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THE VEXATIOUS BUDGET OF NIGERIA’S NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

Good day folks.

I have seen a few online petitions going around lately and one has caught my attention. The petition requesting the National Assembly (NASS) to open its book regarding the perennial N150 Billion (Approx. $600 Million) budget is a feel good one, but really doesn’t open up the matter. It’s okay to sign the petition, but more informative to understand the issues.

Let’s remember that the cold war between the Presidency and the NASS started in 2011, when President Jonathan refused to approve the NASS budget that was increased from N112.24 billion to N232.74 Billion (over 100% increase). The President had proposed N120 Billion, but eventually both parties agreed to settled for N150 Billion, which has remained the yearly budget till 2014 (Their budget was slashed in 2015 to N115 Billion). From that point on, the NASS practically stood in the way of the Executive over several issues, for which Nigerians paid the ultimate price. Can you imagine that if left unchecked, the NASS would have been blowing over N200 Billion on themselves????

Prior to 2011, there was some level of budget breakdown for the monies allocated to the NASS. We could tell what went to the Senate, House of Representatives, NASS Service Commission, etc. For the past 4 years however, no one has been able to breakdown this budget of N150 Billion despite the various demands by pressmen relying on the Freedom of Information Act.
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A BRIEF OF THE UNFORTUNATE EVENTS WITH AERO AIRLINE FROM ACCRA ON 18/06/12

6:30am: Left a friend’s house for the airport

6:32am: Ran into my first experience of Accra traffic. I could swear half the people on the road were Nigerians (check out the driving)

7:15am: Arrived at the airport and collected my boarding pass and proceeded to clear immigration

7:23am: A boarding call for Accra to Lagos on Aero Contractor flight

7:45am: Flight fully boarded and waiting for take off (7:55am departure time)

7:55am: Engaged flight attendant on why take off has not been announced and was told they were waiting for some documentation.

8:05am: Pilot announces all passengers to disembark due to a flat tire.


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IS DEVELOPMENT THAT DIFFICULT?

Nigeria's Minister of Aviation - Princess Stella Odua

A few years ago, I went on a short family trip to Costa Rica. One of the instructive things that I noticed was how that little country managed its resources. Right at the airport, you are told plainly that for every tax you pay at the airport, one dollar is meant for upgrading and maintenance of the facilities. Not only that, the entire development plan and its timed phases were boldly and transparently displayed around the airport to give a quick snapshot of what was to be achieved. I saw a similar case in the Johannesburg International Airport in South Africa with even more detailed development plans. At the Dubai Airport, frequent travelers will agree that about 3 years ago, Lagos bound passengers had to board their flights from the tarmac, after being conveyed on a bus. However, today that is not the case because they have fully implemented a plan, which was public knowledge about creating new boarding terminals.

Every time I have the rare privilege of traveling and seeing these possibilities in other countries, it simply points to the fact these countries are working and precious hard-working people make it so. Development is not difficult if those responsible are willing to mire their hands in the very difficult task of planning and working the plan DELIBERATELY till it is thoroughly executed to the last detail. If we have this in Nigeria, without noise our infrastructures will flourish with relative ease because people are doing what they have to do behind the scene.

I have visited many Ministries, Departments, and Agencies and sadly you can smell the culture of sloth all around. Several people come in and pursue their private initiative and have very little concern for the Ministry goals, neither do they have a ‘jig’ or ‘saw’ to complete organizational ‘puzzle’. This tells you the kind of deliverables that will come out of these government establishments. For everything that works well, check it, there are efficient people behind the scenes making the positive outcomes possible. When this is not the case, check it, it might be as seemingly insignificant as a secretary not expediting action on a simple letter of reference.
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I MUST SAY SOMETHING: THE KAMIKAZE DRIVERS OF ABUJA

It is always a thing of joy and pride to visit the Abuja city. Some years back, a special CNN coverage of the growth of Nigeria’s capital city pronounced it as like one of the most promising 21st century cities in terms of beauty. I couldn’t agree less, as it is easy to perceive the great thought that went into planning its structure and order. Sprawling around scenic rocks, it is totally different from a city like Ibadan, which is “flung and scattered among seven hills like broken China in the sun”. While Ibadan, like Lagos grew organically over the years, Abuja is a deliberate imagination of men. It was given birth to by an idea and that has so provided for the primacy of its design. From the city’s entrance, whether from the airport or other doors, you can tell of the systematic allocation of resources and literally draw your movement on paper to trail the city’s concept. It is always a relief to be in an ordered environment, far away from the confusion of ethnic and economic settlements where stress is allocated to its dwellers.

