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Nigeria engages maritime Africa

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It has a matter not only of contemplation but national pride for me since the decision to host Africa’s prime maritime conference in Nigeria this year. So the efforts to get Abuja ready with all the logistics and detail has been a labour of love. So today we are ready.

That is why it is my pleasure and that of the entire maritime community in Nigeria to welcome all stakeholders to Abuja. We consider it a privilege to host this important conference that embraces Africa’s maritime elite, the men and women who determine when, how, what and who to sail on the high seas, the mainstay of peace, wealth and security.

As Africa’s largest market, our regulators will meet Africa’s regulators, our policy implementers will rub minds with international policy implementers and stakeholders, the crème de la crème of Africa’s oceans and seas who work together with our seasoned professionals in a bubble of ideas and innovation and find ways to bring the maritime industry here to a higher level. We shall chart with them the seas and oceans to optimize their benefits for the development of our people.

There is a reason Nigeria has waited with bated breath for this day and year to host this all-important gathering. This conference should have held here in 2014, but the ravaging forces of the Ebola epidemic scared all. So, we couldn’t.

Today is great day to hold it, and in the words of Winston Churchill, a great day is today to do so. That scourge has been cauterized. So I am particularly delighted that this conference, the 3rd in the series, after the first in Mombasa, Kenya and the second in Sandton, South Africa, is holding anchor here on our shores.

Nigeria’s place in the maritime world is not only deserved, it is common knowledge. It is special in the maritime community in Africa for a number of reasons. Nigeria accounts for over 60% of the total seaborne traffic in volume and value in West and Central Africa region. As the sixth largest OPEC exporting country, we contribute significantly to the global energy supply and what is known as wet cargo traffic.

Our signature adorns all continental maritime initiatives and charters that seek to promote the development of Africa. That is a measure not only of our potential influence but also wealth.

We are geo-strategically located as a major littoral state in the Gulf of Guinea. We sit a coastline of 853 kilometres that taps and caters to a landmass of 923,768 square kilometres.

By all estimation, we are a leader, high on the crest of maritime nations, determined to advance African maritime prosperity. So, hosting a conference of the continent’s maritime administrators is overdue.

It is no coincidence that this conference of maritime administrators and stakeholders is coming two years after African Leaders through the African Union subscribed to seven key aspirations encapsulated in the Agenda 2063 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2015 and three years after the adoption of Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050.

Nigeria was a major part of that story. Only recently in Lome, Togo our Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo led us as a nation to play a critical role to make Africa adopt a Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development.

That singular watermark lay a foundation for making Africa’s maritime space the buoy of the continent’s development not only in terms of secure waterways but also to boost its socio-economic existence. This document was endorsed by 43 out of 54 African nations.

The AMAA meeting will raise our profile in the world of maritime. All of Africa knows the place of Nigeria on the continental waterways and what is called the blue economy.

The fact that we account for 60 per cent of the volume and value of African trade becomes even more emphatic as the world gathers in Abuja to deliberate on the issues of the industry.

A corollary to that is that it will show the maritime international community why Nigeria deserves a seat at the International Maritime Organisation, the premier body of maritime activity in the world. Such a seat will not only put at the centre where the critical decisions are made, but it will put the issue of Nigeria on the front burner. Such a seat will allow other big names in the industry to experience empathy about our issues.

This will make Nigeria not just a localised power but a global force. It will give power and voice to our efforts at home to fight piracy, other maritime crime, improve our human element capacity, attract investments. It is no small feat.

And this conference offers opportunities to showcase ourselves. When shall we discuss the issue of safety of the seas and ocean as well as cleaner oceans? When the conference confronts the problem of sea trade and fairness, we will know that the lop-sidedness of trade that affects our current accounts picture will come into play.

How can Africa get better share of the global maritime trade considering the cargo we generate and our contributions to seaborne trade? With this conference, we shall create better interface with other trading nations.

