2011: The emergence of two party politics?

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Read Time:7 Minute, 31 Second

There is much talk going at the moment amongst the political class of coalitions, alliances and mergers. The general consensus seems to be that the election machine of the PDP will simply be unstoppable come 2011 and the only way that non-PDP politicians can have a say is by forming a coalition (or coalitions). The story bubbled earlier in the year as legislators debated whether to include a two-party amendment into the Electoral Reform Bill, on that occasion the idea was shot down, albeit after some political manoeuvring, but nonetheless it raised the profile of the grand coalition agenda. The idea was first floated by the ‘love-him-or-hate-him’ Godfather of Nigerian politics, General Babangida, in the ‘Third Regime’ and eventually lead to what was considered the freest and fairest elections ever held in Nigeria which was contested between the National Republican Convention and the Social Democratic Party ( Who won the election with candidate MKO Abiola).

As the elections have drawn nearer, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) are reported to be in talks over an alliance (but probably not a merger) with the All Nigerian People Party (ANPP) and their splinter party the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). In addition to all the politicians who are criss-crossing the carpet from one party to the other, Presidential aspirant Pat Utomi of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP), the day after announcing his candidacy indicated on his Facebook page that he would be ‘going round Nigeria to build a coalition with ALL progressives’. The question is now why the sudden clamour for unity?

There are two scenarios here that though inter-related are best looked at separately. The first of which was that raised in May in the legislature, where The National Assembly sort to pass an amendment limiting the parties allowed to run to two. The argument being that a two-party system is a stable political system that has succeeded in polities all over the world (and indeed in Nigeria albeit briefly) and will have a number of beneficial consequences include reduced cost of elections, greater accountability and higher participation. As such it was advisable to have it in law. This move although apparently supported by many was opposed by PDP legislators, but is also opposed by a number of academics who contend that besides the problems of rigidity and restricted choice this may imply, the emergence of two-party politics in the US or Japan or for that matter anywhere in the world has never been induced by the passing of law or amendment of constitutions. These changes have always happened by evolution, with two parties emerging as dominant over time but with the existence of other parties not expressly outlawed. This is of course the second scenario for Nigeria, that parties will splinter and merge, grow and wither and two parties will emerge; one of which in all likelihood has already emerged, The PDP.

There is a degree of inevitability about as French sociologist Maurice Duverger outlined in what became known as his principle. Duverger’s law asserts that a plurality election system, like the one that exists in Nigeria, tends to encourage a two party system, as opposed to a system of proportional representation which tends to favour a multiparty system. The argument being that in a country like Nigeria, where each legislative seat (and the Presidency) is divided by a simple majority of votes casted by constituents, the party with the most seats is the majority (or gains the Presidency) and the second party is in minority (or is in opposition). In each individual seat there is no role for the party that comes third, and any party that consistently comes third across the seats will have no role at all on a national level. People will stop voting for them as they will begin to see it as a wasted vote and/or the party itself will seek to ally itself with one of the more successful parties. This model has been applied to analysis of the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom and is widely accepted, however it is only a theory and it is the practice of politics that concerns Nigerians.

This would be a good time for the opposition parties to unite. The PDP is suffering a dip in support; people are dissatisfied after 12 years of the party in Government. The pressure for free and fair elections is overwhelming, this combined with the cheap publicity via modern technology means that the elections will be more open than in previous idea. The concept of a non-partisan coalition chimes with the electorate and the theme of change that the parties are planning to run on and cooperation might give them the financial muscle to challenge the PDP’s hegemony. In practice, amalgamation looks unlikely. Though the parties are currently in talks with the view to some sort of understanding, there are a number of issues in the way so much so that Alhaji Bafarawa (formerly of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), now of the ACN) has come out to dispel talk of an alliance as just that, talk.

“As a democrat and I believe ACN is a democratic party. Whoever that is taking our ticket must be our member. I am assuring you there is no way ACN will adopt a presidential candidature without recourse to democracy. There is no way merger will work”

The CPC is a splinter of the ANPP and such is unlikely to enter any coalition with them, leaving the ACN to choose a suitor. The major problem hindering any agreement is that there is no real acknowledgement of who is the ‘second’ party and who is the ‘third’, in other words who will be senior and who will be junior partner. The CPC is a new party that although has considerable support particularly in the North, has no tangible political assets to bring to the table. The ANPP despite its state Governors and significant stake in the legislator has taken some political blows as a result of the defections that have plagued the party this year. The ACN would seem to be perched in the driving seat with the popular acclaim for Governor Fashola of Lagos and its recent court successes in the South-West, however they don’t appear to be able to put forward a heavy hitting presidential candidate and such seem to be very much playing second fiddle to the other parties. The latest gossip is that the coalition will be between the CPC and the ACN, with former head of state, General Buhari, being lined up as the presidential candidate with a running mate from the ACN, possibly former governer of Lagos State, Mr Tinubu.

If a deal is struck, there will be a number of losers including ACN aspirant, Mallam Ribadu, who seems to have been overlooked as well as Pat Utomi’s SDMP and a whole host of smaller parties who will have little or nothing to bring to the table. However, in this writer’s opinion a deal is not likely to be struck, Nigerian politicians are not well known for their cooperation or their selflessness. For progress to be made one or more parties will have to give up their claim to the presidency and accept a diminished role. The parties will have to choose a platform on which to run and that is proving a sticking point at the moment as all sides would want to preserve their political capital by running on their own party ticket. Then there is the question of what will happen in the likely situation that the PDP retains power, the PDP currently has 26 of the 36 gubernatorial seats while the other parties combined have only 10. What are the realistic prospects of any coalition continuing beyond the elections and forming a credible opposition? One can only speculate and on some level that is the problem in Nigeria, there is no power in opposition and so every election is winner takes all. Duverger’s theory doesn’t hold up for Nigeria because there is no second place, no shadow cabinet, in effect no opposition. Opposition that should be shadowing government activity, scrutinizing government agenda and formulating alternative policies simply doesn’t exist. It should act as check on the party in power and should fight to get the upper hand on its opponent by reflecting the will of the people. So this brings us back to the first scenario and perhaps instead of the National Assembly trying to legislate on a two party system, they should legislate on reform to the Assembly that will allow for or even require credible opposition and maybe this will bring about the evolution of a two-party system if it is indeed inevitable.

