Monday, 29 June 2009

Piper Alpha blasts Shell Forcados off shore Platform(News Release By MEND)

The sincerity of the government of Nigeria came into question again on Friday, June 26, 2009 after the Interior Minister, General Godwin Abbe (rtd) informed the nation that the release of a sick Henry Okah would now depend on consultations with the dictators and despots ruling Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

The minister also lied when he said Okah traveled to Equatorial Guinea. The fact is that Mr Henry Okah has never set foot in that country; not even as an airport transit passenger.

In the case of Angola, the authorities in that country had severally wanted to release Okah and Atatah because they had no case to answer, but were prevented by the Nigerian ambassador in Angola from doing so.

It is important to remember that Edward Atatah, arrested together with Henry in Angola has long been set free because nothing incriminating came out of that business trip. If it were true that Okah went to purchase weapons as claimed, then Edward would not have been set free because both men traveled together to inspect the fishing trawler in Luanda, Angola which Henry wanted to purchase.

Many Nigerians are unhappy that the Yar'Adua government has brushed aside the call for inquiry into the extra-judicial murder on 08/08/08 of Messrs Boma Green and Stanley Pepple by the JTF in Bonny, Rivers state.

The fact they have not seen reason to investigate the killings that was caught on tape means that the perpetrators have been given a license to kill innocent civilians. The region is not safe in the hands of such licensed armed killers called the JTF who we understand are now threatening the families to shut up or risk being killed.

The government should use part of the 50 billion Naira amnesty fund as compensation to the families of these men since they left behind children that must be educated and wives that must survive with a trade.

A fraction of what was wasted for travels, hotels, allowances and entertainment by the Niger Delta Technical Committee whose report has joined the long list of shelved reports since 1960 could have gone a long way in helping the two families.

Justice for the two men will become an integral part of any future negotiations we will have with the government until the perpetrators of that evil act are brought to book.

If successful, the on-going amnesty exercise directed at repentant criminals in the Niger Delta region will no doubt create an enabling environment for dealing with the Niger Delta question which freedom fighting groups such as MEND is waging.

It will separate the wheat from the chaff and allow the government to focus on the root issues instead of tying militancy with criminality as an excuse for not addressing the grievances of the Niger Delta people.

Because criminals in other parts of Nigeria may hijack the struggle again after the region is rid of them, we call on political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers, pirates etc from other states in Nigeria to take advantage of the governments offer by traveling to one of the centers in the Niger Delta and trade their weapons for amnesty.

Come with the whole gang and get rehabilitated with gains of free education, money to start legitimate businesses etc. This is a unique opportunity in a country where so many graduates can not find jobs and girls no longer marry for love. Remember to use a name that strikes terror, like Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Taliban, Mujaheddin etc.

The certificate the Inspector General of Police (IGP) will personally hand over will be your life saver. One last thing. Take a picture shaking hands with the IGP as proof, frame the picture and leave it on your car dash board to avoid future harassment by the police at illegal road blocks.

We hope that after this exercise is over the government will begin a genuine bilateral peace process with the involvement of the international community and every stakeholder to address the agitation of the region such as fiscal federalism amongst others.

We also hope that rehabilitation of criminals from past public office holders to the present ones including the armed forces and police will be put in place so as to bring sanity back to the decayed system.

Past heads of state and governors from the military era should also participate in the program too. The Jerry Rawlings type of rehab against corrupt leaders in Ghana would have been preferable against these criminals but Nigerians can still make do for now pending a revolution.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Piper Alpha has struck at the Shell Forcados off-shore platform in Delta state today, Monday, June 29, 2009 at about 0330 Hrs.

Cluster 11 and 30 are currently on fire after a massive explosion.

A military gunboat patrol on noticing the fire stumbled upon heavily armed fighters and the confrontation resulted in the sinking of the gunboat with all the occupants numbering between 20-23 soldiers.

We have made it clear that patrols must not open fire at us as our target is the oil infrastructure. This unheeded warning resulted in the death of these soldiers

MEND wishes to state that Mr Innocent Iboroma and Mr Cletus Arerebo are not representatives of Farah Dagogo and Boyloaf at high level talks.

Therefore the said meeting held in Port Harcourt between them and the Minister of Internal Affairs is a fraud.

MEND will negotiate as a group when the right time comes. The impression the government is trying to give that commanders are negotiating independently is another propaganda aimed at causing confusion.

