Archive for June, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan penultimate Friday announced the sack of his National Security Adviser, Gen-eral Andrew Owoye Azazi. Azazi’s tenure as National Security Adviser was very uneventful as it witnessed the deterioration of the security situation in the country .The cases of serial bombings, killings and kidnappings by gang groups across the country were unprecedented in the nation’s history..

His sack did not come to watchers of events as a surprise because of the serial bombings and killings of over  a thousand Nigerians and foreigners in  the Northern part of the country  by members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect and his open criticism of the zoning policy of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party,( PDP) which has since pitched him against powerful forces in government and outside the government, especially at the top hierarchy of the PDP.

He was replaced with Colonel Sambo Mohammed Dasuki. Dasuki  comes from the royal family of Sokoto, being  the son of the former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmed Dasuki, who was deposed by the military regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. He is a cousin to the current Sultan.

Being an Aide-DeCamp  (ADC) and close associate of   the former Military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), the late Gen-eral Sani Abacha dismissed Dasuki and some military officers in 1993.

Dasuki later fled to the United States in 1995 after he was accused by the Abacha re-gime of being a party to a coup allegedly  plot-ted by Col. Lawan Gwadabe (now retired).

On his return, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed Dasuki as the manag-ing director of the National Security and Printing Company at the behest of Baban-gida.A director of Regency Alliance, an insur-ance company, Dasuki attended the Wash-ington DC and George Washington Univer-sity, where obtained a BA (Bachelor of Arts degree) in International Relations and MA (Master of Arts) in Security Policy Studies respectively.

He had his military training in several in-stitutions in Nigeria and abroad, including the Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Okla-homa, U.S. and Army Command and Gen-eral Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth Kensas.No doubt, the new NSA though coming to his new job  at  a crucial time when the nation is facing security different security challenges, he seems to have wealth of expe-rience, exposure as well as impeccable credentials. 

Despite these credentials, eminent  Ni-gerians have set agenda for Dasuki as he  stepped into his new shoes.

The President of the Campaign for De-mocracy (CD), Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, said Dasuki  must first of all tackle the spate of  terrorism in the country.” That should be his Number One priority and that requires a change in the  security structure”, she said.

“Allied to that is the need to check other forms of insecurity like kidnapping and as-sassination”, Okei-Odumakin further ad-vised.She also warned him to do more of work and less of talk, saying he should learn from the pitfall of his predecessor who  talked more and did less work. Lagos lawyer and human rights activist,  Mr. Fred Agbaje said  Dasuki has to start “from his own backyard which is the core North, where the Boko Haram sect has been reigning supreme”.

He urged him to also look at how to tackle the issue of  militants in the Niger-Delta, adding that “ he must  work out modalities to  social unrest in other parts of the coun-try  particularly armed robbery and  kidnap-ping”

Another legal practitioner based in La-gos, Mr. Festus Keyamo  said Dasuki has only one agenda and that is: stop the activities of Boko Haram.His words:” He should stop Boko Haram activities. He was brought in to do that and he should find a way of tackling it. There is no oth-er agenda that is higher or stronger than that “.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said the task before the National Security Adviser to Pres-ident Jonathan was  to “ remove the resonant mass, where  the masses lose sense of secu-rity, resign to fate and self help and arrogate  undue fear to terrorists and feel that govern-ment is incapable”.

 According to him, what happened recently in Kaduna where there were reprisals was be-cause the people felt the government could not help and resorted to helping themselves.

He warned that such belief should be erased, saying the NSA must bring hope back to the people, that the government can protect them.

He urged him to also set up groups that can help him monitoring security situation in all geo- political zones of the country 

“These groups will help in intelligence gathering because we can’t allow the present situation to continue “, he said.He further informed that Dasuki should ad-vise the President to find a way of solving the unemployment problems in the country.

