Barrister Bayo Lawal:Celebrating A Man With Compassionate Heart

By Rasheed Komolafe

In a world where compassion often feels like a scarce commodity,it’s heartening to celebrate individuals who embody its essence effortlessly. Today, as we extend our warmest wishes to the esteemed Oyo State’s Deputy Governor, Barr Bayo Lawal, we commend his unwavering dedication to touching lives with love and empathy.

Barrister Bayo Lawal’s journey has been one of grace, resilience, and boundless compassion. As a pillar of support,he has seamlessly merged his roles as a father, mentor, and compassionate leader, leaving an indelible mark in the hearts of many in Oyo State.

His commitment to philanthropy knows no bounds. Through his numerous initiatives, Barr Lawal has been a beacon of hope to the less privilege, offering assistance, guidance, and solace to the needy. Whether it’s advocating for women’s rights, championing education for the underprivileged, or spearheading healthcare initiatives, her tireless efforts have uplifted countless lives and communities.

As a father,the Ba’mofin of Kishiland, exemplifies humanism in its purest form. His dedication to his family reflects his unwavering commitment to love, support, and cherish those closest to him. Beyond his immediate family, he extends this love to the wider community, embracing all with open arms and a warm smile.

It’s not out of place to reflect on the profound impact he has had on our lives and the lives of those around us. May his light continue to shine brightly, illuminating the path for others to follow in his footsteps of compassion,kindness, and love.

In honouring Barr Bayo Lawal,I also heartilly extend our gratitude to his wife,Yeye Bamofin of Kishiland, his wife, Mrs.Lawal, for her inestimable and immeasurable support,which impact positively on the deputy governor’s sterling performance in office.

Without mincing words,this uncommon partnership paves way for formidable team dedicated to serving the people of Oyo State with compassion, integrity, and humility.

Happy Birthday, Your Excellency, Your compassionate heart is a gift to us all, and we are forever grateful for your rewarding presence in our lives. May your day be filled with joy, love, and countless blessings, as you continue to inspire us with your remarkable spirit.

Better And Faster Results As Shell Introduces Unmanned Survey In Nigeria

By Precious Okolobo

It’s January 14, 2024, and Accession 500, a small Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) is riding the waves around Bonny into the history books of survey in the oil industry in Nigeria. Remotely controlled by personnel on shore, the USV runs along survey lines on a pipeline route powered by diesel engines, in the first crewless survey in Nigeria deployed by The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) Ltd.

The survey ran non-stop for 166 hours and the results came in real-time with better quality data. “We’re excited at the improvements in the new face of survey in Nigeria,” said SPDC’s Chief Surveyor and Head, Offshore Survey Operations, Steve Keedwell. “It would have taken greater time and effort and cost more money to mobilise personnel and materials for this type of survey with high energy consumption, safety exposure and the risk of low-quality data. The results came in faster with higher quality as the human element was reduced to its barest minimum.”

SPDC had these benefits in mind when it began efforts to introduce crewless survey in 2019 after the technology was successfully tested and deployed in other Shell Operating Units. The restrictions on physical presence at work sites at the time due to covid-19 restrictions helped to speed up the process. The company also saw an opportunity to further develop Nigerian content and worked with an indigenous vendor, Compass Survey Ltd which deployed the vessel with support from their technical partners, Unmanned Survey Solutions, UK.

Bonny was the choice for the first survey because of a project around the landfall area which required using a vessel with very shallow draft. An uncrewed vessel was the answer as it reduces exposure to health, safety an environment due to the shallow water area that needed to be surveyed.

Project manager Compass Survey Ltd, Joshua Oriero, who monitored the exercise said: “The Bonny deployment was a huge success. The team comprised pilots, surveyors, an engineer, data processors and an onsite remote operator for human intervention where necessary. The USV was operated and monitored remotely through a secure internet connection. The unit was set to travel to the survey location and it started running the survey lines already programmed into the autopilot system.”

There was a drastic reduction in carbon emission. For example, less than 27 litres of diesel were consumed per day, compared to more than 1,500 – 6,000 on traditional vessels depending on the size. The amount of energy saved would even be higher over the seven days of a typical deployment. Previously, human error during offset measurements and calibration posed significant challenges in surveys. Purpose-built USVs equipped with permanently mounted sensors eliminate these error sources, leading to improved data quality due to the reduction of noise from generators usually used on crewed vessels.

General Manager, Nigerian Content Development, SPDC ‘Lanre Olawuyi is happy with the prospects of the technology in Nigeria. “Despite concerns about job losses, crewless surveys will create new employment opportunities. The contractor and their technical partner have already trained a Nigerian remote operator in Bonny.

As this technology expands, more people will gain skills as engineers, remote helmsmen, data processors and online surveyors to support uncrewed surveys, along with USV maintenance personnel. SPDC will continue to support Nigerian companies to take advantage of the evolving opportunities through its vendor development programmes.”

SPDC is looking to apply the lessons from the Bonny exercise in future deployments. These include availability of spare parts to avoid delay in repairs, the need for a robust system to manage the large volume of data acquired in a short time and the presence of fishing nets on the survey route. But the main lesson is that, given the vast improvement in data quality and safety, coupled with flexibility and ease of deployment, the new face of survey in Nigeria has a bright future.

Ondo APC Governorship,Aiyedatiwa And The Presidency

The presidency is expected to back one of the numerous contenders for the Ondo APC 2024 gubernatorial primary election, scheduled for April 20th, 2024.

The competition will be intense yet clear-cut, offering opportunities but also posing challenges. Among the candidates is Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the current governor of Ondo State, who benefits from his incumbent status while also grappling with rumored educational certificate issues and confronting significant political hurdles and baggage.

President Tinubu and his political advisors are closely monitoring the political dynamics surrounding the APC gubernatorial ticket in Ondo State, considering its implications for the party’s presidential calculations in 2027.

However, both Tinubu and his team require a candidate free from political controversies to ensure the APC’s success in the November 2024 gubernatorial elections in Ondo.

