tight Federalism that has seen Scotland and Nigeria simultaneously submitting bids for the Commonwealth Games and the former centralized States of the Eastern block dissolving into cultural units, Nigeria has continued to move farther into a unitary arrangement.

It is no accident that at 49, all the failures of over-centralization manifesting in corruption, waste, inefficiency and collapse are staring us on our faces anywhere we turn to. Every institution that is “National” are either totally collapsed or are in the process of doing so. A few examples: Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL), Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC), Nigeria Airways (NA), Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), are sufficed to convince us that we are doing the wrong thing.

The template of Abuja insisting on running virtually everything that touches on the lives of the peoples of Nigeria has seen a situation where the whole country now reels under the paralysis occasioned by the incompetence of an over-bloated centre. Nigeria is about the only known “Federation” in the world where the central government has residual powers. A whopping 68 items are loaded on the exclusive list by the 1999 Constitution which put the lives of Nigerians under incompetence and failure.

The central government for instance has reached its cul-de-sac on provision of electricity but all the States can do today is to power a few streets with solar or generators at night as they must not touch exclusive matter. The whole country is today under the siege of armed robbers and kidnapper as an ill-equipped Federal police appears helpless but the States constitutionally cannot have their own police except the daring Sharia States who have introduced the Hisbah.

The Central Government forcefully took over Universities that were owned and well run by the regions in the past but today, all have been run down necessitating incessant strikes by University teachers and workers. Nigerians pay through their noses to fuel their cars because the Central Government has lost the capacity to refine even a barrel of crude oil but petroleum and allied matters remains in the grips of an incompetent centre.

Of late even football that has provided some opium for Nigerians has come under the weight of this incompetence. Where club sides like Enyimba have continued to at least provide occasional cheers, all the national teams have become embarrassments to soccer lovers.

All the above may look theoretical but the figures are there for us to capture the reality of our situation. At 49, 76% of our populace are classified stark poor, 300 of 1,000 children born in our country don’t celebrate their first birthday, the life expectancy for males is 45 and 48 for females, over $300b out of $800b we have generated since independence have been stolen by leaders and the sixth largest producer of oil in the world ranks among the last 20 in virtually all international indices for 148 countries. Above all we are classified among the 15 countries whose failure is imminent.

It is out of realization of this malady that CHANGE NIGERIA, which Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) support, recently came out to put strongly the restructuring of Nigeria into a true Federal arrangement on the front burner. We endorse that declaration and call on all the constituent units of Nigeria to back it so that we can have a fresh start and run a Nigeria that works for all as against only a few presently. In that lies the redemption of our country.

We need to banish corruption and have a credible electoral process but these lofty goals would remain unattainable for as long as we are stuck with the structure that can only thrive on corruption and negation of the popular will of the people.

‘Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary
Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG)

Para-normal Wall Street(Article)

                                           A Typical Workday On Wall Street

On Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, CA, a sign in a store window reads, “Psychic Readings: 2 for the price of .” A street vendor barks at me, “I’ll give you a tarot reading for two bucks!” and a sandwich board advertises a “Free Psychic Fair” to attract new customers. Even psychics are affected by the downturn in the economy. Then again, Sylvia Browne still claims there’s a wait of up to eight years for her psychic readings, at a cost of $800. Asked when the economy might begin to recover, Barack Obama told the Washington Post earlier this year, “I don’t have a crystal ball. Nobody can tell.” But some people think they can.

In the current economic climate of the recession, sub prime market foreclosures, the credit crisis, and mass unemployment, are psychics affected negatively by these factors, or are they actually profiteering (propheteering?) from them? Many industries are suffering, and it’s likely that psychics are too, but some allege that the economic bust has led to a psychic boom.

According to several news sources, including USA Today, Time, and ABC News, new trends have appeared in the psychic industry over the past six months. Apparently, there are more clients, more psychics, different clients, and different client concerns. These sources explain that, during times of “uncertainty” about the future, people seek those who claim to “know” the future, and that as a result, psychics have experienced an increase in clientele.

With a greater demand for psychics, supposedly there is also a growth in the psychic job industry. Given current unemployment rates, it’s possible that psychic jobs are appealing as tax-free, unskilled, remote work; and given inflation rates, they may appeal as second jobs.

If we are to believe these anecdotal accounts, the once “staple” female demographic now includes male clients. The sources further report that there is a change in client concerns; namely, a shift away from relationship advice-giving to a focus on career and money, reflecting the current employment and financial strife. Finally, some psychics believe that their new clients are from higher socio-economic brackets, often with backgrounds in finance.

It appears that psychics have skipped the MBA and securities training to become amateur financial advisors for failing financiers and customers who are now distrustful of orthodox financial services. In the articles cited above, one psychic claims she charges $350 for financial advice to individuals, and $10,000 for corporations.

Some try to close the gap between trading futures and reading futures. There’s Arch Crawford, “The Street’s Best Known Astrologer,” who believes in not only bulls and bears, but Aries and Pisces. Then there’s Mary T. Browne, better known as “Wall Street’s Psychic Advisor”. Henry Weingarten, author of Investing by the Stars, is a “financial astrologer” (or “corporate astrologer”) who uses a “top down approach” (i.e. astrology) to the stock market.4 Amazingly, they all claim to have predicted gold as a stable investment (although gold is traditionally an alternative investment to currency in such times.)

Some psychics have found a new niche as real estate gurus. If you’re lucky, you might find a real estate agent who is also psychic! To sell your home in this difficult market, California psychics recommend the use of a psychic-approved real-estate agent; and that the seller apply the principles of Feng Shui to improve the “energy” of the house. Don’t forget to bury a statue of St. Joseph upside-down in the back yard!

At this point you could be tempted to joke, “At the moment, psychics couldn’t do any worse than the analysts!” Yes, they can. Here are a few examples. The telecommunications company One.Tel (a venture funded by the Murdoch and Packer heirs) Feng Shui-ed itself out of business. A change management consultant (and white witch) cost a local government over $800,000 with her advice based in eastern religion and astrology.

Recently, a banker gambled up to $109 billion on the stock market, and lost $7.7 billion, relying on advice from psychics in what was euphemistically called a “high risk strategy.”

Some psychics deny that they offer financial advice, and defend their craft as based in practical advice and common sense. However, there’s nothing rational or logical about unqualified strangers advising “clients” on life-altering decisions, based on gut-feelings, emotions, hunches, hopes, and intuition. Ironically, these are the very impulses that have contributed to the current economic crisis.

By: Karen Stollznow

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Ibori…Ibori…Ibori! Word Of The Day: Calumny!(Article)

                                               James Ibori

“The act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another person’s reputation"

My fellow countrymen, especially those that have the fear of God. The presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proven guilty – is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern countries. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who are restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In case of remaining doubts, the accused is to be acquitted.

Each day I log into Sahara Reporters to be updated on what is happening in my homeland Nigeria, all I see is write ups and preceding comments attacking the person of Chief James Ibori, former governor of Delta State. There is no day that goes by without one new write up or the other by faceless individuals and the heart wrenching comments that follow and I ask myself why Chief James Ibori?.

Going by the daily occurrence I can only perceive and believe that this is a sponsored smear campaign of calumny by certain quarters to hang the man before he is proven guilty. From my reckoning the tactics employed by these faceless individuals and their sponsors, include character assassination, selective misquotation, willful distortion of the record, fabrication of falsehoods and utter disregard for the truth!