It means building value in trade and networking with the rest of the world on a better footing based on partnership and not servitude. This conference will bring attention to it and make Nigeria’s focus on what will make the country a mistress of the sea.

It is time to make long-term investments. Ours is an economy of great potential. In the era where we are focusing on the optimization of agricultural potential of our people, it is also time to see how we can turn potential into prosperity.

There are many Nigerians who are coming up with new ideas, with entrepreneurial audacity to dare and challenge the world with what we have to offer. This sort of conference with its eye on how to make Africa assert itself in global commerce will afford us with a view of the sea.

For Nigeria, it is also an opportunity to look at the maritime environment especially pollution ravaging us and endangering our oceans and seas. With illegal and unregulated fishing confronting us we must rise up and stop the impunity.

We have a lot to learn in this conference, we shall benefit from other countries as well, how to secure their waters and environment. We can also imbibe how they train their men and women in the industry.

A conference like this offers us the chance of renewal, to bring back the wealth of water. And where to start that but here, on our shores. We are a critical part of the maritime narrative not only on the continent but also in the world.

The world wants to sail her to trade and make profit. They should not only make profit but they should make it on our terms. That is why we have an opportunity to showcase our country.

Nigeria’s image will be immensely helped as the elite of the industry from 33 countries converge to jaw-jaw on the future of seas and ocean which is the source of much of life on the continent and livelihood and prosperity.

 

•Dr. Peterside is the Director General /CEO of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)

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The futile attempt by rented miscreants to dance on the sacred grave of Gani Fawehinmi (4)

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INTRODUCTION

Last week, I could not discuss much on the above subject because of some other pressing national issues I dealt with. Today, I shall continue on how Gani fought tyranny and dictatorship across the length and breadth of Nigeria, using the law as an instrument of social engineering. He defended all, whether rich or poor, “corrupt” or “clean”, mighty or low, private persons or public servants. I will not allow the reprobates and malefactors to rewrite history.

 

I EDUCATED THE AUDIENCE ON WHO GANI WAS

 

I recalled to the audience that in fighting tyranny and oppression, Gani in 1984 (during General Muhammadu Buhari’s military junta), defied the NBA (for which he was initially blacklisted and his name entered in the roll of dishonor by the NBA, which later recanted), Consequently, Gani led me and others to defend Colonel Peter Obasa, Chief Kila, Dikko, Udoka, etc, who were accused of corruption and misappropriation of public funds. More on this later. I told the audience how I later founded the Universal Defenders of Democracy (UDD), which was launched by Justice (Dr) Akinola Aguda, in April, 1992. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who later became Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, was my Director of Publicity.

 

It was this platform I used in securing court injunction against the detention of the “Kuje 5” (Gani, Beko Ransome Kuti, Falana, Baba Omojola and Segun Maiyegun). I also used UDD to stop the execution of General Zamani Lekwot, who had been sentenced to death by a special Military Tribunal set up under the IBB military junta, over the Zagon Kataf crisis.

I never knew General Lekwot. I met him for the first time at the 2014 National Conference where we were both delegates. I was later to co-found the Joint Action Committee of Nigeria (JACON), with Chief Gani Fawehinmi and other leading lights in the pro-democracy movement. Gani was unanimously elected the National Chairman of JACM. I was elected the National Vice Chairman, Publicity and Publications. It was this platform that we used to finally push out the military junta in 1999. It was tough. But, we did it.

 

At the risk of our youthful lives. Where were these blackmailers when we were fighting for the heart and soul of the Nigerian nation?

 

DID GANI EVER DEFEND PERSONS ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION?

The answer is a loud yes.

Gani defended many people who were accused of corruption, embezzlement of public funds, etc. I will show these anon.

 

That did not mean that he was defending corruption. Gani had, during his life time, exhibited his admirable legal wits during numerous encounters in the courts with the best lawyers in Nigeria.

