Saturday, 30 April 2011

Open Letter: “In Honour Of Slain NYSC Members”

Fashola: Lagos State Governor
Your Excellency Sir,
Spaces for Change(S4C)welcomes your recent dedication of your victory at the just-concluded gubernatorial polls to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who lost their lives in the service of this nation during the post-presidential election violence that broke out in the northern part of the country. We also salute the efforts of the Lagos State government to evacuate corps members who were entrapped in troubled spots, and had remained targets of the raging post-election violence.

Over the past week, parents, friends, relations, guardians and all well meaning Nigerians were thrown into a mournful mood following the unprovoked and unjustifiable attacks on these innocent citizens while on duty to their fatherland. As many of them that were cut down in their prime, had great career dreams and fine intentions of serving this country in various bigger capacities. Beyond the news reportage in the print and electronic media, several corroborated private accounts of eye witnesses narrate how some of these corp members were murdered in cold blood. Some were shot, stabbed to death and in several cases, butchered. Some were burnt after being killed. These harrowing accounts have precipitated anger, grief, trauma, strong feelings of insecurity among Nigerians, and in particular influenced calls from various quarters for a total overhaul of the NYSC programme. It is important to add that the recent killings are the latest in the string of violent attacks repeatedly targeted at the youth participating in the compulsory service scheme. 

S4C continues to condemn in strong terms, these killings of Nigerian youths and the sponsors of the election-related bloodbath that spread across many northern states. S4C has also appealed to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,  and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor  Attahiru Jega to take immediate and very urgent steps towards addressing the crucial subject of Nigeria’s national security, especially as regards guaranteeing the safety of the NYSC members currently serving as INEC’s ad-hoc staff.

As an important step towards breathing life into the dedication of your victory to the slain heroes, S4C humbly presents the following recommendations for your urgent consideration:

To work closely with the Federal Government, especially the NYSC authorities to document and establish the identities of all the youth corps members that lost their lives during the mayhem.

To see that the families of the slain corp members are adequately compensated. Recognizing that no amount of compensation would restore lives lost or make up for the incalculable human and material losses, S4C views compensation as an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a representation of political will to redress those wrongs. Compensation may also take the form of assuming responsibility for the tertiary education of siblings of the deceased corp members, or anyone nominated by their families.

To set the pace for other Nigerian states by being the first to set up a NYSC Human Security Trust Fund directed towards the making of special security and welfare provisions for NYSC members serving in Lagos State.  The fund shall place priority on putting in place, adequate social, economic and physical infrastructure for protecting corp members in conflict and difficult situations who are exposed to physical and sexual violence, discrimination, exclusion, unsafe working conditions and natural disasters.

To support S4C’s recommendation to the Federal Government to set aside the April 16 of every year as the Slain Heroes Remembrance Day to venerate the patriotic lives of these young citizens sacrificed at the altar of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

S4C remains hopeful that you would consider, and take urgent steps towards the implementation of these recommendations as part of efforts to minimize the casualties associated with the NYSC programme.

A new Nigeria bound in freedom, peace and unity is possible.

Yours Sincerely,
Spaces for Change(S4C)

Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri

Friday, 29 April 2011

Special Report: Bukola Saraki; The Man Who May Be Senate President

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki
When the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) on Monday 17th April, 2011 declared Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, incumbent governor of Kwara State and scion of the Saraki political dynasty as the elected Senator for Kwara central district in the national assembly election held on Saturday 16th April, 2011, the incumbent Senate President, Rtd. Brigadier-general David Mark knew that he is in for a stiff competition for the exalted office, when the new National Assembly is inaugurated. The Senate Presidency is zoned to the North Central Zone, where both Saraki and Mark come from. Mark won re-election to the Senate.

Bukola Saraki was born on 19th December, 1962 to Kwara State political kingpin, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He attended the prestigious King's College in Lagos from 1973 to 1978 and Cheltanham College in London from 1979 to 1981. His university education took him to the University of London where he studied Medicine from 1982 to 1987. He worked briefly as Medical Officer at Rush Green Hospital in London from 1988 to 1989 and returned to Nigeria to work in one of his father's companies, Societe Generale Bank(Nig)Limited as Executive Director from 1990 to 2000. In 2000, he was appointed a Senior Special Assistant on Budget Matters by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Bukola Saraki's journey to political prominence started in 2003 when with the influence of his father, he contested and won the governorship election in Kwara State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). In 2007, he launched a re-election bid and won. During his tenure, the man who was turbaned as the Turaki of Ilorin Emirate held the influential position of Chairman of the Governors' Forum.

The junior Saraki as he is known in the political circle recently disobeyed his father's instruction to install his half-sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki as the next governor of Kwara State, preferring instead, one Abdul-Fatah Ahmed, who eventually won the 2011 governorship election, defeating the female Saraki who had earlier defected to the Allied Congress Party Of Nigeria(ACPN) with the senior Saraki.

