Thursday, 1 July 2010

Photonews: New Task For Nigeria's Electoral Commission

News Report: Governor Of Nigeria’s “God’s Own State”, Now Most Beautiful Political Bride In The South-East

                                    [Theodore Orji]

The governor of Abia State of Nigeria, also known as “God’s Own State”, Mr. Theodore Orji is now the most beautiful political bride in the South-Eastern region.

This situation, chidi opara reports learnt arose from the recent disagreement between the governor and his predecessor, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who is also Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance(PPA), on whose platform the Abia state helmsman became governor in 2007. The governor was recently summoned by his party’s national leadership in connection with this disagreement.

The disagreement, we learnt from PPA insiders would surely be resolved in favour of Mr. Kalu. One PPA state official hinted that "Orji will not be nominated for second term, he may even be expelled from our party".

The import of this development is not lost on the governor, whose body language according to one Abia state government House insider, indicates that he is ready to seek nomination from any other political party.

This opening is what is being exploited by astute political party leaders. At the last count, atleast five delegations from different political parties held secret meetings with representatives of the governor at the residence of an Okigwe based transporter last week. The transporter, who is not known to belong to any political party is reported to be an intimate friend of the governor's since his days as a civil servant.

These parties include a political party which parades itself as a grand alliance of progressives. It is not likely that the Peoples' Democratic Party(PDP) had approached orji, a contact close to the governor however, informed a chidi opara reports network member in Umuahia that the governor would accept if approached. It is suspected that Orji's initial reluctance in making commitment to any of the parties is borne out of the desire to fly PDP's flag in next year's gubernatorial election. We however learnt that the governor would have the Ojo Maduekwe factor to contend with if he eventually pitch tent with PDP. Ojo Maduekwe is the immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From the reported current frenzy by political parties to hand Theodore Orji their gubernatorial flags in the 2011 election, one thing is certain, the Abia state governor is currently the most beautiful political bride in South-Eastern Nigeria.

Article: Nigeria; Rising Beyond the Golden Jubilee Business Summit

By Christian C Udechukwu

Testimonials from corporate participants came in strong and fast as follows: Nigeria’s first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, first Minister of the Navy and former Foreign Secretary for Nigeria, Ambassador M T Mbu (CFR) who fully participated in the Nigeria Golden Jubilee Business Summit stated in our feedback form: “What a wonderful initiative. The organisers deserve our million million thanks. It gives me hope for the future”. And Nigeria’s former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme wrote that “the event was excellent”; and HRH Oba Ajede also certified that “this is a good effort. I’m impressed by funding this event through sponsorship. Well done!!” Delegates registered for FREE, but strictly on invitation. UBS in its statement declared that the Nigeria Golden Jubilee Business Summit was “certainly a beneficial event for us”. And British Airways in its statement simply said “we are delighted to be part of this Golden Jubilee Summit and Gala Dinner”. Keith Gubbin, Director of Africa Asset Management and Director of Africa Regional Board of the London Business School wrote that “You (BIAE) certainly had an impressive array of speakers and guests despite the President being unable to join us”. Indeed the editorial team from the Commonwealth Secretariat wrote that “Nigeria's Golden Jubilee Business Summit & Cultural Gala Dinner 2010 was a very informative, inspiring and well organised event”. Ali Khalpey, Managing Director of Renaissance Capital, also commended the organizers of the Golden Jubilee Business Summit “for putting on a great conference over the last 2 days. I found it most useful and informative”. On our part, at BIAE, we are always proud to serve Nigeria.

Over the past 15 years, BusinessinAfrica Events (BIAE) has always promoted trade and investment into Africa by providing live events platforms such as sector specific conferences, government and business roundtables; and other interactive forums for business leaders and policy makers to attain better understanding of the competing interests. So it was not unusual that when Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee came up, the management of BIAE considered it very necessary to invite core investors in Nigeria who have been doing business in the local environment for the past 50 years; prospective investors who are seeking new opportunities for business, Nigerians living abroad who now occupy decision making positions in global investment banking and related businesses, project finance and private equity fund management industry to come meet with legislators and government officials to focus their minds on where Nigeria has been as a nation; and what it should strategically position itself to become over the next 50 years.

In 2010, there are 16 African countries, 14 French speaking countries and 2 English speaking countries namely Nigeria and Somalia marking their golden jubilee. Now in order to raise the global profile of Nigeria, at a time when Africa is hosting the world cup in South Africa, the UK is hosting its annual Wimbledon, Canada was hosting G20 meetings; it was important to do something unique to highlight Nigeria and to create value for it as well. Some of the world’s leading companies bought into the idea of brainstorming in expert panel sessions in a business summit to mark Nigeria’s 50 years independence. And so whilst BIAE would have been happy to receive government funding, the Nigerian Golden Jubilee Business Summit which had just ended in London was actually completely funded by some of the finest organisations at the forefront of promoting Nigeria’s economic growth and development namely Access Bank, First Bank, Travelex, Central Bank of Nigeria, Shell, Afrinvest, Laurent Perrier, Shebah Petroleum, A-Z Petroleum, Capital Oil, Anabel Group, Zenith Bank, UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland), British Airways, Africa Finance Corporation, GT Bank, Anabel Mobile, Eko Atlantique City, Societe Generale Bank and many more with Thomson Reuters, BusinessDay, Daily Independent, BusinessWorld, New African, African Business, BEN TV and African Banker as the leading global media partners with other media such as BBC, Aljazeera, Bloomberg and many more in attendance.

