NIGERIA'S OIL EXPIRATION DATE DRAWS NEAR

Monday, March 31, 2008

"Nigeria’s oil reserves will be depleted in 43 years, the shortest reserve life of any OPEC nation, according to a recent report." Source PPPRA.
It appears that Nigeria only has 43 more years to 'enjoy' oil wealth. While this information is enough to send many into a panicked frenzy, the fact that Nigeria's oil has an expiration date in the near future could be a very good thing for the country.


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AN EFCC REVIVAL?

Friday, March 28, 2008

In February this year, I wrote RIP EFCC. In it, I asserted that with the removal of its 'former' chair, Ribadu, the release of Ibori from jail and other significant issues, the EFCC "should probably be written off as a has-been." After months of staying out of the news, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is back in the news with a big bang. Current events, however, are forcing me to review my thoughts on the Commission and the future of Nigeria's anti-corruption crusade. At issue is the EFCC's investigation of Grange and the questionable activities at the Ministry of Health. There is also a recent revelation that was made by the EFCC that might cause many to believe that the EFCC, under its acting chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, is 'back in true form'. But, I wonder if it is time for me to gather palm fronds and wave them in the streets on account of this EFCC 'revival'.

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SOLAR ENERGY PLANS

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

As the nation grapples with the realization that billions of dollars have been wasted by opportunistic leaders and companies in the power sector, Niger State announced that it would take care of its own power needs independent of the current national provider, PHCN. Niger State is the largest of Nigeria's 36 states and it recently signed a contract with APE Solar S.A. to set up a solar-power generation plant to provide energy to the state's residents.

This decision to partner with the American firm was a direct response to the nation's inability to provide adequate power to citizens and the fact that Nigeria needs to generate 14-15 gigawatts of power but only has the capacity to generate 4 gigawatts (GW). The contract requires APE Solar to construct a $20 million solar energy plant at the Minna Industrial Layout to be completed by the end of 2008. Initial output will be 2.5 GW this year with an increase to 5 GW in 2009.

I cannot blame Niger State's leadership for turning to solar energy as a means to power the state. Considering the amount of sunshine that Nigeria receives, solar power seems to be the most efficient and probably cost effective means of power generation. In light of the revelations that Nigeria's former president, OBJ, gave $50 million to ghost companies on account of power and the fact that in the past and all the promises that have been made with no result, it is reasonable to expect that the people of that state (and other states) need an independent means of satisfying their energy needs. In fact, this could be the beginning of a transition by more states towards potentially earth-friendly alternative power sources.

CAUTIONARY NOTES..
As there have been numerous contracts in the power sector that failed to result in any substantial change, I hope that Niger State's governor and other administrators took the proper steps in granting this contract to APE Solar. Additionally, I hope that they will do what they can (within the law) to ensure that this contractor meet its obligation to the citizens of Niger State.

In researching APE Solar, I discovered that the company was created in 2006 and that its CEO, Tasos Malapetsas, is a new entrepreneur. I was unable to learn much more about the company or its previous experience in building solar energy plants. Considering this information, I cannot help but wonder how his company won this potentially lucrative contract. Nevertheless, I expect that APE Solar will fulfill its obligations. As there is no evidence otherwise, I assume that APE Solar and Niger's administrators followed the letter of the law in contracting this solar energy plant.

I can't help but wonder if this turn to become independent of the (non-existing) national grid could someday prove detrimental. But for now, I hope that this turn towards solar energy is a turn for the best.


Further reading:
- Power Blackouts Loom Across Nigeria
- Nigeria Power Scandal: Authority Stealing

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NIGERIA VS. NIGERIANS

Monday, March 24, 2008

"I like Nigerians but I just can't stand Nigeria."
Does this make any sense to you? Think about it.
Have you or someone you know ever felt that way? Why?

Just curious...



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ARE THE POOR TO BLAME FOR THEIR POVERTY?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For quite a while, I have had the sneaky suspicion that there is a disturbingly growing attitude amongst Nigerians when it comes to the underprivileged. I think that many Nigerians (you might not be one of them), think poverty is a contractible disease that is caused by its victims. I also believe that this attitude fosters a belief amongst many that they can mistreat and sometimes even abuse those that are less fortunate.