This is because, according to him, apart from the Boko Haram in the North, most unemployed youths in the southwest are “Area Boys’.  And according to him, most of these unemployed youths are easy recruits for crime. Human Right Activist and lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu said  Dasuki has a lot of  work to do  because according to him, the  security situation in the country is very bad.“

Dasuki must bring his professional back-ground to the job. He must not only rely on guns and military might but must advise the president  to improve the  social condition of the people”, Aturu said.He said that a situation where government failed to provide for the need of the people  and leave them to suffer will lead to a crisis situation.“Dasuki must advise the President that the crisis in the country is caused by govern-ment’s insensitivity to the agony of the people.

There were  many unemployed youths  and government must do something on this. It is not only through military intervention that we can solve the security challenges in the country”, he said.  The governorship candidate of  the Nation-al Conscience Party (NCP) in the April 2011 election and a human rights activist, Comrade Ayodele Akele, believes that  the task before the new Special Adviser on security to Presi-dent Jonathan is herculean.

“He is taking over the new post at a time the country is facing security challenges which is giving everybody serious concern and sleepless nights and so he needs to bring a complete turn-around to the security situation in the country”, he said  Akele said “when we talk of setting agenda for Dasuki, what comes to mind is for him   to find how to tackle the security challenges being posed by the Boko Haram sect.He also counselled the NSA to involve the civil society in the issue of security maintenance in the country.

“He should ensure that an average citizen has a stake in the security of the country. How many times have they called people to a round-table on how to tackle the security challenges. He should open up and not limit the issue of maintaining security to only the military and the police.

He must galvanise the view of civil society,” he said.“Apart from the politicisation of security is-sues, Dasuki should also advise the President to look into the issue of mass  unemployment. It is a fundamental issue because an idle hand is the devil’s workshop”, he said.

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The United States of America has confidence in the ability of the new National Security Adviser, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, to combat insecurity in Nigeria, especially the Boko Haram insurgence.

This view was expressed by Bruce Fein, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States of America during the regime of former President Ronald Reagan.

Fein, now an internationally renowned constitutional attorney, scholar, writer and columnist, said such confidence comes from the training Dasuki has gone through in the United States both academically and military.

He said that Dasuki, who has a MA in Security Policy Studies (1992) and a BA in International Relations (1990) from The George Washington University, Washington, DC (1990-1992) and American University, Washington, DC  (1988-1990), has the requisite knowledge to deal with the security challenges facing Nigeria.

He said that the training provided in the United States of America situates every challenge properly, adding: “The issue of terrorism requires that every situation is handled based on its peculiarity.

”For example, the issue of terrorism in Northern Ireland cannot be handled like that in Afghanistan or Iran.

 

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Residents of Kano and Damaturu in Yobe State are reporting multiple blasts and gunfire.
 
Residents say they heard blasts and gunfire in Nyanya, a district in Damaturu on Saturday night at about 8.30 pm.
 
Two residents of Kano posted in an online forum that they could also hear multiple blasts and gunfire at about the same time.
 
Details soon.

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DANA Air yesterday said it would comply with the directive of the National Assembly Committee probing its June 3, 2012 crash by paying $30,000 to each family of the crash victims before July 3.

The declaration by DANA Air came just as it said the carrier had received more than 50 documentation forms from familiy members of the crash victims out of the 119 of the 120 families it had contacted. 

Speaking yesterday at a memorial service for crew members of the crash that occurred  at Iju/Ishaga area of Agege in Lagos, on June 3, 2012, the spokesman of DANA Air, Mr Tony Usidamen, said the airline would not do anything less than what is statutorily required of it as far as compensation for crash victims is concerned. 

Usidamen explained that DANA Air has full insurance cover for the aircraft, the passengers, the crew and third party liabilities, insisting that it had been in touch with families of crash victims to ensure that all processes related to insurance documentation were facilitated for compensation payment. 

He said: “As at the close of business on Thursday June 28, 2012, DANA Air has received the completed insurance forms for 50 of the victims. To facilitate the completion of claims by the families, the company has established toll-free lines. DANA Air will continue to provide this service until all claims have been addressed and settled.” 

The assurance by the airline came just as the National Cabin Crew Association of Nigeria (NACCAN) also called on DANA Air to ensure that the $150,000 due the four cabin flight attendants are paid to their families. 

According to the spokesperson of the association, Austyn Njoku, doing that will be one of the ways of assuaging the pains of family members who lost their loved ones in the crash, which he said remains a huge loss to the association. 