This misrepresentation, I believe is to disparage or discredit James Ibori’s suspected future political aspirations, if any. These accusations seem like pure extortive calumny in a malicious bid to make financial gains. Other than that, I see no need for the media frenzy by particular sections of the press, in the bid to malign a man, whom the courts have not pronounced guilty, a man who surprisingly, the people of his state have not come out to accuse him of embezzling their state funds. A man they willingly voted into office for a second term. Or did he also buy over the entire people of Delta State?

Chief James Ibori is not the first and certainly would not be the last to fall victim to such calumny, as far as the sponsors of this smear campaign have money to dish out to whoever is willing to go any length in maligning a man whom the courts have not pronounced guilty and a past Governor of a State elected by his people to be precise.

Sahara Reporters has chosen to be the vessel for the dissemination of these derogatory comments and write-ups forgetting that the titillation of malicious gossip and the thrill of tearing down other human beings do have their limits. It is a known fact that these insinuations and outrageous charges often provoke counterclaims that are just as wild, while the mutual misquoting, distortion, hearsay and condemnation can spiral to heights of ridiculousness that strain credulity and make readers to lose interest.

These days even objective write ups on Sahara Reporters do not receive comments, in fact I doubt if these other write ups are being read. When some readers log into Sahara Reporters, they head straight for the latest news. If they do not see “Ibori in trouble again or Ibori does this or that” they log off. They log off because they cannot make objective criticisms to intellectual and well researched write ups, in fact some of the commentators don’t even get to read the write up, once they see Ibori in the headlines they all get excited and start posting comments that are not even relevant to the write up, disparaging and cursing, with strong words, their fellow human being, as if some of them wouldn’t be worse than all the past and present governors combined if given the opportunity to rule their states for just a month.

Even the anonymity adopted by some of the writers of these articles and most of the commentators do have their counterproductive effects, highlighting the Kafkaesque unreality of the “kangaroo court” assembled in cyberspace.

For that category of commentators I’ll explain: "Kafkaesque" is an eponym (should I explain this word too?) used to describe concepts, situations, and ideas which are reminiscent of the literary work of Prague writer Franz Kafka, particularly his novels the Trial and The Castle, and the novella The metamorphosis. The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish type of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape). Some of these writers will only comment from behind the mask of a fictitious name exposing the insincerity of their comments and derogatory remarks.

All these present us with a situation of serious moral conflict that should be addressed, because it violates the dignity of the person being attacked and undermines truth. And in the end, truth is the only basis on which a good society can be built.

Sahara Reporters permit me to ask, did you demand something in particular from Ibori which he refused you, or did he take something that belongs to you? I ask this question because this seems too personal. How many governors, past and present, being probed by EFCC, have you besieged in this manner of campaign against Chief James Ibori? Or was Sahara Reporters created with a special purpose to destroy the image of Chief James Ibori?

On the other hand, Chief James Ibori has denied most of the charges and accusations, why don’t we wait for the law to take its course? Nuhu Ribadu mentioned that Chief Ibori offered him a bribe of $15million in cash and everybody screamed “BLUE MURDER!”. Did any of us see the cash? Why should we believe Ribadu if we cannot believe Chief Ibori? I’ll answer the question; it is left for the law courts to decide! Which brings me back to my opening statement “the presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proven guilty – is a legal right of any accused in any criminal trial? Let us allow the courts to decide who is innocent and who is guilty. Let us allow Chief James Ibori live his normal life without these scandalous distractions until the courts decide.

LET IBORI BE! He remains innocent until proven otherwise by the law courts. All these degrading and malicious allegations will not influence the decision of the law courts in any way, mobilizing a handful of jobless people everyday to the courts will not influence the judges or the courts in any way. If and when the law courts find him innocent, he will still remain one of us, entitled to his human rights which are being seriously abused by a bunch of faceless individuals! We should allow the process of the court to prove guilt, instead of pronouncing people guilty even before they appear in court. This was the same system EFCC adopted under Ribadu, at the end of the day, all his one million count charges never amounted to one conviction.

I am very much aware that this article, if published by Sahara Reporters will definitely elicit spurious comments, name calling and unscrupulous reactions, but I plead with Sahara Reporters fans to be civil and come up with objective criticisms if any, we are all supposed to be mature educated adults, lets discuss rather than abuse. I love Nigeria as well as you do.

I urge Sahara Reporters to exhibit fairness and accuracy in reporting (FAIR) in their journalism and unless they are committed to fairness, balance, and respect for individual privacy and rights, they will not only have an audience but will, sooner or later, run afoul of the law and land behind bars.

Calumny is a serious sin under the Ten Commandments, “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Leave the Judgment to the law courts!

N. C Nzewi


Teachers' Strike: DPA Accuses Lagos State Of Impunity And Lack Of Political Will(News Release)

                                         Lagos State Governor

The Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) wants the Lagos State Government and the local branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to call a truce and immediately reopen schools for children’s sake.

Charging the government with impunity, especially as it recently told teachers to forget the implementation until next year, Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina: “The current crisis is unwarranted, inexcusable and immoral in a state that earns N14 billion every month as Internally Generated Revenue, from which it illegitimately pays a private tax firm N2.1 billion every month.”

The party said the crisis simply meant the government lacked the political will to fulfill earlier promises made on the 27.5 percent increase in the Teachers’ Salary Structure (TSS).

“How far has Lagos gone with meeting the UN recommendation to devote 26 percent of budget to education?” DPA queried. “How far has Lagos gone to tackle recurring negative decimals in the public schooling system? How far has Lagos dealt with its schools’ dilapidated buildings, classes overcrowded with as many as 120 pupils as opposed to the 25 recommended by the United Nations? How far has Lagos tackled the problems of incessant strikes, inadequate teachers, unchecked levies and low teacher morale? What is Lagos doing about lack of library and laboratory facilities and dearth of scholarships, bursaries and foreign training? Let them tell us.”

Noting that poorer states like Kwara, Bayelsa and Kaduna had since implemented the TSS, DPA said the current face-off underscored the Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Sosan’s incompetence as Commissioner for Education.

“The government has so estranged itself from the citizens that in a truly democratic setting, it deserves to lose the next elections hands down,” the party statement said.

For the fact that teachers had called off previous strikes because government asked for time to pay, the party accused the state of displaying bad faith and impunity in the entire episode. It said the same attitude had surfaced during the authorities’ recent problem with employees of the Lagos State University (LASU) until all the home unions marshaled a corporate front.

In the words of DPA: “Lagos is telling workers that it will bend only to force, not dialogue or reason when it comes to labour issues. And this is rather unfortunate.”

According to the party, the incessant hiccups in the educational sector could psychologically impair the children, to make them develop a lackadaisical attitude to didactic learning and formal education.

Urging the state to quickly follow in the footsteps of other states that had implemented the TSS, the party further warned that the teachers strike would further stall the development of the state’s educational sector.

Furthermore, the party challenged the government to tell the world what impact it had so far made on education, other than the tokenism of paying secondary students’ external terminal exams.

The party noted: “This government has few friends and it doesn’t seem to care. It has fought almost everybody –doctors, teachers, lecturers, non-academic staff of universities, okada operators, landlords, tenants, businessmen, traders, corporate bodies, etc. – and for no good reason.”

According to the party, the government must change its tactics of bringing grandstanding, strong-arm tactics and the big stick to the table, when a small dose of diplomatic dialogue would have easily rectified labour issues.

