Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why we are supporting Lagos in infrastructural devt – Obigwe, ED, Union Bank of Nigeria

Thursday, May 1 , 2008

•Austen Obigwe
Photo : Sun News Publishing

Union Bank’s Executive Director, Corporate and International Banking, Mr Austen Obigwe has commended the Central Bank’s consolidation exercise because of its positive impact on the economy generally. He said consolidation has made it possible for the country to attract bilateral loans.

“We are attracting a lot of bilateral loans into the economy which never happened in the past. Many banks are coming up now to say I will finance this project at 300 million dollars. It never happened in the past”, Obigwe said.

Citing another of what he considered a good example of such bilateral loans, the bank executive said that Union Bank Nigeria plc and a Chinese Group have concluded arrangements to raise one billion United States dollars, equivalent of N117billion for infrastructural development in Lagos State.

Obigwe who was one of the discussants at an interactive session with stakeholders and the media on Financing Infrastructure in Nigeria put together by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Union Bank plc, told journalists that, “we are doing that because we have confidence in Lagos State”
Continuing, the bank executive affirmed that the micro economic policies of the apex bank has enabled Nigerian financial institutions to play their due role in the economy much more effectively.

Obigwe also said that in financing infrastructure that would attract toll in a Public/ Private Partnership arrangement, the government must give the public an alternative that would not attract toll. He also commented on some other issues.


According to our constitution, the life span of any administration is four years. In a situation where there is no continuity, when the new government comes in, then that creates a big problem. The repayment period of some of these projects may go as high as may be 15 years. The way I am looking at it, we don’t even have the physical money around and then the further risk of this project being stopped or running into difficulties when another government comes in becomes a very big problem. Maybe what the government needs to do now is to have an Act, a law that would stipulate that any contract that have been entered into-maybe the State House of Assembly or the National Assembly could pass such a law and make it compulsory that such contracts should not be reviewed.

If there are errors in them, people should learn from such errors. You don’t say because there is an error, if I put in 100 million dollars in a transaction and because you have cause to believe that the contractor did not do one or two things then you cancel it. But my money is at stake and it makes it difficult.

We talk about NITEL, actually the President did not approve the cancellation of NITEL. But you know that it was announced that it was a cancellation. Of course that affected our preparedness in getting more involved in further privatization.

Now, if you want the bank to provide the financing, which I have said the government only cannot provide the funds for, the local and foreign banks will provide the financing. We need to have more confidence that when this project has started even before they are completed that they will continue regardless of the government in power. We are aware of many projects that have been abandoned. There are so many of them all over the places. And this concept-Public/Private partnership (PPP) is an entirely new concept.

A lot of us have learnt about the power project, the probe of the project is coming up. Even though it is not affecting our client, but it is a source of worry for the banks because we don’t know where that will end. The issue for us is that in other countries like in the United States of America or even South Africa next door, a project is done for 15 years, nobody goes back on it once it has been approved and is on going. Nobody should go back to start reviewing it. If you want to review anything, the first thing is to find a fault. So, the best thing is to say look its being awarded, the banks are financing it, they should leave the contract to continue until the life of that project.

Financing and politics

When you talk of the banks, now the Central Bank took the best decision by bringing about consolidation and it has been consistent with its micro economic policies which is good for us. But then, we don’t have the power to influence political issues. We cannot influence the fiscal policies of the government. On our side, what we are doing is, we are ready to provide finance to support whatever government wants to do.

Again, we will continue to emphasize the issue of continuity. You have changes in the financial institutions. A new Managing Director does not come in and start cancelling what the other Managing Director had done. No, It’s never done that way. But because it is politics particularly when a state is transiting from one party to another, you have a lot of probe of what is not supposed to be probed. You see quite a lot of cancellations of policies. Actually, in banks, a year to an election we don’t support any state. Because we are afraid that if the sitting governor does not come back, the new governor will start changing the rules again.

For us in the banks, all we can do is to write our recommendation. The banks are supposed to be seen. We are not supposed to be heard. Once we recommend, the issue for us is micro economic policy. The CBN is doing a great job in that area. We are attracting a lot of bilateral loans into the economy which never happened in the past. A lot of banks are coming up now to say I will finance this project at 300 million dollars. It never happened in the past. So, in that area, the financial institutions are playing their part.

Alternative infrastructure

The alternative normally exist. When I was a student in the USA, we had a turnpike road where there is no traffic light at all. You can drive 300 miles, no traffic light. But you have the main road like you have the Eko bridge which is there for you not to pay. If you are going to use the turnpike, you must pay. So, there as an alternative.