Enyinnaya Emmanuel Chukwueke

Green Label Project, Changing Nigeria Together

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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The True Nature of the Private Sector in Nigeria

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Read Time:10 Minute, 51 Second

Generally, every free market economy is divided into two sectors, the public sector and the private sector. The former is “the portion of a nation’s affairs, especially economic affairs, that is controlled by government agencies”, while the latter is “the part … that is made up of companies and organizations that are not owned or controlled by the government.” Despite this distinction, instances exist where the state invests in private sector concerns and becomes part-owner thereof, in addition to floating new companies or commercializing existing ones to compete with private sector organizations in economic activities.

The above distinction between the two sectors is upheld in Nigeria on paper.  But a scrutiny of the composition and modus operandi of most ‘private sector’ organisations and the intricate connection between them and ‘public sector’ institutions and officials in Nigeria reveals something quite contrary to the commonplace understanding of the two expressions. This distortion is rooted in the pervasive corruption and mal-administration which give every principle a different colouration and meaning in the country. As a result, we have the Nigerian version of almost every concept, such as the amusing Nigerian “home-grown democracy” which is nothing but a pervert of the generally accepted principles of democracy.

 

As we shall soon see, many ‘private sector’ outfits in Nigeria are actually owned by public officers, their relations or fronts. This creates the impression that such organisations are extensions of the public sector and makes it difficult to know, in real terms, what constitutes the ‘public sector’ and ‘private sector’, respectively, in Nigeria. However, I will present my perception of the true nature of the Nigerian private sector, by looking at the actual structure and operations of the organisations which are passed off as such in Nigeria. This analysis does not pretend to be exhaustive.

In the first group, we have corporations and institutions built and operated with public funds which are privatized and sold, under suspicious circumstances, to persons or companies fronting for high-ranking government officials, and thereafter presented as ‘private sector organisations’. Often, these government institutions are first run down by the officials who are bent on privatizing them, in order to justify their privatization. Then they are undervalued and sold at a discount, with no store set by the value of their assets and government’s investments therein. The funds used to purchase them, which were initially looted from public treasury, are further looted after their ‘remittance’ by the ‘buyers’ to government coffers. Till date, no one can point to any specific, genuine project to which the proceeds of the privatization of public institutions in Nigeria were channelled. The new owners may liquidate the company, merge or combine it with existing companies to form a monopoly or cartel for the exploitation of poor Nigerians. For instance, it was alleged that the ‘core investor’ who ‘bought’ the Ajaokuta Steel Company was busy cannibalizing and taking outside Nigeria the raw materials and products found within the complex.

The next group is made up of companies incorporated by serving government officials, either using their names or (often) those of family members and friends as members/directors. What do these government officials do? They channel almost all juicy contracts in their organizations to such companies, while exploiting their links in other government institutions to secure more lucrative jobs for them. Such contracts are hardly ever executed according to specifications; most times, from the outset, the intention to do a shoddy job is shared by the parties, yet the company gets paid handsomely and continues to earn patronage from public institutions.

Closely related to the above is another group consisting of companies owned by retired high-ranking government officials who corruptly enriched themselves while in service. These persons become contractors immediately upon leaving public office, use their ill-gotten wealth to establish blue chip corporate outfits and continue the looting of government funds in a private capacity. Where they have a good rapport with their successors-in-office, they easily secure very lucrative contract awards based on quid pro quo basis, and also exploit their connections in other government agencies to the same effect.

The fourth group comprises private companies or organizations that depend solely on government patronage in order to remain afloat; they have no other customer(s) outside the government and its officials. These corporate outfits do everything – including bribing and blackmailing influential government officials – to secure contract awards from governments, its ministries and agencies. Thereafter, they supply substandard goods, render low-quality services, fail to execute jobs or execute same poorly, and then share the windfall with their benefactors. The companies here could be owned by politicians-cum-contractors, retired or serving public servants and their private fronts. From the proceeds of such corrupt contracts, some of these people make a public show of acts of philanthropy and arrogate to themselves the appellation ‘philanthropist’.

The fifth class consists of companies owned by expatriates and their Nigerian collaborators. Here, we have the multi-national companies which have acquired the status of sovereign nations, being treated as extensions of their countries of origin. These outfits, whether owned solely by expatriates (which Nigerian law permits) or in association with their Nigerian fronts, create the impression of being in the country to do genuine business. The reality is that their mission is profit maximization, even at the loss and pain of their host nation. Aided by their local fronts and collaborators, they do everything to milk the country dry and contravene its laws. The recently unearthed bribery scandal involving the USA company Halliburton and some Nigerian officials is a case in point.

In the sixth type are banks which depend heavily on deposits by the government and its agencies. Although they complement this with unwholesome, sharp banking practices against innocent depositors, most of these banks will soon collapse should state funds be withdrawn from them. Under the dubious ‘public private partnership’ (PPP) arrangements, these banks collude with public officials in a sham sponsorship of public projects by applying government funds in their custody thereto, which moneys are then presented as coming from the banks and to be repaid by the government with high interest charges.

