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The Atiku dream to make Nigeria work (part 1)



The much-anticipated Atiku Abubakar policy document to make Nigeria Work Again has been launched and now available for public scrutiny.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former customs officer, a consummate politician and successful businessman was for eight years, the Vice President of the federal republic of Nigeria (1999- 2007).

Atiku has been a constant feature in all-presidential elections since 2007 but this is the first time l can recall him issuing such an elaborate and detailed policy statement of his dream of making Nigeria work.

The document, perhaps, first of its kind by any presidential candidate is a work of many months by the former VP and his team of advisers and consultants.

It is quiet an interesting document, well-written, easy to read and comprehensive in the sense that it covers or laid out policy objectives on all sectors including and remarkably enough, sports and culture, which are not often government priorities.

Its introduction is a strong compendium or a detailed analysis of the problems confronting the nation.

As it is said in base ball, it is a home run, and l have no doubt that Nigerian desk officials at the IMF, World Bank and the ADB would be glad to read the document and perhaps be comforted that a presidential candidate in Nigeria has shown deep understanding and knowledge of the country’s myriad of problems and indeed supervised strategic sessions to lay out what he would do as president if elected, including identifying the imbalance in the relationship between the Federal Government and the federating units as well as highlighting, the absence of justice, fairness and equity as the bane of the Nigerian society.

Indeed, our refusal as a nation to imbibe and uphold these values remains one of the greatest challenges facing us and perhaps the main source of the many angers and divisions in the country.

About three years ago, then General Buhari, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, of which Atiku was a major supporter and financier, penned a set of promises all of which began with “We will”. They were all repudiated as soon as he won and became president and for over a year the APC government was struggling to put in place a discernible and credible economic policy. In the process, the economy went into recession.

The clear message from Atiku both from the document and the video launching the document is that he is ready and prepared to be president from day one. His policy document is his affirmation

The document as stated above is divided into various sections dealing with each sector of our national life. On every sector, there is an overview, which summarily and in bullet forms restated the problems facing the sector.

This is followed by the policy objectives and of course, what we shall do. Interested readers are best advised to pay more or greater attention to this section as it states what to expect from the Atiku presidency, at least in term of deliverables.

This is where you find all Atiku’s promises and solutions to the economy including, privatisation, job creation, infrastructural development (including power and roads) agriculture, manufacturing, poverty eradication, monetary and fiscal issues human capital development (education, health and ICT) and of course corruption.

There are about 45-50 on the WHAT WE SHALL segment. This is where l foresee some difficulties in what Atiku proposes to do to make Nigeria work again.

Apart from the familiarity of the promises, to ensure that Nigeria works again would require bold and innovation initiatives on all fronts and a courageous leader with ambitious policies and programs and also prepared to take some hard decisions to move Nigeria forward.

That did not come out strong or clearly enough in the policies outlined in the document and regrettably that’s what Nigerians are hungry for.

In a fast moving world, driven by technology, which changes rapidly and in a world in which we are not pioneers, we cannot wait endlessly to see Nigeria progress to becoming an advanced nation in its own right.

Taking tentative steps is not what is required in a country with very high youth employment and increasing population, high infant mortality, 10 million children out of school, power output about 4000 mw for a population close to 190 million or for a country which has been recently declared the poverty capital of the world, taking over from India, which built 44 million toilets throughout the country and in the process took 20 million people out of poverty and changed Indians sanitation behaviour

I believe strongly that despite our negative feelings about our country, the fundamentals for Nigeria’s greatness are with us.

What is missing is a conscientious leader or a leadership with the right vision to take the country across the finishing line.

This where, the Buhari foundational argument is unacceptable. We need bold and ambitious leaders.

Thus, l urge Atiku and his advisers to revisit the document and engage in some serious critical and out of the box thinking.

Some things are clearly missing and examples abound especially in terms of quick wins or low hanging fruits that could create hope and rekindle confidence across board and within the first hundred days of the administration

Let me highlight a few.

First, the decongestion of the Lagos ports. It appears the team is not too sure exactly what to do when the simple and long term solution is to embark on developing ports in other parts of the country, particularly in the Niger Delta that for years have been deliberately neglected.

As far as l can remember, successive governments in Nigeria since the military have been dredging the Port Harcourt and Calabar seaports with both still not fully operational and functional.

If we dare to do some calculations, it will not surprise us that the amount governments in Nigeria have spent dredging some ports in this country would have been enough to build many more and modern seaports.

Apparently too, the Atiku team did not consider it necessary or important enough to recognise the efforts of the Akwa Ibom State government to build a deep-sea port in the state.

The planning, including the design of the lbom deep sea port are all in place and l believe some funding have been secured to commence construction of the port.

What is wrong with the Federal Government under Atiku investing in the deep sea port to accelerate its completion and insist as well, that the dredging of the Port Harcourt, Calabar and perhaps the Warri ports be completed in the first year of the administration? It is such dynamic decisions and a leader with such mind set and preparedness to act with military precision that will move Nigeria forward and quickly too.

Ambassador Keshi wrote from Lagos.

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Man Video-calling His Girlfriend gets Crushed by a Car



On Wednesday, a 26-year-old man, Olajide Asade, was crushed to death by a commercial car, while he was making a video call to his girlfriend at the Adedero village on the Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu Expressway.

The accident involved a Honda Odyssey car with number plate AAA 589 FV, which was conveying crates of eggs.

It was gathered that the deceased was reportedly making a video call to his girlfriend while crossing the road when the accident occurred.

An eyewitness told our correspondent that the deceased and his brother boarded a car from the Kuto motor park in Abeokuta, but the vehicle developed a mechanical fault on the road.