He noted that no amount of money would make up for the lives that were lost in the crash and called on the Federal Government to carry out out an overhaul of the aviation sector and ensure that airline operators maintain their aircraft as and when due. 

Njoku further called on the Federal Government to ensure that old planes that may not have been properly maintained are banned from the Nigerian airspace. 

He wondered why the Federal Government could not set a 10-year age limit for aircraft operating in the country, affirming that there is more assurance of safety with newer planes that are regularly maintained as opposed to old ones. 

Speaking at a memorial service, he explained that government needs to put measures in place to ensure that operators have cheaper access to new planes, as is done in the United Arab Emirates(UAE) for Emirates Airline.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday questioned the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), saying it is not realistic, given the level of poverty in the country.

Speaking at the 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Obasanjo also described Nigeria as a toddler in  industrialisation. 

“If in 2004, percentage of poor people in Nigeria was 54 per cent, in 2011 it was 38 per cent, now it is 69 per cent and yet we say the GDP growth is increasing. It means something is very wrong. 

“There is no doubt that poverty is still on the increase. Vision 2020 will be a hopeless issue with the rate of poverty in the land. GDP growth is important but not enough

“We are not yet there and in fact, we are far from getting there. We are still an infant and an infant must be taken care of, pampered and nurtured before he can stand,” he said.

Obasanjo urged the government to continue to support backward integration, adding that what happened in the cement sector can be achieved in other sectors of the economy. 

He stressed the need for manufacturers to continue to support the Federal Government.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Hon Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr Samuel Ortom , charged the manufacturers to be committed to the growth and development of the economy.

He said: “On the part of government, we are working towards an actionable industrial policy and a robust industrial revolution action plan, tailored along sector specific lines, in order to provide special incentives to each subgroup in the manufacturing sector, with special emphasis in areas where we possess comparative and competitive advantage. 

“As soon as the policy is in place you will see the industrial revolution, which you desire and I want to assure you that government will continue to support the manufacturing sector.

MAN President, Mr Kola Jamodu, said the association will partner with the government to accelerate and fast-track backward integration especially in those areas where Nigeria has a comparative competitive advantage.

 

Laurent Blanc steps down

Posted: June 30, 2012 in General

Laurent Blanc is to step down as coach of France, the French Football Federation have announced.

Reports emerged earlier on Saturday that the former Bordeaux boss would not be continuing with Les Bleus following a meeting with the FFF.

     
     
     
     

The FFF then confirmed the 46-year-old would not be renewing his contract following France’s exit from Euro 2012 following a 2-0 defeat by Spain at the quarter-final stage.

The former national team defender took over from Raymond Domenech after France’s disastrous 2010 World Cup where they crashed out at the group stage.

Blanc inherited a disunited group still smarting from their exit but managed to knit the team back together and with Karim Benzema having established himself as one of Europe’s top players under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, France were tipped to be outside contenders in Poland and Ukraine.

However, they went out with a whimper against Vicente del Bosque’s finalists and this was followed by Samir Nasri having a foul-mouthed argument with a reporter.

Now Blanc has decided his time is up after just two years in charge with Didier Deschamps favourite to succeed him after he indicated his intention to leave Marseille.

A statement on the FFF website read: “Within the period provided for reflection, Laurent Blanc, on Saturday contacted the President of the FFF, Noel Le Graet, to indicate his decision not to seek the renewal of his contract of national coach.

“Mr Le Graet has acknowledged and applauded the work of Laurent Blanc at the head of the France team since August 2010.

“The executive committee of the federation is meeting on Tuesday but no comments will be made by the FFF and its president before the press conference scheduled at the conclusion of this work session.”

Blanc has immediately been linked with the vacancy at English Premier League side Tottenham following the departure of Harry Redknapp.

LAURENT BLANC FACTFILE

1965: Born in Ales on November 19.

1983: Begins his career with Montpellier, aged 18.

1987: Helps the club to the Ligue 2 title.

1988: Earns a call-up to the successful France team at the European Under-21 Championship.