Director of Publicity, Lagos DPA

Artspeak: Nigerians To Their Leaders, "No Time For Independence Anniversary Celebrations"

                                                     (Credit: Diseye Tantua Arts)

Nigeria's Main Oil Militant Group Names Negotiators

                                                       MEND Logo

"...I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3: 9-10)

Some eminent Nigerians have graciously accepted to dialogue on behalf of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) with the Federal Government of Nigeria whenever the government realizes the need to adopt serious, meaningful dialogue as a means to halting the violent agitation in the Niger Delta.

The Nigerian government so far has not shown a willingness to dialogue, preferring instead to make wild unrealistic threats, purchase more useless military hardware, and dole out bribes to traitors to our noble cause as has been obvious in its so-called disarmament process.

These eminent persons will be known as the Aaron Team and have our mandate to oversee a transparent and proper MEND disarmament process that conforms with international standards as the current disarmament process is flawed and lacks integrity.

The MEND disarmament process will only come after the root causes of militancy and agitation in the Niger Delta have been addressed by the Nigerian government.

The Aaron Team is;

- Vice Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe (rtd)

- Professor Wole Soyinka (Observer)

- Major General Luke Kakadu Aprezi (rtd)

- Dr. Sabella Ogbobode Abidde, PhD

MEND has also nominated Ms Annkio Briggs to liaise on behalf of the group with these Nigerians who have volunteered their time in a bid to bring a just and lasting peace to the Niger Delta.

The hope for peace in the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general now rests squarely on the shoulders of the Nigerian government.

Jomo Gbomo

Monday, 28 September 2009

Videospeak: Iran Test Fires Long Range Missiles

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard today test fired a long range missile.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

USA And Allies To Issue Ultimatum To Iran At October 1st Meet


The U.S. and its five allies trying to stop Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program plan to tell Tehran in a key meeting on Thursday that it must provide "unfettered access" to its previously secret Qom enrichment facility within weeks, a senior administration official says.

The allies — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — also will present in the Oct. 1 meeting a so-called transparency package covering all of Iran's nuclear activities across the country, said the official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss plans that are not yet ready to be announced.

The allies will demand that Iran prove to the increasingly skeptical group that its intentions with its various sites are peaceful and energy-related, as Iran claims, and not for weapons development, as the West believes, the official said Saturday.

"These nations now agree that they are less inclined to listen to suspect arguments or incomplete evidence — viewing it as a stall tactic", the official said.

But beyond the timeframe of "weeks" for coming clean on Qom, the allies will not give Iran a specific deadline to provide the information about its overall program, the official said.

The development of such a timeframe will depend on the Iranians' actions in the meeting and directly after it, the official said.

The kind of transparency the group wants from Tehran is far-reaching, covering people, timeframes and facilities. This would include full access for the International Atomic Energy Agency to any and every site, notebooks, computers and documents related to nuclear development, and all scientists.

The United States will be represented in Thursday's meeting in Geneva by William Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, a career diplomat.

On Saturday, Iran's nuclear chief told state TV that his country would allow the U.N. nuclear agency to inspect Iran's newly revealed and still unfinished uranium enrichment facility. Ali Akbar Salehi didn't specify when inspectors from the IAEA could visit. He said the timing would be worked out with the U.N. watchdog.

Earlier Saturday, President Barack Obama offered Iran "a serious, meaningful dialogue" over its disputed nuclear program, while warning Tehran of grave consequences from a united global front.
"Iran's leaders must now choose — they can live up to their responsibilities and achieve integration with the community of nations. Or they will face increased pressure and isolation, and deny opportunity to their own people," Obama said in his radio and Internet address Saturday.

The White House responded to the development by urging Iran's complete and immediate cooperation with the IAEA. "After hiding this site from the international community for years, full transparency is essential, and it is time for Iran to play by the rules like everyone else," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Obama said in his address that evidence of Iran's building the underground plant "continues a disturbing pattern of Iranian evasion" that jeopardizes global nonproliferation.

Ahead of Thursday's international talks with Iran in Geneva, Obama said the world "is more united than ever before" on this issue. Those negotiations, he said, "now take on added urgency."

Iran's failure to comply with international inspectors raised the potential of tougher economic penalties, although Obama and administration officials did not rule out military action.
"My offer of a serious, meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue remains open," Obama said, urging Tehran to "take action to demonstrate its peaceful intentions."

Evidence of the clandestine facility was presented Friday by Obama and the leaders of Britain and France at the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. The news overshadowed developments on regulating financial markets and reducing fossil fuel subsidies.

Soon after, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, at his own news conference, urged Iran to cooperate, as did Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei. He, however, did not endorse penalties against Tehran.

At a news conference in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country had done nothing wrong and Obama would regret his actions.
"What we did was completely legal, according to the law. We have informed the agency, the agency will come and take a look and produce a report and it's nothing new," he said.

Ahmadinejad said the plant — which Iranian officials say was reported to nuclear authorities as required — wouldn't be operational for 18 months. But he sidestepped a question about whether Iran had sufficient uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

(From Associated Press)

Garden City(Port Harcourt) Literary Festival Comes To Impressive End.

                                                          Festival Logo

chidi opara reports network members in Port Harcourt report that the Garden city Literary Festival(GCLF) organized for the second year by the Rainbow Book Club and the Rivers State Government ended yesterday on an impressive note.

The festival tagged "Garden City Literary Festival 09" with the theme "Building Bridges" started on wednesday at the five star Hotel Presidential with the governor of Rivers State Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as guest of honour. "I note with satisfaction the amount of industry that have gone into the planning and organization of this festival, particularly the impressive array of renowned writers invited to participate in it", the governor told participants in a speech at the opening session.

Mrs. Koko Kolango, the founder of Rainbow Book Club said that "The festival aims to provide a platform for networking between players in the book chain industry, literary connoisseurs and the general public".

Absence of the renowned Kenyan writer and activist, Professor Ngugi Wa Thiongo on the opening day  some how dampened enthusiasm, but the presence of Nigerian renowned poet amd playwright, Professor John Pepper-Clark brought some pomps to the ocassion on the first day. Mrs Buchi Emecheta, renowned Nigerian feminist writer could not attend as advertised due to ill health.

Ngugi Wa Thiongo who was to deliever a keynote address on: "Transitions And Continuities In African Literature", made up for his absence at the opening on friday during a writers' workshop and on saturday during the "meet the author" session.

The festival rounded up with an impressive performance of Professor Clark's play "The Wives Revolt" by students of Theatre Arts Department of the University Of Portharcourt and a superlative musical concert by a Port Harcourt based coral group led by 80-year-old Charles Wakama.

Mrs. Sarah Abimbola, a participant who claimed to be "in the book business" was full of praises for the organizers and the Rivers State government. She implored chidi opara reports to "please appeal to other states governors to sponsor events like this".

Mr. Chidi Anthony Opara, a poet and Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of this medium, who was a participant however opined that "writers like Professor Ngugi should have used the forum to canvass for a modification of governor Amaechi's policy of rendering the common people in Port Harcourt homeless and shopless through demolition of structures without provision of alternatives". "What will they do with the paltry sums paid as compensations, which in most cases are paid to the so called landlords anyway?", he queried.

Ibori's Press Conference: Canonization Of A Serial Convict(News Release)

                                               James Ibori

Who ever is deceiving James Onanefe Ibori that his recent parley with media executives will hoodwink Nigerians, by now must have realised that any attempt to whitewash a stinking jail bird will serially reveal deep seated rotten skin that left an appalling and undesirable aroma.