Also within this group are some private estate developers. Rumour has it that, based on underhand deals between them and some government officials, they easily get land allocations from the government and funds from public institutions like the National Housing Fund (NHF) with which they execute mass housing projects. These low-quality houses are then offered for sale to Nigerians at cut-throat prices, under the guise that the funds came from the private estate developers. This may explain why the NHF hardly ever gives housing loans to civil servants who are entitled to same, being legally bound to make monthly contributions to the Fund. At this juncture, I commend President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to give housing/land loans directly to public servants.

In the seventh group are some prominent Nigerians who are granted oil blocs by the government or granted licences to lift crude oil or import refined petroleum products. These select few undeservedly feed fat on our common wealth and short-change Nigeria and Nigerians. In a country with more than 80% of its citizens in the throes of abject poverty, where successive governments ascribe their abysmal failure to ‘paucity of funds’, one is dumbfounded that few persons are given official licence to amass immense wealth from what belongs to all. Where is the sense in an oil-producing country, with four refineries, importing refined petroleum products? Some past rulers, after defrauding Nigeria, use their loot to build refineries in other countries to which our crude oil is now sent for refining! Again, allegations are rife that the licensed importers lift refined petroleum from Nigeria, move some nautical miles away, return to the country and make claims on government for importing same! This unchecked fraud accounts for the huge money successive regimes in Nigeria since the middle 1980s claim to be spending as ‘subsidy’ in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry!

The eighth category is made up of companies which, apparently, may not depend much on government patronage in the real sense of it for their operations, but rely on the complicit indifference of regulatory agencies to their unwholesome business activities whereof they rip off poor Nigerians. The telecommunications and transport outfits are some very handy examples. These companies subject Nigerians to subhuman treatment and untold exploitation, while the authorities exhibit inertia. For instance, it is certain to the average Nigerian that the Nigerian Communications Commission, National Assembly and Ministry of Information and Communications are apathetic to the exploitation of Nigerians by the providers of mobile telephony. These companies impose whatever tariffs that suit their fancy, and arbitrarily review same upwards.

The use of the expression ‘private sector organisations’ here includes the supposed non-profit oriented NGOs and companies limited by guarantee. A common characteristic of almost all these ‘private sector’ concerns is their penchant to do everything to frustrate any form of regulation in their relevant industries. The government agencies charged with their regulation easily become victims of regulatory capture, willingly or owing to blackmail, enabling the companies to feed fat on corrupt contract awards and profiteer at the expense of Nigeria and poor Nigerians.

Without prejudice to the pervasiveness of this version of ‘private sector’ in Nigeria, one does not deny the existence of some private sector concerns in the real sense of the expression. Granted that some of the proprietors here may be fraudulent and predatory, others eke out an honest living in the midst of epileptic power supply, high expense on alternative power supply, bad roads, insecurity of lives and properties, high cost of transportation and other militating factors. Most of these people sold their family lands, buildings or other choice assets or even borrowed money from shylock-like money lenders to establish their businesses, and have no connection with public funds in terms of inflated, poorly executed or unexecuted contracts and corrupt deals through which public funds are embezzled in Nigeria.

In my humble view, the foregoing is the true nature of the Nigerian private sector. It is this ‘private sector’ that successive Nigerian governments since the middle 1980s claim is duty-bound and best positioned to provide and manage basic amenities such as motorable roads, potable water, hospitals, schools, housing and electricity for the citizenry! But how organizations and proprietors that depend solely on government patronage, corrupt deals with public officers, shady contract awards from government agencies, the inertia of regulatory agencies, and who hardly deliver on such jobs are considered better placed to carry out this alien ‘duty’ remains a mind-boggling puzzle to me.

Against this background, it is no wonder that despite huge annual budgetary allocations to capital projects and overheads, no appreciable progress has been made in Nigeria over the years. Almost the entire funds meant for capital projects and overheads end up in the pockets of serving or retired government officials, their fronts and private persons who are parasites on government funds. The much talked-about Public Procurement Act has not changed anything, for it is still business as usual in the award of government contracts. Government contracts are still awarded to the categories of ‘private sector’ organisations whose modus operandi we have seen above.

Contrary to the accusing fingers the government points at the impoverished civil servant who earns less than N18,000 monthly, it is the incidence of corrupt contract awards, other corrupt deals, outrageous salaries and allowances of Federal legislators and political office holders, wastage of huge resources on white elephant projects, Nigeria’s sponsorship of several ventures which benefit foreign countries, etc, that deplete government funds. Within a space of four years, the salaries of political office holders have been reviewed upwards twice because same is no longer realistic under the prevailing economic conditions, while poorly paid civil servants are not considered equally entitled! It is not large workforce but misappropriated capital and overhead budgetary votes that greatly account for Nigeria’s stagnation. Is it the poor civil servant that awards contracts or disburses overhead votes?

By induction from the foregoing, one can confidently say that Nigeria serves both the privileged public servant and the ‘private entrepreneur’ and nobody serves the country. If this ugly, unfortunate and dangerous trend is not checked, Nigeria will never move forward. In the midst of these corrupt practices, whatever lofty plans the government may have will certainly come to naught. May the merciful God salvage Nigeria and poor Nigerians from evil Nigerians in Jesus’ name, amen.

Ikechukwu A. Ogu, a legal practitioner, writes from Central Business District, Abuja (ikechukwuogu@yahoo.com).

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Dubai: World’s Most Expensive Christmas Tree

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Read Time:50 Second

This 40ft Christmas tree will definitely command attention anytime not only because of its height but also the decorations that goes with it.