What I am saying is that the government should not say we are privatizing roads and expect people to pay when you don’t have an alternative for them to use. For example the second Niger bridge will be a toll bridge. If you don’t want to pay toll, you have an alternative, you can use the old one. So, that that’s what I believe we should do in some of the roads. If people don’t want to pay toll, you must give them an alternative. And that is the way it is all over the world. Now, look at Lekki, you don’t have a choice if you must use that road. You must pay toll. If you don’t use Lekki road, which other road can you use? So, there must be alternative.

Why we are supporting Lagos

Lagos State has a history of continuity, of obeying and respecting whatever contractual obligations the preceding government has gone into. We see Lagos State as being highly credit worthy. What we are trying to do is our bank (Union) and a group in China we are launching a one billion dollar infrastructural development fund which will be used in Lagos State alone. We will use it to fund projects in Lagos State. We are doing that because we have confidence in Lagos State. We’ll look at other states too. We believe in Lagos State.

Even if another government comes to power, because of the economic importance of economic activities in the State, the chances that whatever contractual obligation the previous government has will be respected are usually very high.

EFCC re-arraigns Kalu, Perm Sec

Thursday, May 1, 2008
•Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu
Photo: Sun News Publishing

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday began a fresh trial of former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who was re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 112 count-charge bordering on money laundering.

Also arraigned with the chairman, Board of Trustees of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) on similar charges, was a Permanent Secretary with the Abia State Civil Service, Chief Udeh Jones Udeogu.

They had since been granted bail after pleading not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.

In granting the oral bail applications moved by counsel to the accused, Chief Anwa Kalu (SAN) and Solomon Akuma (SAN) respectively, Justice Adamu Bello adopted the earlier conditions attached to Kalu’s bail application by Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, currently on transfer to Lagos.
Justice Nyako granted him bail in the sum of N100 million with a bond deposit in a bank and two sureties in the like sum.

The sureties must have evidence of their tax payment certificate from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for three consecutive years as at when due.

Besides, the former Abia State governor was directed to depose to a sworn affidavit stating the number of all countries he has citizenship and to deposit all passports with the court.
He was to also provide two traditional rulers and to deposit three recent passport photographs with the court.

In addition, Kalu was directed to be reporting to the EFCC. He is not to travel out of jurisdiction without the permission of the court.
Justice Nyako had while ruling on his bail application noted that the offences are bailable and that there was the possibility of his standing trial.

In adopting these conditions, Justice Bello made a variation to the earlier condition directing Kalu to be reporting to the office of the EFCC on weekly basis.
In the case of Udeogu, the court admitted him to bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in the like sum.

The transfer of Justice Nyako who was handling the case, to Lagos, necessitated Kalu’s re-arraignment.
Besides, the EFCC had made a fresh plea before the court for the re-trial of Kalu on the grounds of an amended charge sheet.

Although Kalu’s counsel had opposed to the application for a fresh trial, Justice Bello in his ruling held that he agreed with the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs that there was the need for a fresh trial to enable him assume jurisdiction of the matter. [source]


English clubs Manchester united and Chelsea Fc both are through to the finals of the prestigious UEFA champions league

ManU defeated Barcelona by 1-0 aggregate to qualify while chelsea trounced liverpool in a 4-2 aggregate to go on and face rivals ManU

this could and will be a firecracker not to be missed

any team can will though id stick with...... not sure

the whole nigeria chelsea and manU fans have been celebrating their victories

Me? im a gunner and can't shout for now

I’ve no regrets over my actions as FCT minister – El-Rufai

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, says he has no regrets over the demolitions and evictions that characterized his four-year tenure.
Testifying before the Senate Committee probing the FCT administration since 1999, El-Rufai also insisted that all his actions were in accordance with the directive of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the resolutions of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

He also said he made use of the Land Use Act whenever it was convenient to do so, while denying ever breaching the constitution.

Grilled for over six hours, the ex-minister, who swore to the Holy Quran instead of affirming, as his two other counterparts, Architect Ibrahim Bunu and Engineer Abba Gana, who testified before him, told the committee that he never lost sleep or feared death as minister when he was demolishing structures in Abuja because he knew he was doing the right thing.

He said he had to abandon his Law examination in London and face the committee because he wanted to set things straight before Nigerians.
“I am happy to come down and let you have my own version after having watched people give a lot of half truths and distorted information, which, in my view, is not fair to me, you and the rest of Nigerians,” he said.

Asked to explain the demolition of 75,000 houses, El-Rufai said: “When we came in, there was a specific instruction from former President Olusegun Obasanjo that we must administer Abuja in strict adherence to the master plan and hence computerize all plots in Abuja, in view of the need to take appropriate measures that would make it a befitting capital city of world standard, which brought about establishing the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS), which I did.”