The war agaisnt Ibori should not be smartly limited to Ribadu & Obasanjo against Ibori but it is totally Ibori against the People of the Commonwealth of which Nigeria is one.

Some Nigerians are not stupid & will never sell their conscience for anything, I made this assertion based on my first hand experience as a Counsel to ensure that Ibori and Co. have date with our law over some alleged financial sleaze that was perpetrated during his tenure as Governor of Delta State, particularly the allegation of using Supplementary budget to wantonly loot over N165 Billion Naira from the treasury of the State.

Nigerians are not stupid and Ibori should be asked whether Ribadu or Obasanjo had hands in his double conviction 18 years ago in Britain, as the case goes, Ibori and his then girlfriend(now wife), Theresa Ibori(nee Nakanda), were found guilty of theft committed at a supermaket in london. Mr. Ibori was fined 300 pounds sterling and ordered to pay another 450 pounds sterling as cost.

Mr. Ibori was convicted again, this time for handling a stolen credit card, on the day this conviction was been narrated by Rotimi Jacobs at Federal High Court, Kaduna, as the next person sitting very close to the lanky Ibori who was standing in the dock, I was surprised to note that Ibori nodded severally in agreement with Rotimi Jacobs’s impeccable narration of these facts.

Ibori also needs to be asked whether Ribadu & Obasanjo had anything to do with his famous sleeze of 1993, during the reign of General Sani Abacha, on how he was involved in more than a million dollars found in his account by the US.

The same Ibori, not Ochuko Ibori needs to be asked whether Ribadu and Obasanjo front loaded their indictment of Ibori to convicted a man named James Onanefe Ibori of negligent conduct and criminal breach of trust in 1995.

Interestingly Ibori did not name the much expected Delta Elders & Citizen Forum led by Chief E.K. Clark that have been calling for prosecution of their son over the alleged crime as those behind his woes.

He expects us to be stupid, otherwise he would never have come up with such thrash of naming Ribadu and Obasanjo as behind his woes.

In as much as Obasanjo has being accused of several things, with the information I am previledged to have, Obasanjo even stopped the impeachment of Ibori.

Nigerians are all nerves to ensure that Ibori and his likes pay for his sins against his motherland and humanity.

The questions the media executives should have asked Ibori are : Did you steal or did you not? If you did not steal, why are you and your associates being tried left, right and centre? Why have you always been associated with stealing and criminal trial as well as serially convicted, even before Ribadu became EFCC chairman?

Ibori ought to have been tried for concealment of information and the breach of our sacred Constitution for even presenting himself for the post of Governor of Delta State despite the provision barring ex-convict from holding a public office.

The press statement itself is an attempt to prejudice the extant cases before the Federal High Court, Asaba and has affected his bail conditions and as such his bail presently stands revoked.

From the Office of::
'Kayode .A. Ajulo, LL.B. (Hons.) LL.M., B.L., MNIM., fcl
Principal Partner; Dean of Research & Practice,
Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle Of Law
(Legal Practitioners/Consultants)
4th Floor, Metro Plaza, Central Business District,

Tel: +234 (0) 803 315 4349, +234 (0) 803 596 3634
Fax: +234 9 524 2218

Thursday, 24 September 2009

First HIV Vaccine Helps Prevent AIDS Infection

                                                   HIV/AIDS Patient

For the first time, an experimental vaccine has prevented infection with the AIDS virus, a watershed event in the deadly epidemic and a surprising result. Recent failures led many scientists to think such a vaccine might never be possible.

The World Health Organization and the U.N. agency UNAIDS said the results "instilled new hope" in the field of HIV vaccine research.

The vaccine – a combination of two previously unsuccessful vaccines – cut the risk of becoming infected with HIV by more than 31 percent in the world's largest AIDS vaccine trial of more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand, researchers announced Thursday in Bangkok.

Even though the benefit is modest, "it's the first evidence that we could have a safe and effective preventive vaccine," Col. Jerome Kim told The Associated Press. He helped lead the study for the U.S. Army, which sponsored it with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The institute's director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that this is "not the end of the road," but said he was surprised and very pleased by the outcome. "It gives me cautious optimism about the possibility of improving this result" and developing a more effective AIDS vaccine, Fauci said. "This is something that we can do."

The Thailand Ministry of Public Health conducted the study, which used strains of HIV common in Thailand. Whether such a vaccine would work against other strains in the U.S., Africa or elsewhere in the world is unknown, scientists stressed.

Even a marginally helpful vaccine could have a big impact. Every day, 7,500 people worldwide are newly infected with HIV; 2 million died of AIDS in 2007, UNAIDS estimates.

"Today marks a historic milestone," said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, an international group that has worked toward developing a vaccine. "It will take time and resources to fully analyze and understand the data, but there is little doubt that this finding will energize and redirect the AIDS vaccine field," he said in a statement.

The study tested the two-vaccine combination in a "prime-boost" approach, in which the first one primes the immune system to attack HIV and the second one strengthens the response. They are ALVAC, from Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis; and AIDSVAX, originally developed by VaxGen Inc. and now held by Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit founded by some former VaxGen employees.

ALVAC uses canarypox, a bird virus altered so it can't cause human disease, to ferry synthetic versions of three HIV genes into the body. AIDSVAX contains a genetically engineered version of a protein on HIV's surface. The vaccines are not made from whole virus – dead or alive – and cannot cause HIV.

Neither vaccine in the study prevented HIV infection when tested individually in earlier trials, and dozens of scientists had called the new one futile when it began in 2003. "I really didn't have high hopes at all that we would see a positive result," Fauci confessed.

The results proved the skeptics wrong.
"The combination is stronger than each of the individual members," said the Army's Kim, a physician who manages the Army's HIV vaccine program.

The study tested the combo in HIV-negative Thai men and women aged 18 to 30 at average risk of becoming infected. Half received four "priming" doses of ALVAC and two "boost" doses of AIDSVAX over six months. The others received dummy shots. No one knew who got what until the study ended.

Thanad Yomha, a 33-year-old electrician from southeastern Thailand, said he didn't expect anything in return for volunteering for the project. "I did this for others," Thanad said. "It's for the next generation."

All were given condoms, counseling and treatment for any sexually transmitted infections, and were tested every six months for HIV. Any who became infected were given free treatment with antiviral medicines.
Participants were followed for three years after vaccination ended.

The results: New infections occurred in 51 of the 8,197 given vaccine and in 74 of the 8,198 who received dummy shots. That worked out to a 31 percent lower risk of infection for the vaccine group. Two of the infected participants who received the placebo died.

The vaccine had no effect on levels of HIV in the blood for those who did become infected. That had been another goal of the study – seeing whether the vaccine could limit damage to the immune system and help keep infected people from developing full-blown AIDS.

That result is "one of the most important and intriguing findings of this trial," Fauci said. It suggests that the signs scientists have been using to gauge whether a vaccine was actually giving protection may not be valid.
"It is conceivable that we haven't even identified yet" what really shows immunity, which is both "important and humbling" after decades of vaccine research, Fauci said.

Details of the $105 million study will be given at a vaccine conference in Paris in October.

This is the third big vaccine trial since 1983, when HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS. In 2007, Merck & Co. stopped a study of its experimental vaccine after seeing it did not prevent HIV infection. Later analysis suggested the vaccine might even raise the risk of infection in certain men. The vaccine itself did not cause infection.

In 2003, AIDSVAX flunked two large trials – the first late-stage tests of any AIDS vaccine at the time.
It is unclear whether vaccine makers will seek to license the two-vaccine combo in Thailand. Before the trial began, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said other studies would be needed before the vaccine could be considered for U.S. licensing.