Dubbed one of the ‘most expensive Christmas trees ever’, the glitzy Emirates Palace hotel in Dubai has unveiled the 40ft evergreen in its gold-leaf bedecked atrium.

Decorated with traditional silver and gold bows, baubles and white lights, the tree is also decked out in necklaces, earrings and other jewellery giving it its record value of $11 million.

It holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones according to Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery which provided the jewellery.

Hans Olbertz, general manager of the hotel, said: ‘The tree itself is about $10,000. The jewellery has a value of over $11million – I think 11.4m, 11.5m.’

He added that the hotel would apply to the Guinness Book of World Records to find out if its tree is the most expensive ever.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Clara Oshiomhole’s Burial Holds Today

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Read Time:25 Second

The body of the late wife of Edo State governor, Mrs Clara Oshiomhole, who died last week, will be committed to mother earth today in her husband’s hometown in Iyamho, Edo State.

Her body arrived at the Benin airport around noon yesterday and immediately proceeded to Iyamho in a motorcade after a brief airport ceremony.

Amongst the dignitaries at the airport are two former heads of state, Generals Babangida and Buhari and top Edo state government officials.

May her soul rest in peace

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ghana to begin pumping oil for first time

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Read Time:4 Minute, 1 Second

ACCRA, Ghana – The West African nation of Ghana is poised to begin pumping oil Wednesday for the first time, kicking off a lucrative new industry expected to bring $1 billion annually to a part of the world where most people still get by on less than $2 a day.

But critics warn the country, one of the most stable and democratic on the continent, has yet to pass crucial legislation to avoid what is known in Africa as the “resource curse.” In places like Congo and Nigeria, oil or mineral wealth has fueled conflict instead of boosting desperately needed development.

British-based explorer Tullow Oil PLC is leading a consortium that will start producing 55,000 barrels per day Wednesday from rigs off Ghana’s Atlantic Ocean coast in the Jubilee Field, which was discovered three years ago and holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

As new wells are built over the next six months, daily output is expected to increase to around 120,000 barrels — about 10 percent of the amount pumped by nearby Nigeria, one of the continent’s leading producers.

Those figures are likely to rise. In September, Tullow confirmed the existence of a second large offshore oil field called Owo that holds as much as 550 million barrels under the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

“The start of oil production represents an important opportunity … but the sudden onset of oil wealth often comes at the expense of good governance and effective development,” said Ian Gary, a policy manager for the charity Oxfam America. “Ghana’s challenge as an ‘oil hot spot’ will be to manage this industry with transparent and accountable policies and practices, so the people of Ghana can truly benefit over the long-term.”

More than three years after the discovery of oil, Gary said there is still no oil revenue management law in place, and no independent regulator established for the sector.

Ghana’s parliament is currently debating an oil revenue bill, but key provisions — including preventing oil revenue from being used as collateral for loans — have been removed.

Last week, lawmakers approved a bill allowing 70 percent of oil revenues to be used for such loans, which have caused countries such as Nigeria, Angola and Republic of Congo to go “deep into debt due to unsustainable oil-backed borrowing,” Oxfam said in a statement.

Ghana’s oil windfall will not be a game-changer: The country already earns billions annually from cocoa and gold reserves, and oil revenues are expected to account for 6 percent of total domestic revenue in 2011, according to Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor.

Nevertheless, the money is badly needed. Most of Ghana’s 23 million people struggle to get by.

In 2009, Africa produced 13 percent of the world’s oil, “but this has yet to translate into tangible benefits for Africa’s poor,” Oxfam said. “In fact, resource-rich countries in Africa have actually experienced lower growth rates than countries with scarce resources.”

In nearby Nigeria, which produces about 2.2 million barrels of oil per day, oil wealth has spurred years of conflict and kidnappings, with armed militant groups launching regular attacks to destabilize the industry. The militants claim they are fighting on behalf of impoverished residents who gain little from the oil pumped out of their country.

Diamonds, gold, copper and other mineral wealth has fueled similar conflict as well as full-blown wars across Africa, from Congo to Angola to Sierra Leone. By contrast, Ghana is considered a beacon of stability in an often chaotic region.

The British think-tank Chatham House has expressed similar concerns over lack of regulations to safeguard the handling of multibillion dollar revenues. Researcher Alex Vines also worries about the lack of an independent regulator.

Such responsibility in the near-term may fall to the country’s state oil company or the energy minister. A situation in which the “regulator could also become the operator … is not a good long-term prospect” Vines said, noting that it’s not too late to address such shortcomings.

Oxfam said there been some positive signs. Ghanaian President John Atta Mills, for example, has promised disclosure of oil contracts though they remain unavailable to the public.

Mills has assured the nation the oil money will be handled properly, and the government says an oil bill will be passed.

On Wednesday, Mills will personally inaugurate the launch of oil production and give a statement later onshore at Takoradi Air Force Base, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) outside the capital, Accra.

Tullow Oil has a 34.7 percent stake in the Jubilee Field. Other partners include Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (23.49 percent), Kosmos Energy (23.49 percent), The Ghana National Petroleum Company (13.75 percent), Sabre Oil and Gas (2.81 percent), and the E.O. Group (1.75 percent).

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Dick Cheney, come to Nigeria!

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Read Time:5 Minute, 42 Second

On a cold December morning in 1986, US forces invaded Panama, a small city in the Pacific.  The reason for that invasion was that Panamanian president, Manuel Noriega, was a drug lord involved in money laundering. He was also accused of being a double agent working for both the CIA and Cuban Intelligence. After he was captured, he was flown to the US in an iron cage, tried in 1991 and sentenced to 30 years.  During his trial, his lawyers insisted that much of the money that he was accused of laundering actually came from his CIA work. Noriega is now an old man of 70 doomed to serve another term in France.