One of such epochal cases in which he appeared is recorded as Gani Fawehinmi vs NBA (1). In this case, Fawehinmi had dragged the NBA to court in 1984 over the Association’s decision, directing lawyers to boycott the Special Military Tribunals (SMT), established by the General Buhari military regime.

To the Ondo-born late activist per excellence, he had a constitutional right and duty to defend any client who hired his services.

As a result, he openly shunned the NBA’s order at a press conference and appeared for his client, Col. Peter Obasa (rtd), a former DG, NYSC, and his Deputy, Chief Kila, then standing trial before the Special Military Tribunal set up by General Muhammadu Buhari in 1984.

 

Distinctly defiant, Gani subsequently instituted an action against the NBA, the General Council of the Bar (GCB) and three Elders of the Bar, Chief F.R.A Williams, Mr. Kehinde Sofola and Chief E.A Molajo, all of blessed memory, over his blacklisting for daring to appear before the military tribunals to defend so called corrupt clients.

 

(To be continued next week).

 

NOW THIS

SO, EVEN SNAKES LOVE MONEY?

Nigeria is such a comical country. South Africa has been busy teaching the world democracy, by bowing to the superior power of a political party, ANC (African National Congress), to force out its sitting president,

 

Jacob Zuma, which it replaced with his Deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa. The same thing had happened in 2008 when the ANC replaced President Thambo Mbeki with his then Vice president, Zuma, after forcing him out. Both cases were anchored on proven cases of corruption; not on simulated and orchestrated media corruption trials. Fastrack to my dear country, Nigeria.

Nigerians are daily regaled with bizarre and eerie tales from Arabian nights (that will torpedo Ali Baba and the 40 thieves). One of such quirky and freakish fictions is the N36 Million snake-swallowing anecdote the country was entertained with last week.

A sales clerk at the JAMB office in Makurdi, by name Philomina Chieshe, had, during a team of auditors’ visit, told a bewildered nation that she could not account for N36 million made in previous years before the abolition of the scratch card system of paying money.

 

She claimed she was one of the four sales clerks attached to JAMB office, Makurdi, whose responsibility was to sell scratch cards to candidates and not to handle revenue. Handling of revenue was the responsibility of one Joan Asen, she narrated. Hear more of her weird story: “It was a mystery to me too. I have been saving the money in the bank, but I found it difficult to account for it.

 

So I started saving it in a vault in the office. But each time I open the vault, I will find nothing. I became worried and surprised how the millions of naira could be disappearing from the vault.

“I began to interrogate everybody in the house and office, and no one could agree on what might have happened to the money. I continued to press until my housemaid confessed. She said that the money disappeared “spiritually”. She said that a “mysterious snake” sneaked into the house and swallowed the money in the vault.” A  snake swallowing money?

 

Haba! We have already heard of the outlandish story of rats taking over the seat of power for some months. Very soon, as 2019 approaches, we may hear odd and strange fabrications about lizards swallowing up ballot papers; of domestic fouls swallowing up ballot boxes; of goats swallowing up card readers! I hope we will not wake up one day to hear of wall geckos swallowing up our foreign reserves!! Nigeria, we hail thee!

 

OF ZUMA, STATUES AND MORALS

Some Nigerians worship mediocrity, clownery and buffoonery.

Jacob Zuma was so corrupt and so hated by his country men and women whom he had governed for nine years that the South Africans forced him to resign prematurely before the end of his second term.

 

But, in Nigeria here, Zuma has a statue erected in the heart of Owerri, Imo State capital, standing in all its splendor and imperioriousness, for his “exemplary leadership and contribution to society”. Can’t our leaders see that we are fast becoming the butt of jokes, mockery, skylarking, jesting, obloquy and derision across Africa?

 

AND THIS

AND THE ORGY OF MASSACRE GOES ON ACROSS NIGERIA

The unrestrained orgy of violence and unprovoked cold blooded slaughter goes on cross Nigeria, as 41 people were brutally massacred on Valentine’s Day under gory and horrendous circumstances.