Aiyedatiwa appears to lack the necessary political influence to unite all factions within the APC. For example, six federal lawmakers from Ondo State penned an open letter to President Tinubu, criticizing Aiyedatiwa for fostering party discord and disrespecting his late predecessor, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

This has further compounded Aiyedatiwa’s challenges. Moreover, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, the widow of the late Rotimi Akeredolu, former governor of Ondo, has rebuked Funke Akeredolu Aruna, his niece, for endorsing Lucky Aiyedatiwa’s gubernatorial candidacy.

Additionally,the controversy surrounding Aiyedatiwa’s educational certificate adds another layer of complexity. Given the current circumstances,there are doubts about Lucky Aiyedatiwa’s ability to secure victory for the APC in Ondo on November 16, 2024..

As the ruling party in the states and with significant interest from the presidency in Ondo State, the APC is confronted with a pivotal decision. It necessitates a careful assessment of the situation and exploration of alternatives to Aiyedatiwa, emphasizing the selection of a candidate capable of uniting the party and appealing to a wide range of voters.

This might entail thorough internal consultations, redressing grievances within the party, and opting for a candidate with a more robust track record and broader support base, while still being youthful and rooted in grassroots support.

Furthermore, emphasis should be placed on presenting candidates with a compelling governance vision and addressing the electorate’s concerns to bolster their prospects in the forthcoming election. Such leverage lies predominantly with young but grassroots rooted personalities.

The incumbency factor has been resolved. The APC spokesperson stressed that the party does not hand out positions as “freebies”; rather, they are meant to be contested. This highlights the party’s commitment to democratic principles and fair competition within its ranks.

However, in the end, the party must select a candidate who fits the current political landscape, as winning elections is paramount in politics. The spokesperson stated, “We are a democratic and progressive party; we don’t hand out positions. People must prove their suitability, qualifications, or criteria to our members, who participate in primaries.”

Indeed, the APC’s main goal should be to nominate a candidate capable of uniting the party and securing a convincing victory. This necessitates choosing someone with a fresh image, broad appeal, strong leadership skills, and a proven track record of success. Such a candidate should also be able to address the diverse interests and concerns of the electorate, maximizing the party’s chances of success and effectively representing the people’s interests.

Undoubtedly, securing the Ondo gubernatorial seat in the November 2024 governorship election holds significant importance for the APC’s strategic calculations leading up to 2027. As such, the presidency must endorse a candidate with a fresh image and the adeptness to navigate the political terrain with agility.

Despite various names circulating in public discourse, Aiyedatiwa often goes unnoticed. Political analysts emphasize the critical need for careful deliberation within the APC to field a candidate who possesses both widespread popularity and the ability to secure victory. While several potential candidates are being suggested, Honorable Omo Oba Okujimi stands out.

Despite his youth, he boasts considerable private sector experience and is currently excelling as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Irele/Okitipupa Federal Constituency and serving as Chairman of the House Committee on National Population.

Honorable Jimi is reputed for his controversy-free record and enjoys substantial support across the state, making him a viable contender capable of clinching victory smoothly. His potential success in the election could also significantly impact the APC’s and President Tinubu’s 2027 strategy in Ondo and the broader southwest region.

Adetona Clocks 64 Years On The Throne

By Chief (Dr.) Fassy Adetokunboh Yusuf

The world’s longest reigning paramount monarch, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona is 64 years on the throne.A patriot and nationalist of the highest order, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, was officially crowned on April 2, 1960, six months before the country’s attainment of independence.

His coronation including the presentation of the staff of office was performed by the Governor of Western Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, and witnessed by an unprecedented crowd including Nigeria’s Leader of Opposition, Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo and Ijebu notables.

A monarch like no other, he bestrides the traditional institution like a colossus. His reign has been a monumental success and a pride to the Ijebu of Southwest Nigeria, the several tribulations he faced up to 1984 notwithstanding. He personifies the attributes of Ijebu that include strength of character (omoluwabi), fierce and sturdy independence, candour, objectivity, sincerity, entrepreneurial spirit, reliability, and resoluteness.

There were several accounts on the origin of Ijebu people. The accounts being largely oral,opinions are divided on how the people came to inhabit the present Ijebuland of Ogun State. The seemingly most factual of all the accounts was that the Ijebu people migrated into Nigeria from the Southern Sudanese region called Owadaiye, now corrupted to Waddai.

By a letter, dated January 4, 1960 referenced CB. 4 1/333, the Permanent Secretary in the Western Region’s Ministry of Local Government conveyed to the Local Government Adviser in Ijebu Ode, the approval of the Western Region Governor in-Council, the appointment of Prince Sikiru Kayode Adetona as the Awujale of Ijebuland with effect from that date (January 4, 1960).

It became the lot of Ijebu notables like the late Ogbeni-Oja, Chief (Dr.),Timothy Adeola Odutola; Bobasuwa, Chief Okunowo; and Asiwaju, Chief Samuel Olatunbosun Shonibare to arrange for the homecoming of the King-elect.

On January 18, 1960, the Head of the Ijebu Ode Regency Council, the Ogbeni-Oja, Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola formally presented the new traditional ruler to the whole world at Itoro, Ijebu Ode. This presentation, which was a novelty, signalled the commencement of the installation ceremonies of the king-elect. It was indeed, a new dawn in the annals of Ijebu people. The king-elect thereafter, proceeded to undergo the traditional seclusion at the Odo for three months.

On Tuesday, April 5,1960,newly crowned Oba Adetona,took his seat as a member of the Western Region House of Chiefs, after a formal introduction. So charming and captivating was Oba Adetona, that some Obas, and Chiefs nominated him for the presidency of the House of Chiefs, albeit, an older Oba, late Sir Adesoji Aderemi, Ooni of Ife was eventually elected the President.

As if confirming the aphorism that a golden fish has no hiding place,the new Awujale was appointed by the Western Region Government as a Minister and Member of the Region’s Executive Council. This position he occupied until the outbreak of the Western region’s political crisis of 1962.

