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Inside story of Kano marriage project

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A popular match-maker in Kano in the 90s, known as Hajiya Gwoggo Mai Dalilin Aure, was acclaimed to have linked over 1m couples. Her match-making business transcended the Saudi Arabian kingdom, from where Northern men and women based in that country demanded to be linked up with unknown spouses for marriage.


How the battle was won and lost ...battle won and lost

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effect of the attendant high cost of fuel which immediately shot up from N65 per liter to a staggering N141 per liter official rate in major cities but floated up to N200 in various parts of the country.


A breath of subsidised fresh air?

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By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem

Nigerians heaved a huge sigh of relief last week when the Presidency finally reduced the pump price of fuel to N97 per litre. Recall that President Goodluck Jonathan had during the electioneering campaign promised the people fresh air if he wins but just as Nigerians were towards the end of last year grumbling that the fresh air was nowhere to be found, the President announces a 110 percent increase in the pump price of fuel on January 1st. The crisis that followed need not be repeated here.


National Assembly holds the ace

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By Richard Ihediwa


With the stalemate between the labour               fronts and the Federal Government, it has become clear that the National Assembly holds the ace on efforts to finding solution for the crisis.


Subsidy palaver and other matters

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By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem


For President Goodluck Jonathan and family, the past week which was the first of 2012, started on a spiritual note. Since there is a global consensus that Nigerians are the most prayerful set of people on earth, we shouldn’t expect less from our President more so that he owes his meteoric rise from the shoeless little boy in the creeks of Otuoke to the Commander- in Chief of the Armed Forces, more to stupendous good luck than anything else.

At the First Baptist Church,  Garki, Abuja where he observed New Year service, the President explained to Nigerians the reason why he is widely regarded as Mr Go- Slow. Recall that when after few months of being sworn in for a fresh tenure last year, the President failed to either take any bold step or appoint ministers, Nigerians became impatient and described him as a slow runner. In fact, a respected editor and columnist had titled his column for a particular week as “Hit the ground crawling” in sarcastic reference to Jonathan’s style.

At the service, Mr President said the need to make wide consultations and avoid making errors made him declare state of emergency in 15 troubled council areas in the north late.

Hear him, "When I'm challenged I think more, I don't rush to take decisions, I listen more to people. That is why at times it looks as if I'm slow.”

  Recall that the President had last weekend relied on section 305 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended) to declare a state of emergency in Maiduguri Metropolitan, Gamboru, Ngala, Banki Bama, Biu, Jere (Borno); Damaturu, Geidam, Potiskum, Buniyadi-Guiba and Gasua-Bade (Yobe);Jos North, Jos South, Barkin-Ladi and Riyom (Plateau) and Suleja (Niger). This he said was meant to forestall cases of Boko Haram attacks and restore peace in the troubled spots.

The state of emergency was not however enough to stop some cases of bomb explosions and gun attacks in Maiduguri during the week. But Nigerians are ready to give the Federal Government the benefit of doubt on this one.

Same day, the President in a New Year Message reiterated his determination to crush terrorism in the country while disclosing government’s plan to engage the support of the international community in countering the rising influence of the Boko Haram sect in some parts of the country.      

   The President however did not elaborate on the modalities for such collaboration. So, Nigerians were not really given the opportunity to determine the implication for the country’s security and national interest. Still on this, the President was given the benefit of the doubt as the criticisms for the message have been scanty, if any.

But one issue that Nigerians of all ages, tribes, sections, and status have been unanimous in its outright condemnation was the removal of fuel of subsidy which was announced as a New Year gift by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). The policy ensured a litre of fuel was being sold for between N138 to N200 depending on location.

The more government try to justify the increase, the more Nigerians got angry and the more protesters trooped out to the streets to tell government that, this time it had over reached itself.

Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati granted an interview to State House correspondents and insisted that the policy was the best for the economy irrespective of what Nigerians think.