The arrowhead of that invasion was Dick Cheney, a two-term vice president in the George W. Bush administration. Prior to his vice-presidentship, Cheney held key government positions. He was deputy assistant to the president, White House Chief of Staff, elected to the United States Congress and became George Bush’s Secretary of Defense in 1989. It was while he was George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense that he spearheaded the US military campaigns in Panama.  He was also a key player in the military action that toppled Saddam Hussein, together with US-led multinational campaign that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. There are unconfirmed allegations that he had a hand in the fall of Charles Taylor of Liberia, not because he had any interest in liberating Liberia but because Taylor opposed his ownership of diamond mines in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Cheney was actually the ventriloquist using his boss George Bush as a marionette to tell the world that Saddam Hussein had amassed chemical and nuclear weapons. For his roles in these expeditions to bring presidents and heads of states to justice, President Bush awarded Cheney the presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991.

Before his tenure as vice president to George W. Bush, Cheney became chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Halliburton, a Texas-based oil-prospecting firm. He continued to hold this position even as vice president. Perhaps that is why he is being criticized that he used his position to secure the first set of juicy contracts to rebuild post-Saddam Iraq in favour of Halliburton. According to Encarta, Cheney traveled to Kazakhstan in May 2006 to campaign to construct a pipeline to give the US direct access to oil and natural gas from Central Asia. The plan was to bypass Russia. Environmentalists also complain about Cheney’s vigorous campaign to have the US Congress pass a set of sweeping laws to energize policy on oil to increase drilling, mining and the use of nuclear power. If these laws were actually passed, they contributed in no small measure to the environmental problems of the Niger Delta, and the escalating tensions that have resulted from government connivance with oil companies like Halliburton, Shell and Exxon Mobil. The most damning of these allegations against Dick Cheney is that as chairman and chief executive officer of Halliburton and US vice president, he allegedly bribed Nigerian Heads of State and government officials with $180million to secure a $6billion liquefied natural gas plant contract here in Nigeria.

These allegations are grave. That they were leveled against a former US vice president unequivocally diminishes the value and respect accorded that institution. They look like the kind of allegations that can only be leveled against our own leaders.  In fact, if we do not point it out here and now that these accusations do not look any different from the ones Cheney used as justification to oust Manuel Noriega, Samuel Doe and Saddam Hussein, this story will not be complete. And the curious thing about this whole thing is that the United States government, the supposed bastion of democracy, is allegedly shielding him from answering to these allegations. Recent press reports said that the EFCC, an investigating body akin to the FBI, invited Cheney to Nigeria to answer to 16 counts of bribing Nigeria’s government officials but the US was nervous in letting him come. Why? Are they trying to say that the EFCC is not competent to ask their former vice president questions concerning the bribes he allegedly gave Nigerian government officials? Are they trying to say that Cheney’s position as vice president was a holy and sacrosanct position? Is he any different now in status from one of our own vice presidents that was ‘slapped’ with similar charges in the US? Like the way Martin Luther King put it in his Letter from Birmingham jail, corruption anywhere is injustice to people anywhere, and if there is any moment that the US can show commitment to the global fight against corruption, it has to be now or never. The message that Cheney’s presence in Nigeria, to answer to allegations of bribery, will send to Nigerians and the world will by far be greater than that Barack Obama would be sending around the world if he fails to let him come. If Cheney fails to come here, nobody should feign ignorance that they don’t know that it is the US that recruits high-ranking Nigerian officials to be involved in cash-for-development scams like the one that recently rocked FIFA.

Cheney or the US government has nothing to fear. The EFCC is not a virus, neither is it a contagious disease. It is a Nigerian FBI saddled with the responsibility to handle cases of financial crimes against individuals and the Nigerian state. Cheney’s presence in Nigeria, among others, should do two things – restore respect to the US system of ‘zero system to corruption’ and add zest to the Nigerian fight against corruption.  If the man is too sick to come here, let Obama tell us so rather than forming a human shield around him.  It was a case like this that made the duo of Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon resort to crating Umaru Dikko to Nigeria.

PS: Somebody has looked over my shoulder and seen what I have been writing. ‘They will not give you visa to their country o! They will say you are an unfriendly, critical journalist o’, the person has said. Well, I will not be surprised at that. In 2005, a journalist, Joseph Wilson, wrote an article criticizing Bush’s haste to go to war with Iraq. He also questioned the administration’s claim that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Africa. In no time, his wife’s identity as a CIA agent was leaked and that put her life in danger. Will that also happen to me?

Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, majirioghene@yahoo.com, 0809 665 1570


About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Enhancing Nigeria’s reading culture

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Read Time:7 Minute, 15 Second

Codewit.com – Controversy over poor reading culture in the country is an issue that will not go down in a hurry. While some intellectuals argue that Nigerians do not read, others insist on the contrary, arguing however that Nigerians are very selective in what they read. Those that buy into the allegation of poor reading culture note, for instance that more people, especially students engage in other activities such as watching films, adding that the proliferation of information technology also has its impact on the negative reading culture. In fact, to these analysts, the use of school or public libraries is almost becoming alien to students. Even parents and teachers who are supposed to enforce the reading culture are faced with other social challenges. It has often been said that a good reader makes a good leader. This suggests that for a country to have good leadership, there is the need to have products of good reading culture.

It was in light of this development that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, plans to launch a reading campaign on Monday, December 20, 2010, where Nigerians would be charged to uphold the habit of reading to enhance human and material productivity. This campaign is expected to translate cumulatively into a virile economic and political advancement in the country, especially in the present political dispensation. The campaign, which the presidency tagged ‘bring back the book,’ will be held in Lagos where important dignitaries are expected to gather for intellectual brainstorming.