With the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Western Region by the then Federal Government, the Administrator of the region, Dr. Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi, found the services of the young Awujale indispensable. He was made a Commissioner during the emergency period.

Since 1960, Oba Adetona has succeeded in raising the status and reckoning of his Ijebu people. He is known and perceived as one of the country’s greatest monarchs- dead or alive. A philosopher and social engineer, a thoroughbred and incorruptible monarch, his fame and popularity extend beyond the shores of Nigeria. A creative and strategic ruler,Oba Adetona has been a significant factor in the nation’s socio-political and economic development and growth.

The Awujale is loyally and devotedly committed to the Nigerian State. He is indeed, a patriot. He has built bridges across Rivers Niger and Benue. He admonishes his people to be thoroughbred wherever they find themselves.Little wonder the Ijebu people have not only comported themselves wherever they are, but it is on record that no inter or intra ethnic clash has been recorded in Ijebuland since he ascended the throne in 1960.

He was in the forefront of finding a national solution to the political logjam of 1993 to 1998. Oba Adetona consulted widely and hosted several fora. He was never a sell out. He brokered peace and concord in 1998 and 1999, and the current major actors in the nation’s political parties will readily attest to this disclosure.

It should be stated without equivocation that spoils of office cannot corrupt the monarch. He is just, transparent and equitable. Oba Adetona loathes any indecency and malfeasance. He eschews corruption like the plague. He has been known to chastise corrupt leaders and quite often to publicly denounce them.

Oba Adetona,to paraphrase Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819 to 1881), lis one leader “whom the lust of office does not kill.’’ A leader “whom the spoils of office cannot buy”. A monarch who “possesses opinions and a will.’’ A king “who has honour, who will not lie”.

A legend that has always “stood before a demagogue and damned his treacherous flattering without winking”.That every successive administration in Ogun State and Nigeria holds him in high esteem is a manifestation of his incorruptibility and sagacity.

He has immeasurably succeeded in bringing about religious harmony among his people to the extent that religion does not dichotomise Ijebu. The Christians live in harmony with Muslims in Ijebuland. The traditionalists are equally not isolated. The common saying in Ijebu is that “religion cannot divide us”.

Albeit Oba Adetona,is the President of the United Muslim Council (an umbrella Islamic organisation for Muslims) and the Vice President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, he attends Christian functions and he is quite versed in Christianity. The Ijebu Christian Community holds the New Year Prayer Session in the Awujale Palace. Many of his high-ranking Otunba and Chiefs are Christians.

Even though blessed with the wherewithal of life, Oba Adetona was able to mobilise his subjects in the 1980s to construct what is today one of the best ultra-modern palaces in the country. He was at it again when he galvanised his people to construct what is now known as Oba S. K. Adetona Golden Jubilee Centre directly opposite the palace. It is otherwise known as Palace Annexe.

The palace extension serves a number of purposes including as venue for the Annual Ojude Oba Festival (the international socio-cultural festival of the Ijebu nation), Royal Arcade, Ijebu National Museum, Regberegbe (Age Grade) Secretariat, Council of Otunba Secretariat, Council of Chiefs Secretariat, Shopping complex, and Tourists’ centre.

The Ijebu monarch, Alaiyeluwa Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona represents the totality of the worthy ancestral heritage of a people that have carved a niche for themselves in governance. It was therefore, not a surprise that the monarch shortly after his 80th birthday in 2014, instituted the Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance in the Department of Political Science.

This endeavour has led to the establishment of the Institute of Governance for postgraduate and research studies in Governance, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. The multi-billion naira and iconic project is expected to be commissioned by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as part of activities to mark the 90th birthday anniversary of the monarch.

To Awujale Adetona, good governance is the key to the emancipation of the society and the development of the country. ‘Good governance is a sine qua non to the march of our socio-economic, political,educational and technological growth and development’ is the oft-repeated declaration of the monarch. He feels good governance has eluded the nation and he is therefore, poised to reverse the trend or stem the tide through the professorial chair he endowed on governance.

His commitment to education is unassailable. His contributions to education is equally legendary. He fought for the retention of Tai Solarin University of Education when a past administration mooted the idea of scrapping the institution which is the first university of education in the country. Indeed, Oba Adetona’s contribution to education is legendary.

He was appointed the Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology (now Modibbo Adama University), Yola by the Babangida administration. After serving out his term, he received a lot of accolades as a leader with impeccable credentials. Kabiyesi also served as Chancellor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, and he is currently, the Chancellor of Hallmark University, Itele-Ijebu.

Recently the Ogun State Government renamed the Tai Solarin College of Education as Oba Sikiru Adetona College of Education, Science and Technology. This is a monumental gain for the institution as the education-loving monarch is now embarking on a massive transformation of the institution to make it primus inter pares.

Awujale Adetona is using his sagacity and creative ingenuity to bring the traditional institution in tandem with civilisation. The old and fetish practices have been jettisoned in Ijebuland, thus making the institution to be attractive to successful technocrats, professionals, and business moguls of royal lineage.

The Ogun State Government keyed into the philosophy of Oba Adetona by taking desirable step to outlaw barbaric practices in the coronation and burial of traditional rulers in the state.

Oba Adetona has brought tremendous honour and dignity to the Traditional institution, especially to Ijebu Traditional Council. His records of excellent and unsurpassable service to his people and the country are heart warming.

We sincerely salute the living legend, the great and amiable monarch as he continues to represent the totality of what the Ijebu stand for as a race.May his reign continue to be peaceful, progressive, and beneficial to Ijebuland, and indeed, to the nation.

Chief (Dr.) Fassy Adetokunboh Yusuf, Legal Practitioner and Distinguished Fellow,University of Lagos is Baagbimo of Ijebu and former Ogun State Commissioner for Information, Culture, and Sports.
Expressmail:drcfassyaoyusuf@gmail.com.
Mobile: 0803 315 4488,0805 615 8530.