Whispers reaching chidi opara reports had it that Bukola Saraki disobyed his father's instruction because of his Senate Presidency ambition, "as it would have been harder to sell his candidacy to the state and zonal caucuses of PDP if his half-sister had become the governor of Kwara State".

Thursday, 28 April 2011

News Report: Showdown Imminent In Nigeria's Imo State Between Youths And Election Commission

A showdown appears imminent in Nigeria's Imo State between youths and the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), if there is any attempt to manipulate the result of the yet to be concluded Imo State governorship election in favour of the governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who is the candidate of the Peoples' Democratic Party(PDP).

As at Wednesday when the election commission declared the election "inconclusive", following cancellation of results of three local government areas, namely; Oguta, Egbema and Ngor-Okpala, Chief Rochas Okorocha, candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) was leading in twelve local government areas, while Ikedi Ohakim was leading in ten local government areas.

At the Port Harcourt Road office of  INEC,  a chidi opara reports network member reported an enhanced presence of fiece-looking and heavily armed soldiers and police anti-riot squad.

At the Maria Assumpta Cathedral junction, chidi opara reports witnessed the presence of youths with APGA flag and campaign posters of the APGA candidate. When approached, the leader of the group who gave his name as "Osama" said that they were waiting for the final result from INEC, "to continue our giration which started yesterday". When reminded of the new development, he threatened that "we will level their office if they try anything funny".

Eye witnesses told us that since about 7.00pm on Thursday,  bus loads of youths wearing campaign vests of the APGA candidate have been arriving at Owerri, the state capital from all parts of the state. These youths on arrival, according to these eye witnesses, usually proceed to unknown location within the town to camp.

A well placed APGA insider in Owerri told us that "those youths are defenders of democracy", but a State Security Service(SSS) contact, also in Owerri countered that "some of those youths are members of MASSOB". MASSOB stands for Movement For Actualization Of Sovereign State Of Biafra, a separatist group based in South-Eastern Nigeria, whose leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike is known to be a protege of ex-Biafran leader, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who is also the national leader of APGA.

Checks by chidi opara reports in Owerri revealed that there is widespread suspicion that INEC would manipulate result of the re-scheduled election to favour the PDP candidate.

News Report: Verified 2011 Governorship Election Results

Click Here To Read Results

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Photospeak: Double Face Of PDP In Imo State

News Report: WHO Says "Tobacco, Alcohol And Fat Have Huge Health Impact"

The World Health Organization(WHO), published a report on Wednesday on chronic, or non-communicable diseases, which include diabetes, cancer and respiratory and heart diseases.
A large percentage of NCDs could be prevented by reductions in their four main behavioural risk factors  tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol and unhealthy diets, the WHO said. Here are some details about those risk factors and the toll they exact on human health:
Almost 6 million people die from tobacco use each year, both from direct tobacco use and second-hand smoke. By 2020, this number will increase to 7.5 million, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths.
Smoking is estimated to cause about 71 percent of lung cancer, 42 percent of chronic respiratory disease and nearly 10 percent of cardiovascular disease.
Approximately 3.2 million people die each year due to insufficient physical activity. People who do not take enough exercise have a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of dying prematurely. Regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, and of diabetes, breast and colon cancer and depression. Insufficient physical activity is highest in high-income countries, but very high levels are now also seen in some middle-income countries specially among women.
Around 2.5 million die each year from the harmful use of alcohol, accounting for about 3.8 percent of all deaths in the world. More than half of these deaths occur from NCDs including cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis. While adult per capita consumption is highest in high-income countries, it is also high in populous upper-middle-income countries.
Poor Diet/Obesity:
At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Risks of heart disease, strokes and diabetes increase steadily with increasing body mass index (BMI). Raised BMI also increases the risk of certain cancers. Eating healthy amounts of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk for heart disease, and stomach and colorectal cancer.Most populations consume much higher levels of salt than recommended by WHO; high salt consumption is a key risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease.High consumption of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids is also linked to heart disease.
Credit: Reuters

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Opinion: Season Of Empty Threats