This heartless blood – letting by organized bandits happened in the sleepy agrarian village of Birane, in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State. Only last November, gunmen had invaded and torched dozens of houses in Shinkafi LGA of the same Zamfara State, killing 24 people in the process.

Section 14 of the Nigerian Constitution provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Nigerians are asking if we still have real governance in place, or if all we do now is politicks and politicking.

We are screaming 2019 when we are in a deep security quagmire and economic cesspool. All we now hear and read of everyday is death, killings, arson, kidnapping, invasion, slaughtering. Gosh!

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Defender of the liberty that I idolize, myself more free than anyone, in coming as a friend to offer my services to this intriguing republic, I bring to it only my frankness and my goodwill; no ambition, no self-interest; in working for my glory, I work for their happiness”. (Marquis de Lafayette).

 

LAST LINE

Hope Nigerians are reading, digesting and awaiting the next exploring discourse of Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D?

• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN

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Red-hot Batshuayi on the march again

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   …but Hazard can boost hosts

 

Rejuvenated Borrusia Dortmund enter into Sunday’s derby clash against Borussia Monchegladbach with an air of confidence surrounding their new striker Mitchy Batshuayi who is enjoying incredible form since he arrived Germany. Batshuayi is proving to be Borussia Dortmund’s best version of Batman yet, outstripping his decorated predecessor Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, now of Arsenal. Batshuayi scored a brace against Atalanta as BVB beat the Italians 3-2 in the UEFA Europea League on Thursday, meaning that he has raced to five goals in just three performances – four fewer than Aubameyang needed to reach the same tally.

The winter transfer merry-go-round saw Batshuayi replace the Arsenalbound Aubameyang, who in turn took Oliver Giroud’s place at Arsenal, with Giroud completing the circle by joining Chelsea He admitted his frustration at being regularly overlooked for selection at Chelsea before being sent on loan to Dortmund. The Belgium international was used as nothing more than a fringe player during his first 18 months at Stamford Bridge, starting a combined four English Premier League games.

Speaking to Sporza about his time at Chelsea, the 24-year-old said: “I did not have a good time there, but I’m doing well here and I’ve been well received by my colleagues and supporters. “Sitting on the bench, scoring a goal and then being back on the bench is quite difficult to deal with for an attacker. As a young player, you need a lot of playing time to evolve. It’s perfect here, and I’m trusted by everyone.”

After a dramatic Europa League win over Atalanta on Thursday, there are several names on the lips of Dortmund fans which are once again making the black-and-yellows an entertaining team to watch. Six games unbeaten in 2018, with five goals and an assist in three games from new superhero Batshuayi. Dortmund coach Peter Stöger is in no doubt about the quality of his new acquisition “Michy is a real goalscorer; it was a good move go bring him here,” he beamed after the final whistle at the Signal Iduna Park on Thursday.

“The question was: How well does he fit into the team, will he feel at home here? Things are looking good. He is well-liked, fully integrated and our goals as well as his personal goals align. Scoring goals is one thing, but working for the team and winning balls like he did for the opener makes him a great striker.” The German expect his Belgian star to help them extend their unbeaten run as they visit Gladbach on Sunday. Gladbach can also rely on the magic of their winger Thorgan Hazard to get the result for them. – The younger sibling of Chelsea forward Eden has netted 24 goals in 129 outings for Monchengladbach in all competitions and could be the match winner tomorrow.

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Caught with his ex

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Imagine this, a man tells you how much his ex-girlfriend disappointed him jilting him for an older man who already had two wives? He says it with such convincing self- pity and agony that you have to comfort him by promising never to let him down. He burns all her photographs and cards that she’d sent to him when the going was good. He vows never to talk to her again even if this life depends on it.