Listen to Abati in 2012: “One thing you will know is that leadership is not about populism, sometimes leaders have to take some very tough decisions in the interest of the people because people are used to a certain kind of reality, it is natural for one to resist it  but we believe  that once it is clear that this is done in the best interest of the  people even those that are opposing it now either for mischief or partisanship will see the wisdom in the action.”  

Now, listen to Abati in 2009 where in his widely read column in The Guardian, he  vehemently criticised the government of Presidential Umaru Musa Yar’adua for attempting to remove fuel subsidy: “Other countries of the world provide subsidy for their citizens. Nigerians ask: if they remove petroleum subsidy completely, then what is it that we are expected to enjoy as citizens? Yet, Nigeria is a petroleum producing country. The Global Recession Committee should take another look at its proposal, it should pay close attention to public responses. No matter how attractive the removal of subsidy in the downstream sector may be, this is not the time to do it. And this is not how to go about it. Now again we pay the price for poor leadership. What is being planned is provocative. It is an invitation to chaos.”

And you know what, what we have witnessed in the country since PPPRA gave Nigerians that wonderful New Year package was the synonym of chaos.

This same 2009 piece was what some “mischief makers” relied on to spread rumours of Abati’s resignation on Thursday. In reaction, Abati said: "It is not true. I am at my duty post, loyal and faithful. And if it is that I should resign, well it is just their own wishful thinking, which will not happen."

Still on the subsidy issue, observers have asked some pertinent questions. Why didn’t Mr President tell us about this policy during the electioneering campaigns? Why didn’t he mention other controversial policies like the 6-yr single tenure proposal during campaign so that Nigerians can make informed choices? Why did government tell us that the take off date of fuel price increase was April but implemented the increase on January 1? Why did the coordinator of the economy, Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala tell us that they were still consulting and that d removal will not take effect soon? Why won’t they probe NNPC fraud and fraud in turn around maintenance in the recent past and recover our looted funds? Why didn’t government implement the subsidy removal bit by bit to mitigate the suffering on Nigerians? Why  the 110 % increase at once? Why are we always in a haste to implement IMF policies which do not always favour us? Why must government say it must inflict pains on the people to get money for infrastructure when the country makes billions of dolars daily from other numerous sources? Why wont the President reduce the number of ministers as and some senseless appointees and cut cost  rather than asking people to pay for essential things through their noses? Why cant govt subsidise any of housing, education, transport and so on? Many questions...

Though the government after an emergency Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday introduced some palliatives to mitigate the suffering of the people but most observers insisted that government should have waited for a time where there would be an efficient railway transportation system, steady power supply (meaning less dependence on generators which use fuel), an impeccable public transport system in major cities before jerking up the pump price of fuel.

Information minister, Labaran Maku who addressed State House correspondents after the meeting announced that government was bringing 1,600 public transportation buses to assist the poor beside an order to the Ministry of Finance to ensure that workers were paid on the 20th of January. But after all these, Nigerians were hardly impressed as most observers saw the moves as an afterthought (a campaign after election). To some analysts, this showed that we have a panicky and indecisive government in Nigeria which is not sure of what it wants to do. Others also said the President was not sensitive enough to have increased the pump price of fuel at a time some Christians were still in the villages where they had gone to celebrate the yuletide.

But Maku had this to say: “Mr. President is deeply touched also by the pains that citizens are going through because of the temporary jump in the prices of petroleum products as well as of transportation in most parts of the country.”

Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state was also a guest at the villa on Thursday and expectedly, he backed the removal of fuel subsidy while speaking with State House reporters, saying that Nigerians should stop clamouring  for government to cut cost since according to him, the presidential system, which we operate, is too expensive.

Earlier in the week, the Presidency had set up a committee headed by former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore to meet with labour and avoid a looming disaster, called strike action. Same day, the government announced the appointment of former permanent representative to the UK, Dr Christopher Kolade to head a Subsidy Re-investment Board with the mandate to collect subsidy revenue and use for some people-oriented projects . But the more government takes these steps, the more people got angrier and trooped to the streets to tell government that enough was enough.

 It was a chaotic week Dr Reuben Abati saw in prophetically back in 2009.    



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