By Okoronkwo Hillary
Every election cycle Nigerians always issue threats demanding a free and fair election. In the on-going (s)election cycle, we added another word to our demands. In addition to our previous demands, we also wanted a credible election. So it must be free, fair and credible. All I ever wanted was a free election.
'Rig or you die', 'Die as you rig', 'Protectors of women votes', all kinds of reckless and bare groups exploded. Heaven will let loose if the election were rigged. No one, not even the PDP paid any attention to these immobilized groups. The problem appears to be that we have not defined what a free and fair election is much less a credible one.
If the rigging is scientific and clean like just witnessed, do we call it fair or free or both? Free of what, I might ask? The problem is that Nigeria has lost its soul. Majority of the uncompromised giants and fearless ones among us who spoke on our behalf at difficult times like these have all been called home. We have compromised imbeciles, self serving journalistic nonentities and senseless commentators in various newspaper houses across Nigeria. OK I take it back there are one or two good ones left. We know that one of these rare breed is not currently serving as the Chairman of the editorial board of the Guardian newspapers.
The Presidential (s)election process is over and Jonathan 'won'. I get it. Nigerians have renewed the mandate of the leader of the political party that have received so much into our treasury and have nothing to show for it. This is exactly who we are and what we wanted. I get that, another four years of empty rhetoric by the same gangsters.
I have dialogued with many and am yet to find one coherent and logical explanation of what happened and why. Some of the most disgusting and nauseating arguments I heard was that the Southerners are very tired of the Northerners who believe that ruling Nigeria is their birth right. Consistent with this generally accepted belief, the South West using the ACN broom overwhelmingly swept Ribadu out of their homes.
The (s)election process was surgically done that even my good friend Dele Momodu ended up embarrassingly with one vote allocated to him in his polling station. The part I like the most is that the prayer warriors are now working overtime to turn Jonathan's attention to the plight of the poor. If you criticize the (s)election, you are labeled a sore loser. We must be optimistic and give Jonathan a chance to succeed. He is a good man and he must be allowed to perform his magic.
This is all too familiar and it is getting boring to say the least. The original forecast was that PDP will rule Nigeria for 60 years. At the rate we are going, I am ready to change forecast to at least 100 years or as long as crude oil money continues to pour in.
In closing, I am revealing to you that Nigeria is populated mostly by brave cowards. We simply like to talk and issue empty threats without planning or the courage to follow through. The 'rig or you die' group must not have seen the Akwa Ibom results yet. It is not mathematically impossible for the total votes cast to be 107% of registered voters. After all, miracles do happen.
To all of the sore losers like myself, and the contestants who were not (s)elected this time, I say better luck next time. I am so glad this season is nearly behind us.

Monday, 25 April 2011

News Report: Study Points To Treatments To Halt Lung Destruction In Tuberculosis

Scientists have identified a key enzyme responsible for destroying lung tissue in tuberculosis (TB) and say the finding could lead swiftly to new treatments for the highly infectious disease.
In a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation published on Monday, researchers said a drug already shown to be safe in humans and partially developed by Roche known as RO323555, was effective at suppressing the enzyme's activity driven by TB infection in human cells.
The findings suggest this and similar so-called MMP inhibitor drugs might prevent lung damage in TB patients and help limit the spread of the disease, they said.
TB is a worldwide pandemic that kills around 1.7 million people a year and is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection destroys patients' lung tissue, causing them to cough up the bacteria, which then spread through the air and can be inhaled by others.
Experts say the worldwide number of new cases -- more than 9 million a year -- is higher than at any other time in history.
TB patients need months of antibiotic treatment, but drug-resistant strains are becoming increasingly common and the World Health Organisation has warned that these infections could affect more than 2 million people by 2015.
"Standard TB treatment has remained unchanged for 35 years and no current treatments prevent the lung destruction that TB causes," said Paul Elkington from the Infectious Diseases and Immunity department at Imperial College London (ICL), who led the study. "These findings suggest that drugs available now might be able to reduce deaths from TB."
Strong Evidence:
In their study, the researchers found that in TB patients have increased levels of an enzyme called MMP-1 in their lungs. When they infected human immune cells with TB in the lab, they found the cells greatly increased production of this enzyme.
"Until now, we haven't had a convincing explanation of how lung destruction is caused by TB," said ICL's Jon Friedland, who also worked on the study.
"We hypothesised that protease enzymes must be involved, since nothing else could break down the strong collagen fibres that make up the scaffold of the lung. The results of this study provide strong evidence to support that idea."
Many MMP inhibitor drugs were developed in the 1990s because they showed initial promise for treating cancer, but development of the medicines stalled after trials suggested their prospects in cancer were not as good as had been originally hoped.
Elkington said his team now hoped to collaborate with drug companies to see if MMP inhibitors can prevent lung destruction in TB patients. In a telephone interview with Reuters, he said he had contacted the Swisss drugmaker Roche about a possible collaboration and was awaiting a reply.
He said that "with a fair wind", clinical trials using RO323555 in TB patients could start in about a year's time.
The team is also conducting TB studies in the lab using another drug, doxycycline -- an antibiotic often used as a treatment for infections and which also inhibits MMP.
Doxycycline was originally developed by Pfizer in the 1960s and is now widely available as a cheap generic, suggesting that if it shows promise against TB it could offer hope to poorer countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent, where TB is relatively common.
Credit: Reuters

Photonews: Pre-Governorship Election Bomb Blast In Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria

Photo Credit: Reuters

Friday, 22 April 2011

News Report: Real Reason Why Nigeria's Minister Of The Interior Was Suapended

Iheanacho: Suspended Minister
Indications have emerged that the suspended Nigerian Minister Of The Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho was not suspended for issues bordering on performance of his ministerial duties.

The Minister's suspension, chidi opara reports gathered from contacts in the Presidency was as a result of the secret political feud between the President and Rtd. General Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria's former military President.