"This is a world first which proves that vaccine development is possible," said Dr. Supachai Rerks-Ngarm, the Thai Health Ministry official who oversaw the trial. "But this is not to the level where we can license or manufacture the vaccine yet."

Mass-producing the vaccine, plus how to proceed with future studies, will be discussed among the governments, study sponsors and companies involved in the trial, Kim said. Scientists want to know how long protection will last, whether booster shots will be needed, and whether the vaccine helps prevent infection in gay men and injection drug users, since it was tested mostly in heterosexuals in the Thai trial.

The study was done in Thailand because U.S. Army scientists did pivotal research in that country when the AIDS epidemic emerged there, isolating virus strains and providing genetic information on them to vaccine makers. The Thai government also strongly supported the idea of doing the study.

(From Associated Press)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Photoscope: Garden City(Port Harcourt) Literary Storm

Kenyan born leading African novelist and political activist, Ngugi Wa Thiongo to deliever Keynote address  on: "Transitions & Continuities in African Literature" at the festival.

Nigerian born renowned Poet and Playwright, John Pepper-Clark, to feature at an interactive session.

Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Guest of Honour.

Hotel Presidential Port Harcourt, venue of the festival

Information reaching chidi opara reports from Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt, has it that the opening ceremony which started one and half hours late, ended without Ngugi Wa Thiongo in attendance. The organizers could not give reason for that at the time of preparing this report.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Oil Above $71 After Big Tumble

                                              Oil Field

Oil prices climbed above $71 a barrel Tuesday, erasing much of the previous day's losses after a rise in global stocks eased worries about slipping Chinese crude consumption.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was up $1.41 at $71.12 a barrel in afternoon European electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.33 to settle at $69.71 on Monday.
Chinese oil demand slid 5.4 percent in August from July, the first month-to-month drop since March, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., as the world's second-largest oil consumer reined in oil imports and crude throughput rates at its domestic refineries.

But an updated growth forecast from the Asian Development Bank for China and India — which said the Asian region is leading a global economic recovery — pushed world markets higher, boosting oil prices.
Energy consumption in North America and Europe has been crimped by recession, leaving China as one of the few countries that continue to consume oil, gasoline and diesel in growing quantities. That pace, at least during late summer, appeared to slow, according to a report released Monday.

"Crude oil is not moving higher, but the only problem is, it is not moving lower either," noted trader and analyst Stephen Schork, in his Schork Report. "In other words, the market is mired inside a well defined consolidation pattern — in between the mid $70s and high $60s."

But some analysts expect a second-half recovery in demand from Europe and the U.S. combined with still decent energy appetite from Asia to boost oil prices.
"I think we're going to see a pretty significant recovery in the second half in the U.S. and Europe, and demand from China has been holding up," said Christoffer Moltke-Leth, head of sales trading for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. "I see more upside than downside for oil prices right now."
Moltke-Leth said crude could rise above $75 during the next month. "If we can break through that, prices will likely jump to $80."

In other Nymex trading, gasoline and oil for October delivery both rose by more than 3 cents to $1.75 and $1.78 a gallon. Natural gas, after tumbling more than 5 percent, was up more than 8 cents to $3.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose $1.42 to $70.11 on the ICE Futures exchange.

(From Associated Press)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Another Nigerian Journalist Goes Down!

                                          Bullet Riddled Body Of late Bayo Ohu

                                           Bullet Hole
Mr. Bayo Ohu,  political editor of The Guardian, a Nigerian daily newspaper was assasinated in his residence in Lagos in the early hours of yesterday.

(From a citizen reporter)

N11 Billion Lagos State Budget Appropriation Insensitive To Education, Other Sectors(News Release By DPA)

                                                  Governor Fashola

As children resume school tomorrow in Lagos , the Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has expressed fears that the additional N11 billion budget appropriated for Lagos State last week had failed to cater for key issues like the looming teachers’ strike.

Teachers have sworn to embark on another strike to make the government fulfil an earlier promise to implement the Teachers’ Salary Structure.

Noting that the government had failed to factor in this particular demand and related educational issues into the reviewed budget, DPA noted that instead state officials had lately made pronouncements that no such demands would be heeded this year.

The party also challenged the Action Congress government in the state to render a Naira-by-Naira breakdown of expenses in the current N405 billion budget, saying spending so far had failed to make appreciable impact on Lagosians in the last one year.

“Doctors have been on strike, school teachers have downed tools and the state’s solely-owned university has broken down since the beginning of the year and the government says it needs more money; where did all the money go?” Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina. “The roads are still bad; infrastructure is still poor, except for some high-profit capital projects, and yet the government says it wants to reshuffle its spending pattern –in September?”

Pointing out that the state was yet to implement the Teachers’ Salary Structure agreed with their union, the party challenged the House of Assembly, which passed the Appropriation Bill, to return to the drawing board to preempt the looming strike. DPA thought the Legislature ought to be more proactive and to take seriously its oversight function in order to make the government responsible and accountable to the benefit of the people.

The party especially wanted the government to tell the world what portion of the new appropriation it was devoting to trimming overcrowding in classrooms that sometimes recorded over 120 students per class. The United Nations recommends a pupil-teacher ratio of 1:25 .

“Agreement is agreement; and agreements must be honoured,” DPA said.

However, the party urged teachers to tread the path of dialogue rather than embark on strike, saying, innocent school children would end up the ultimate victims. DPA urged both parties to sit together to iron out their differences at a negotiation table.

It especially condemned as insensitive, reckless and dare-devilish the approach the government employed by going on air to announce it had put on hold till next year the earlier agreements reached with the Nigerian Union of Teachers.

“The government officials should have been more sensitive and diplomatic in handing such a nutty and weighty matter,” DPA said. “They should have called the union to a secret meeting to divulge that information.”

Declaring as strange the fact other commissioners in the Lagos cabinet had been responsible for revealing the state’s unwillingness to heed the NUT demands, the party reiterated its view that the Deputy Governor had proved incapable of coping with the two caps she currently wore, especially that of running the Ministry of Education.

Felix Oboagwinwa
Director of Publicity, Lagos DPA


Time To Offload Aondoakaa(News Release)

                                          Michael Aondoakaa
Ever since his appointment as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for the Federation, Chief Michael
Aondoakaa, SAN, has portrayed himself as grossly incompetent and a moral misfit for the position. His background as an ally, associate and Counsel to several highly-placed politicians and public officers facing
corruption charges easily compromised him and fingered him as having a vested interest in specific cases.
Nigerians and the international community cannot forget his ignoble role in the summary dismissal of the
former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. However, the events of the last few days have proved that this chameleon has yet to display its worst colour.

Aondoakaa has proved to be a man of even more despicable character as he now appears to be backtracking from a public statement we all heard him make in the full glare of local and international media. He definitely said that three former state governors, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Lagos State), Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom State) and Chief James Onanefe Ibori of (Delta State), had been investigated and exonerated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over the V-Mobile telecommunications transaction. EFCC quickly contradicted this statement and denied that it has come to such a determination. These former governors are under the searchlight of the London Met Police in a case involving the cornering, for private use, of shares of the telecoms company that they had used public funds to acquire for their states.

Aondoakaa’s unilaterally-issued reprieve for the governors, while the London Met Police is still conducting investigations, is an international embarrassment that has further cast aspersions on the resolve of the administration of President Umar Yar’Adua to fight corruption. How can Nigeria’s chief law officer be intent on tarnishing the image of Nigeria, presenting her as a den and harbour of untruthful and corrupt leaders and people? No amount of sloganeering about Nigeria being, Good People, Great Nation, will sanitize us when our ambassadors and leaders behave contrarily.

