Monthly Archives: January 2008

Dear Readers, We Have Moved!!!

 Dear Readers, We Have Moved!!!

The management and staff of The Times of Nigeria will like to thank our loyal readers for keeping faith with us during our turbulent period when our main site was hacked and we had to temporarily relocate to this blog.

Our site has been restored. It is a indeed an improvement on the old site and we hope to continue to serve with fresh and relevant news from Nigeria.

Please from now on, point your browsers to www.thetimesofnigeria.com for your favorite online news source.

Once again, we thank you for your loyalty.

Signed:

Editor

 

A New Vision For Prince Tonye Princewill As He Clocks 39

Prince Tonye TJT Princewill an accomplished academician, an orator, a seasoned, reputed and patriotic Politician, an outstanding philanthropist, a voice for the voiceless, a study in humility, a great manager of human resources, a fearless warrior and unassuming humanist, foresighted and a believer in the unity, strong and viable Rivers State clocked 39 on 4th January, 2008. This special gift to the people of Rivers State and Nigeria shares the same birthday with his father is the only child of the Amanayanabo of Kalabari kingdom, Amachree the XI the famous HM King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill  a renowned Scholar and first class Royal father in Rivers State,. The Prince is married to Rosemary who hails from Uromi in Edo State. They are the proud parents of twin boys, Teetee (Tamunotonye) and Teepee (Tamunopreye). The boys are both seven years of age.

He began his formal education in Nigeria at the famous Hillcrest High School Jos from 1976 to 1980. His post primary education saw the young prince at the prestigious Federal Government College, Port Harcourt (1980-1985) where he won a lot of laurels including award as the best English student in the school. With an outstanding performance at the West African School Certificate Examination and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board exams, the young Tonye enrolled at the University of Port Harcourt the same year he left secondary school, naturally equipped to study and bag a Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering (1985-1990). By 1991, after his youth service, Prince Tonye Princewill had left the shores of Nigeria in search of the Golden Fleece and eventually feathered his cap at the Imperial College, London with an M.SC in Postgraduate studies in Mineral Resources Engineering and a Diploma of Imperial College (DIC).

This young man’s entry into the politics of Rivers State took every body by storm and by the time the people could settle down to know what he was up to he had already demolished the caterpillar and established Politician like Sgt. Awuse and became the undisputed flag bearer of one of the major political parties in Nigeria- the Action Congress a party founded by great democrats to challenge the undemocratic tendencies of the ruling political party in Nigeria the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Being an enigma of sorts, his entrance into politics came with a lot of insinuations – some say that he is sponsored by the Odili political dynasty and of late that Governor Rotimi Amaechi planted him into AC while Governor Rotimi Amaechi recently confessed that he was struggling to feed himself talk less of sponsoring any body into politics though that is by the way. No body gave him a chance considering the enormous, intimidating and overwhelming powers of the retrogressive clique in charge of the State at the time by the time he came on the scene and as a true Trojan with a vision he preferred it that way and continued his campaign riddled with issues and his famous statement placed on his bill boards at the strategic locations in Rivers State ‘With 1 trillion Naira in 8 years – what has Odili achieved for Rivers State? – Nothing!’ He not only surprised himself, critics, opponents, established politicians in the State, admirers and the leadership of AC both at the State and National levels that today he has become not only the Prince of Niger Delta Politics but the ‘bride’ of Niger Delta politics, if I may use the famous words of the great Zik of Africa as he has become a hot cake desired by both his opponents and those that have underestimated him in the first place. The AC he single handedly
funded, nurtured, watered, and built is the only viable political platform in Rivers State being sought-after by the great names in politics of yesterdays in the State in order to be relevant today – What a feat in such a short time by this great and visionary Leader of our time!

This one man riot squad of a person most of the time instills fear and admiration in the minds of his followers with the manner and speed he conducts the affairs of the party that today he is more a terror to the old order politicians – he shouts when the need to shout arises and when it becomes imperative to offer positive criticisms or suggestions on how to move the State forward, he does it with passion and at the risk to his life like when PDP sent one Col. Jumbo to wipe him and his key campaign officers from the surface of the earth. He went to court when it became necessary as exemplified in his petition to the Election Tribunal to challenge the charade that was called an election in Rivers State and the illegal constitution of the dissolved Rivers State Independent Electoral ommission headed by Dr. David O.  Ogbonnaya and when it was time to be a statesman he did to the chagrin of the enemies of Rivers State by withdrawing his Petition at the Election Tribunal without any cost to avoid further tension in the State. Today by the design of the Almighty God he single-handedly made AC a principal partner in the governance of Rivers State based on the ruling of the Supreme Court reinstating Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the rightful Governor of Rivers State and ousting the clique that has held Rivers State people hostage these past eight years.