Even though our commanders are constantly being bombarded with enticing monetary offers as much as 1billion Naira per camp, only those who are willing to sell their birthright for a bowl of porridge will accept while the rest of us will continue the struggle until justice is achieved.

Jomo Gbomo

DPA Says Lagos State Government Is Playing Politics With Free Education(News Release)

DPA has blasted the Action Congress (AC) government in Lagos State for equivocating and playing politics with Free Education.

The party accused the Lagos State Government of shortchanging education of the 26 percent share of total budget that the United Nations prescribed, having allocated a paltry N14,322,000,000 (2.5 percent) of its total budget of N403.401 billion in 2008 and merely N10 billion (3.5 percent) of the N405 billion for 2009, Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.

Saying it was sad that the Deputy Governor who doubles as Commissioner for Education, Princess Sarah Sosan, recently oversaw an Education Summit that advocated the scrapping of the Free Education policy, while the Governor countered with a converse statement, DPA surmised that the two varied positions showed the AC government in Lagos held this great policy in contempt.

“How can the state’s two most prominent citizens be singing different tunes on a policy as grave and encompassing as Free Education? If they had commitment to it, would it not have been the very cornerstone of their government? But they know that if they come all out to say they have scrapped Free Education, people will query their progressives credentials and they will lose votes at elections. Lagosians, beware! Deputy Governor Sosan has unwittingly let the cat out of the bag, AC is about to bury Free Education in Lagos State !” according to the DPA statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.

According to DPA, the confusion in the two statements highlighted the troubled state of the sector, which has this year alone suffered two teachers strike, and had witnessed the selling off of the Ketu Campus of the Lagos State Polytechnic to a private holding with another planned sale of the School of Nursing complex at Ikoyi to a private hotel.

However, DPA hoped that in this cacophony of the absurd, the Governor’s voice would prevail over that of the Deputy Governor.

DPA reeled out statistics showing that the over N159 billion the Action Congress (AC) in Lagos claimed to have spent on education in the last nine years had gone down the drain with:

Half of all secondary school classrooms dilapidated;
Almost 67 percent of Lagos children of primary school age unable to enroll;
Only 20 percent of those who enroll finishing primary school;
12 percent of children starting primary school go on to complete secondary education; while
Only 40 percent of primary and secondary school students complete schooling.

The party recalled media reports of overcrowding in classrooms with records of over 120 students in a class, a direct contradiction to the United Nations pupil-teacher ratio of 1:25 . Newspapers recently captured pupils in the model Millennium Secondary Schools sitting on the floor to take lessons.

“One wonders that a government having no qualms paying a private company 15 percent monthly cannot invest as much to educate its youth,” the party said. “And then, when we concentrate on planting shrubs instead of planning our children’s education, those dropouts will mess up those flowers.”

DPA pointed out that the Nigerian Constitution in Chapter II titled “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy” stated in Chapter 18(1), that: “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels… Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide, free, compulsory and universal primary education; free secondary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme.”

Lagos DPA expressed its own commitment to Free Education, in line with the Afenifere creed as spelt out by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other founding fathers of the South-West.

According to DPA, “Being Awoist is more than wearing the cap and the specs of the man, it entails buying into his policies, especially when they are still very relevant to the people he fought for. With many parents losing their jobs and means of livelihood and poverty increasing and with all the parameters of employment failing, students need all the help they can get from a caring, listening and sensitive government.”

The party said the government has also failed to guarantee quality control in public schools, and pointed out that: “Even Governor Fashola’s Alma Mater, Birch Freeman High School in Surulere area of Lagos, has become a tattered shadow of itself and is a far cry from his time there as a student.”

In the words of the party: “Things have gone so bad that there are reports of three schools sharing one classroom and different teachers working simultaneously. In this rainy season some schools are spotting so many leaks that pupils and teachers have to hurdle into the safe areas of their classrooms. Even classes in the Governor’s alma mater, Birch Freeman High School , do not have windows.”

The party said current state of schools highlighted the rot the AC government inflicted on the sector in the last ten years.

According to the party, the government should creatively tackle the unhealthy indices currently earmarking government-owned schools, including incessant strikes, inadequate teachers for subjects, unchecked levies, low teacher morale, lack of facilities, shanty buildings and dearth of scholarships, bursaries and foreign training.

“Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s regime was accused of building ‘poultry-sheds’ in public schools in the 1980s, but he left a legacy of free education for all, unlike the present AC regime in Lagos that enjoys unprecedented wealth yet cannot be identified with any policy direction on education,” DPA said.

Director of Publicity, Lagos State DPA