Prior allegations existed that Aondoakaa had, while in private practice, represented the interests of Chief James Ibori, currently facing over 100 counts of corruption-related offences within and outside Nigeria. The Justice Minister was part of the defence team in some of these allegations; and it appears he cannot separate his private interest from national interest. This makes him unsuitable for his position as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. If this latest faux pas in prematurely clearing the three governors is not enough proof that Aondoakaa is grossly unsuitable to hold such an exalted office, then we must all come to accept that President Yar’Adua is part of the conspiracy to protect corrupt public officials, serving and retired.

Afenifere especially disapproves of the AG travelling at public expense to London to defend politicians accused of corruption and money laundering. It makes it appear as if one of this administration’s objectives is to protect and further institutionalise corruption. Otherwise, how can one explain the office of the AG (which is not an investigative office) electing to hinder the job of the London Metropolitan Police and EFCC?
Chief Michael Aondoakaa must be relieved of his post as head of the Justice Ministry and his post reassigned to a nobler person.

Chief Reuben Fasoranti, OFR
Afenifere Leader

Author Of "The Davinci Code", Dan Brown Releases New Book Tomorrow

                                                    Book Cover

"The Lost Symbol", Dan Brown's latest book is due for release tomorrow. The long awaited book is a follow up to "Angels And Demons"(2000) "The Davinci Code"(2003).

chidi opara reports learnt that the Dan Brown latest literary entry is being keenly awaited by "friends and foes of the controversial author all over the world".

(From a citizen reporter)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Editorial: Still On Gani Fawehimi(1938-2009)

Our Logo

Nigerians at home and in diaspora and friends of Nigeria recently mourned the death of the country's most prominent civil liberties campaigner and senior lawyer, Mr. Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehimi widely known as Gani. The late activist died in a Lagos hospital after a two-year-struggle with lung cancer. He has since been buried in his home state Ondo.

The Lawyer/activist is unarguably the most mourned private figure in Nigeria in recent time. It is on record that at his demise, his friends and foes were united in praise of his legal and activist credentials.

This fame is not the usual flash in the pan variant always witnessed in Nigeria. The Gani Fawehimi fame was achieved through struggles against injustice in all ramifications that lasted for a period of forty years. At the last count, Mr. Fawehimi walked in and out of Nigerian prisons known for inhuman conditions, a record thirty-eight times!

Gani Fawehimi's fights against injustice unarguably to a large extent helped to check the tendency of the Nigerian political class, both military and civil, to always formulate anti-people policies and its habit of appropriating the common wealth for its selfish ends.

We at chidi opara reports are however of the opinion that the failure of the late activist to adequately beam his usual anti-corruption and anti-injustice searchlight on the judiciary helped to a large extent to nurture the present festering cancer of corruption ravaging that arm of government. Why Gani, an intelligent, fearless and meticulous crusader for justice and fundamental human rights failed in his active days to adequately address the rot in the Nigerian judiciary in view of its serious negative effects on the administration of Justice will not cease to agitate the minds of keen observers. Could it be a case of self preservation?, only time will tell.

Corruption in the Nigerian Judiciary, which should be the last hope of the ordinary Nigerian is to a large extent responsible for the systemic rot being witnessed in the country today. chidi opara reports believes that if this problem was adequately addressed during the Gani Fawehimi glorious era, much of the rot in our Judiciary today which incidentally was Gani's primary constituency, would have been averted earlier.

Friday, 18 September 2009

ARG(UK )Celebrates Gani Fawehimi’s Life(News Release)

                                                 Gani Fawehimi

After decades of robust, resilient and principled resistance to unjust, oppressive and corrupt apparatus and apparatchik of the Nigerian state, the indefatigable cum indomitable Gani Fawehinmi has answered the call of the Almighty and has transcended to immortality. We join our parent body - ARG in Nigeria- and all fellow minded Nigerians to mourn the passing of this great and highly patriotic Nigerian.

The memory of the popular Gani (22 April 1938 - 5th of September 2009) will forever remain positively and fondly ensconced in the minds of those to whom he was personally known and those who knew him via the public arena. He will remain forever etched on our national consciousness since the history of our nation and of its continuing search for its rightful position in the comity of nations will not be complete without a copious and prominent mention of Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

That Chief Gani Fawehinmi was, in his lifetime, an achiever is not in doubt, that he attained eminence and renown in his field and in his chosen fight against oppression and bad governance, within the debilitating and energy sapping environment foisted on our country by successive military regimes and civilian administrations, speaks volume for the quality and depth of his character and make up.

Gani Fawehinmi was a selfless, tireless and fearless warrior for good, he was a staunch opponent of the evil and iniquity that prevail in our society brought about by those in power but who had/have absolutely no business being in power.

Many current (and previous) public office holders will heave a sigh of relief and will feel less threatened now that their nemesis has been called to the great beyond, yet, it is the responsibility of all patriotic Nigerians of every tribe and of every religious persuasion to carry on with the fight fought so brilliantly by the great Gani and to ensure that despite the magnitude of power and influence that their ill-gotten gains engender, the enemies of progress, and those resolutely against justice, fair-play, good governance and honesty in public office are not allowed to rest easy.

We of ARG (UK) fully identify with and relate to the lofty ideals of social justice, good governance and human rights espoused and so valiantly fought for by Gani Fawehinmi.

Without the likes of Gani Fawehinmi, things would have been far worse. If the greatness of a country were to be singularly measured by the sterling activities of its outstanding sons and daughters, Gani’s qualities and the use to which he put his God given talents, would have ensured Nigeria ’s greatness. Alas, he faced an uphill struggle, at great personal cost, financially and physically, in his quest for justice and probity. Indeed the genesis of his ill health, or at least the marked exacerbation of it, which ultimately led to his death, can be traced to the advent of his many sojourns within the gallows of the various junta that have held the reins of power in Nigeria over the years and the treatment meted out to him at those periods of unlawful and unconscionable incarcerations.

Gani has not lived in vain; we should not allow him to die in vain. We must ensure that Gani’s dream and aspiration for a better and decent Nigeria lives on and is borne to fruition by carrying on the good work that he, and others of similar valour, have started.

May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Thank you.

Felix Adejumo (Coordinator ARG UK)

Eric Ayoola (Secretary ARG UK)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Who cares about press embargoes in this age of Internet(Article)

                                              Internet User

The internet is changing the rules of public relations (PR). Now that anyone can break a story through Twitter or Facebook, how should the PR industry adapt? Has the old-fashioned press release become obsolete? Is the press embargo dead?

Key Points:
• Many press releases contain an embargo, which allows journalists time to research a story in the knowledge that they won't be producing old news.
• The editor of the TechCrunch blog recently declared the press embargo dead. The site now has a policy of breaking embargoes.
• PR consultants still need good relationships with their contacts, whether they're journalists, bloggers, or an influential Tweeters.

What Is An Embargo?:
PR consultants are paid to manage news stories for their clients. They want to ensure that the timing of each story gets maximum exposure for their client. So, when they release newsworthy information to journalists, they often issue an embargo — a time and date when the news story is allowed into the public domain. Both parties benefit. Journalists get early access to information and have time to conduct research in the knowledge that they won't be scooped by a competitor. The PR consultant gets to control the story. Everyone's happy.