At the age of 39, Tonye Princewill became the youngest out of the 28 wise men saddled with the responsibility of fashioning out the economic policy of the new Rivers State headed by no mean person than the fearless and avowed principal of good governance, Prof Nimi Briggs. To demonstrate that he did not join Amaechi for lack of what else to do; He enumerated his blueprint on how he intends to assist the Amaechi administration to move the State forward – “I will be centrally concerned with promoting and engaging on peace, stability and unity initiatives and putting much energies in addressing key issues of human capital development in the State. To achieve this I intend to assist the administration in executing and providing people orientated projects and basic amenities to alleviate the suffering of the down trodden masses of the people of Rivers State; employing and empowering the youths and erasing all forms of youths restiveness and militancy in the State and removing the attention of the Government from projects that can be better handled by the private sector”. To demonstrate his seriousness in achieving the goals he set for himself on behalf of the State he brought the Silver Bird Group, a private entertainment outfit in Nigeria to partner with the Rivers State Government that resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of a Multi-Purpose Entertainment Park in Port Harcourt
worth about N20 billion on 4th December, 2007 This project is expected to transform the area around the SIsaac Boro Park and the Cultural Centre to a world class Multi-Purpose Entertainment Park and the State to a true modern Garden city. The project will have a
shopping mall, Conference Centre, a 5-star hotel, an amusement park and a large parking space for 1,000 cars and also promote tourism in the State. This project apart from creating the first modern tourism centre in the State is estimated to create over one
thousand jobs for our youths when completed. The over 20 Billion Naira private initiative is to be executed with 85% labour and material contents provided by the people of the State which will go a long way to provide bread on the tables of many Rivers State
families. Currently while many are enjoying the Christmas break with their families, TP as he is fondly called by his associates and admires is on tour of European Countries imploring and luring established Investors to Rivers State and by the time he is
through, the Rivers State of the dream of the founders will be realized!

Franklin D Roosevelt might have the likes of Tonye Princewill, the sensational AC Leader in Rivers State in mind when he wrote: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those
who have little.” Holding tenaciously to this eternal verity, Princewill who turns 39 by 4th January, 2008 believes that a leader should be a public servant who strives unrelentingly to put smiles on the faces of his followers without placing undue emphasis on their
social status or dashing the hopes of the poor masses, has perfected plans to take Rivers State to the promise land.

The Prince of Niger Delta politics on 5th November, 2007 added another feather to his overcrowded cap when he paid a historical visit to the father of modern democracy in Nigeria and The former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar at his country home Ganye in Adamawa State to brief him in his own words ‘ the recent Supreme Court judgment that ousted Governor Celestine Omehia’s administration from office and the reinstatement of Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the new Governor of Rivers State vis-a-vis the role of
Action Congress in the new dispensation in the State’. The great achieving Prince of Niger Delta Politics who was accompanied to the visit by the Leadership of Action Congress of
both Admawa State and Rivers State. Princewill described those that accompanied him as ‘fighters of repute, people of character and individuals who do not know the meaning of the word intimidation. If not for the grace of the Almighty each and every one of them before you here today would be no more as they have each looked death in the eye on at least one occasion in the very recent past for the sake of our cause, our children and the defense of our democracy. Standing up to the evil of PDP in Rivers state represented by Sir Dr Peter Odili deserves an award.

 

 The National Leader of AC, Alh Atiku Abubakar in his remarks urged younger politicians such as Princewill to remain consistent and be prepared to face challenges as no success was possible without hard work and perseverance. He commended Princewill for his
courage and endurance in the face of injustices that characterized the last election in his state which he was sure that AC won

Posterity has labeled TP as one of those serious minded politicians with an uncommon perception of equity, transparent honesty, justice, proven integrity, good conscience, emulative behavioural traits and spirit of fair play; resolute stand against corruption and insistence on due process, having respect for the rule of law, belief in institutionalizing democratic values and processes, seeing the entire nook and cranny of Rivers State as
his constituency as well as ensuring a crime free state etc have endeared him to many hearts across the country and this explains the reason he is enjoying tremendous public support as a political Leader in Rivers State.

As one with leadership acumen, Princewill never subscribes to leadership stratum as an end, rather he views it to be a means to an end; the end being the socio-economic and political emancipation of the entire people of Rivers State, and not restricting
infrastructural development to Port-Harcourt city alone as currently is the case in the State.