What Pentecostal Pastors Have In Common With Politicians

By Michael Owhoko, Ph.D

Disparity of roles between ecclesiastics and politicians are generally expected to translate to differences in values, lifestyles and creeds, but this pattern has been disrupted and bridged in Nigeria by materialism. Moral disconnects, lust and insatiability for money, wealth, fame, influence and power have conspired to bring the men of God to the level of politicians.

This is evident in the Pentecostal ministries where some founding pastors and general overseers {GOs} no longer exhibit ascetic disposition and restraints from material allures.

Men of God are ordained servants positioned to constantly communicate God’s values and work of Jesus Christ for redemption of mankind with humility and sacrifice, not as businessmen and women with devotion of brewed capitalists, displaying affluence like politicians.

Politicians are elected political office holders with responsibility of running government to primarily provide welfare and security of lives and properties for the people, but opt to make politics a career and business for generating wealth for themselves.

With similarities in affluence and avarice, both pastors and politicians now operate in same frequencies. They buy private jets, lodge in diplomatic suits in 5-star hotels during local and foreign travels, send their children to expensive schools abroad, buy houses abroad, procure citizenship of foreign countries for themselves and immediate families, live in highbrow areas, enjoy retinue of domestic staff, and site projects funded with church or government money in their villages and home towns.

Besides, they also drive expensive exotic cars and SUVs with convoy of security escorts for protection. Use of escorts by politicians is understandable because they are vulnerable to public attacks owing to lifestyle of lies and deceit.

But where men of God who preach truth and regularly assure members of divine protection, fail to invoke celestial powers on themselves, but rely on security agencies for defence, leaves much to be desired.

Process for funding their voracious and lavish lifestyles is similar. While politicians deploy all sort of illusions to embezzle public funds, including collection and diversion of constituency funds for private interests, some men of God obtain pecuniary advantage over their members through hoaxes, guilt and fear.

They ensure management of tithes, offerings, seed and first fruit are under their exclusive preserve, including compelled donations orchestrated to look voluntary, but mechanically designed to appeal to emotions of congregates.

There is no accountability and transparency. Financial management and utilization of these sources of income are shrouded in secrecy, except to the knowledge of immediate families of pastors and GOs or a few carefully selected loyal church members.

Members are generally advised not to ask questions on how finances are utilized, as enquiries are viewed as recalcitrant handwork of devil, and attracts consequences ranging from warning, suspension or outright expulsion.

In abroad, church’s offerings and tithes are classified as charity funds. There is transparency and accountability. Members are at liberty to ask for receipts for such levies, as they serve as evidence of contributions to charity. Such receipts are presented to government for purposes of tax rebates, enabling members to enjoy tax relief.

Pentecostal churches are not liable to members on how levies and contributions are managed, just like government where there is no accountability and transparency. Political office holders use public funds as personal incomes to service their lives.

When citizens demand accountability over management of revenues in the face of glaring corruption, politicians in power are quick to accuse or label such persons as agents of destabilization working for opposition parties. When such criticism persists, such citizens are either hounded, warned, blackmailed, intimated or silenced, using state security apparatus.

Due to seemingly shared values, politicians who contested election and won through rigging and other fraudulent processes, are offered opportunities in the Pentecostal churches to offer thanksgiving to God for a “successful” election.

They are even allowed to step on pulpit to share testimonies and minister to congregation, with prayers offered to them thereafter, and sometimes, along with prophesies. Before departure, the politicians make donations to the church, most of which are redeemed with looted funds.

Looted funds are accepted as donations, gift, seed, tithes or offering. Pastors and GOs are not bothered about the sources of funds nor the integrity or character of donors. As long as it swells the revenue base of the church, it is acceptable. This is the attraction accounting for proliferation of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.

It is doubtful if the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics {NBC} knows the exact number of these churches. They target locations populated by high net-worth individuals to set up branches in order to grow their finances, as against rural areas inhabited by the poor. Lekki in Lagos is a major target, accounting for high presence of key Pentecostal churches.

While politicians have made politics a lucrative business, violating purpose of government for selfish interests and gains, these men of God in the Pentecostal movement have also made the gospel a business, failing to resist the lures of earthly wealth under the guise of kingdom expansion pursuit.

While it is true 1 Corinthians nine: 13-14 says preachers can live from the gospel, making it an obligation for church members to support their pastors, men of God have taken this verse out of context by taking advantage of vulnerability and ignorance of members to fund their ostentatious and extravagant lifestyles.

The need to sustain and maintain their expensive lifestyles is also responsible for the absence of clear succession plans. Having tasted power, money and influence, the typical politician is afraid to relinquish office. Where he is statutorily required to do so, resorts to picking his child or wife or relation or a sponsored successor to take over from him. For them, it is difficult to let go the wealth and juicy opportunities associated with their offices.

Founding Pentecostal pastors and GOs also deploy similar methods to perpetuate themselves in office. They have no clear succession plans, preferring to foist themselves on the congregates in perpetuity, pretending to be waiting for the Lord to choose a successor, when in fact, they have their children or wives in mind, whom they groom to takeover.

They cannot afford to handover the huge finances of the church to an “outsider”. It is the reason a Pentecostal church hardly survives beyond the life of its founder, as it slowly slides into extinction after his or her demise.

Also,while politicians regale their audience with promises of taking them out of poverty as strategy to secure their votes, some of these Pentecostal pastors also create false hope for members for prosperity as strategy for church growth.

Rather than encourage congregates to acquire skills to enable them offer services and products, they organize prayer programmes where they are asked to sow seed, which only enriches the pastors but deplete the poor. They know wealth cannot be created through prayers, yet, members are advised to exercise faith.

Unfortunately, donations, levies and other revenues contributed by members of the church are not fully used for kingdom expansion, but diverted and invested in private family commercial businesses registered in family names.

Returns from these investments are also not fully ploughed into the church, but partly reinvested into other businesses, including real estate, stocks, manufacturing, and even aviation where underutilized private jets are leased for commercial purposes.

