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Obasanjo last auction of Nigeria's keyassets
By National Association of Seadogs (NAS)
via Prof. Olatunde Makanju, NAS Capone
Special to USAfricaonline.com,CLASSmagazine, USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston andTheBlack Business Journal
June 1, 2007: The recent wave of hasty sales of government sharesand interests in various business entities in Nigeria by the out-goneOlusegun Obasanjo administration is raising a lot of furor not onlywithin the country but also amongst economy watchers worldwide.Moreworrisome is the fact that these shady transactions do not appear tohave followed due process as the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE),the organ set up by law to privatize public enterprises, seem not tohave been appropriately positioned to carry out these transactions inthe national interest.
The National Association of Seadogs (NAS) queries this late hourrush by the ex-President to sell off these assets literally daysbefore he handed over (May 29, 2007) to an in-coming administration.The fact that beneficiaries of these transactions are cronies andacolytes of now former President Obasanjo (in picture) directly orindirectly, overtly or covertly as well as the ludicrously low pricesat which these lucrative deals were concluded at the twilight of thelast administration seems to supply the motivation.
It is our view that these transactions are shady and faulty onseveral fronts. One, they were not conducted by the BPE andapparently did not follow due process by not conforming tocompetitive open bidding. Secondly, these assets were grosslyundervalued. Thirdly, all the stakeholders (employees, creditors andminority shareholders) were not consulted before the transactionswere consummated. We wish to highlight a roll call of thesetransactions as follows:
-- The Port Harcourt Refinery was sold to Blue Star Oil at thecost of $561 million. Blue Star is a subsidiary of Dangote Group ofCompanies, an organization owned by one of the biggest financiers ofthe ruling party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Chairman ofZenon Oil, Mr. Femi Otedola (son of a past governor of Lagos State),is another big financier of the ruling PDP.
-- The Onigbolo Cement Company was grabbed by the Dangote Group ata ridiculous sum of $1.78 billion.
-- The National Arts Theatre was almost sold but a deafeninguproar made the auctioneers settle in the mean time for anarrangement whereby private companies would operate the nationaledifice at the cost of N35.8 billion.
-- The Lagos International Trade Fair Complex went to a companycalled Aulic Nigeria Limited for N40 billion.
-- The Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) went to a relatively unknownbusiness group called BHS International for N9.5 billion.
-- Another company with federal government substantial investment,Ayip-Eku Oil Palm Company was sold to Wingsong M-House Palm OilInvestment Limited for N527million.
-- The sale of the Kaduna Refinery could not go through initiallybecause the only bidder then, the Chinese National PetroleumCorporation's offer of $102 million was said to be less than theexpected amount for the sale. The Dangote Group is still in line.
-- The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited was sold to Global SteelHoldings Ltd (GSHL) in what can be best called national tragedy.Global Steel Holdings Ltd is believed to be owned by Obasanjo's firstson, Gbenga, with Liyel Imoke current Governor of Cross Rivers stateas down the line partner.
-- The Egbin Power Plc went to Korea Power Corporation (KEPC) at$280 million.The Musa Yar'Adua government is said to have revokedthis particular sale.
Apparently President Olusegun Obasanjo did not only sell theaforementioned federal government assets, he also granted hundreds oflucrative Mining Leases and Exploration Licenses. On May 23, aspokesman of the solid minerals ministry confirmed in a statementthat the former president had granted 50 Mining Leases and 952Exploration Licenses to international and local firms. Majority ofthese Leases and Licenses from all indications went to individualsand entities with ties to President Obasanjo and the ruling PDP.
A Deregulation Law, which was hurriedly passed to accommodate thenew Solid Mining Regulations, was explained, as "an attempt toattract much needed private investment to develop the neglectedsector." The National Association of Seadogs (NAS) can confirm thatNigeria, the world's eighth biggest oil exporter, has commercialdeposits of over 34 mineral resources including gold, tin, tantalite,kaolin and barites.
As an organisation we are aligned and agree with the formerChairman of House of Representatives' Committee on Budget, FaroukLawan, that these transactions were all mischievous and "in badfaith... Such major decisions should be left to the incomingadministration, so that due process is followed and it is done in theoverall interests of the country... hurried sale of the country'slargest oil refinery, a cement factory, 18 oil exploration contractsand up to 1,000 mining concessions, among other assets, in two weeksis unprecedented and smacks off suspicion of foul play, and thereforeshould be reviewed by Yar'Adua".
Chairman of Senate committee on Downstream Petroleum, SenatorDavid Brigidi while expressing surprise at the 'last minute' increasein the pump price of petrol, insisted that Due Process was notfollowed and that the management of the Petroleum Product PricesRegulatory Agency (PPPRA), the federal department responsible forfuel pricing, was not qualified to effect a unilateral increasewithout the consent of representatives of the board includingLabour.
Nigerians are generally puzzled, alarmed and shocked by the ex-president's last minute parting-gifts of N75 per liter fuel hike, upfrom N65, increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 per cent to 10per cent on all goods and services commencing from the week hissuccessor, Musa Yar 'Adua would assume office. The latest fuelincrease was Obasanjo's sixth in his eight years rule. While the pumpprice of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrolstood at N75, Dual Purpose Kerosene DPK was moved from N50 per literto N60 per liter. Depot price of PMS at the NNPC depot is nowN67.50k, N10 up from the previous N57.51 while the same product willsell for N71.50 at the private fuel depots.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Petroleum and NaturalGas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) denounced the last minutefuel increase by former President, describing it as a "wickedparting-gift from an insensitive government." vowing to reject andresist the new prices and called for the immediate reversal to theold pump by the new government.