Apart from his educational background and political clout that has paved the way for him to understand the intricacies of managing human resources, his foresightedness, pragmatic disposition to issues that border on positive human and physical   development, doggedness of character etc have equally aided him in carving an enviable persona for himself as a choice manager of human material resources in Rivers State today. According to him ‘I didn’t come to politics to achieve; I came to take a stand and make my point’. TP, I believe you like wise every other open-minded Nigerians. As you turn 39 years and ready to make the difference in the lives of Rivers State may God grant you the required wisdom to actualize your dream for your people.

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Is a Port Harcourt based Media Consultant to Tonye Princwill.

AC Ask Yar’Adua To Probe Obasanjo

The President yesterday came under fire from the Action Congress (AC) over his administration’s decision not to probe former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The party said no matter the government’s position, the Obasanjo administration “cannot escape the judgment and probe of history, which is the ultimate”.

AC said the Yar’Adua administration goofed by saying it would not probe what the party called Obasanjo’s eight years of waste and maladministration.

Last week, presidential spokesman Segun Adeniyi, in his reaction to the controversy over the deployment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chair Nuhu Ribadu to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru near Jos, Plateau State, said the action was not meant to bring in someone that would probe Obasanjo.

In a statement in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the government’s position was in bad taste, since several former governors are facing trial over their actions while in office.

“This administration has simply said, through the no-probe statement, that it is okay to investigate alleged corruption and abuse of office at the state level, as long as the Federal Government is left untouched, for whatever reason,” AC said.

It said the statement must have been made without being well-thought out, since it implied that certain categories of people were either above the law or could be exempted from probe as payback for the political patronage they dispensed while in office.

AC said the statement also meant that the National Assembly, which is imbued with oversight functions, could send its members home, since some people have been elevated to a status where their actions in government cannot be investigated.

“It means that if the National Assembly, in performing its oversight functions, stumbles on fraud in any area or sector, it should simply shut up!” the party added.

AC said there were many actions of the Obasanjo administration that called for a comprehensive probe, irrespective of what the Yar’Adua government thinks.

“A government that pumped over N300 billion into road rehabilitation and construction, even when the same roads are not motorable or are now death traps definitely deserves to be investigated.

“A government that spent trillions of naira on the power sector, after which the nation has now been plunged into unprecedented darkness, should definitely be probed.

“An administration that gave out hundreds of public enterprises to cronies in the name of privatization has only succeeded in selling the commonwealth at a mere pittance and should be questioned.

“A government that poured millions of naira and dollars into repairing the nation’s four refineries, none of which is presently functioning, has a question or two to answer in the spirit of fairness and probity.

“A sitting President, who acquired huge shares in companies that later got massive government patronage, like Transcorp, cannot be said to be above board, hence should be subjected to the dictates of the law on such issues,” the party said.

AC said the list it reeled out constituted only a tip of the iceberg and a part of why Obasanjo, who doubled as Nigeria’s Oil Minister for eight years, should be investigated.

It said, however, that whatever the decision of the Yar’Adua administration on the issue, the Obasanjo government cannot escape the judgment and probe of history, which is the ultimate.

“In God’s own good time, the truth about the years of locust under President Obasanjo, a self-acclaimed anti-corruption fighter and saint, will come to the open. Then, no administration, no matter its motives, will be able to stop it!” the party said.

In Akure, the Ondo State capital, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, claimed that Obasanjo was the brain behind the disintegration of the Yoruba race during his eight years rule. It said he used the instrumentality of government to destroy the race.

Obasanjo’s action, the group said, was responsible for the weakening of political base of the region and its loss of relevance in the affairs of the nation and the South West geo-political group.

The acting leader of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti told reporters at the weekend that Obasanjo used the factional chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, to destroy the party and Afenifere.

According to him, the former president worked tirelessly to ensure that Afenifere was disintegrated because of the last elections.

His words: “President Obasanjo was instrumental to our disintegration because he held on to the AD to the last moment and Akinfenwa got the impression that he would release AD to him, until the very last moment.

“Most of our followers became confused and anxious that when the time came for elections we had nothing to use. They kept on mounting pressure on us that was why we floated Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA).

“Obasanjo knew that and he kept assuring Akinfenwa, ‘you will get today, tomorrow; don’t worry’, until the last moment when it was too late to get together and too late to restore the confidence of our followers.