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NIGERIAN POWER SCANDAL: AUTHORITY STEALING

Sunday, March 16, 2008

When Yar'Adua became President last year, he committed himself to deciphering Nigeria's power mess. Earlier this year, Nigeria's Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan's meeting was interrupted by 'power holding' on the part of PHCN (NEPA's new and improved name). This incident was closely followed by another embarrassing moment when on the 3rd of March, President Yar'Adua's speech was brought to a screeching halt when there was a power outage in Kaduna. Yar'Adua issued an 18 month ultimatum on power.

It is amazing how embarrassment can motivate people. In this case, make it an entire government. These embarrassing power cuts, constant media reports about future reductions in power supply, and Yardy's declared 'Vision 2020'* plan have 'put pepper' on the backside of legislators and the National Assembly is now having hearings into the true nature of Nigeria's failed power sector. This scandal is, unfortunately, a reflection of Nigeria in its malaise -inability breeding inability. Deficient 'leaders' in positions of power failing to produce the results that are expected over and over again.

STORY, STORY...STORY, ONCE UPON A TIME....
A special Committee on Power and Steel began probing whether or not $10 billion or $16 billion had been 'spent' by the former administration on addressing electricity issues. These hearings, which are being played out on national television, have revealed that six power stations that have been fully paid for are yet to be completed. Additionally, a South African company, Pivot, paid to maintain the Mambila power station has not even taken the first steps towards operating the station. Further inquiries have also illustrated that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo gave out power contracts left and right without following legal requirements. He apparently overrode the authority of the Ministry of Energy and personally picked and chose who got contracts in the power sector.

DEMOCRACY AT WORK
We must commend the House of Representative's Committee on holding these hearings and exposing for the nation, and the world, the deep rot of corruption that plagues Nigeria's ability to generate sufficient electricity. This is democracy at work. Nigerians are able to watch their televisions, listen to their radios, read newspapers and discuss with their friends the serious issues raised by this scandal.

Some of the revelations from the probe are startling and the Committee has called Yardy to appear and answer questions. The Committee is considering whether or not to require Obasanjo to appear for questioning, despite revelations that he benefited from many of the contracts doled out in the power sector. I can only wonder whether or not Nigerians will still sit with their hands on their chin in wonderment, or if they will actually demand action i.e. that OBJ appear before the House of Representative's Committee and answer questions, that Yardy keep his promise to tackle the power crisis faced by millions and that any individual or corporate entity regardless of their wealth, power or access to the powerful elite actually face the wheels of justice if they have a direct link to the nation's failed power sector. Only time will tell whether Nigerians will demand better treatment from those charged with serving the people's needs.

WE ARE OUR OWN WORST ENEMY
Why are we going through all this? Why have we paid companies, foreign and domestic, to provide the means necessary for power generation when there were very capable companies that could have done the job? I posit that this scandal simply highlights corruption and the need to "chop" that is pervasive in Nigeria. Obasanjo and friends shared the power/electricity cake amongst themselves and kept out companies that could have actually done a good job at moving Nigeria several steps further in the trek towards development via adequate power supply. Imagine, Nigerians rely on generators to power their fridges but not their televisions, or power their computers and not their microwaves. The majority of Nigerians do not even have powerlines to dream of having any electricity and/or do not have the money to purchase generators and the diesel needed to power them.

In case you are wondering what companies could have handled this situation, may I present Income Electrix Limited, a Nigerian controlled power company that has successfully completed the first phase of a 36 megawatts Independent Power Plant (IPP) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone's Minister of Energy commended Income Electrix for their competency and their ability to complete this phase of the project with only 10 weeks. Income Electrix Limited is currently working with PHCN to institute pre-paid metres for electricity users.

We are, quite simply, our own worst enemies.

OBASANJO'S TRUE LEGACY
I've said this before and will say this again, OBJ did some good things for Nigeria, but his legacy will staunchly reflect his failures to observe basic rules that were already in place. For instance, when he brought Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to run the Ministry of Finance? Her salary contract caused consternation because it denominated her pay in U.S. dollars and not Naira, Nigeria's currency. That was in direct conflict with laws already in place that required all Nigerian officials to be paid in Naira. Additionally, Obasanjo's decision to elevate Ribadu to Assistant Inspector General as a means to keep him in office after the transition to Yar'Adua's administration plays a key role in the current confusion that Nigerians are experiencing.