The former minister, who said he demolished only 48,600 dwelling units and not 75,000, argued that encroachment on sewer lines, water line and power line as well overriding public interest were the principal reasons for his action, which was in obedience to the FEC and President Obasanjo.
El-Rufai told he committee that before he came into office several demolitions had been carried out and that his bulldozers were never in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse and Garki because they had been properly developed.

He, however, stated that houses belonging to former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Col Ahmadu Ali; former Senate President, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, Senator Zwingina, Senator Evan Enwerem were wrongly built on sewer lines and had to be demolished.
In the case of Ali, he said that the FCT administration had compensated him to the tune N68 million, while Anyim was adequate compensated for one of his demolished buildings.

Anyim’s second building, he said, was pulled down because he failed to heed an instruction not to build on the plot.

“I told him to wait, don’t build, but he didn’t listen. That was why the building was removed,” he said.
On why permanent secretaries’ houses were demolished or their allocations revoked, he said they were affected by the magnetization policy.

“The Attorney General of the Federation gave his opinion that, indeed, in the constitutions the Head of Service, the SGF and permanent secretaries are political appointees, though they came in via career progression. This was the decision of the council. I do not classify who is a political officer or not. The council tells me permanent secretaries are these, I do it,” El-Rufai said.

On why he followed FEC instruction and not follow the FCT guidelines while taking important decision, he said: “These guidelines were issued by FEC and whenever there sis a lacuna I go back to the council and they amend it.”

Asked how to differentiate between FEC and President Obasanjo, he said: “Sir, the Federal Executive Council consists of the president and over 40 ministers and these guidelines are in fact, an example of the difference between the two because there is a memo, which I took to the council to ratify the approval of President Obasanjo on the sale of houses.”

He stated that FCT was mostly run with FEC instructions and “we refer to our guidelines only when we needed to borrow some rules when the need arose.”
At a point, El-Rufai turned rather argumentative, saying: “No Sir, it’s not correct, Sir,” on several occasions and Senator Ewa Henshaw had to call him to order.

The senator warned him thus: “Let me remind you that you are before the committee and you should treat the committee with respect. When we ask you to wait, you wait and we want you wait and we want you to do just that.”

Reminded that thousands of houses were demolished and billions of naira lost, including human lives, El-Rufai grudgingly apologised for alleged mistakes he could have made in the course of demolitions.
His words: “These regulations have been there. I did not just make them. Secondly, all the actions I took were based on advice and guidance, so, I’m sorry if the decisions I took really hurt somebody based on not using Land Use Act.”

Seeking on the sale of former Vide President Atiku Abubakar’s guest house, the former minister admitted that he took a memo to former President Obasanjo, who gave approval for the sale, which he, El-Rufai, eventually bought. He however, insisted that the house was not undervalued.

He said: “Atiku told me he wanted to buy one of the guest houses. I sent a form to him personally. He refused to submit it. He said he couldn’t find it. I sent another one to him; he also refused to return it. I sent a memo to the president (Obasanjo) asking for some of the guest houses to be sold, including Atiku’s.”

On the compensation on Arewa Hospital building demolition in Accra Street, Wuse, Zone 5, the former minister said: “And in the case of this hospital, as soon as building started they sent him a memo to stop the building and all titles were revoked as well since 1997. So when I saw the argument by the land department I asked why they allowed the building to be completed.

They said the system failed. We therefore, concluded that payment should be made only to the level of building when he was asked to stop building and we now found out that we overpaid Arewa Hospital, because we did valuation based on completed building; so we asked him to refund the money so that we’ll arrange to give him another place, considering his committed cost, but he went to court.”

El-Rufai denied revoking the plot of former Inspector General, Musiliu Smith, for allegedly being on sewer line and relocating it to his brother, Bashir El-Rufai.
He also blamed FCT officials for flouting court injunctions and demolishing the late Justice Sambo’s residence.
“They applied their discretion wrongly,” he said.


About probes

So much probing has been going on by the national assembly, unearthing messy contracts and leaving us wondering if the past administration was a farce

what with uncompleted projects and paid contractors even foreign ones so don't come pointing fingers

we wait for the end of the probes and hope something worthwhile is done to punish those caught

IOB on the run...EFCC vows to get her

The daughter of former president Olusegugun Obasanjo, Iyabo Obasanjo refused to appear in court regarding the suit in which the EFCC accused her of collectin N10 million from the ministry of health and knowing the money was illegal

IOB has however petitioned the AGF through her lawyer.

In a turn of events, the EFCC has vowed to arrest her so she faces prosecutin

Its a matter of time IOB before EFCC catches up with you or before your dad catches up with EFCC