“It was at the last moment that he said ‘you could have it’ and this was sometime in October and when Akinfenwa came, l said it was too late, we had decided to register DPA; ‘we have gone to Abuja and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given us approval to go ahead’.

“After the registration, there was a split. So, we are not together again. He was responsible and I think he likes it that way. Akinfenwa is now having problems in the AD because of internal disruption .Some other forces are working underneath within the AD. It is a pity that things got to this stage. It was the handiwork of Obasanjo.

On moves to reconcile the warring Afenifere members, Fasoranti said: “There is a move to bring everybody together and we have held some meetings under the chairmanship of Justice Kayode Eso.”

He said some younger elements in the group recently organised a meeting in Ibadan. The meeting, he said, would continue this month.

On why the group has not admitted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members into its fold, Fasoranti said it was because of the behaviour of the party, which does not have the interest of the people at heart.

He said the PDP has not imbibed the four cardinal programmes of Afenifere. “Although they pretend to be, they are not. Deep in their heart, they are not. PDP stands to copy, but from their operations, they are not Afenifere. They are rapacious, they are ruthless; it is a group of gangsters who got together to loot the treasury but in order to cover up, they say they want to practise free education,” Fasoranti said.

He added that some young elements in the group would also meet later this month to settle the crisis, which has destroyed the unity of the group.

– The Nation

Ribadu Under Probe Over Mansions In Dubai, Abuja

It seems the Police High Command has begun a probe of sleaze buster, Nuhu Ribadu – who, himself, has ferreted the cupboards of the great and the small in the past five years as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman.

Ribadu: No longer at ease?

It was learnt at the weekend that the police authorities are in possession of dozens of petitions from corporate bodies, and individuals accusing Ribadu of sundry vices, among them graft.

It is alleged that he owns a mansion in the Palm beach area of Dubai where his wife stayed for the most part of last year.

But a source close to Ribadu explained that the house was a “gift” from a Northern business tycoon (name withheld).

There is also the allegation that he bought the official residence of former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, for N200 million and paid it in cash.

The house is on Mambilla Street near Aso Drive in the Maitama area of Abuja.

The petitioners alleged that Ribadu engaged in business activities that breached his oath of office.

“I think it is after a careful study of these petitions the Police High Command is working on those that may have substance,” a police source said.

Ribadu may face an inquiry after evidence is established against him, although there is disagreement in the House of Representatives over which committee should probe the EFCC.

Besides, the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes has summoned him over the directive by the police authorities to send him on course at the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Jos.

Committee Chairman, Dave Salako, explained in Abuja on Sunday that the controversy generated by the directive made it imperative for him to appear before the committee.

He claimed ignorance of moves by members of the Lower House under the aegis of Integrity Group (IG) to initiate a probe of the EFCC, stressing that his committee is the appropriate one to do it.

Some members of the IG met at the weekend during which they resolved to initiate a probe of the EFCC when the House reconvenes on Wednesday.

But Salako said his committee, which has oversight functions on the EFCC, had already begun investigating its activities before now, and would progress that with the appearance of Ribadu.

More disclosures have equally emerged on why the Presidency approved Ribadu’s study leave.

President Umaru Yar’Adua may have acted on a memorandum written on April 3, 2003 by Aliyu Mohammed, the Chief of Staff to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The memo, copied to all security agencies and all departments in the Presidency, argued that Ribadu’s appointment as EFCC Chairman was an anomaly which needed to be corrected, in accordance with the EFCC Act 2002.

Mohammed said the appointment contravened the Act which stipulates that the EFCC Chairman should be an officer not below the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).

 

The memo stated that Ribadu was, at the time, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, and that all ex-officio members of the EFCC were by far senior to him

 

– Daily Independent

Atiku Won’t Rejoin PDP – AC

The Action Congress (AC) has denied reports that its presidential candidate in last year’s election, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, planned to re-join the PDP.

A statement issued today in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the report also stated that Atiku was offered the chairmanship of the PDP Board of Trustees.

AC described such reports as “the figment of imagination of those behind them as the insinuations lack any truth whatsoever”, the statement said.

It said that it would not make any difference even if the former V-P was offered the chairmanship of the PDP’s Board of Trustees as well as the party’s Sole Administrator at the same time.

“The people who are now planting the story of Atiku’s possible return to the PDP in the newspapers or begging him to forgive them were the same people who shamelessly drove him out of the party.

“What has happened that has now forced them to realise the worth of the man they maligned so unjustly?

