Sunday, 31 July 2011

Article: Thumbs Down For Governor Rochas Okorocha

Governor Okorocha
 By  Kenneth Uwadi
It was night, 8pm to be precise, when I entered a bar in Owerri  for a drink. The damned bar's sloppy wet due to the heavy down pour earlier. The rain soaked part of  my sleeves the more. It’s an entertainment bar. Some men were  sitting at the other table  popping champagne bottles. They shouted in boyish delight and danced and carped in the bar.In hoarse macho voices,they sang up party slogans of the ruling party in Imo state,APGA….rescue mission.
The words  rescue mission have  gained currency in the Imo state political lexicon. Owelle Rochas Okorocha literarily rode to Douglas House Owerri in the 2011 general election on a rescue mission mantra. Newly elected state governors, Senators, members of the House of Representatives caught the bug of  rescue mission  during electioneering campaigns in the preachment of a new dawn of imminent transformation once given the mandate. Elections have been won. The talking period is certainly over and  now that it is  time to walk the talk, many of them are  ‘’falling hands’’
I was still watching the men when Jenifer walked to my seat, drunk as usual. She stinks of vodka. The bar –tender sneered. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that Jenifer took up the drinking habit since she lost her job in the Imo state civil service. She was among the workers that Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state disengaged on 6th June 2011.
I am one of those whose confidence in the Okorocha’s administration is shaky  and from all indications, in Imo State, we are  on the “barber’s chair”, perpetually in motion but  without progress – doing wrong things all over again and expecting good results. Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has really confirmed my fears about his inability to govern. So far, the Governor has been making so many embarrassing administrative gaffes. Thumbs down for him.
June 6th 2011  is a day in Imo state that many people will not forget in a hurry. June 6th doesn’t only hurt; it was a day of woe for 10,000 workers in Imo state. On June 6th, like a military-imperator, Chief Rochas Okorocha  of Imo State announced the suspension of 10,000 jobs created by the immediate past administration of Imo State. The Governor called it the so-called Ohakim's 10,000 jobs. We all know that the disengaged workers were duly employed in line with the Imo State civil service commission rules and regulations. The Imo State civil service commission is an executive body in the state that has authority to make appointments and transfers, and to exercise disciplinary control over all Imo State civil servants. No officer can be appointed into the Imo State civil service without authorization from the civil service commission.
The Governor announced to everyone who has ears that Imo state can not pay the salaries of the 10,000 legally employed graduates and had to send them into a long night walk. To Okorocha,that's what is good for them, unemployment, the angry hunger, that’s what they deserve for voting him into power. The 10,000 suspended workers are now at home peeking into windows, watching tired housewives trying to fight off their beer-maddened husbands. Some of them are now drunks like poor Jenifer,   angry and lost like the whistle of a passing train.
The disengaged workers in their thousands have staged several non violent demonstration in Owerri the state capital ,demanding for their reinstatement to no avail.  Okorocha has continued to turn deaf ears and went ahead to set up a joke tagged job verification committee to look into the employment. The verification committee submitted its report to the state government, claiming that only 2,035 of the 10,000 jobs said to be given to youths were genuine. Even the 2,035 persons allegedly cleared have not been asked to resume work. Who is fooling who?
I can hear the workers cry for help down the mountains. Oh, check out the cry up the blue sides. As I watch Jenifer drink away her sorrows in the night, I can feel her plight and the sadness is so great. I hear her tears; I hear the tears of her parents. It is like cigarette smoke climbing a chapel of dark vines. Unemployment remains one of the greatest challenges facing our nation. Rather than solving unemployment problems; Governor Okorocha is sending people to the unemployment market.
The same man  who told  us that Imo will  have problems in paying salaries to the 10,000 workers is the same man that has made  things even worse for the finance  of  Imo state with his over bloated cabinet. Is the size of his cabinet not a perpetuation of a culture of waste? Rather than pay salaries to the workers  he opted to making them jobless so as to make way for his ridiculous cabinet to siphon money. Each of these commissioners and aides that he appointed will have a convoy of aides and they will also travel and be paid fat salaries and allowances. Is this not a waste of our resources?
 Imo State is regarded as the 5th richest state in Nigeria and it is not difficult to pay salaries to the 10,000 workers. Okorocha  must be prepared to make the necessary sacrifice. He must reduce his cabinet. He is too wasteful and he  should do something about this by demonstrating in concrete terms that Imo  is in desperate situation and he is  willing to inculcate the spirit of fiscal discipline. We can’t continue with our reckless attitude of profligacy. When he downsizes his cabinet, every other member of his team would be compelled to sit up and tighten his belt. We cannot continue to do things haphazardly. We don’t live in the jungle. We must set the stage for modern ways of doing things .We must operate within the ambits of the law. We must reinstate the disengaged workers and save their families from the trauma they are passing through
(Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema,Imo State,Nigeria)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