Implicitly, there are now obvious blurred lines between spiritual and temporal dimensions fueled by material pursuit involving Pentecostal pastors and politicians. Existential gaps between them have continued to be narrowed by shared values, exacerbated by materialism.

Underpinning motive behind these seeming convergence, is prosperity, covertly wrapped under the guise of bringing succour to the people, which is currently posing serious reputation threat to the Pentecostal movement, and reshaping it to conjure an image of hypocrisy. It is indeed, an unhelpful development.

Sadly,the affluence associated with pastoral office is also currently having a ring on the minds of church members who are enrolled in Bible Colleges. Most of them now look forward to establishing their own church upon graduation.

They also want to “blow” like their pastors who project their stupendous wealth as product of divine favour, prompting them to want to set aside divine ordinances and protocols to commence their ministries, rather than wait to be called by the Lord.

Dr. Mike Owhoko, Lagos-based public policy analyst, author, and journalist can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com, and followed on X {formerly Twitter} @michaelowhoko

The Crowded Race For Ondo APC Guber Ticket

By ISAH MOHDEE

Up to this point, at least 25 individuals have indicated their interest in participating in the April 2024 governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State.

On Friday, February 23rd, during an interview with TVC News, Ondo State Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa announced his candidacy for the upcoming governorship election scheduled for November 2024.

Aiyedatiwa assumed the governorship of the state in December 2023 following the passing of the former governor-Rotimi Akeredolu(SAN), who had died after a prolonged illness in Germany. The former governor was laid to rest in Owo, his hometown, on Friday. May his soul rest in peace.

Other people aspiring for the APC governorship ticket include former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Oladunni Odu; former member of the House of Representatives, Mayowa Akinfolarin; former member who represented the state on the governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Olugbenga Oedema; retired Director of Finance at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Gen. Olumide Ohunyeye; and business mogul and incumbent Senator representing Ondo South Senatorial District, Jimoh Ibrahim.

The Ondo State governorship race is drawing attention not only within Ondo State but throughout Nigeria due to its complexities and large aspirants, especially within the APC. The party and the presidency should prioritise retaining control of the state, considering the implications for the 2027 political landscape.

Political pundits and commentators are of the view that selecting a candidate for the APC for the Ondo State gubernatorial election requires careful consideration by the APC and the Presidency to ensure that the APC flag-bearer possesses uniqueness, integrity, leadership, empathy, adaptability, and a clear vision for the long-term well-being of the people of Ondo.

It’s crucial to present a candidate who can resonate with all segments of the state’s population and effectively address their needs and concerns while also inspiring unity and progress and boasting the chances of the APC in both the governorship and the presidential elections.

Lucky Aiyedatiwa is the incumbent governor, and political parties often tilt towards their incumbent, but Lucky Aiyedatiwa is facing significant challenges in gaining widespread support for his candidature, including opposition from within the political establishment and concerns about his marketability to the Ondo people.

In such a situation,the APC would need to carefully consider these factors when selecting their candidate for the gubernatorial ticket. Some sources say the presidency is also showing so much concern about Aiyedatiwa’s political baggage.

Therefore,they may opt for someone with a broader appeal, stronger support across the three senatorial districts and all the political groups, and a better reputation for marketability and electability.

Ultimately,the goal would be to choose a candidate who can effectively represent the party’s interests, the presidency 2027 interests, and resonate with the electorate in Ondo State.

What is the solution for the APC? Ultimately,the APC would need to carefully assess all potential aspirants and choose the one who best fits the current requirements and has the greatest chance of success in the upcoming election.

Pundits, public affairs commentators, and political analysts say the APC should go for someone who will easily fit into the current moment’s requirements but has what it takes—experience, acceptability, and leadership qualities. They suggest that he or she should be someone new but familiar in the minds of the electorate in terms of acceptability and electability.

Among the names being mentioned are those of some new entrants but committed and loved by the people at the grassroots .

Reports confirmed the entry of Professionals ; lawyers, medical doctors including a versatile retired general with solid bonds with the people and are controversy-free, and they can be accepted by all the political divisions within and outside the party. Most of the new entrants have what it takes to lead Ondo state.

For example,the medical doctors have held various private practices and political appointments; Special Advisers,while the retired general is said to be a chartered accountant and a PhD holder with several top military appointments while in S
service.

Ondo state has new politicians who are assets and well experienced and committed individuals. They are people who can use their today for Ondo’s tomorrow and steer the state well, rewriting its history away from the old politician’s method of ‘I’ instead of ‘we’.

Mohdee wrote from Abuja, mohdee@aol.com

Tinubu, Governors Must Address Hunger,Poverty In Nigeria

Ishowo Olanrewaju

In the midst of Nigeria’s persistent economic woes, it’s time for a candid evaluation of government policies and our political landscape. The recent turbulence has exposed glaring discrepancies, thereby signalling a need for us to reassess our approach to governance and economic management.

First and foremost,the floating of the naira by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu demands immediate scrutiny. The Federal Government’s attempt at controlling exchange rates undermines the autonomy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a blatant violation of the Section 16 of CBN Act which imposes a duty on the apex bank to fix and determine the rate of the naira vis-a-vis other currency.

Such interference erodes investors trust in our institutions and only worsens the economic instability we’re dealing with hence runaway inflation takes the centre stage.

Yet,as we point fingers at government missteps, let’s not forget the broader context. For eight years,many hailed the Buhari administration despite warnings from experts and relevant stakeholders on the dangerous terrains he was leading us to, only for these same category of people to make a u-turn and blame him for the current state of affairs. This inconsistency exposes a fundamental hypocrisy within our society and a reluctance to take responsibility for our failures.

Moreover, attention must extend beyond the federal level. It is imperative for state governments to be held accountable for their utilization of security votes, increased federal allocations, and their failure to conduct local government elections. This deliberate act perpetrates a culture of impunity, lack of respect for local democracy and stifles grassroot development.