On assumption of office as the president, Jonathan had opened a facebook account on internet network with the primary aim of engaging himself in discussions with Nigerians on the issue of governance and other related cases. According to sources from the presidency, a lot of valuable advice and criticism have been passed across the president from all class of Nigerian citizens through this medium. The information garnered through this medium has been packaged into a book entitled, Goodluck Jonathan- My Friend and I. The public presentation of this book will also take place on same day and Nigerians would be availed the opportunity to have access to the collective information of the voice of the people in this compiled conversation between Goodluck Jonathan and Nigerians. After the presentation, the president will engage children in reading session from this book wherever he goes to immortalise the culture of reading. This effort is to register into their subconscious mind the relevance of reading to mental development.

Making the declaration in Lagos recently, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Oronto Douglas, observed that it was the spirit of resilience, togetherness and unity of Nigerians that had put the country together during its trying period of political uncertainties. He lauded the president for the achievements he has recorded since he was sworn in on May 6, 2010, after the demise of the late president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. According to Douglas, the president sets the agenda of his government on three major issues, which include, electoral reform, electricity and energy security in the Niger Delta and Nigeria. In the review of these agenda, Douglas noticed that the appointment of Attairu Jega as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman was a pointer to the president’s effort to achieve a free and fair election in Nigeria since he intended to form an electoral body that would be purely independent. According to Douglas, campaign of free and fair election has become a song for the president which he claimed has been mentioned up to 1640 times as at Thursday December 2, 2010. Reflecting on the president’s goal for justice, he said the political climate in Nigeria has changed for better because the president plans to leave a legacy after leaving office. He made reference to Edo, Anambra, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo States where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates lost out and candidates that legitimately won the mandate of the people sworn in. He also claimed that in the issue of electricity supply, though not at its perfect best, the country has experienced some marginal improvement. For energy security, Douglas recalled how the emergence of Jonathan practically took care of vehicular queues in fuel stations, a condition, he noted, had led to loss of life and properties in the past. He further declared that about two months ago, the National Examination Commission (NECO) and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) released the results of the students that sat for the current examinations, stressing that the state of the poor results informed the president to summon an educational summit to look into the standard of education in Nigeria especially because of his background as a teacher. Douglas claimed that the aim of the president is to achieve a comprehensive legacy that will enhance improved social, economic and political stability especially when the citizens are properly informed.

The book campaign, according to Douglas, will project and promote the vehicle that will enhance improved knowledge, education and empowerment. It will also be an avenue to promote the Nigeria culture. “The primary intention of President Goodluck Jonathan to join the facebook as he promised when he went to deliver a convocation speech at the University of Port Harcourt, is for ordinary people to have access to him for advice. The book contains the conversation between Nigerians and Goodluck Jonathan, and policies,” he affirmed. Douglas said though the president’s aides may give him advice that will suit their purposes, the desire to set a medium of communication between every Nigerian through the facebook is to harness direct communication network, and to listen and learn from Nigerians who would not hide their feelings. “The journey to bring back the book is not politics.

If we do, we will fail. Politics come and go but it is our knowledge that will take us to the kingdom of fulfillment,” said Douglas.

Recalling his past, Douglas claimed that his childhood days at Abeokuta made him to enjoy the free education policy of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.  “Though my parents could afford to send me to school, I tell you, it was a great privilege to enjoy the free education programme of the late sage regardless of the fact that I came from Niger Delta. How many of Nigerians today are privileged to have free education and have access to information? This is what the president wants to achieve,” he stated.

Douglas stressed the preparedness of the president to liaise with literary groups to promote knowledge and encourage them to be more productive. “We need to unleash into the society new books. The fertility of our imagination should be employed to change the state of time. We need to translate this vision into action. The president plans to leave a legacy of reading culture even after leaving office. Our democracy must be consolidated,” he said.

In his response to a number of questions raised especially on policy formulation and actualisation, Douglas assured that the presidency is determined to sustain all the programmes it embarked upon since each has been programmed for a renewed structuring. He lamented on the issue of National Endowment Draft Bill that the National Assembly has not been able to pass since 2004, suggesting that a strong body should be empowered to monitor the actualisation of this dream within a limited time frame. He also advised the media to continue to use its medium to educate and enlighten the populace without fear or favour.

It would be recalled that Douglas, an environmentalist and lawyer was recently named among the 20 most influential writers, thinkers and activists in the world. He was listed in a recent book, Political Awakenings: Conversation with History by Harry Kreiser the Executive Director of the Institute of International Studies, University of California. Douglas was selected with 19 others, from 485 interviews of people, which the book described as “distinguished men and women who by the power of their intellect and strength of character shape the world.” Douglas made the Science, Food and The Environment: Movement for Justice category which comprised select individuals that have challenged corporate power which seeks to disproportionately reap the benefits of science and technology to the detriment of the society.

The two other individuals listed in the same category with Douglas are Michael Pollan who has in the past 20 years written books and articles about places where the human and natural world intersect, and Eva Harris, a molecular biologist, who implements a programme to distribute DNA technology to third world clinics to fight diseases.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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WikiLeaks: How U.S. moulds Nigeria’s politics

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Read Time:49 Second

Behind major developments in Nigeria, especially political ones, is the hand of the United States (U.S.) that has covertly orchestrated events to suit its purpose in the oil-rich nation.

The events referred to here happened before President Goodluck Jonathan was confirmed in May as substantive President.

Though the U.S. has allegedly intervened in the affairs of Nigeria over the years, a full picture of the extent of this intervention has only just emerged through a cable published by Wikileaks on its website.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said the account of his meeting with the former Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, during the political crisis over the health problems and other issues involving late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in the WikiLeaks dump of U.S. diplomatic dispatches as “inaccurate.”