1990: Wins his first Coupe de France with Montpellier after a 2-1 victory in the final against Racing Club de Paris.

1991: Signs for Italian side Napoli.

1992: Returns to France with Nimes, subsequently signing for St Etienne a year later.

1996: After joining Auxerre at the start of the season, helps the club to a Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double. Signs for Barcelona.

1998: Having won a Spanish Super Cup, signs for Marseille. Wins the World Cup with France, although his campaign is marred by a controversial sending-off in the semi-final, Croatia’s Slaven Bilic feigning injury as Blanc is dismissed for use of the elbow. 1999: Features in the UEFA Cup final but his poor back-pass allows Hernan Crespo to score one of Parma’s goals in a 3-0 win.

2000: Helps his country follow up their World Cup success by winning the European Championship as David Trezeguet’s extra-time golden goal settles the final against Italy. Blanc’s goal against Denmark in the group stage takes his international record to 16 goals in 97 caps before he retires at the end of the tournament. His Inter Milan team are defeated in the Italian Cup final by Lazio.

2001: Joins Manchester United, with whom he wins the 2003 Premier League title.

2003: Retires from playing at the end of the 2002/03 campaign.

2007: Appointed coach of Bordeaux, his first coaching job.

2009: Guides Les Girondins to a Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue double.

2010: May 16 – Leaves Bordeaux after a disappointing season, prompting France Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes to confirm Blanc is his preferred choice to replace Raymond Domenech as national team coach after World Cup.

May 20 – The French Football Federation reach an agreement with Bordeaux for Blanc to become national-team coach.

2011: May 10 – Cleared to continue in his job following investigation into the racial quotas row. It had been claimed that Blanc and other coaches were seeking to introduce limits on the presence of ethnic minority players entering the national set-up.

October 11 – Guides France to 1-1 draw against Bosnia & Herzegovina in their final Euro 2012 qualifier, meaning Les Bleus top group by one point and qualify for finals in Poland and Ukraine.

2012: June 19 – France finish second in Group D, behind England, after losing 2-0 to Sweden, ending their 23-game unbeaten run.

June 23 – France beaten 2-0 by Spain in Euro 2012 quarter-finals.

June 30 – Informs the FFF he is leaving his post as France coach.

 

Confederation of African Athletics has awarded Nigeria the hosting right of the maiden African youth championships billed for 2013.

Consequently, Athletics Federation of Nigeria officials said that they will be hosting a secondary schools meet before the end of the year to select a strong Nigerian team that will represent the country.

“Besides we are pursuing an aggressive grass-roots development programme. This is with the hope of having a strong team of future athletes for the country,” said AFN vice president, Jide Josiah.

“We would be fielding basically athletes who are still in secondary school. There will be a competition before the end of the year, those who are champions will be selected and trained ahead of the championships,”

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Manchester United star Luis Nani has started a war of words with Cristiano Ronaldo, with the winger accusing his international teammate of demanding to take the fifth penalty in Portugal’s semi-final against Spain.

With the scores level at 0-0 after 130 minutes, Spain and Portugal were forced to go to penalties to decide who would make it through to the final in Euro 2012.

And though Ronaldo, who starred in the games leading up to the match, was expected to take a penalty early on, the striker insisted that he had agreed with the manager to wait until fifth to have his chance.

While a fifth penalty was never taken by Ronaldo, Nani, who was billed to star alongside the striker after a successful season at United, revealed that he had ‘demanded’ to be placed in a particular order on the night.

“Cristiano Ronaldo demanded the last penalty,” Nani said, as reported by the Daily Mail.

“I said to the coach I would accept any order.

“It didn’t seem to be a problem to me, because penalty shoot-outs are all about luck and we did not deserve to lose like that.”

Ronaldo was a breakthrough star during his time at United, and continued his brilliant form with Madrid, but the 27 year old has often been unable to repeat such performances for Portugal.

But this looked to be a real chance for Ronaldo to shine, with the star scoring twice against the Netherlands, and against Czech Republic in the quarter final. But against Spain, he was unable to convert, despite having multiple chances in front of goal.