The eyewitness said while the other passengers were standing by the roadside waiting for the driver to repair the vehicle, the deceased reportedly concentrated on the video call.

The deceased’s brother, Azeez, said they were both travelling to their mother’s residence in the Ajah area of Lagos State.

Azeez confirmed that his brother had been making a video call to his girlfriend since they took off from Kuto in Abeokuta.

He added that they left their apartment at Ijoga in Abeokuta very early in the morning to embark on the journey.

Azeez maintained that the driver of the car, who hit Olajide, was on a normal speed.

The driver, whose car hit the deceased, Bolaji Balogun, said Olajide was the one who bumped into his vehicle.

Balogun, an employee of an agro firm, said he was going to the Obasanjo Farm to purchase crates of eggs for his company.

The driver stated that the deceased had already got to the front of his car before he could apply the brake.

Confirming the crash, the Public Relations Officer of the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps, Babatunde Akinbiyi, said there were two male occupants in the vehicle that killed Olajide.

He stated, “There is a road diversion along the Abeokuta-Siun-Sagamu interchange due to the ongoing reconstruction; the deceased probably assumed it would be better and safer for him to cross to the other side, where road reconstruction is ongoing.

“The man, while crossing back to the other side of the road, was making a video call and was oblivious to the fact that a vehicle was coming from the Sagamu end to Abeokuta.

“The vehicle, a Honda Odyssey, hit him and he died on the spot.

“His corpse has been deposited in the morgue of the General Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta, while the driver of the Honda Odyssey and the vehicle are now at the state Motor Traffic Division, Ibara, Abeokuta.”

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60 Northern Travellers Intercepted in a Cow-filled Truck at Lagos-Ibadan Expressway



On Monday, several security outfits intercepted about 60 men hiding in a Lagos-bound truck filled with cows at the Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

It was gathered that the travellers, who reportedly came from Zamfara and neighbouring states, were heading for the Agege area of Lagos.

It was learnt that some of the men jumped down from the truck and fled on sighting the personnel of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit), the Rapid Respond Squad, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Officers and the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps at the boundary between both states.

The security personnel, however, denied them access into the state and turned them back.

The motor boy, who accompanied the truck from Zamfara State, Kabiru Haruna, said the cows were meant to be delivered to an abattoir in Agege and expressed surprise that the security agents stopped them.

He said, “We left Zamfara around 6 pm on Sunday, but not all of us here are from Zamfara State. Some are from Sokoto, Kano and Kebbi states. I am the motor boy for the truck, and I followed it from Zamfara down to where we are currently.

“We want to deliver the cows to an abattoir in Agege. I can’t really say the exact time we were stopped because I did not take note of the time. I don’t know why we were stopped.”

The truck driver was asked to go back to the point of take off after most of the fleeing men had regrouped at the pin-down point in Berger.

Confirming the incident to one of our correspondents, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said the men could not be allowed into the state.

He stated, “Forty-two men from Zamfara State hid in a truck and were intercepted at the Berger end of the expressway. The law is very clear; if you’re escorting a vehicle conveying food items, you must not be more than seven, but these people violated the law, and they were turned back.

“We have been searching all vehicles and all food items thoroughly to be sure that nobody is being smuggled into the state and this has helped us. We have sent the truck back; it cannot come into the state.”

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Ebonyi Man Whips 11-year-old Neighbour to Death



On Tuesday, an Ogbonnaya Daniel was arrested by the Ebonyi state police for killing the 11-year-old daughter of his co-tenant, Miss Ukamaka Nwuzor.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Loveth Odah, stated this in a statement in Abakaliki on Tuesday.

Odah said the matter was reported to the command’s ‘B’ Division, Kpirikpiri, Abakaliki by the deceased’s father, Peter Nwuzor.

She said following the beating, the victim was taken to the Alex Ekweme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FETHA) for treatment where she was confirmed dead.

Odah said the suspect had been arrested and an investigation was ongoing after which he would be charged to court.

The statement read, “On May 2, 2020, at 2.15 pm, one Peter Nwuzor of Omege Avenue, Abakaliki, reported at ‘B’ Division Kpirikpiri, that by 9am of the same date, his co-tenant at the address mentioned above, one Ogbonna Daniel, aged 28, a native of Asaga in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, beat up his daughter Ukamaka Nwuzor, aged 11, to a coma.

“Following the report, police detectives immediately visited the scene of the incident. The victim was rushed to the A-E Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AE-FETHA I) for medical treatment, but was later confirmed dead by the medical practitioner on duty. The corpse was deposited at the same hospital mortuary for preservation and autopsy.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is a next-door neighbour of the deceased’s family and there was an altercation that the deceased (Ukamaka) poured unclean water near the suspect’s apartment. As a result, he descended on her, beat her to a coma, which led to her death.”

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Imam arrested for Flouting Ban on Gatherings in Delta



The Imam of Ekakpamre, Mohammad Young Okotie was on Friday arrested by Delta state police officers for defying the ban on gatherings.

The Imam had defied the stay-at-home and social distancing order of the state government and led hundreds of Islamic faithful in congregational Jum’at service.

The incident happened on Friday, April 23 at Otu-Jeremi in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state.

“Imam Okotie led hundreds of Muslim faithful, and held Jumat service at the Ekakpamre Central Mosque in Ughelli South Local Government Area, thereby violating the prohibition on gatherings in the state,” a source told our correspondent.

When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Onome Onowakpoyeya, confirmed the arrest.

He said, “The Imam was arrested about 11 am on Friday, May 1, 2020.

“He is currently held at the Otu-Jeremi Police Station for possible prosecution according to the laws of the land.

“The State Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Mohammed-Inuwa, had ordered his arrest a few days ago.”

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