The expose as published by WikiLeaks as a result of the meeting with Sanders reported the U.S. describing President Jonathan as “inexperienced.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria: Pastors Beheaded

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Read Time:8 Minute, 23 Second

On Jul 26, 12 Christians were killed, including 3 pastors, in northern Nigeria after members of a Islamic nonconformist organisation Boko Haram launched attacks on military and supervision bases, according to contacts during VOM Canada.

The violence, that began in Bauchi state, widespread to Borno, Kano and Yobe states. Churches were set fervent and several people were abducted, including Christians. Many believers were threatened with genocide if they refused to modify to Islam. According to media reports, assailants decapitate 3 pastors: Pastors Sabo Yukubu, Sylvester Akpan and Pastor George Orji. The assailants were reportedly behaving on a instruction of a nonconformist group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf was after killed by authorities.

The militants attempted to force a pastors to modify to Islam, though they refused to desert their faith. They were afterwards beheaded by guards who shouted “Allah Akbar” and dismissed several gunshots into a atmosphere in celebration.

These new reports of harm in Northern Nigeria simulate a trials believers endure. The Voice of a Martyrs actively supports persecuted believers in many ways by a Families of Martyrs fund, resources for widows to start businesses and a giveaway preparation during Stephen Centre. Pray God will comfort a families of those killed in these attacks. Pray a assent of Christ will order a hearts and minds of Nigerian Christians in a face of ongoing threats and danger

OS, Nigeria, December 11 (Compass Direct News) – The murderous rioting sparked by Muslim attacks on Christians and their property on Nov. 28-29 left six pastors dead, at least 500 other people killed and 40 churches destroyed, according to church leaders.

More than 25,000 persons have been displaced in the two days of violence, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

What began as outrage over suspected vote fraud in local elections quickly hit the religious fault line that quakes from time to time in this city located between the Islamic north and Christian south, as angry Muslims took aim at Christian sites rather than at political targets. Police and troops reportedly killed about 400 rampaging Muslims in an effort to quell the unrest, and Islamists shot, slashed or stabbed to death most of more than 100 Christians.

Among Christians killed was Joseph Yari of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Angwan Clinic,Tudun-Wada in Jos. On Nov. 28, his wife Mary Yari told Compass, he had returned from his workplace along Ibrahim Taiwo Road saying he was going to a Baptist church that Muslims were setting on fire.

“Shortly after my husband left, I heard anguished cries, only to be told that my husband had been shot dead on the premises of the church,” Yari said.

Her grief notwithstanding, she said she had forgiven the killers, as “they were ignorant of the crime they have committed because they do not know Jesus Christ.”

The Rev. Emmanuel Kyari, pastor of Christ Baptist Church, Tudun-Wada, told Compass that Joseph Yari died helping other Christians who repelled Muslim fanatics bent on burning down his church building.

“Yari was standing beside my wife when he was shot by Muslims,” Rev. Kyari said. “In addition to Yari who was killed, there were also three other Christians who were shot, and two died instantly.”

Among the six slain pastors was the Rev. Ephraim Masok, pastor of the ECWA Church in the Rikkos area of Jos, who had moved his family out of harm’s way and was returning to the church premises when Muslim fanatics attacked and killed him. Rev. Masok was buried on Saturday (Dec. 6).

A Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) leader in the Chawlyap area identified only as Pastor James was killed in the rioting that left Jos skies covered in smoke, as was the Rev. Bulus Tsetu of an Assemblies of God church. Names of the other three slain clergymen from Roman Catholic, Baptist and Deeper Life Bible churches were not readily available, but their deaths were confirmed, according to church leaders.

Rev. Kyari and the Rev. Benjamin Nasara of ECWA Plateau Church provided the casualty figures to Compass.

Among the 40 destroyed churches in Jos, they said, was the ECWA Church, Rikkos; Kaunar Baptist Church, Rikkos; Christ Baptist Church, Tudun-Wada; Nasarawa Baptist Church; Adebayo Street First Baptist Church; Sarkin Mangu COCIN Church; ECWA Church Kunga; Victory Baptist Church, Gofang; Deeper Life Bible Church, Ungwar Rimi; and Emmanuel Baptist Church, also at Ungwar Rimi.

Other Christians killed by Muslims in the rioting, the church leaders said, were Nenfort Danbaba of the ECWA Plateau Church and Oluwaleke Olalekan Akande of the Anglican Church from Ibadan, in southwestern Nigeria, who was on duty with the National Youth Service Program in Jos at the time of the crisis.

At the funeral service of Akande on Tuesday (Dec. 9), the Rev. Joseph Olatunde Alamu of the Cathedral Church of St. David, Kudeti, Ibadan, said young Christian men killed in the violence did not die in vain.

“Like the blood of Abel cried out for justice, they will not die in vain,” he said. “God will revenge.”

Akande’s parents also spoke at his funeral service.

“God knows why it happened that way,” Akande’s father, 84-year-old Pa J.A. Akande, said. “Oluwaleke, you will be remembered always for your love, steadfastness, courage, obedience and other attributes of your life with which you were endowed by your Maker. Sleep well in the bosom of your Maker.”

Akande’s mother, Madam Akande, told those attending the funeral that her 28-year-old son was too young to die.

“Little did I realize that your telephone call to me on Thursday, the 27th of November, 2008 would be our last conversation,” she said. “No leaf can fall from the tree without the authority, power and knowledge of God. And so I believe you shall rest peacefully in the bosom of our Lord Jesus.”