Furthermore,addressing the plight of state workers is paramount. With the increase in federal allocation, state governments must step up and ensure that their respective wage award for their employees reflects the economic realities. This would not only improve their lives but also stimulate the local economy.

I want to use this medium to implore governors who are yet to initiate payment of wage awards to workers in their respective states to as a matter of urgency prioritise and commence this payment.

Additionally, I want to specifically appeal to NGF Chairman and Kwara State Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to review the current wage award to workers in the state as the present N10,000 being paid to them has lost its economic value in the light of prevailing inflationary conditions.

In conclusion, Nigeria’s economic challenges are complex and require collective action. The federal government must review its policies and focus on diversification.

State governments should have a rethink their choice of projects, prioritize accountability in spending, and conduct local government elections. Taking responsibility as citizens and demanding transparency from our leaders is equally important.

Ishowo Olanrewaju
Public Affairs Analyst and an Advocate of Good Governance

NUPRC Stays In Abuja

By Ibrahim Musa

With clear mandates – ensuring compliance with petroleum laws, regulations and guidelines, monitoring of operations at drilling sites, producing wells, production platforms and flowstations, crude oil export terminals, and all pipelines carrying crude oil, and natural gas, supervising operations being carried out under licenses and leases, monitoring operations to ensure that they are in line with national goals and aspirations – the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, occupies a very influential position in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

The NUPRC also has the mandate to monitor operations to ensure that they are in line with national goals and aspirations, including those relating to Natural Gas Flare elimination & monetization, Domestic Gas Delivery Obligations and Domestic crude oil supply obligations and ensures that Health Safety& Environmental regulations conform to national and international best oil field practice.

The agency further maintains records on upstream petroleum operations, particularly on matters relating to petroleum reserves, production/exports, licenses and leases; advice Government and relevant Government agencies on technical matters and public policies while processing upstream petroleum–related applications for leases, licenses and permits as well as ensure timely and accurate payments of Rents, Royalties and other revenues due to the government from upstream petroleum operations while administering the National Data Repository (NDR).

Consequently,some persons, including politicians and analysts, who are aware of its various roles, have come to perceive the actions of NUPRC more from the realm of politics than economics. They keep a close watch on the activities in the agency and would complain about almost every development that does not fit into their pre-conceived idealism, instead of embracing realism based on purely economic considerations.

Take the latest efforts to move some personnel, especially field officers to Lagos,where many oil and gas companies have offices for example. The truth is that with the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, a comprehensive legislation, targeted at achieving restructuring, repositioning, increased productivity and transparency and accountability, the NUPRC inherited many personnel and its current building in Abuja from the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR. Sadly, many personnel do not have offices but work with their laptops from unsuitable locations, including conference rooms and corridors.

Meanwhile, NUPRC still bears the financial and other costs of taking them frequently to Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt to carry out their official duties. After due consideration and in line with President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to cut costs, eliminate wastages and enhance service delivery, the Engr. Gbenga Komolafe-led NUPRC started consulting with key stakeholders, especially the labour unions.

The consultation culminated in the taking of the decision, targeted at reducing pressure on accommodation in Abuja, maximizing the use of the Lagos-based office, reducing operational costs, improving organizational efficiency and enhancing industry growth.

Sadly,the decision has been unduly politicized and misconstrued to mean leaving Abuja. This constitutes a distraction to the NUPRC under the leadership of Engr. Komolafe that means so well for the industry and Nigeria as illustrated in the bold steps taken to make a positive impact in the past few years.

Already, NUPRC has developed regulations, giving meaning and intent to the PIA, to ensure that all bottlenecks associated with regulatory processes are eliminated, to entrench seamless upstream petroleum operations.

The gazetted regulations include: Petroleum Licensing Round Regulations 2022, Petroleum Royalty Regulations 2022, Conversion and Renewal (Licences and Lease), Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Host Communities Development Regulations 2022, Domestic Gas Delivery Obligations Regulations 2022, Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Measurement Regulations 2023, Production Curtailment and Domestic Crude supply Obligation Regulations, 2023, Frontier Basins Exploration Fund Administration Regulations, 2023, Nigeria Upstream Decommissioning and Abandonment Regulations 2023, Significant Crude Oil and Gas Discovery Regulations, 2023, Gas Flaring, Venting and Methane Emission (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulations, 2023 and Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Unitization Regulations,2023.

Also,the 14 draft regulations awaiting gazetting include Upstream Petroleum Fees and Rent Regulations, Acreage Management Drilling and Production Regulations, Upstream Environmental Remediation Fund Regulations, Upstream Petroleum Safety Regulations, Upstream Petroleum Environmental Regulations, Upstream Petroleum Measurement Regulations, Advance Cargo Declaration Regulations, Draft Upstream Commercial Operations Regulations, Draft upstream Petroleum Code of Conduct & Compliance Regulations, Draft Upstream Petroleum Development Contract Administration Regulations, Draft Upstream Revocation of licences and Lease Regulations, Draft Upstream Petroleum Assignment of Interest Regulations, Draft Nigerian upstream Petroleum (Administrative Harmonisation) Regulations and Draft Amendment to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Host Communities Development Regulations 2022.

The Commission has also held several Stakeholder Engagements on the Commission’s Draft Regulatory Framework for Energy Transition, Decarbonisation and Carbon Monetisation and incorporated the inputs arising from the engagements into the regulatory framework, which will not only govern the activities of the newly established Energy Transition and Carbon Monetisation Division of the Commission but those of the entire industry in considering Energy Transition in oil and gas field development.

Engr. Komolafe has attracted many investors expected to boost investment in the nation. The reserves report as of 1st January 2022 put the nation’s oil and condensate reserves status at 37.046 billion barrels, with a life index of 60 years, representing an increase of 0.37% compared to 36.910 billion barrels as of 1st January 2021. On the other hand, the nation’s reserves status stood at 208.62 (trillion cubic feet) TCF with a life index of 80 years, representing an increase of 1.01% compared to 206.53 TCF as of 1st January 2021.