Ibrahim Babangida, according to a contact who worked in Captain Iheanacho's Genesis shipping firm in Apapa, was instrumental to Iheanacho joining the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).

Iheanacho, according to a former employee of the Nigerian National Shipping Line(NNSL), who worked under the former Ship Captain at the London office of the defunct shipping firm, "ran a great deal of errands for Babangida when we were in NNSL".

The relationship between Iheanacho and Babangida reportedly continued after he left NNSL to found Genesis Shipping. There was even speculation that Babangida provided the funds for setting up Genesis.

Babangida, chidi opara reports learnt,  made an effort in 2007 to position Iheanacho prominently in PDP when he influenced the shortlisting of the former Ship Captain's name for ministerial appointment, a move that was thwarted by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who at that time had the ears of then President Umaru Yar'Adua.. Charles Ugwu, an Obasanjo protege got the ministerial appointment instead.

When Captain Iheanacho's name, according to Presidency insiders, appeared again on the ministerial list, President Jonathan was disposed to offering him the appointment because of the role Babangida played in his emergence as Acting President.

PDP insiders whom chidi opara reports network members spoke to in Emekuku, Iheanacho's home town, Owerri and Abuja told us that since his ministerial appointment, the suspended minister have been trying to hijack the leadership of the party at the ward, local government, state and zonal levels at the prompting of Rtd. General Babangida. This action reportedly placed the former Ship Captain at loggerheads with the party leadership at all levels.

President Goodluck Jonathan is reported to be fully aware of this development but refused to act, "so as not to cause rancour in our party".

chidi opara reports learnt on good authority that the suspended Minister was at the time of his suspension, "fiercely loyal to Babangida, even when security reports revealed that Babangida was working against the re-election of Mr. President".

Speech: A Stitch In Time……

Dr. Fasehun
(Being Speech By Dr Frederick Fasehun, Founder/ President Of Oodua Peoples’s Congress (OPC) At Century Hotel, Okota, Lagos On April 22nd, 2011)
Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome.
For a long time, Nigeria has been agitating and struggling for democracy. Recently we seem to have seen democracy at the end of the tunnel and jubilated that sooner than later Nigerians would begin to enjoy the good fruits of a true democratic process. But lo and behold, like a frightened bird, democracy seems to be taking flight away from the land. And violence, chaos, confusion, killing and arson, all of which are anti-democratic symptoms, seem to be overtaking the land. Apparently, when we thought we were preparing for an election, we were inordinately preparing for war, a war that has now consumed the common man, to whom politics means nothing than merely going to the polling booth to exercise his civic right.
This body of patriotic Nigerians here gathered today feels worried about the tragedy that has struck our land. When we should be jubilating, embracing and congratulating one another with open arms over the success of the current elections, we are being made to weep for the loss of innocent young men and women, many of them electoral officers who helped to achieve this world-acclaimed feat. It is the shame of a nation.
Will Nigeria ever get it right?:
All well-meaning Nigerians must prevail on our politicians and political leaders to give Nigeria a chance to have democracy rooted in our national life. Without peaceful democracy, there cannot be progress, there cannot be growth, there cannot be development and there cannot be good things of life that our people have lacked for decades.
It is the duty of all Nigerians from Damaturu to Opokuma, from Hadejia to Epe to allow peace to reign. All classes of Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora will like to see Abuja as the centre of political activities, a place where pervasive contentment flows from. We do not want war. We want peace to be able to rear our children from nursery to adulthood. We want peace to enable us enjoy employment in the public as well as in the private sector. We want Nigerian brains to stop migrating to foreign lands. We want Nigerians everywhere to feel happy and take pride in their standard of living, a standard of living devoid of hunger, poverty, illiteracy and superstition, a standard of living underscored by the rule of law, due process and social justice.
These are what Nigerians are yearning for in addition to the wish to live in any part of our country without acrimony and without molestation. In other words, Nigerians of any ethnic group, language or religion must be able to sing their native songs in any part of our country.
The youths are watching. Our children are watching. We do not want them to inherit our war mongering, mutual hostility, mutual suspicion and mutual distrust.
Although life is unquantifiable, we demand that apart from whatever insurance package the slain and injured NYSC participants will normally enjoy, the Federal Government, the relevant state governments and INEC should provide adequate compensation for these unfortunate youths and their families.
Nigerians are too good a people to be involved in self-destruction. We appeal to all and sundry that henceforth all fighting and any thought of fighting by any group or individuals should cease in order that democracy, peace and progress, happiness and contentment and good governance may flow in, in order that all will begin to enjoy what Nigeria can bestow on her citizens of whatever nationality or creed.
If on the other hand, we think war-mongering is the only alternative, let us realize that violence will only lead to the destruction of this beautiful country.
But we must, henceforth, task all indigenes, authorities and agencies in places boiling with violence that they must begin to act as buffers between their hostile kinsmen and the strangers in their midst. In the words of that famous quotation, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” The good indigene must begin to protect the weak guest against the misguided minority. Whenever this era of madness descends, good men everywhere must rise up as one to put a stop to the match of this minority mob.
Let us stop all hostilities now. A stitch in time will save lives.
Thank you for listening.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

News Report: African Union Lifts Ivorian Sanctions But Violence Simmers

One Of The Aftermaths Of Ivorian Violence

The African Union lifted sanctions on Ivory Coast on Thursday, ending four months of diplomatic isolation, but fighting between armed groups underscored the challenges facing the new president.