“Why is it that they can’t leave this man alone? In any case, why do they think he will abandon a party of progressives, patriotic and decent men and women like the AC?” the statement asked.

– NAN

Diaspora Groups Slam Yar’Adua Over Ribadu’s Removal

A number of Nigerian organizations based in the United States of America and Canada have condemned the federal Government over the removal of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as chairman of the anti corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The groups, Egbe Omo Yoruba, Zumunta and Worl Igbo Congress pleaded with President Umaru Yar’Adua to ensure that Ribadu’s replacement will receive his total support to fight corruption in the country.

“In order to demonstrate to all his true commitment to fighting corruption, coupled with a sincere support for his current war against corruption which is epitomised by Ribadu‘s led EFCC team, we call on the Presidency to override Mr. Okiro‘s ill advised action, sidelining Mallam Ribadu.” The statement said.

It continued, “Despite all the challenges and obstacles faced by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and his team of economic crime fighters at the EFCC, they have not wavered in their assigned responsibilities. His achievement during his short tenure as Executive Chairman of the EFCC are exemplary and numerous; he gave hope to Nigerians and the rest of the world that Nigeria is finally serious about fighting its world-renowned corruption problem.

“We understand that a tree does not make a forest and that a big deal should not be made about one person, but rather the concern should be over the maintenance of the integrity of the position itself. However, given the history of Nigeria and the numerous public attempts by powerful Nigerians who have violated their public trust, plus recent actions by the Attorney General of the Federation to undermine Mallam Ribadu’s work, we strongly urge his Excellency to repudiate this action as he did in the case of the Naira redenomination and prevent Mr. Okiro from sending Mallam Ribadu to a compulsory course at this time.

“We ask that this action which is being perceived as another ploy to ease Mallam Ribadu out of office, be delayed until the prosecution of most of his currently cases are under way, or for at least another year in order to give Mallam Ribadu time to properly hand over to his temporary replacement. Any lesser action would constitute a caving in to enemies of Nigeria, dirty politicians and others who see Mallam Ribadu’s continued presence as the EFCC Executive Chairman as a threat to their survival.

“We are also appealing to the legislators to constitutionally create among their first order of business this year, an independent counsel type of office for the EFCC with the latitude to investigate and prosecute any economic wrongdoer, free of interference from the executive or legislative branches.

“However, appropriate checks and balances including a transparent and proper process for the removal of the EFCC head should be built in. The tenure of the Executive Chairman of the EFCC should also overlap the general elections so that the work of the EFCC can continue independent of who is at the Presidency.

“In order to demonstrate to all his true commitment to fighting corruption coupled with a sincere support for his current war against corruption which is epitomized by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s lead EFCC team, we call on the Presidency to override Mr. Okiro’s ill advised action, sidelining Mallam Ribadu or that he assure the nation and the world that his replacement will receive the same unflinching support needed to fight corruption and make Nigeria great again.” It concluded.

The statement was signed by Mallam Salisu A. Abdullah, Zumunta President; Ichie Chibuzo E. Onwuchekwe, Chairman of the World Igbo Congress; and Adeola Odusanya, President of the Egbe Omo Yoruba in North America; among officials of three other groups.

Ribadu Violated Laws To Please Obasanjo –Banjo

Governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), in the April 2007 elections, Lanre Banjo, has accused the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, of destroying his credibility by violating laws relating to the trial of alleged corrupt leaders to satisfy the caprices of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

According to him, the National Assembly should amend the laws establishing the body to prevent the emergence of sacred cows who may wish to circumvent the laws of the commission.

He said the laws should be amended such that it would be a crime for any helmsman of the commission to refuse to investigate any petition sent against anybody to it.

According to him, “Ribadu also violated the people’s right to please Obasanjo.”

He wondered why the EFCC chairman did not act when the former president asked him to act in relation to the corrupt governors’ list presented to him.

In an interview with Sunday Independent, Banjo said the currents travails of the EFCC chairman was the result of the seed planted by Obasanjo to influence the running of the anti-corruption crusade while he was in power.

To avoid the personalisation of the operations of the EFCC, he urged the National Assembly to amend the laws establishing the commission to make it function more effectively with whoever heads it being able to be subjected to periodic screening by the legislature.

Said he: “To re-build the commission, Ribadu could be in Kuru and the other officials in the commission could be meeting with him during weekends where he can still direct the affairs of the commission right form Kuru until a patriotic Nigerian with guts is found to replace him.”

Banjo said placing the EFCC under the control of the president would make it possible for the state to manipulate the chairman and make him a sacred cow.