Recent Events:
At least, that used to be the case. The internet is speeding up the news cycle. Online journalists, bloggers and Tweeters are competing to break stories. And, as a result, the news embargo is under threat. Michael Arrington, founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a major blog site, has declared 'Death To The Embargo'.
In his December 2008 piece Arrington wrote: “One annoying thing for us is when an embargo is broken. A news site goes early with news, despite the fact that they've promised not to. The benefits are clear – sites like Google News and TechMeme prioritize them because they broke the story. Traffic and links flow in to whoever breaks an embargo first.”  TechCrunch now has a policy of ignoring embargoes: “We may break an embargo by a minute or three days. We'll choose at random.”  The embargo is looking outdated. Anyone can set up an RSS news feed, a Google Alert or have their Tweet Deck open on their desktop to track the latest news, minute-by-minute. When information travels instantaneously, journalists don't want to wait days before they can write about a story.

Abandon The Press Release:
Brian Solis is principal of the FutureWorks new media agency and author of the book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR Solis argues that the press release, not the embargo, “should be killed off.”  Solis wants PRs to create better relationships with individuals, rather than using a one size fits all approach. “I believe that some PRs have recognized that they are facing a new opportunity, and that we can renew our commitment to communications. Some are realizing they can influence through participation. However, when I look at most PRs, I don't think they recognize this opportunity yet,” says Solis. The new opportunities Solis describes include social media such as Twitter, where people are able to get instant access to the news they want. Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn contain communities of individuals with similar interests. But, Solis argues, PRs are communicating with these social media platforms in the same way they would with traditional outlets and “haven't embraced that spirit of community engagement”.  For Solis, it's time for a change. Traditional press releases don't allow for social interaction. They should be replaced with social media releases (SMRs). “The traditional press release should be killed off, not because of its structure, but its usage. We have to think of ways ... to get a more holistic approach to distributing information through media releases.” When asked what could be taken from the traditional media releases to benefit SMRs, he replied: “The contact information at the bottom,” before breaking into laughter at the other end of the telephone.

A New Form Of Press Release:
Solis believes that some aspects of traditional practice are still relevant. Embargoes are useful, as long as they are used sparingly. “I place embargoes every week, but we only go to specific individuals, who we believe reach a different market. We don't call it a press release, we call it a summary. We say we're working on a story, here's why you should care, and if you are interested we'll follow up and give you what you need. The traditional press release has no value because there's no participation,” he explains.

A Tailored Approach To Online PR:
Lloyd Gofton, director of Liberate Media, an online PR and social media consultancy, agrees with Solis that participation with influencers goes well beyond journalists. Gofton says: “Long gone are the days when traditional media outlets were the only audience that a PR consultant needed to consider. Anyone who isn’t taking a broad range of influencers into consideration isn’t doing their job. Each of these audiences should be approached in a tailored manner, rather than being on the receiving end of blanket news distribution tactics.”

So, if amateur bloggers are receiving the same information as professional journalists, can PR consultants really expect embargoes to be respected? For Gofton, the simple answer is no. “Why should they, unless they want to continue receiving information from that source?” Gofton isn't completely rejecting the use of embargoes, as he suggests they are still relevant to releases that focus on financially sensitive information.

Keep The Embargo:
Karen Durham-Diggins, Wordtracker's PR consultant and founder of KDD PR, believes embargoes aren't dead and still have many advantages. “By placing an embargo it allows journalists the time to write or review your client's product, service or information. This enables them to give a better informed opinion, rather than just get the story out.”  Durham-Diggins says she will continue to use the embargo when she needs to maximize press for her clients. In some cases, embargoes allow her to negotiate more coverage in particular titles, by offering early publication rights.  Another advantage, says Durham-Diggins, is that: “Once a product or service goes live it’s being judged as it is - any faults immediately come under the microscope. Under embargo you can explain that it is still being tested for bugs, for example.”

What Now?:
Social media are breaking down traditional relationships. What Solis, Gofton and Durham-Diggins can agree on is that PR needs to become more personal. It is time for its practitioners to use press releases and embargoes as a way of engaging with people, telling stories, and opening up conversations.

By:  Rachelle Money

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Extension of Ceasefire(News Release By MEND)

                                                  MEND Logo

                                           MEND Fighters

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is extending its unilateral ceasefire which expired midnight, September 15, 2009 by 30 days.

MEND does not recognize an amnesty that has not made any provision for meaningful dialogue on the root issues that gave birth to the Niger Delta unrest in the first place.

We have therefore resolved to continue fighting because the reasons for fighting has not yet been addressed.

The government should use this extention of time to do the right thing instead of pretending to talk peace while arming the military for a war it can not win.

The Oil and Gas industry who will bear the brunt of renewed hostilities should not be deceived by the amnesty charade or the recent military hardware purchases as this is only leading to another cycle of violence.

Jomo Gbomo

Google Developes News Browsing Enhancement Application

                                                     Google Logo

Google is developing a product called Fast Flip that aims to make it simpler and faster to browse through news articles on the Web, a process that the company finds is cumbersome and discourages people from reading more online.

Fast Flip was expected to go live late Monday at the Google Labs Web site, where the company features early stage product prototypes. As such, Fast Flip could change significantly, become temporarily unavailable or even disappear without notice.

Fast Flip lets readers glance at pages and browse through them quickly without having to wait for multiple page elements to load, which can significantly slow the rendering of articles, especially if they have multimedia content, according to Google.

The idea is to try to replicate online the ease with which people flip through the pages of print magazines and newspapers in the offline world. This could motivate people to read more online, which Google argues will help publishers attract more readers and increase their revenue.

However, when users click on a Fast Flip link, they will be taken to the corresponding publisher's Web site, where the Google technology will not be on hand to display the page more quickly.

People who try out Fast Flip will find articles from 36 publishers, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, and Newsweek, as well as contextually relevant ads. For now, Fast Flip will only feature content from the publishers Google has been working with to develop the technology, but it plans to add more in the future.

Fast Flip will also feature a search engine and let users share content. Based on their reading choices, users will see suggestions for other articles they might find interesting.

Richard Gingras, CEO of the Salon Media Group, expects Fast Flip to shed light on how user behavior might change if people can browse through online material more quickly. "On the Web you can go page to page, but it takes five to 10 seconds between pages, so it's not as 'browseable' an experience as with print, where you flip through and scan a lot of things very quickly," he said. "This is one experiment, and it'll be interesting to see what we learn," he added. Gingras believes that Fast Flip will not only lead people to read more online, but also add a higher degree of serendipity to their experience through the unexpected discovery of interesting articles they didn’t initially set out to find.

This element of serendipity is one that Google has been interested in adding to Google News, according to Gingras, who before becoming Salon CEO was an independent adviser to Google about news and media from late 2007 until late 2008.

Salon also has its own initiatives to make it easier for its readers to find more of its articles. The publication will soon start to beta test a Web site redesign focused partly on organizing content by topics, so readers can scan articles about the same subject. "Any publisher these days has to be looking at how to create interesting units of content and facilitate the use and access of that content in as many ways as the audience is willing to consume them," Gingras said.

At this point, Google isn't making any tools available for external developers to integrate Fast Flip with their Web sites and applications. "Launching Google Fast Flip in Labs lets us learn from our users and our publishing partners so we can keep exploring ways to display news and help publishers make more money from their content," a spokesman for Google said via e-mail. "We know that Google Fast Flip isn't perfect, and there's a chance it may never become a full-blown Google product. But we think there are some interesting ideas behind it," he added.