The AU's move follows President Alassane Ouattara's victory in a post-election power struggle with Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to step down after a November election but was captured last week in a French and United Nations-backed assault on his forces. Gbagbo is now under house arrest in the country's north.

Ouattara received almost universal international backing during the stand-off and international organizations have shown they are ready to help out. But he must heal deep divisions, including many within his own camp.

"We recommended that the president-elect (should) pursue building peace in Ivory Coast, reconcile people and make Ivory Coast a country where people are in unity," Joseph Nsengimana, Rwanda's AU ambassador and chairman of the AU's Peace and Security Council, told journalists on Thursday.

Nsengimana was speaking after the punitive sanctions, imposed to try and force Gbagbo to relinquish power, were lifted at a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The European Union has also eased some of its restrictions, paving the way for exports to resume, although shippers say it will take weeks to reach normal volumes. Ivory Coast is the world's leading cocoa producer.

But more than ten days after Gbagbo's arrest, pro-Ouattara forces are still struggling to get full control of the main city Abidjan, which was wracked by nearly two weeks of heavy fighting and looting.

On Wednesday Ouattara's forces clashed with remnants of pro-Gbagbo militia, as well as members of the formerly allied "Invisible Commando", which spearheaded attacks on Gbagbo's forces ahead of last month's full-out assault.Residents said fighting had died down in Abobo and Yopougon overnight, though sporadic gunfire was still heard.

Kascou Coul, a member of the Abobo-based "Invisible Commando", said they were on high alert and some colleagues had been arrested but Ibrahim Coulibaly, the force's chief, was seeking to resolve the situation. There are long-standing divisions between Coulibaly and the pro-Ouattara forces.

A member of the pro-Gbagbo militia in Yopougon also said talks were under way. "They started yesterday. We want peace so life can return to normal in Yopougon," said Gerome Youan.

After months of failed diplomacy, the pro-Ouattara former rebels from the north launched an offensive in late March, seizing swathes of territory before becoming bogged down in urban combat.

U.N. and French forces intervened to destroy Gbagbo's heavy weapons in an operation that provided Ouattara forces the breakthrough they needed, ending a crisis that has killed well over 1,500 people and forced 1 million from their homes.

The turmoil has shattered Ivory Coast's economy and social services and the United Nations on Thursday warned of the threat of spreading polio after three children were confirmed as having the crippling disease.

Credit: Reuters

News Release: Afenifere Lauds Jonathan’s Victory, Condemns Violence In The North

Fasoranti: Afenifere Leader
Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has congratulated President Goodluck Jonathan for his victory in the presidential elections, while condemning the violence, arson and general breakdown of law and order rocking some Northern states.

The group sued for peace and an end to the killings and destruction in the North.
Afenifere also commiserated with the families of innocent citizens killed in the mayhem, especially NYSC members patriotically serving their Fatherland. It prayed that God would give their families the grace to bear the tragedy.

Applauding President Goodluck Jonathan on his emergence as the President-Elect, Chief Chief Fasoranti noted that the PDP Candidate, “obtained majority votes in the South-West, and substantial support in all the other five geo-political zones in Nigeria across political party lines in last Saturday’s presidential elections.”

Afenifere wished the President well, and urged him to satisfactorily utilize the mandate he had received from all Nigerians to manage the affairs of the Nation for the next four years.

A statement by Afenifere Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, advised aggrieved politicians with evidence and facts capable of impeaching the acclaimed transparency of the recently conducted elections to seek redress from courts of competent jurisdiction.

Saying that following the legitimate path to redress would strengthen and deepen the nation’s democracy, Fasoranti however observed that resorting to violence in reaction to the election results clearly endangered the nation’s democracy.

“The aggrieved parties may not accept the current electoral results but so far this appears to be the standing decision of the majority,” Fasoranti said. He added however that, “Fortunately, the Judiciary in the past has shown itself convincingly capable of dispensing justice in electoral matters. And politicians should show faith, follow due process avail themselves of the very promising opportunity offered by the courts.”

Fasoranti warned politicians to refrain from making inciting and unsubstantiated statements regarding the electoral process.
In what appears to be Afenifere setting an agenda for the President, the group’s Leader said Nigerians expected the President to address salient issues critical to their country’s survival as a Nation State.

“Afenifere expects him to immediately embark upon an urgent public works programme to stimulate the economy and also alleviate the mass youth unemployment in the country. Afenifere expects the President to address the issue of infrastructural deficit in all parts of Nigeria and ensure that existing trunk roads are rehabilitated to make them motorable highways immediately,” the statement said.