Nevertheless, unlike the Okonjo-Iweala and Ribadu case were the laws were unclear, there were clear laws in place to regulate how and when contracts were given to companies, OBJ apparently usurped the entire process and possibly turned it into a financial boom for himself and his associates. This attitude of OBJ's - that people in power can do what he wants -seems to be a recurring theme now that the country is reviewing many of the actions of the former administration. No wonder Yardy came into office and made 'Rule of Law' his mantra. In retrospect, the rule of law was categorically lacking in the previous administration and although the jury is still out on Yar'Adua, one can at least commend his administration for creating an environment where the failures of former elected officials can be reviewed and analyzed. For the Fela fanatics, all one has to say is 'Authority Stealing' to put this story and its fallout into context.

So, like my fellow Nigerians, I sit in earnest to see whether Yardy and the legislature will go one step further than mere probes and solve Nigeria's power crisis by creating a reliable power grid, solving the Niger Delta crisis to fuel thermal powered power stations, and provide an opportunity for Nigeria's poor and middle class to advance.


- Patrick Obahiagbon - My Favorite Parliamentarian?
- Nigeria: Arithmetic Problems in High Places (GrandioseParlor.com)

UPDATE: OBASANJO 'DASHED' $50 MILLION TO NON-EXISTENT COMPANIES ON ACCOUNT OF NIGERIA'S POWER SECTOR!


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ANOTHER LETTER TO YARDY

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dear Yardy:

How are you? I hope that all is well. What with the Election Tribunal's decision in your favor, a weight of burden must have been removed from your neck. I am sure that if you could, you would have drank some champagne in celebration. Don't worry. Your non-Muslim friends did that for you.

I am sure that you will take this good news as a new start. A chance to reinvent yourself and your administration, and reintroduce your vision for a great Nigeria. In fact, it is clear that you are becoming a different person in the aftermath of the decision. Imagine my surprise when I heard you talk about the 'Rule of Law' recently, but this time, in a little more detail. It was incredible. I thought for a split second that you read my blog and all the appeals I made. I thank you for taking the time to reinforce your ideas.

I especially liked the suggestion that ordinary citizens must live by established rules and regulations and that once we all do that, corruption will become controllable. But, do you really mean it when you say that you are committed to supporting the EFCC? I mean, the changes that happened, plus the exuberant battle between Aondoakaa and the EFCC, which Aondoakaa seemingly won, put in doubt your commitment to the Commission. Well, you say your administration will fund the Commission so it can continue to deal with corruption, so I will take you at your word and congratulate you once the agency receives adequate funding. Will the EFCC and ICPC be combined as Aondoakaa has promised? I read that they have retrieved N600 billion in stolen funds. If that is not a case for their continued and independent, though more efficient, existence, I am not sure what is.

I eagerly await your correspondence.

Sincerely,
SolomonSydelle

PS: Oh, and please, I am trying to find details on your Vision 2020 plan. I am desperate for information but am not finding what I need. Will you, or a friend, talk about that sometime soon?


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PATRICK OBAHIAGBON - MY FAVORITE PARLIAMENTARIAN?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is it possible that I actually have a favorite anything? See, the only favorite thing I have ever been able to have my whole life is my favorite color - blue. I have always seen life as being too complex to truly have a favorite food, favorite actor, favorite song e.t.c.

But, there is a member of Nigeria's Parliament that might throw my trusted-approach on its head. His name is Patrick Obahiagbon and he is a representative of Edo State at the National Assembly. I first heard him speak when he was giving his opinion on the ''Political Boxing Match" that happened in Senate over the Etteh Gate Scandal. (Come on, it wasn't that long ago, you remember the fight and unfortunate death of a Senate member?).

Since then, I have been on a mission to pay as much attention to Mr. Obahiagbon as possible. I daresay I set my TIVO to record NTA Network News just for a glimpse of him everyday. I also take the time to search for video of him online from time to time, as well. No, I am not a stalker, but I promise you that once you hear this gentleman speak, you too will be intrigued. Or as he says "overgasted and flabberwhelmed."