In addition to working on regular PC browsers, the Fast Flip Web site adapts itself when reached from iPhone and Android-based mobile devices, letting users flip pages via a touch-screen interface. Google was due to unveil Fast Flip at the TechCrunch 50 Conference  in San Francisco.

(From IDG News Service)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Deplorable Condition Of Port Harcourt Military Hospital(Article)

                                              Map Of Port Harcourt

One of the enduring landmarks of Port Harcourt is the Military Hospital. It is located on sprawling grounds which straddle the low density Government Reservation Area (GRA), and Aba Road, the main trunk road that bisects the city. In yesteryears, it was dotted with flower gardens and trees that blossom all year long, spewing exotic fragrances which waft into the wards from a variety of tropical flowers. The ambience no doubt, aided the healing process. The hospital was built in the early sixties by Shell-BP, the corporate predecessor of today’s Shell Petroleum Development Company. Its original name was Delta Clinic, although it was a full fledged hospital and catered for the health needs of the company’s expatriate and Nigerian staff. Its well maintained lawns, long walkways, and quaint buildings are a nostalgic reminder of what the Garden City looked like.

Following the liberation of Port Harcourt in May 1968 during the Nigerian Civil War, the military took over strategic structures such as the Silver Valley Estate, owned by Mr. Rogers Halliday, the Port Harcourt Airport, Anglican Grammar School, Rainbow Town, Delta Clinic and a vast expanse of Ikwerre farmlands. The farmlands were converted to Bori Camp, Silver Valley Estate became the Garrison Headquarters, Port Harcourt Airport was turned into The Air force Base. Rainbow Town, a model low and medium income residential estate built by Eastern Nigerian Housing Corporation retained its name but became army barracks while Delta Clinic became the Military Hospital. Anglican Grammar was transformed into a Naval Base and the Nigerian Navy Secondary School.

Because of the strategic location of Port Harcourt as a seaport, railway terminus, and getaway to the oilfields of the Niger Delta, all branches of the nation’s security and defence apparatus are located here. The Army has the headquarters of the amphibious brigade, Airforce has a tactical command, the Navy has three major outposts at the Borokiri peninsula, Onne, and Rumuolumeni. The combined population of these formations is over 25,000. The Military Hospital is saddled with the task of taking care of the medical needs of these men and women in uniform and their families. Since after the Military “inherited” it from Shell nearly fifty years ago, no significant new structures have been added.

Serving in Port Harcourt these days is not a tea party. Officers and men from these units are responsible for safeguarding oil and gas infrastructure which account for the financial sustenance of Nigeria. They also form the bulk of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) responsible for handling the peculiar challenges of the restive oil rich area. The place of choice for treating casualties is the Military Hospital.

In early July, while visiting a patient at the Military Hospital, I was shocked, even by contemporary Nigerian standards, to observe that when there was public power failure after dark, candlelight was the alternative source of illumination. In other words, routine and life-saving equipment if at all they are available, cannot be deployed to save the lives of anyone wounded on active service. Since after that visit, I now cast a glance in the direction of the Military Hospital each time I drive by at night. As I write this in the second week of September, more often than not, the place is in pitch darkness.

Whatever the nation’s defence priorities are, the Military Hospital Port Harcourt must have a functional Accident and Emergency Unit, Trauma Centre, Burn Centre, Operating Theatres, Radiology, Pharmacy and Intensive Care Units. Uninterrupted power supply must be guaranteed before these units can be deemed to be available. If these and other ancillary departments are not functional even for five minutes due to power outage, then the Military Hospital Port Harcourt is not even worthy of being called a mere consulting clinic.

Could it be that the import, relevance, necessity, and inevitability of having a full-fledged functional military hospital is lost on the powers that be in Nigeria? Can vital infrastructure be protected by maimed, ailing, or half-fit officers and men? If the answer to any of the above is yes, then our main source of income is in imminent danger.

I am constrained to draw a parallel between the Military Hospital and the Niger Delta Development Commission, an institution, whose plight saddens me immensely. The latter, being an intervention agency is the arrow-head of the efforts of the Federal Government to develop the Niger Delta, the goose that lays the golden egg which sustains Nigeria financially. Established with good intentions, it is perpetually hamstrung by paucity of funds. It is difficult to see what miracle the newly inaugurated Board of the Commission can accomplish, their enthusiasm, commitment, experience, expertise and antecedents of professional and personal competence not withstanding.

While in the last three months over 150 billion naira has been approved by the Federal Executive Council for various projects in Abuja (70 billion naira for expanding the airport road, and 84 billion naira for infrastructural development in the outskirts), NDDC which caters for nine states is to receive 120 billion naira in 2010 budget, which comes to an average of a mere 11.3 billion per state per annum. This is less than the 11.5 billion naira which the People’ Democratic Party (PDP) gleefully announced recently as the cost of building a befitting National Secretariat.

Could it also be that the import, relevance, necessity, and inevitability of developing the Niger Delta through the NDDC is lost on the powers that be in Nigeria as seems to be the case with the easily solvable problems of the Military Hospital?

Funds earmarked, budgeted, appropriated and approved for the NDDC totalling over 320 billion naira, have, for whatever reason, not been released over the years. Neither litigation by Youth Groups, nor the hoarse voices of crusading citizens have pried these funds from the inexplicable self-destructive vice grip of bureaucracy and politics. A government that can fork out 420 billion naira in a twinkling of an eye to salvage five privately owned banks so as not to endanger the banking grid can certainly cough out 320 billion naira to safeguard the all-important oil and gas industry. I strongly recommend that a minimum of 200 billion naira out of this fund be used to create immediate skilled and unskilled manpower-intensive public service jobs. Just the announcement of this initiative will disperse the pervasive ominous clouds blighting the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole. To borrow a phrase from Barak Obama’s inspiring concept, YES WE CAN.

It is incumbent on VP Goodluck Jonathan, Godwin Abbe, Rilwanu Lukman, Ufot Ekaette, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Odein Ajumogobia, Lamido Sanusi (who by the way looks spiffy in his Niger Delta regalia), John Odey, Godsday Orubebe, Dora Akuyili, Mansur Muhtar Michael Aoondoaka, David Mark, and Dimeji Bankole to exert in their personal and official capacities, the extra effort required to release the stalemated Niger Delta people’s funds due the NDDC forthwith. This can be done before the end of the sixty-day amnesty/ceasefire window of opportunity, the verifiable result of which is increased production of oil and gas and improved revenue inflow.

As for the Distinguished Senators and Honourable members of the House of Representatives especially those representing Niger Delta constituencies, need they be told?

Eben Dokubo

Port Harcourt Nigeria

Monday, 14 September 2009

Photospeak: "Gani The Gadfly" Goes Home Tomorrow

                                                 "Gani The Gadfly"

The Ondo State born civil liberties activist and lawyer, late Gani Fawehimi, usually refered to as "Gani the gadfly" by the mainstream news media in Nigeria would be buried in his home state tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Nuhu Ribadu: Faces Of A Sleek Furgitive

Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, former Executive Chairman of Nigeria's Anti-corruption commission, the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), who is currently on self exile in Europe following alleged persecution by the Nigerian Government sneaked into Nigeria to pay condolence visit to the family of the late lawyer and civil liberties campaigner,  Mr. Gani Fawehimi. Ribadu sneaked out of the country before security operatives could reach him.

chidi opara reports have been reliably informed that the former EFCC chieftain sneaked in and out of the country through one of the "NADECO routes".