At his inauguration as President, President Musa Yar'Adua promisedto prove to Nigerians that the trust they reposed in him by"electing" him president was not misplaced. Nigeria now awaits hisreaction to this affront to our collective sensibilities and hopethat the new administration would have the resolve to dismantle thelegacy of institutionalized corruption which President Obasanjo haddeposited at the doorstep of the Presidency. Nothing short of swiftrevocation of this last minute sweet deals and reversal of these fueland tax hikes will satisfy the Nigerian people. The revocation of thesale of the Egbin Power station by President Yar'Adua on his firstday in office is a welcome development.
NAS joins the organized labour and the plurality of Nigerians indemanding that the Yar'Adua administration makes a bold and decisivemove to checkmate other last minute efforts by ex-President OlusegunObasanjo and his cohorts to plunder the nation's precious assets.Only such a selfless and patriotic move will endear the new Presidentand his administration to Nigerians, and, set in motion the rightclimate to heal the painful wounds inflicted by the April 2007electoral fraud.
The National Association of Seadogs (NAS) was founded as thePyrates Confraternity (PC) in 1952 at the then University College,Ibadan. Their original 7 founding fathers are Wole Soyinka (now Nobellaureatte for Literature), Ralph Okpara, Pius Oleghe, IkpehareAig-Imoukhuede, Nathaniel Oyelola, Olumuyiwa Awe and Sylvanus U.Egbuche.
Africa Action's report, "Six Months Since 1706: The InternationalFailure to Protect Darfur" is available athttp://www.africaaction.org
Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today,"The failure of the international community to follow through onResolution 1706 has left the people of Darfur without protection andwith little hope. A robust UN force is needed immediately to stop theviolence and enforce a cease-fire, to protect civilians andhumanitarian operations, and to create conditions conducive to acomprehensive peace process. This is an essential first step towardsstabilizing the situation on the ground and protecting the vulnerablein the immediate term, and the failure to aggressively pursue thisgoal is unacceptable."
Africa Action's new report notes that, while the Government ofSudan continues to refuse the implementation of Resolution 1706,subsequent discussions of a "hybrid" AU/UN force have not finalizedagreement on the force's size, mandate and command and control, or ona timeline for deployment. The organization emphasizes that athree-phased UN support package for the African Union (AU), currentlyin its early stages, must quickly proceed to the deployment of a20,000-strong UN peacekeeping force with a robust protection mandate.Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communicationsat Africa Action, said today, "Six months ago, the UN SecurityCouncil declared its intent to protect Darfur, yet it has allowed theSudanese government to continue the genocide and to block theinternational response. Rather than following Resolution 1706 withresolute action to implement it, the U.S. and other internationalpowers have permitted it to be debated and delayed, even as theviolence has escalated on the ground."
The European Parliament on Thursday (May 24, 2007) urged the EU towithhold all financial aid to the Nigerian government until theAfrican country holds new elections. "EU aid to Nigeria should not begiven to federal or state structures until new, credible electionshave been held," the European Parliament said in a non-bindingresolution. Such resolutions are often issued to pressure EU memberstates and the executive Commission in Brussels.
The EU said last month's state and federal elections in Nigeria,won by the governing party, fell short of basic standards and couldnot be considered credible, free and fair. The EU has earmarkednearly 500-million euro (about R4,7-billion) over the last five yearsfor different projects in Nigeria, most of them focused on goodgovernance, health and water supply and sanitation. Meanwhile, acoalition of Opposition Presidential Candidates asked SenatePresident Ken Nnamani to assume executive powers on May 29, whenObasanjo's term is up, and to disband the national electioncommission.
Many Nigerians still feel disappointed that a man (Obasanjo)who had gained so much from Nigeria would cling so tightly to power,even against the popular will of the people, moreso with age, energyand fresh ideas for a new era not on his side.
Also, USAfricaonline.com review of Nigeria's recent history show thatPresident Obasanjo seems to be moving rapidly into the zone ofill-repute of his former military colleagues who, like him, refusedto leave office when it was time to go. Gen. yakubu Gowon in 1975;Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1993; Gen. Sani Abacha in1995, 1996, 1997,1998. More baffling many Nigerians we interviewed recall is thelessons of the excesses of the late Gen. Abach who jailed Obasanjowhile the former schemed to remain in power. For the specialreport by USAfrica multimedia networks' Publisher Chido Nwangwu,click on 3rdterm.
DEMOCRACYWATCH: What Bush Should TellObasanjo.... By ChidoNwangwu (Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com)
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective ofthe true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing anddisposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures)this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce,juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of thevitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality ofChi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... itis a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude whiletaking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community.I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, therigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed inmost of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, becauseI share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a briefsentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here,folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle onthe Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one likeyou!
Ugo n'abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!. ChidoNwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), isFounder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-ownedU.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet),USAfrica The Newspaper,CLASS magazine and TheBlack Business Journal. He has served as an adviser to theMayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as ananalyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates.
This USAfricaonline.com commentary is copyrighted. Archivingon any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with aWritten Approval by USAfricaonline.comFounder. CLASSis the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine forAfricans in north America, described by The New York Times as themagazine for affluent Africansin America. It is published byprofessional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders andpioneers.
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
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Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide
A KING FOR ALL TIMES: Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st century.
Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu(First written on March 1, 2002, for USAfrica, updated for Prof. Achebe's 74th Birthday tribute on November 16, 2004, and published in CLASS magazine same month): Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n'abo Professor Chinua Achebe, has recently been selected by a distinguished jury of scholars and critics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) as the writer of the Best book (Things Fall Apart, 1958) written in the twentieth century regarding Africa. Reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He's our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe's cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you!
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting
In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'
Powell named Secretary State by G.W. Bush; bipartisan commendations follow.
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."
These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
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CLASS is the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine for Africans in north America, described by The New York Times as the magazine for affluent Africans in America. It is published by professional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders and pioneers.