It is traditional for countries to use special commemorative anniversary events to strength their bilateral relations and it is therefore in keeping with these convention that BIAE planned its Business Summit to coincide with the proposed official visit of Mr President Goodluck Jonathan (GCFR) to the United Kingdom. The Business Summit designed a meeting of business leaders which was also have allowed Mr President to share his vision for business in Nigeria and to seek their support in achieving the vital goals he has set for his administration. We cannot expect Mr President to perform and to deliver on his commitments to improve our power infrastructure et al; and at the same time begrudge him the global opportunity to promote trade and investment into Nigeria. But even as efforts were made to derail our business summit program and the local misinformed media opinion tried to characterise things differently, the Nigerian Golden Jubilee Business Summit which was well over subscribed for the capacity of the event venue which received over 500 leading business delegates to the conference.

Some results were immediately evident for government as Prof Barth Nnaji, Presidential Adviser on Power received feedback after his presentation. Investors argued that the government needed to move its financial guarantees beyond the present commitment to 3,000 megawatts only in order to spur additional investment in the sector. Prof Nnaji’s panel presentation was supported by Africa Finance Corporation, Frontier Market Fund Managers, European Investment Bank and Standard Bank. On Banking, Afrinvest unveiled its latest 2010 report on Nigerian Banks and the on-going banking reform which generated a lot of passionate discussion with the audience.

Shell Petroleum Country Chair, Mutiu Sunmonu reviewed Shell operational experiences over the past 50 years and gave insights into its future strategic thinking. Even as the very the exciting panel on Niger Delta received the erudite presentation treatment by Prof Pat Utomi, co-founder of Lagos Business School and Chairman of Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP). General Owoye Azazi who chaired the panel supported by Emeka Ihedioha, Chief Whip, Nigeria House of Representatives and Chairman of the South-South and South-East Professionals, Emeka Ugwu-oju reassured investors on the security situation in Niger Delta, but also urged for a strong focus on a sustainable development agenda for the region. UBS’s Managing Director for Africa, Sarah-Jane Wagg spoke on the global financial markets and the outlook for Nigeria, she concluded that the future was bright for Nigeria and that UBS, which had invited 24 different fund management clients to attend the summit, would increase its investment commitments into Nigeria capital markets. UBS was joined by Societe Generale, Fitch Ratings, Nex Rubica Investments, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, and one of the world’s largest law firm, Clifford Chance. Access Bank GMD, Aig Imoukhuede made a strong case for Project finance and Infrastructure Investments supported by the Director General of Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, Ahmed Mansur whose direct and honest responses to questions from investors inspired an appreciative applause. The case for infrastructure investments was strengthened by views from Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, Dunn Loren Merrifield and HSBC. Travelex and the global remittance association, International Money Transfer (MTI) made a case for the modernisation of payment systems in Nigeria to integrate its economy to the global digital economy; contributors in this session included the Managing Directors of Standard and Poor’s and Goldman Sachs International.

Dr. Joe O’ Neil, Director of Global Health Initiatives from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA led the discussion the eradication of malaria, aids and hypertension in Nigeria whilst NAFDAC Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii made a first class presentation on the new strategies and challenges that NAFDAC was overcoming in its effort to Combat Drug Counterfeiting. In respect of Transportation, Adeseyi Sijuwade, Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation made an integrated presentation on behalf of the Transport Minister showing the future of transportation in Nigeria as proposed by the various agencies of the ministry from the NPA, NIMASA, Inland Waterways, and more. Whilst FERMA demonstrated new opportunities that abound for the transformation of Nigeria by variable forms of Public and Private Partnership deals.

The Nigerian Golden Jubilee Business Summit climaxed with a panel session on the next 50 years and it featured some of the most exciting minds including the Hon Minister for Lands, Hon. Nduese Essien; Chairman of Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Sam Ohuabunwa and Prof Chukwuma Soludo (CFR). Soludo whose presentation received a standing ovation, called for a return to a more competitive regional governance structure for Nigeria to replace the current oil rent sharing arrangement for non-viable states. He argued that agitations for new states should be conditional upon receipt of legal assurances that there would be non payment of money from the federation accounts so that each State will be compelled to develop its local competitive advantages. The most remarkable statement of change came from the PDP National Chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo who declared that he would work relentlessly to “break the chains” that hold Nigerians down whether it be done by changing, repealing or modifying legislations in the ruling party and that within the PDP he would ensure that only the “best and brightest” amongst Nigerians are encouraged to aspire to legislative, executive, and other political offices. This, he said, should help Nigeria to rise beyond mediocrity in the next 50 years.

(Christian C Udechukwu is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer, BusinessinAfrica Events (BIAE) UK. )