News Report: US Senate Democrats' Latest Debt-Ceiling Offer

Credit: Reuters
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid revised his plan to raise the U.S. debt ceiling on Friday with the hopes of winning over Republicans, but prospects for the measure are unclear.
Senate Republican  leader Mitch McConnell offered to bring the measure up for a quick vote on Friday night, but Reid declined -- a sign he probably does not have enough support to win the 60 votes needed to advance in the 100-seat Democratic-led chamber.
That procedural vote is expected to take place at 1 a.m. on Sunday (0500 GMT).
Here is a summary of Reid's latest offer:
Debt-Ceiling Increase:
* Democrats had  hoped to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, enough to cover the country's borrowing needs through the November 2012 elections. The new plan would accomplish that in three stages, rather than all at once.
* President Barack Obama would be authorized to raise the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion -- $416 billion at once to cover borrowing through September, and $784 billion after that.
* Congress could vote against the second debt-limit increase, and Obama would veto that vote, sending it back to Congress. At that point, the increase would take effect unless Congress mustered a two-thirds vote to override the veto. Presumably, Democrats would prevent that from happening.
* Obama could enact a second $1.2 trillion debt-limit increase once the Treasury department got within $150 billion of the current limit. The same process would ensue.
Spending Cuts:
* The bill also includes $2.2 trillion in spending cuts.
* Would not raise taxes or change major benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.
* Would set up a joint committee to find additional savings in areas like health benefits and the tax code. The committee's findings would get an up-or-down vote in Congress by the end of the year.
* Would cut $752 billion from discretionary programs over 10 years.
* Envisions a discretionary level of $1.045 trillion for the coming fiscal year, $4 billion less than current levels.
* Caps military and security spending for the coming two fiscal years. Republicans have generally resisted cuts to military spending.
* Would count an anticipated $1.044 trillion reduction in war spending as savings. Many Republicans have derided that as "smoke and mirrors" accounting because war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to decrease anyway.
* Would count $376 billion in savings from reduced interest payments
* Would save $11 billion from reduced crop subsidies.

News Report: Sultan Of Sokoto Condemns Crackdown On Boko Haram

Sultan Mohamed Sa'ad Abubakar
Credit: BBC News
It is the first time the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims has spoken about the insurgency

The sultan of Sokoto, the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims, has condemned the military crackdown against the Islamist Boko Haram sect.
"We cannot solve violence with violence," Mohamed Sa'ad Abubakar told a meeting of religious leaders.
The Boko Haram, based in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, says it is fighting for Islamic rule.
It has been behind recent assassinations of prominent figures and a wave of  bombings.
Two years ago, Nigeria's security forces brutally suppressed an uprising by the sect, destroying its compound in Maiduguri - the capital of Borno state - and then capturing and killing its leader Mohammed Yusuf.
Instead  of disappearing, the group, which opposes Western education and is fighting for Islamic rule, re-emerged last September and vowed  to avenge its leader's death.
Last month, it said it had carried out an attack on the headquarters of the Nigerian police in Abuja, which killed at least six people.
But the response of the security forces has led to criticism from rights group and the governor of Borno state.
Correspondents say many residents of Maiduguri are now more scared of the army than they are of Boko Haram.
"That problem can never be solved by drafting soldiers into cities where there is a problem - and in the process innocent lives were lost," said the sultan, who once served as military officer.
It is the first time the sultan has spoken about the Boko Haram insurgency.
Muslim clerics who have criticized the sect have been among those targeted for assassination in drive-by shootings over the past year.
The sultan also said the five policemen who have just gone on trial this month for the killing of Mr Yusuf should not be given bail.
Boko Haram's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed  to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad".
But residents of Maiduguri, where it was formed in 2002, dubbed it Boko Haram.
Loosely translated from the local Hausa language, this means Western education is forbidden.
Boko Haram sees such education as corrupting Muslims.
Nigeria - Africa's most populous nation - is split between the predominately Muslim north and largely Christian south.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Report: Global Banking And International Business Cycles