Noting that President Jonathan on coming to power last May had promised enhancement of electricity generation and distribution, Afenifere hoped the country would achieve stable power supply within the next two years.

Pa Fasoranti further said: “Afenifere expects an increase in the revenue allocation for the education and health sectors in the President's next budget. Afenifere has always objected to the lack of transparency in the economic management of our resources and the endemic corruption in the polity. We expect a more prudent management of our collective wealth, a reduction in the cost of running government and a robust determination on the part of Jonathan's administration to combat corruption through the investigation and prosecution of public office holders who either have allegations or established financial impropriety leveled against them. The administration must not just be mouthing its determination to combat corruption.”

According to Afenifere, the Jonathan administration would enhance Nigeria’s democracy and write its memory in gold by introducing a Bill to the National Assembly for the convening of a Sovereign National Conference.

“A Sovereign National Conference will further strengthen our democracy as Nigerians can then restructure the polity by fashioning out an autochthonous Constitution as opposed to the unitary military Constitution we have been operating since 1999,” Afenifere’s statement said.

 Chief Reuben Fasoranti O.F.R.
 Leader of Afenifere.

Article: Details Of Election Rigging Spree In Imo State

Governor Ohakim Of Imo State
By Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha
The April 9th 2011 election has come and gone but its reverberating effect in Imo State will continue for a very long time because the  will of the people have been short changed. It should be recalled that on the 22rd of March 2011, this writer did an expose on how INEC, PDP and Ikedi Ohakim plan to rig the election in Imo State. It is important to note that apart from the fact that Professor (Mrs.) Selina Okoh, the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner and the State INEC Administrative Secretary are very corrupt people who assisted in rigging the April 9th 2011 election for PDP. It should also be noted that the appointment of Professor Celestine O.E Onwuliri, the Vice-chancellor of the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) and Husband of the Deputy Governorship candidate of PDP as the state Returning Officer for governorship and presidential elections is an indictment on Professor Attahiru Jega.
This information of appointment of Professor Celestine Onwuliri as the State Returning Officer was contained in a letter dated April 1st  2011 and addressed to the resident electoral commissioner INEC Imo State (Prof Selina Okoh) with reference number INEC/CH/ROE/VOL.I and signed by Professor Attahiru Jega himself.  Despite opposition to the appointment of professor Celestine Onwuliri as the State Returning Officer, Professor Attahiru Jega refused to change him as at 12th April 2011.
Apart from that, many FUTO lecturers have been appointed as local government returning officers. Also lecturers of Federal Polytechnic Nekede are local government returning officers. The rector of the polytechnic is the wife of current commissioner for education in Imo State, Professor Jude Njoku. It is therefore very obvious that there is a clear conspiracy to rig the on-coming election for Imo PDP as it happened on the National Assembly Election Day.
Let me use the April 9th election to prove that there in indeed a conspiracy among INEC officials, PDP and Ikedi Ohakim to rig the election. Using Owerri Municipal Council as a test case, election materials were distributed late. In Aladimma Ward I, election in Booth 001 was cancelled by residents of the ward because it was discovered that all the 668 registered voters in that booth do not live in the ward and are unknown people. The same fake voters’ registration happened in so many wards in the State.
In Ohaji/Egbema, the speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr Goodluck Nana Opia
used Lorry loads of armed men to intimidate, harass and disperse voters. Ballot boxes were then carried under the watchful eyes of police officers.
In Ohaji L.G.A, results announced by INEC were far above the registered number of voters. In Oru West L.G.A, the former  secretary to the state government Mr. Ignatius Umunna was seen snatching ballot boxes with his armed boys. He took the ballot boxes with to his house and thumb printing started.