One of the main problems that Portugal was seen to have is that they must rely so heavily on Ronaldo to see them through big matches. And with United’s Nani publicly disagreeing with the superstar, the ripples of such an issue would be much greater for this national side than others who aren’t so heavily in need of one player.

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The new national security adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), stated yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to ensuring that peace and normalcy is restored in the country, before the Ramadan fast commences.
Speaking when he visited Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, Dasuki added that his visit to the state was to engage with stakeholders and the government with a view to hearing from them on ways of addressing the security problems.
Dasuki’s visit to Yobe is the first by a highly placed federal government official to the state amid rising insurgencies in the state.
The new NSA also sought the support of royal fathers.
He said: “If one considers the colossal loss these confrontations cause due to the unconventional methods of the insurgents, the option of resolution through dialogue and negotiation should be pursued as a priority.
“Government is committed to bringing an end to the security challenges and there is the need to put heads together to bring an end to the situation as we want to go back to normalcy and move forward.”
Dasuki said that there would be no development, employment and progress in the face of violence.
“I do not see how anybody is benefiting out of this.’’
He commiserated with the government and people of Yobe State over recent security breaches which led to loss of lives and property.
Yobe State governor Ibrahim Gaidam, for his part, appealed to the federal government to deploy more troops to the state, saying the current security challenges that the state faces require even more robust efforts to address it.
He also refuted insinuations that the situation in Yobe was an attack by the Muslims against the Christians.
He said: “The attacks cut across all religious inclinations with churches as well as public buildings like schools including Islamiyyah (Islamic school) and government vehicles being destroyed.  Furthermore, most of the innocent lives lost were from the majority Muslim population of the state.”
The governor commended President Jonathan for taking wide-ranging measures to tackle insecurity in the state and other parts of the north, including the appointment of a new national security adviser to coordinate and advance effort to restore peace and security.
“There is a clear change of strategy in the fight against insecurity as promised by Mr. President.  There is an indication that our hopes, pride and dignity as citizens of this great country would be restored,” Gaidam said.
Gaidam also commended the Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the state for its unwavering effort at ensuring the safety and security of people’s lives and property.
The governor noted that the Yobe State government supports “dialogue and negotiation” with the Boko Haram group but this should be pursued “to the extent that the insurgents are willing to accept to negotiate and dialogue”.
He urged the people of the state and other Nigerians to disregard rumours and continue to pray for restoration of peace and cooperate with security agencies in their efforts towards bringing back normalcy and peace in the state and the nation at large

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A former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Thursday, lost the sum of N60million ($401,931) to the United States Government following a court ruling.

Mr. Alamieyeseigha lost the money when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) executed a forfeiture order granted by a federal district judge in the state of Massachusetts.  

The court granted the motion when US prosecutors established that the money, which was kept by Mr. Alamieyeseigha at a Massachusetts brokerage fund, was obtained through corrupt means by the former governor, who led oil-rich Bayelsa state from 1999 to 2005.

Mr. Alamieyesigha was convicted of corruption in Nigeria in 2007 and sentenced to two years in prison. He also forfeited several property, which were subsequently returned to the Bayelsa state government.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Assistant Attorney General, Lanny Breuer, as saying that “with a declared income of less than $250,000, Mr. Alamieyeseigha accumulated millions of dollars worth of property over a six-year period.”

“Today’s announcement – the first forfeiture judgment obtained under our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative – sends a powerful message about the United States’ commitment to rooting out corruption far and wide,” Mr. Breuer said in a press statement.

Alamieyeseigha to lose home

The troubles for the former governor in the United States is however not over as the DoJ plans to get the court to grant another forfeiture order on a N90 million ($600,000) house Mr. Alamieyesigha bought in the state of Maryland.

US prosecutors had on April 2011 filed court papers demanding a forfeiture of the house as they suspect it was also bought using corruption funds by the former Governor. The ruling on the house has not been given.

The justice department has however indicated willingness to return the forfeited money to Nigeria.

“Where appropriate [the Justice Department will] return those proceeds to benefit those harmed,” Mr. Breuer said.

Despite his conviction for corruption, Mr. Alamieyesigha remains a top member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over from him as Bayelsa State governor in 2005.

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