“This paper incorporates a global bank into a two-country business cycle model. The bank collects deposits from households and makes loans to entrepreneurs, in both countries. It has to finance a fraction of loans using equity. We investigate how such a bank capital requirement affects the international transmission of productivity and loan default shocks. Three findings emerge. First, the bank's capital requirement has little effect on the international transmission of productivity shocks. Second, the contribution of loan default shocks to business cycle fluctuations is negligible under normal economic conditions. Third, an exceptionally large loan loss originating in one country induces a sizeable and simultaneous decline in economic activity in both countries. This is particularly noteworthy, as the 2007-09 global financial crisis was characterized by large credit losses in the US and a simultaneous sharp output reduction in the US and the Euro Area. Our results thus suggest that global banks may have played an important role in the international transmission of the crisis”. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Report: Asia-Pacific Trade And Investment Report 2011

“The Asia-Pacific region has made a vigorous comeback from the global economic crisis and is currently leading world economic growth. However, not all countries have benefited equally from this rebound. Furthermore, as the second decade of the twenty-first century proceeds, the region faces various challenges, such as high food and fuel prices, continued malaise in most of the developed economies, and a higher incidence of natural disasters that affect trade and investment. At the same time, there are also plenty of opportunities. With its focus on the theme “Post-crisis trade and investment opportunities”, this year’s Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report identifies the challenges and opportunities for trade and investment in the region. The report concludes that, with the right policies and strengthened regional cooperation, the region would be able to continue its strong trade- and investment-led growth.”