He has taken deliberate steps to drive the Decade of Gas programme declared by the Federal Government through more aggressive development of the Nation’s huge gas resources, enhanced exploration activities, development of utilization schemes leading to gas reserves growth, increased gas production, maturation of domestic and export gas markets, in addition to gas flare elimination and commercialisation through the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialization Program (NGFCP).

Engr. Komolafe has also assisted many companies/projects to hasten development and achieve their first oil production. Some of the fields include: Anyala field (First E&P), Ikike (Total), Efe field (Newcross), Utapate, (NEPL), and Akubo Field (SEEPCo).

He contributed immensely to the funding of the Federation’s activities. In the year 2021, the total revenue generated was N2.9 trillion which signified a 44.82 per cent increase in revenue generated as compared to the 2020 figure which stood at N2.0 trillion. On the other hand, the total revenue generated in the year 2022 was N3.781 trillion, indicating an increase of 30.38 per cent.

In 2024,plans are underway to hold the licensing round in line with Section 73 of the nation’s PIA. The Engr. Komolafe-led Commission will optimise the functionality of automation systems by enhancing the efficiency of existing optimising tools and the streamlined deployment of new ones while collaborating with relevant government entities to grow oil and gas production in the best interest of all stakeholders, including investors and Nigeria.

This and other plans are targeted at increasing oil and gas production and extending foreign exchange generation for the government and other stakeholders. As Engr. Komolafe disclosed at the just-concluded Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) Sub-Saharan Africa International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference in Lagos, that the operations of the agency will continue to be driven by modern technology, improved transparency in hydrocarbon measurement and accounting and collaborative work programme administration with the exploration & production companies.

Indeed,the planned movement of field officers to Lagos should be endorsed and supported by everyone as it promises to not only bring NUPRC much closer to the oil and gas companies and other stakeholders but also position the agency to operate more efficiently while minimizing cost and maximizing returns to the government and nation.