But like the case of any good thing, there are certain spoilers of the vine. For Abuja, almost everyone who drives a car is like a Fox

Abuja junction traffic from ayakubu.blogspot.com

trying to outwit another. Unlike Lagos, which has one popular race track, Abuja is the Grand Prix all by itself. Once a driver hold the steering, all lanes merge into one and it boils down to who arrives at their destination first, even though we aren’t all going to the same place.  I often wondered who exactly gave these kamikaze drivers a license to hit the road. I am beginning to suspect that the case of Abuja is like Calabar city – after Okadas (commercial bikes) were banned, it seems the operators graduated to cab drivers – and this probably is one reason the city’s taxi drivers seem perpetually high. Abuja drivers have no regard for simple traffic rules and flout them with such relish that bewilders a city newbie.
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NIGERIA: THE BEGGARS COLONY

This is one of those rants I cannot but punish you with because I am getting really sick and tired of its frequency. Almost anywhere you go in Nigeria, you are faced with beggars begging right up to your face and totally crowding your space that you feel your only escape is to settle them. I am not talking about the poor, haggard, and destitute soul on the street without a home to go back to; not the physically maimed citizen crisscrossing go-slows to tap on your car’s window screen for their sustenance. It is not even the poor person in the neighbourhood who has genuine need and shows up at your gate on a weekend. If it were just these, I would understand for even Jesus said we will always have the poor with us.

My concern is with the pervasiveness of subtle beggars who trudge our corridors of service, demanding privileges that they do not exactly deserve. They are everywhere from the supermarket you frequent to the professional offices where they don the most formal attires. Anywhere you go it seems you are bound to encounter what feels like an organized mob of commercial inducers, asking for settlements for all kinds of spurious reasons ranging from ‘weekend money’ to ‘big man status money’. The latter is very upsetting because you now have to pay for looking affluent, as though it were indicative on the flesh.

The matter has become very embarrassing (or ‘embarazzing’ for emphasis) to the point that I am suddenly put on the offensive every time I request a simple service. Even when I am not asking for any services, usually some freelancer suddenly appears and imposes a service for which you have to cough out something. I drive into the parking lot of a public facility and the security man directs the parking process, a role for which he is also employed along with securing the vehicle. The profuse greetings you get from the security man on alighting your vehicle has its cost implication. The doorman usually almost prostrates before opening the door even though he sees your fully functional limbs. You have to factor all these into the expense to be disbursed at your location – of course not forgetting the tips you have already given for services in the inner sanctum.
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Nigeria’s Goodluck: No Violence Over Presidential Bid

Nigeria will not fall into violence over his decision to stand for elections next year, President Goodluck Jonathan said in an exclusive interview with CNN. “I can tell you very clearly that violence will not break out because of my interests. I can tell you very clearly,” Jonathan said in a wide-ranging interview at the presidential palace in Abuja ahead of October 1 celebrations marking 50 years of independence.

In September, Jonathan declared his intention to run in the October presidential primaries for his party, the People’s Democratic Party. Under Nigerian “zoning” rules, power must rotate between the north and the south every eight years. Jonathan — a native of the Niger Delta region in the south — was vice president under President Umaru Yar’Adua, from the north, when he died in May three years into his first term. “In the first place if this country had agreed the presidency rotates between north and south I would not be the president today. I couldn’t have been if there is an agreement in this country that it rotates between north and south,” Goodluck reasoned. “I couldn’t have been the president the day Yar’Adua died — another northerner would have taken over and I could have continued as the vice president. Goodluck acknowledged that Nigeria is grappling with limited resources, corruption and high poverty, despite being a world leader in oil production.

However, he said, “one thing that I know and I feel Nigeria will celebrate is continuity and peace. Yes we experienced civil war that lasted 13 months. Some other countries experienced civil wars that lasted for years.”

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THE CHURCH FRANCHISE

Recently, someone sent into my mail box a funny email listing the outrageous names of some churches in Nigeria. Although I do not believe that some of the names listed are real churches, I am also not without proof of they some do exist. There are a few from the list which I believe may exist, names such as:

–          Strong Hand of God ministry

–          Accredited Church of God

–          Holyfire Overflow Ministries

–          Angels on Fire Chapel of Peace

–          Strong Hand of God ministry

The names that are far too ludicrous for anyone to believe include names like:

–          Guided Missiles Church

–          Jehovah Sharp Sharp Ministry

–          Liquid Fire Ministry

–          Ministry of the Naked Wire

–          Trigger Happy Ministry

–          Seven Thunders of Jesus

However comical and factual in existence some of these names are, it speaks to a larger concern in the religious climate in Nigeria today. I am not exactly qualified to comment on these phenomena, but I must say that the trend has become very laughable and is becoming more of a mockery to those who are walking and living in truth. I am actually more interested in another trend more worrisome to me, and that is the style of church expansion in the country and indeed around the world; it is not peculiar to Nigeria.
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