Monday, 25 July 2011

Article: Executive Stealing

Nigerian Political Leaders
By Rufus Kayode Oteniya( 

In this era of the Middle East Revolution and an increasing dissatisfaction of the people with the government of the day, some truths are better kept as secret in order to preserving the status quo.
These truths must be kept away from the public eyes so that the people can believe that the government is working and Nigeria is on the way to the Promised Land.
If the intention of letting the people know the truth is meant to help set them free, one has to be courageous enough to divulge some of these truths regardless of their potential to cause the people  to demand accountability from their leaders.
Regardless of its bitterness, a harmful truth is far better than a useful lie. And it is generally believed as stated by Mohandas K. Gandhi that truth never damages a cause that is just and also according to the words of George Orwell, “during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Nigerians have been deceived enough and it’s time to know some truths.
We have been made to believe that all’s well; the government is working, electricity will be stable in a time soon; we are en route to meeting the Millennium development goals of 2015; and that we are set to be among the 20 most developed nations by 2020 whereas everything is working to the contrary and the people in government are doing nothing but 360° stealing.
Whenever they are not stealing our money, they are busy wasting it on frivolities.
In setting straight the records, I will be writing this series to disclose some truths the government will not like Nigerians to know. Here are some:
Presidential Jets:
According to the 2011 budget passed by the National Assembly on May 25, 2011, and signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on May 26, 2011, the over bloated Presidential Air Fleet will be gulping a whooping N17,834,876,113 ($117m) in 2011.
Nigerians still remember the speed at which president Jonathan approved the purchase of three new jets for $155m in August 2010 in addition to the eight planes that were already in the presidential fleet. Our hope that he would be that swift in rehabilitating the blood sucking Sagamu-Ore-Benin and Lagos-Ibadan express roads never was. Who cares for the common man if Jonathan can fly safely?
Here are facts some Nigerians must not know about presidential jets:
·         Nigeria has 11 presidential jets to serve every Tom, Dick and Harry in government departments and presidential villa
·         David  Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom came to Nigeria last week on a Chartered British Airways Flight because the government has no single presidential jet
·         Queen Elizabeth II, other members of Royal Family, the Prime Minister and other ministers of the British Government are served by either the Royal Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF) or chartered civilian aircraft or scheduled commercial flights.
·         On 19, Jul 2010, a responsible David Cameron (who does what he preaches) and his officials flew out to Washington DC to meet President Barack Obama on a regular BA flight. He even spurned First Class tickets to travel in the far cheaper Business Class. The move saved the government £200,000 in costs because usually, the PM travels on a BA chartered Boeing 747 or 767 - at a cost of £300,000 - or uses a RAF jet. It is Mr Cameron's attempt to lead by example on sweeping spending cuts across government to pay off Britain's crippling £155billion deficit.
·         The U S President typically uses one of two customized Boeing 747-200B jetliners designated as Air Force One, while the Vice President  uses a customized Boeing 757 designated as Air Force Two.
·         Britain does not pay for non official flights of the PM, little wonder David Cameron and his wife Samantha flew Ryanair in April to Spain to celebrate her 40th birthday.
·         American president must pay the cost of flight of his guests on Air Force One.
·         The presidential jets are at the beck and call of Nigerian president without any restrictions or control.
Executive Stealing:
At this juncture, no Nigerian is left in doubt that the members of the 6th National Assembly under the leadership of David Mark and Dimeji Bankole were just a bunch of looters who were awarding themselves jumbo allowances at the expense of the masses.  They were practically reaping what they did not sow and some of them were too busy spending their loots to the extent that hardly have time to attend the plenary sittings of the Houses.
It is too close to call if the members of the 7th National assembly are thieves like their predecessors but the moment they collect the first illegal quarterly allowance, they all become thieves with ‘immediate effect and automatic alacrity.’ Regardless of the hyped reduction, the allowance is still 100% illegal.
The executives are not left behind; in fact, the legislative plunder is like a child’s play compared to what the executives are illegally taking away from the system.
In addition to their constituency allowances, It is no longer a news that governors collect billions of naira as security votes which are unaccounted for and which makes everyone wonder which security they are providing with the money.
 While so much has been said about these legislooters, Nigerians must not know that most of the politicians they have elected as their leaders are nothing but execu-thieves,. They are thieves! They do much more harms than the petty robbers who are always subjected to jungle justice of lynching whenever they are caught on the streets of Lagos.
Few days ago, I watched on a social network a gory video of a necklace thief being lynched and burnt to death by the same society that celebrates or elects these billion naira thieves. While I was condemning this barbaric act in its entirety and wondering how lawlessness could be so celebrated with such impunity, I was forced to question why this same society couldn’t just think that what was good for the goose would be good for the gander! Why couldn’t they just go after those who have made poverty a permanent habitant of our society.
Who is a thief?
According to , a thief a is person who steals while it further defines stealing  as taking (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force.
Going by the above definition, most of the executives from the local and state governments to the federal government qualify to be called thieves because they award themselves as much as they want as allowances and also illegally infiltrated security vote into the system.
Is security vote legal? NO!
The longer an illegality persists, the more legal it seems. Security vote which was an invention under the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo started with Obasanjo and a few governors awarding themselves monthly, a few millions of naira, giving the impression that it must not be accounted for. It has now got to a level where many of the governors appropriate the sum ranging from several hundreds of millions of naira to billions monthly as security votes. 
Notwithstanding it’s illegality, Owelle Rochas Okorocha , the Imo State governor, during his inauguration on May 29, 2011 was openly announcing that he would slash the state’s annual security vote from N6.5 billion to N2.5billion to make provision for the free education programme.
As good as it sounded, it was like saying my predecessor was stealing N6.5b from you annually in the name of security vote but I would reduce it and only steal N2.5b.
Show me an executive from the presidency to the local government who does not take security vote and I will show you an executive who is not a THIEF.
While the president, governors and the local government chairmen were awarding themselves security votes, ministers under Yar’Adua and Goodluck were allegedly taking about N80m quarterly as statutory award. Where is this provided for in our laws?
According to Davidson Iriekpen in an article titled, Security Vote - For Whose Security? “the exact value of the vote is unknown to anyone. There is also no part of the appropriation where it is stated that such a pool of funds should be maintained as security votes in the country. Instead, the malaise has become one of the easiest ways governors allegedly misappropriate funds in their respective states.”
He further claimed that “every year, billions of naira are allegedly squandered under the guise of security votes. The funds suspected to be illegal, are purportedly being used to provide security for the president, governors and their domains, whereas they are being transferred into personal bank accounts. In spite of these huge sums of money, killings, kidnappings, cultism and other security threats are on the increase across the states.
At the federal level, funds are allocated to the Ministry of Defence for the upkeep and welfare of the armed forces and the police, yet billions are still voted for the President as security votes whose impact is unknown.”
And also according to human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, security vote is an illegality and irresponsibility on the part of the country's leaders. He condemned the governors for appropriating security votes to themselves even when they know that it is unconstitutional. He also argued that the governors who indulge in security votes rob the society of essential resources.
In a report by former RMAFC chairman, Hamman Tukur to the presidency, he warned all organs of government to adhere strictly to the remuneration packages by his commission, saying "no other salaries, allowances and or benefits are to be paid to any political, public and judicial office holder. "He said the Federal, State and Local Governments flout the remuneration provisions made by the commission through frivolous foreign trips, arbitrary appointment of aides and use of excessively large motorcades.
He further said “based on the constitution, RMAFC has the final say on the remuneration package of National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly members, while a law need to be enacted based on the commission's proposals regarding the pay packages of executive and judicial office holders.”
Notwithstanding this warning, this illegality thrives from the presidency to the council. As the president take billions of naira in monthly security vote, he also take several millions in constituency allowance.
In the established democracies, politics does not make somebody rich overnight or how can you explain that after years as Attorney-general of Arkansas state, 12 years as governor of the same state and 8 years as the President of the richest and the most powerful country in the world, Clinton needed to take a mortgage in the year 2000 toward the end of his tenure to buy his only house then. And also after many years as a member of Parliament and 10 years as Prime Minister of the rich and powerful UK, Tony Blair had to take up a paid consultancy job to be able to meet up with his bills.
Do you know even any local government Chairman in Nigeria who does not own houses and fleet of cars?