In Mbutu Ward, Aboh- Mbaise L.G.A, the following happened: (1)At Isiala town hall (001 unit), there were no voting and no result because of gunshots that scared voters away and Armed thugs employed by “Hon”. Emeka Ihedioha, the PDP candidate carted away all the electoral materials including ballot papers and result sheets. (2)At town school Mbutu (010 unit), there were no voting and no result because the ACN  agents  were kidnapped by Armed thugs and so the voters ran away for fear of their lives. (3)At Ubaha hall polling booths, no results were declared because the ballot boxes were carted away by armed thugs employed by the PDP candidate. The booths are 016 and 018 units. (4) At Ihetteoha hall polling booths, no results were declared because the ballot boxes were also made away with by armed thugs employed by the same PDP candidate. The units are 011 and 012. etc. They fabricated results. No accreditation, no voting, no counting of votes and no results entered in any of these booths in Mbutu ward. No wonder only the PDP agents signed the ward result sheets. However, at the Aboh Mbaise INEC office, results appeared from no where and the Returning Officer accepted them despite objections from other party agents. Consequently the results were used in determining the outcome of the election.
The case of Isi –ala Mbano local government area is that of desperadoes. Both Mr. Ikedi Ohakim and the PDP candidate for Okigwe North Federal Constituency Mr. Chikwem Onuoha were seen instructing ward returning officers to manipulate results. Also Ikedi Ohakim openly contravened the electoral act by moving from one local government to another in his long convey of vehicles and with over fifty armed police men. Ikedi Ohakim visited Nwangele L.G.A twice. He visited Mbaitolu  L.G.A once. He visited Ikeduru L.G.A once. He also visited Onuimo and Isu L.G.A. He specifically visited six wards in Isi-ala
Mbano L.G.A. This is against the electoral act. The case of Mr. Chikwem Onuoha is pure electoral fraud.
Mr.Chikwem Onuoha connived with Ikedi Ohakim and rigged the Osuama Anara ward election by forcing the ward returning officers to change the figures at the ward collation center. Chikwem Onuoha was also involved in ballot box snatching and confiscation of election materials. He used his personal vehicles for this purpose. He moved about with over ten armed police men and thugs at Osu-Owerre Ward I which happened to be Ikedi Ohakim’s ward. Chikwem Onuoha was seen at the collation centre influencing the returning officers to inflate figures for PDP. When news of what Chikwem Onuoha was doing spread throughout Isi-Ala Mbano L.G.A, youths of the local government came out in anger to confront and resist this. The Isi-Ala Mbano youths led by one Mr. Ben Uwakwe popularly called “Obeleugwu” finally caught Chikwem Onuoha at Osu-Owerre Ward II (Umu-Ichi Centre). He was beaten up.
After Chikwem Onuoha was beaten up by the youths, he was stripped to his pants and taken to Isi-Ala  Mbano police station where he made statement confirming that he was caught by the youths manipulating figures. Mr.Ben Uwakwe (alias Obeleugwu) who led the youths also made statement confirming that Chikwem Onuoha attested to the Commissioner of police that he was caught by the youths when he was manipulating results in Isi-Ala Mbano local government area.
His partner in electoral crime and man-Friday Mr. Jude Egbuleze from Umuegbe village in Isi-Ala Mbano L.G.A was also seen carrying ballot boxes at Osu-Achara Ward with his Toyota Avlon saloon car with registration number “Lagos CX 852 LSD.  He was assisted by armed men. Unfortunately, results of ISI-ALA Mbano L.G.A for the National Assembly election have been accepted by INEC despite objections.
In Oguta L.G.A, ballot boxes were snatched in most voting centres by armed thugs loyal to Ikedi Ohakim. Thumb printing of ballot papers took place at the residence of a notorious politician in Oguta called Opene.
In Ehime Mbano L.G.A, thumb printing of ballot papers took place at the residences of (1) Barr. Evang. Jerry Egemba (Umumu ward 6), (2) Chief Zeek Martins Nnadozie (Nsu ward) (3) Chief Aloy Iwunze  (Umumuno ward 4) (4) Chief Dimaku (Agbaja ward) (5) Chief Amajuoyi Nzerem (Ikpem ward) (6)  Chief Tony Chukwu (Umueze ward I) In Nkwere L.G.A, the special Assistant to Ikedi Ohakim on political matters Mr Rex Anunobi was seen personally carrying ballot boxes, he moved about with soldiers and policemen. He used his house in Nkwerre  village and that of the palace of Eshi of Nkwerre (HRH Eze Dr. Chijioke Okwara) as the thumb printing centre.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Report: World Bank Releases World Development Report 2011