Ibrahim Musa is a Lagos-based Energy Analyst

Olayemi Cardoso’s Dilemma

By Tunde Rahman
Those who know Mr. Olayemi Cardoso will agree he got his current job as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria on a platter of solid professional background and strong personal attributes. His pedigree is rich as his character is unsullied. Cardoso had a remarkable private sector career where he shone brilliantly in banking, stockbroking and consulting.
Cardoso also came from a very solid family pedigree. Nigeria’s late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, appointed his late father, Mr. Felix Bankole Cardoso, as the first Accountant-General of the Federation in 1963. The late elder Cardoso served with enviable record till 1971.
Part of the remarkable private sector career of Olayemi Cardoso was his appointment as the Chairman of the Board of Citi Bank in Nigeria.
Cardoso began his public service journey when he became the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in the cabinet of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor of Lagos State as he then was in 1999. In addition to superintending that ministry, Cardoso was charged with several other responsibilities including heading important cabinet committees that birthed landmark agencies in the state.
Cardoso was known for enforcing strict budgetary discipline that contributed significantly to the overall success of the Tinubu administration in Lagos. He refused to authorise the release of funds for projects or programmes that had no budgetary head. For all of that and many more, Cardoso was nicknamed the Headmaster.
Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Managerial and Administrative Studies and Masters in Public Administration from the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Government and parading strong personal attributes, Cardoso is obviously a perfect fit for the CBN top job. He is calm but firm, strict but fair, prudent but practical, straightforward and honest with loads of integrity.
These are the unique qualities he carried unto his job at the apex bank and his major selling points when on September 23, 2023 he officially assumed office with the Senate confirmation of his appointment.
However, it does appear Cardoso will need much more than that to succeed in his present assignment. Under him, the CBN seems to be doing the right thing or doing things right: thinking and working on coming up with appropriate monetary policies, moving to rein in the rising foreign exchange rates and particularly achieve an appropriate value for the naira, which Cardoso believes has been undervalued.
But in the wake of the floating of the Naira, some of the variables shaping the value of the national currency, including limited production in the country as a result of insecurity, Nigerians’ high taste for imported products, dwindling exports, poor dollar remittances, humongous school fees of Nigerian students abroad and medical tourism all of which engendered a strong demand for dollar, far outweighing supply, seem to be clearly beyond his control.
Until these situations change for better, no amount of monetary policies by the CBN will work any miracle, hence Cardoso’s predicament. For instance, in his presentation at the sectoral debate organised by the House of Representatives two weeks ago, the CBN governor lamented that the growing number of Nigerian students studying abroad, increasing medical tourism and food imports have led to the depreciation of the Naira against the Dollar.
According to him, over the past decade, foreign exchange demand for education and healthcare totalled nearly $40 billion, surpassing the total current foreign exchange reserves of the CBN, while personal travel allowances accounted for a total of $58.7 billion during the same period.
Another critical yet intriguing factor but seemingly odd in Cardoso’s reckoning is the perception in some quarters of some of the decisions of the CBN, which the apex bank considers purely administrative, but which some others give strange connotations.
One of such is the decision to move some departments of the bank; notably banking supervision, other financial institutions supervision, consumer protection department and payment system management department from Abuja to Lagos.
Indeed, until the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, spoke on this issue last week, I had reckoned that the imperative of the planned relocation of some CBN departments and the headquarters of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria from Abuja to Lagos was evident enough. I had reasoned that the Northern politicians including Senator Ali Ndume from Borno State who had moved to bring down the roof over the development were merely playing politics.
The Emir of Kano, a highly revered royal father, raised the ante last Monday while receiving the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who was in Kano to inaugurate the School of Law Building named after her by Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, and had stopped by to pay a courtesy call on the Emir.
Emir Bayero, whose speech was translated from Hausa to English Language by a senior palace counsellor, had told the First Lady to convey his message to President Tinubu. He said among other things: “We are indeed suspicious on why Mr. President single-handedly relocated key departments of CBN, and outright relocation of FAAN to Lagos.
“We are receiving a series of messages from my subjects, and most of them expressed concern over the relocation of CBN and FAAN to Lagos. President Tinubu should come out clean on this matter and talk to Nigerians in the language they would understand. Do more enlightenment on this matter. I, for one, cannot tell the actual intentions of the government. We should be made to actually understand why the relocation of the CBN and FAAN offices back to Lagos.”
Many will wonder why some members of the northern elites are losing their cool, misinterpreting this move and, perhaps inadvertently, heating up the polity on this rather elementary matter. Is their reservation altruistic? Or are they just being sincerely mistaken and reading unnecessary motives into the policy?
 With the benefit of hindsight, one can say that Cardoso and his team should have understood the political dimensions of the decision better and undertake a more effective public enlightenment on it rather than treat it as a purely administrative matter.
Knowing the kind of people and country that we are and the fact that ours is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society where every action or decision is viewed from ethnic and religious lenses, the CBN ought not to have released the news about the movement of the departments concerned in a routine manner as it did.
It should have released the news with the detailed information and explanation behind the move. The CBN Communication Department should have deployed all in its arsenal to explain the movement to its critical stakeholders and the general public.
The apex bank should have seen the movement beyond a mere administrative move, which is within its remit to do. The bank should have situated the movement and anticipated the social and political meanings some may give it. That is how things run in Nigeria.
A deeper and detailed explanation was later provided when Cardozo appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives in Abuja. I was there at the session and witnessed it all. Asked by one of the members of the House from the North, at the session, the rationale behind the movement, the CBN Governor said:
“There is nothing political in the movement. We didn’t change any plan. It has always been like that to ease banking supervision. Most of the banks are based in Lagos. So it works well for supervision if our officials are there with them and close to them and close to those the banks interact with. It’s for administrative convenience. It’s also cheaper for the CBN.”
He also disclosed that the movement of the departments concerned to Lagos is also important because, according to him, the country is at the point where there is a need for more banking surveillance.
It is important that the CBN governor draws the appropriate lesson from this. He should learn from this experience that though his job of superintending the country’s monetary system is a professional and economic one, yet it has its political aspects. His decisions have consequences not only on the economy but also on the political front.
As such,the CBN Governor must always pay attention to the political ramifications of his decisions.He must be political without being partisan.
Indeed, his situation is also not helped by the fact that he has had very political predecessors-in-office including the high-sounding Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the soft-spoken but loud former Emir of Kano, Khalifa Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and the immediate-past Governor, Godwin Emefiele (this one even attempted to contest for president while holding the office as CBN governor).
There are a couple of things to say on the hoopla about the staff transfer though.
One, President Tinubu is receiving attacks over the movement. Emir of Kano says he must reverse it, urging the First Lady to deploy the feminine soft power to actualise this.
Yet, to all intent and purposes, the President that is being asked to reverse the transfer may not have been apprised of the decision because he does not micromanage those he gives responsibilities to where their unique expertise and experience are called to service.
The CBN on its part may not have briefed the President because Cardoso had seen the planned movement as purely administrative.
Secondly and more importantly, those who are responding negatively to the policy are treating Abuja as if it belongs to the North rather than being the symbol of the entire country as the Federal Capital Territory. In that capacity, as the FCT, Abuja belongs to all and belongs to no one.
 In the same vein, as the economic capital and nerve center of the country, Lagos is a melting pot where representatives of virtually all ethnic and cultural groups in the country reside and earn a living.
There is absolutely nothing that says that the headquarters of all Federal Agencies must be located in the Federal Capital even when economic considerations and efficiency dictate otherwise. Some federal agencies reside neither in Abuja nor Lagos at present and their work go on unimpeded.
In any case, President Tinubu’s pan-Nigerian outlook and credentials are too well known. His ability to build political and personal networks and relationships across the length and breath of the country were partly responsible for his victory in the keenly contested 2023 presidential election. He will be the last person to approve or support any policy designed to be detrimental to any part of the country.
But for CBN Governor Cardoso, all of that represents his baptism of fire and a wake-up call for him to be a little more flexible particularly in matters that have wider political connotations.
– Rahman is a Senior Presidential aide
Illegal Mining:Kwara North,And other Kwarans Must Wake Up

Kwara North, a poverty stricken region, who has done nothing wrong than just lacking the electoral number Kwara Central and South possesses. They are behind in development index, and other critical indices that ensures they are people treated equally along other districts in Kwara.

You don’t need to be told, the moment you step foot into that area, the breeze that blows there is different from the rest of Kwara.

Yet, the recent arrests made by the EFCC, seizing four trucks of lithium, one of the most expensive natural resources in the world, if not more than gold puts the region in a more difficult spot and makes them vulnerable to banditry crisis as evident in Zamfara. Four trucks of lithium worths over $65,000, and it was illegally farmed. If illegal people are farming close to ₦100 million naira worth of lithium, how much would it cost to buy arms and distort the peace in Kwara North, a problem we are not and will never be prepared for.

This discovery also brings to the public eye, how those who have been digging and mining legally have not given back to the community where they dig this resources, which is in contradiction of an essential element and agreement that makes one eligible for license. Kwara Northerners and other Kwarans must know that, that area can’t be particularly suffering from unfair political machinations and still not get our sympathy and support in ensuring that resources found under their land is not beneficial to them. Yes, it is state resources, it is Nigeria resources.

However, we need to search the hands of traditional rulers and government officials who may be culpable in compromising our future, by gaining undue wealth from unsuspecting public. A new generation of billionaires who may escape scrutiny, and profit from chaos and instability.

This is a call to action for the future. If four tucks load of lithium has been mined from Kwara North illegally, one can only imagine how many trucks had successfully evaded security checks or discovery. Before they destabilise this state, and before Kwara North becomes a hot region for occupants and visitors, we must increase advocacy, bearing in mind the natural disasters unethical mining can do to even climate change.

This is a call to local community, traditional leaders, officials of government who can still afford something good and possess conscience. Let us pay attention today to save the future.

Ishowo Olanrewaju

Public Affairs Analyst and an Advocate of Good Governance