Sunday, 24 July 2011

News Report: Bankole 'Boys" Pressure Anti-Corruption Chairperson

Farida Waziri
The Bankole "boys" in Nigeria's House of Representative led by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal have started pressure on chairperson of the country's anti-corruption agency, the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, to soft pedal on the recent prosecution of the immediate past speaker of the House for corrupt enrichment of self while in office, chidi opara reports have learned.

Mrs. Waziri, according to Presidency contacts, is favoured to head a mega anti-corruption body that would result from the proposed merger of EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC).

chidi opara reports learned that Mrs. Waziri's career in the Nigeria Police, from where she retired as an Assistant Inspector-General(AIG), is being discreetly investigated by the House of Representatives. So far, according to a House insider, "vital information, different from what the public know about Mrs. Waziri have been discovered." This investigation we learned have been deliberately leaked to Mrs. Waziri.

Mr. Aminu Tambuwal was reported to have been hand in glove with Bankole in corruption during the 6th session in which he was a principal officer and Bankole the speaker for most of the life of the session. "He was to be arrested before he became speaker", an EFCC contact in Lagos whispered to a chidi opara reports network member.

In what appears to be a fight back from friends of the EFCC chairperson, some politicians from Akwa Ibom State led by Senator Etang Umoyo have called for the resignation of the Speaker, accusing him of abuse of office. The group accused him of illegally swearing in Mr. Eseme Eyibo as a member in place of Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia, whom the group said was the right person.

Friday, 22 July 2011

U-Report: President Obama Signs Wall Street Reform Bill Into Law

President Obama
Reported By: David Plouffe( Senior Advisor to President  Obama)

 One year ago, after a tough battle with the special interests in Washington, President Obama signed Wall Street Reform into law.

That law does three important things. First, it brings to an end taxpayer funded bailouts, so taxpayers will never again be left paying the bill if a big bank fails. Second, it stops the reckless risk-taking by Wall Street that put consumers in jeopardy and led to the economic crisis. And third, this law puts in place the strongest consumer protections in history.

And to make sure you can count on those consumer protections, we put a first-ever consumer watchdog in charge. It’s a new bureau – a new cop on the beat – with just one job: looking out for families in the financial system.

The President faced a lot of opposition when we fought for this bill. An army of lobbyists and lawyers were looking to preserve the status quo, and one year later, they’re still at it. The special interests are trying to water down what we passed, and spending tens of millions of dollars to get their way. And they’ve got friends in high places.

But President Obama has made it clear: he’s not going to let them win. He’ll veto any effort to weaken or repeal Wall Street Reform. He’s not going to let them take us backward.

We can’t afford to go back to the days when consumers were ripped off by misleading fees and deceptive lending and our economy was vulnerable to greed and recklessness -- not when we know that millions of middle class families are still hurting because of the damage that was done.

So we have a lot of work to do to rebuild this economy. We’ve got to rein in the deficit to put our economy on stronger footing and ensure that seniors and middle-class families aren’t bearing the entire burden when millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners are let off the hook.

We’ve got to keep money in your pockets by preventing payroll taxes from going up for working people. We’ve got to continue to make smart investments in clean energy, innovation and technology to create the good paying jobs of the future.
But we’ve also got to keep up the fight to solve the problems that led us into this economic mess in the first place.

It comes down to this. You shouldn’t need to have lobbyists on the payroll to have your voice heard in Washington. And in your financial dealings, you deserve a basic measure of protection against abuse. You should have the freedom to buy a home or open a credit card or take out a student loan with confidence that you’re getting a fair deal.

That’s what these consumer protections will do. That’s why Wall Street Reform matters.