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POWER BLACKOUTS LOOM ACROSS NIGERIA

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A recent discussion with the administrator of The AfroBeat, highlighted the need to use improved power generation as the threshold by which Yar'Adua's administration would be judged.

As such, I couldn't overlook news reports that indicate that Nigeria will experience even more power outages because certain power generation plants receive inadequate gas supplies necessary to generate electricity for millions of Nigerians. The drop in gas supplies, which took power generation from 800MW to 100MW at one station, is a result of the dry season, when the dams that supply water to the hydroelectric power plants are at their lowest level, "thereby limiting their generating capacity and ability to augment the thermal units" according to ThisDay newspaper.

ANY SOLUTIONS?
For those of you that are much more knowledgeable about these issues, what can be done to prevent the constant degradation of power supply in Nigeria? Are there any known plans on how the nation will address the power crunch? Being that hydroelectricity plays such an important role to the electricity supply, what innovations are needed to improve power generation for a nation that still needs to get electricity to the many villages that have no power, talk less of the towns and cities that are on the power grid but receive little to no electricity. I read some time ago about Nuclear power being a future possibility in Nigeria, but I am definitely not comfortable with that for various reasons. Anyway, if anyone has ideas, I am curious and would love to read them. It is clear that for Nigeria to advance the way we all want it to, electricity will be a key element and we have to figure out how to adequately deal with this matter.


Further Reading:
- More Solar Energy Plans
- Solar Energy Plans
- Could Coal Be A Power Solution For Nigeria
- Nigeria Is Full Of Gas
- Power Blackouts Loom Across Nigeria
- Nigerian Power Scandal: Authority Stealing
- Who Will Develop Nigeria?
- Who Will Develop Nigeria Pt. 2



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SAMUEL PETER STRIKES AGAIN

Monday, March 10, 2008

Heavyweight boxer, Samuel Peter, has done it again! The 'Nigerian Nightmare, won the WBC Heavyweight boxing championship in Cancun Mexico. He won it in six rounds via TKO.



Congrats!

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KEEPING IT REAL....

Friday, March 7, 2008


"Umaru started well by making all the right noises - rule of law, due process, electoral reform, bla, bla, bla and he appears to be on the right track. But if you are on the right track and you are moving but don't move fast, you will be over-run.

"Right now, we are standing still and the handlers of Yar'Adua tell us that it is because of the court case; that after the court case, he'll start performing. I doubt it. Even if Umaru has no case, for as long as Aremu of Ota is allowed to control the party and to manipulate things, so long will the standstill continue."


This was a statement made by former Minister of Defense, General Theofilus Yakubu Danjuma (Rtd.) in a recent interview with a Guardian reporter last week. In his four hour interview, he went on to assert that former President, Olusegun Obasanjo (AKA Baba, OBJ) controls the nation. Danjuma asserted,

"Third Term hasn't failed; we are still in Third Term. Obasanjo is still in charge. Aremu of Ota is the de-facto ruler of this country, sitting in Ota and manipulating... the government through Umaru (Yar'Adua)."

Regardless of one's opinion on this issue, I must say that I find the frankness of Danjuma's comments refreshing. My initial reaction to the first quote was laughter. Not because Danjuma is a class act comedian, but because, if I daresay, his comments reflect the way a lot of people feel. It's just that as a powerful and well-respected General, he can say what he thinks and fear little recrimination. Well, maybe. I am sure that there will be those who will attack him for his opinion.

Nevertheless, based on what I know about General Danjuma, I am quite sure that there will be no 'withdrawals' unlike
Senator Aliyu did shortly after proclaiming that the National Assembly was full of 419 fraudsters. I applaud him for speaking his mind. It is never easy to do so, especially when there could be seriously negative consequences.

Oh, and let's all hope that it is indeed full steam ahead for Yardy and friends.

Hattip to Vince A. for always sending out Nigerian news and info.