In 1944, delegates from 45 countries gathered at Bretton Woods to consider the economic causes of the World War that was then still raging, and how to secure the peace. They agreed to create the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the original institution of what has become the World Bank Group. As the delegates noted, “Programs of reconstruction and development will speed economic progress everywhere, will aid political stability and foster peace.” The IBRD approved its first loan to France in 1947 to aid in the
rebuilding of that country.

Over 60 years later, the “R” in IBRD has a new meaning: reconstructing Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, and other lands of conflict or broken states. Paul Collier’s book, The Bottom Billion, highlighted the recurrent cycles of weak governance, poverty, and violence that have plagued these lands. Not one low-income country coping with these problems has yet achieved a single Millennium Development Goal.

And the problems of fragile states spread easily: They drag down neighbors with violence that overflows borders, because conflicts feed on narcotics, piracy, and gender violence, and leave refugees and broken infrastructure in their wake. Their territories can become breeding grounds for far-reaching networks of violent radicals and organized crime. In 2008, I gave a speech on “Securing Development” to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. I chose the forum to emphasize the interconnections among security, governance, and development, and to make the point that the separate disciplines are not well integrated to address the inter-related problems. I outlined the challenge: bringing security and development together to put down roots deep enough to break the cycles of fragility and conflict.

As we are now seeing again in the Middle East and North Africa, violence in the 21st century differs from 20th-century patterns of interstate conflict and methods of addressing them. Stove-piped government agencies have been ill-suited to cope, even when national interests or values prompt political leaders to act. Low incomes, poverty, unemployment, income shocks such as those sparked by volatility in food prices, rapid urbanization, and inequality between groups all increase the risks of violence. External stresses, such as trafficking and illicit financial flows, can add to these risks.

The 2011 World Development Report looks across disciplines and experiences drawn from around the world to offer some ideas and practical recommendations on how to move beyond conflict and fragility and secure development. The key messages are important for all countries—low, middle, and high income—as well as for regional and global institutions: First, institutional legitimacy is the key to stability. When state institutions do not adequately protect citizens, guard against corruption, or provide access to justice; when markets do not provide job opportunities; or when communities have lost social cohesion—the likelihood of violent conflict increases. At the earliest stages, countries often need to restore public confidence in basic collective action even before rudimentary institutions can be transformed. Early wins—actions that can generate quick, tangible results—are critical.

Second, investing in citizen security, justice, and jobs is essential to reducing violence. But there are major structural gaps in our collective capabilities to support these areas. There are places where fragile states can seek help to build an army, but we do not yet have similar resources for building police forces or corrections systems. We need to put greater emphasis on early projects to create jobs, especially through the private sector. The Report provides insight into the importance of the involvement of women in political coalitions, security and justice reform, and economic empowerment.

Third, confronting this challenge effectively means that institutions need to change. International agencies and partners from other countries must adapt procedures so they can respond with agility and speed, a longer-term perspective, and greater staying power. Assistance needs to be integrated and coordinated; multi-donor trust funds have proven useful in accomplishing these aims while lessening the burdens of new governments with thin capacity. We need a better handoff between humanitarian and development agencies. And we need to accept a higher level of risk: If legislatures and inspectors expect only the upside, and just pillory the failures, institutions will steer away from the most difficult problems and strangle themselves with procedures and committees to avoid responsibility. This Report suggests some specific actions and ways of measuring results.

Fourth, we need to adopt a layered approach. Some problems can be addressed at the country level, but others need to be addressed at a regional level, such as developing markets that integrate insecure areas and pooling resources for building capacity. Some actions are needed at a global level, such as building new capacities to support justice reform and the creation of jobs; forging partnerships between producer and consumer countries to stem illegal trafficking; and acting to reduce the stresses caused by food price volatility.

Fifth, in adopting these approaches, we need to be aware that the global landscape is changing. Regional institutions and middle income countries are playing a larger role. This means we should pay more attention to south-south and south-north exchanges, and to the recent transition experiences of middle income countries.

The stakes are high. A civil conflict costs the average developing country roughly 30 years of GDP growth, and countries in protracted crisis can fall over 20 percentage points behind in overcoming poverty. Finding effective ways to help societies escape new outbursts or repeated cycles of violence is critical for global security and global development—but doing so requires a fundamental rethinking, including how we assess and manage risk. Any such changes must be based on a clear roadmap, and on strong incentives. I hope this Report will help others and ourselves in sketching such a roadmap.

The World Bank Group
Robert B. Zoellick

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

U-Report: Obinna Onuegbu (Omo) Kidnapped In Imo State

Governor Ikedi Ohakim Of Imo State
Reported By Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha
The peaceful town of Amaraku Isi-Ala Mbano L.G.A was on Sunday night the 17th of April 2011 of about 9:30pm disrupted when armed Hoodlums now Identified as governor Ikedi’s Ohakim’s kidnap gang kidnapped Chief Obinna Onuegbu popularly called “Omo” in front of his house at Amaraku Villiage.

Chief Obinna Onuegbu (Omo) is a businessman and a politician who has a soft spot for the opposition in Imo State. The armed kidnappers executed their evil art in their black Toyota Camry Saloon Car strongly believed to be one of the ones Ikedi’ Ohakim distributed to his campaign organization with the plate number inscription “Lets Do More”.

Meanwhile the youths of Amaraku Village have disrupted activities in Isi-ala Mbano L.G.A as at 18th April 2011. They have openly accused Ikedi ohakim of master-minding the kidnap of “Omo”. for the first time since the history of Amaraku, their popular market “Orie Amaraku” closed on the 18th of April 2011 in solidarity with youths who are demanding that “Omo” should be released latest 19th April 2011. All the old men in the village including old women and school children joined the demonstration.

The very old men and women in Amaraku came out and openly cursed governor Ikedi Ohakim. They prayed Almighty God to allow ikedi ohakim end up the way the former President of Liberia (Sergeat Samuel Doe) ended up. Traditional curses was also placed on Ikedi Ohakim's children.

In the meantime, the Imo Police Command have pledged to do anything possible to see that “Omo" is released alive. The Assistant Commissioner of police who rushed to Amaraku to appeal to the angry
youths to take it easy was shocked when the youths told him point blank that Ikedi ohakim is the Master mind of the kidnap of Omo.

The youths have given the Ohakim led governor “24 hrs” to bring out Chief Obinna Onuegbu alias Omo.