Akande was a graduate of physics/electronics at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, doing his one-year mandatory national service to Plateau State when he was murdered.

Rev. Nasara of ECWA Plateau Church told Compass that church history shows “the blood of the martyrs brings about the birth of the church. We see these ones who have gone ahead of us as the seeds that God is using to make the church in Jos North and Plateau state to germinate.”

Pre-Meditated Violence?

Rioting erupted in Jos in the wee hours of Nov. 28 while results of local council elections held the previous day were still being awaited. In the Nov. 27 elections, according to reports, Muslims in Jos North who suspected vote fraud – specifically, the late arrival of election materials to polling sites – raised a lament, and by 1 a.m. on Nov. 28 Muslim youth had begun burning tires, schools and churches.

The killing of non-Muslims followed in the early morning. Muslims began attacking Christians in areas such as Nasarawa Gwong, Congo-Russia, Rikkos, Ali Kazaure, Bauchi Road, Dutse Uku, Ungwar Rimi, and Tudun-Wada. Commands to defy authorities and join the “jihad” blared from a mosque loudspeaker in the Dilimi area, according to advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, including instructions to ignore a night-time curfew and attack anew.

Authorities’ efforts to halt the rampage, including a Muslim assault on a police barracks, accounted for the estimated 400 corpses reportedly deposited in a key mosque, according to CSW, citing security sources.

Christians tried to defend their lives and properties, and non-Muslim youths reportedly began retaliatory attacks on Muslims, mosques and Muslim houses in the early morning. The Nigerian military arrived before noon to try to rein in the mayhem, which continued into the night.

At the end of two days, hundreds of persons from both sides of the religious divide were killed, with others injured and hospitalized at Jos University Teaching Hospital, ECWA Evangel Hospital, OLA Hospital and Plateau State Specialist Hospital.

More than 25,000 displaced persons have taken refuge at Rukuba Military barracks, NDLEA (Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency) Barracks and Police Headquarters and Barracks, according to NEMA.

Rev. Nasara said the displacement of people who have lost their homes has had a severe affect on Jos churches.

“Right now I have two families and some Christian students from the university here, making up a total of 12 persons, who were displaced, and I have to take them in here in my house,” he said.

The Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Roman Catholic archbishop of Jos Archdiocese and Plateau state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said in a statement that fanatical Muslims ignited the violence by attacking Christians.

“We were greatly taken aback by the turn of events in Jos – we thought it was a political issue, but from all indications it is not so,” he said. “We were surprised at the way some of our churches and properties were attacked and some of our faithful and clergy killed. The attacks were carefully planned and executed. The questions that bog our minds are: Why were churches and clergy attacked and killed? Why were politicians and political party offices not attacked, if it was a political conflict?”

Businesses and property of innocent civilians were destroyed, he added.

“We strongly feel that it was not political but a pre-meditated act under the guise of elections,” Kaigama said.

Plateau Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Edward Pwajok said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec. 9) that 500 persons had been arrested in connection with the violence, and that they will appear for trial at the High Court of Justice and Magistrates Courts.

On Sept. 7, 2001, religious conflict in Jos resulted in more than four years of bloodshed, killing thousands of people and displacing thousands of others. In 2004 an estimated 700 people died in Yelwa, also in Plateau state, during Christian-Muslim clashes.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigerians in Diaspora list 10 questions for PDP delegates

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Read Time:2 Minute, 27 Second

CODEWIT-  NIGERIANS in Diaspora, under the auspices of  GEJ/SAMBO 2011 Diaspora Support Group,  Europe and America, weekend,  logged  10 questions they want Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, delegates to answer before  deciding on who, between President  Goodluck Jonathan and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, they would vote for in the party’s presidential primaries.

Chairman of the GEJ/SAMBO 2011 Diaspora Support Group, Europe and America, Chief Lambert Igboanugo, in an electronic mail statement to Vanguard said Nigerians in Diaspora would hold the PDP delegates responsible for whatever happens to the country if they failed to make the right choice, adding,  “A wise decision to vote and protect Nigerian posterity is for the delegates to run carefully through the antecedents of these two individuals and know who best can advance the image of Nigeria in the international community because no country is an island and be trusted to deliver his promises”.

The ten questions are: “Who amongst them can freely enter the US with their families and be back to the country before the party primaries? Who amongst them can clear the air of suspicion of hurriedly relocating his family to Nigeria from the US to avoid arrest?  Who amongst them has still got to clear himself from administrative panel indictment which was officially gazetted? Who amongst them will rather abandon the party PDP (as his known antecedent has proven) if he loses the primary to his opponent? It was only Samson in Bible who stayed in the house to pull it down”.

Others are: “Who amongst them has Gen. Babangida sponsoring a pullout of questionable PDP members from the Party the moment his sectional consensus candidate loses to a national consensus candidate in the primary? Who amongst them has left in PTDF and other parasatals he headed, so much ooze of repulsive and repugnant odors, which the PDP delegates can never leave unnoticed? Who amongst them have had his tutelage in the most corrupt paramilitary service of the land until the 90s?

“Who amongst them is prostituting from one party to the other leaving his PDP and PDM ideological supporters in limbo?  Who among them cannot go to US to campaign his manifestoes to millions of Nigerian professionals expected to come and make a difference in the development of the country?  Who among them thinks the country can do away with Nigerians in US since he has legal difficulty in entering the country to sell his candidacy?   He added.

According to Igboanugo, “The party delegates should know that their votes must also determine the future of PDP if they are men and women of honour ready for transformational and re-building of Nigeria. Until these pertinent questions are answered to favour Nigerian posterity, PDP delegates owe Nigerians in Diaspora the explanations of what happened to the country after their voting”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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