Further Reading:
- Yar'Adua Holds On To Aso Rock
- Evidence & The Election Tribunal: A Response To Akin
- Nigeria: No Country for Brave Men, A Tale of Two Nuhus (Omodudu.com)

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DANGOTE: WELCOME TO THE BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yes, our very own Dangote, who has been mentioned at this here site for his involvement in Obajana Cement, is listed on Forbes list of Billionaires.

The image “http://images.forbes.com/media/lists/10/2008/64RI.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Source: Forbes.com
Dangote has an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion and his 'cover' story at Forbes is actually quite inspiring. It describes him as a young man who built his wealth from a small loan he received from his uncle. Dangote is the first 'recognized' Nigerian billionaire. This recognition is not only an invitation (assuming one hasn't been offered before) to the Billionaire Boys Club. You know, champagne, yachts on the French Riviera, philanthropic endeavors and trips to outer space (I don't think you have to be a billionaire for that, though). It is also a signal that the entire world will closely monitor his wealth and financial transactions (to some extent). This particular factor will act as a warning for Nigeria's other multimillionaires and billionaires that he world pays attention to how they make and grow their money. Could this possibly affect corruption? I definitely hope so.

Before you even go there, I have read that Dangote is quite the philanthropist. So, let us all congratulate Aliko Dangote, one of 2 Africans to make the list this year. Considering how enterprising Nigerians are by nature, I expect to see many more Nigerians in these ranks in the near future.

Further reading
- Did Yar'Adua Lift The Cement Ban For the People's Interest
- Being Cynical About Cement, Nigeria & The IFC
- Read Uzo's take on things
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EVIDENCE & THE ELECTION TRIBUNAL: A RESPONSE TO AKIN

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

In my last post, Yar'Adua Holds On To Aso Rock, I posed the following questions:

what evidence was lacking in this Presidential Election case to deprive the Tribunal of the information it needed to fully examine the case? And why, was this evidence unavailable?
Discussing the evidence issue, a reader, Akin, commented that evidence from only 4 out of 36 states was presented to the Tribunal for consideration. He went on to point out that,
"... Buhari/Atiku have a case, but they need to present overwhelming evidence to overturn the election in a situation where the numbers would make a difference, they probably need to do that with evidence from at least 32 states to shift the 70% Yar'Adua was purported to have taken."
I agree with Akin that Buhari, Atiku, and their respective legal teams should have coalesced enough evidence to make a stronger case. The question I was trying to raise in my last piece with regards to evidence is WHY they failed to provide such evidence.

No lawyer worth a grain of salt will enter a court room with inadequate evidence unless they absolutely had no choice. I choose to assume that Buhari and Atiku hired the best possible lawyers that their millions could buy and that these lawyers are more than competent. So, why did they not have the necessary evidence to present a persuasive case?

As I do not have a crystal ball and I also do not have a direct phone number for either of these attorneys, I can only speculate that one of the reasons why they did not have this evidence is because it was not made available to them in the discovery process. By that, I mean that INEC and other necessary parties may not have provided all necessary evidence. After all, in order for the plaintiffs to make their case, they must have relied heavily on evidence that only INEC could have provided. Additionally, the necessary evidence might simply no longer exist as we know that various hoodlums 'hijacked' and absconded with poll results and God only knows how many other ways poll boxes and ballots disappeared or were destroyed. Or, it could be as simple as Imnakoya, at Grandiose Parlor, calls it - a matter of incompetency.

I bring up these issues because in order to have a credible review process, plaintiffs have to have access to the evidence. Thus, there will need to be stricter requirements (and overview) for the retention of all documents which could eventually become evidence in such Tribunal reviews. I can only hope that the next election process will go better and that if there is a challenge of the results, the necessary information from every state will be available so that justice is not limited.



Please take the time to read Imnakoya's post on the Tribunal's decision.
Hattip to African Loft for providing an audio copy of the Tribunal's decision.



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YAR'ADUA HOLDS ON TO ASO ROCK

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Election Tribunal has spoken and Yar'Adua retains control of Nigeria's steering wheel.

"Umaru Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan remain validly elected as president and vice-president of Nigeria"
And with those words, the Election Tribunal informed Nigerians, and, in fact, the world, that the 2007 Presidential election decision would stand.

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