Then one day you return earlier than usual from work and decide to go kill time in his flat and do some cooking for him. And what did you find? The purportedly much hated ex-girlfriend in the warm embrace of the purportedly wronged boyfriend. Who’s fooling who? Is it that men just don’t know what they want or simply can’t be bothered whose ox is gored while they are seeking their pleasures? If he tells you it’s raining outside, make sure you take your umbrella because what he really means is that the sun is out in all its blazing glory. One can’t really say for sure whose side they are on or when they are crossing the carpet.

It doesn’t even make a difference whether the man is married to you or not. Some men go back to their ex-wives even after they’ve told their new wives that: “If I ever see that woman again, I’ll kill her.” It’s all bravado and hurt pride. Men never seem to be able to say good bye once and for all. When they say goodnight, they mean good evening or, better still, welcome.

Or how do you explain this? A man divorced his wife on grounds of infidelity, laziness and a whole lot of other jargons he must have put together. Meanwhile, he got the custody of the two children of the marriage. He remarried but as the court allowed that the ex-wife could visit her kids, she came once in a while to do so.

Then suddenly the new wife found out that the ex-wife was pregnant. And guess who was responsible? The husband who was supposed to hate the sight of his exwife! The husband who complained and wore a permanent frown each time the ex-wife came to visit. The husband who said he could kill that useless woman.

The murderous, cheating, lying son-of-a-bitch! So you see, there’s no exceptional category. Both the marrieds and the unmarried do it. Ask your friends, male or female, if his or ex-partner had not wangled his or her way back into the bed they used to share. At least, if not for want of trying.

That’s how men get themselves messed up all the time. Ex-girl friends, ex-wives, or even exmistresses have ways of making claims and holding on like parasitic leeches. It hurts, really hurts when a man whopromised his undying love for you turns out to be a Judas.

Men are well known for their lies. They cheat, apologise, charm you, you forgive then only for them to cheat again. Women cheat too. I know, so don’t scream yet. But I’m talking about men, as usual. There’s nothing new about a man wandering away from his matrimonial vows.

They do it all the time. It’s when and why they wander back to their ex-girlfriends or sugar mummies or even wives that it hurts a plenty. It gets the poor woman wondering. I mean, the one who’s supposed to be the current champion. What could or can cause such callous acts? It’s not that the new girl was the one who separated them in the first place. It is the randy man who came begging, toasting and promising heaven and earth. He was the one that said he had had enough of his ex and she was now history, his past. If it were possible, he was the one who almost turned blue in the face of trying to convince the new girl that his ex wouldn’t come back, neither will he go back to her.

Sure, we all know the power of exes and any girl who fails to do her research about why her new boyfriend is replacing her predecessor is not smart enough. If the excuse he gave for their parting is too flimsy, don’t getinvolved. Like, if hetoldyou, he’s leaving her because she has no sense of time and litters his flat with her things, he can’t be serious with you.

Tell him to show you a woman who doesn’t like to keep a man waiting. If only to see how far his patience can go. Or on the other hand, which man hasn’t at one time or the other stood his girlfriend up. Every girl likes to put her stamp on the guy’s flat in case of intruders. It’s not that she’s untidy.

That pant and bra in the bathroom, the new broom and dustbin, her powder and perfume on the dresser are all intentional. To show she’s the woman around here. That’s why women give their wrappers to their boyfriends as cover cloth. A cover cloth made for a man is different from a woman’s wrapper, you know. When Sunny’s wife caught him about four years ago with a woman who from all intents, purposes and ramification was his mistress, he apologized. Maybe because their marriage was still fresh and he was still very much in love with his wife.

Now, the woman and Sunny are back together and she’s staking claims and threatening that if Sunny’s wife thought she could get her out of his life before, she could go have her head examined. Can you beat the cheek, the insult, just because you have a man who keeps dropping his pants each time he sets eyes on his ex? Now, Sunny’s explanation is that he went back to the woman because he thought she would be easy to dispose of as usual. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He’s one messed up guy. I tell you, because he still wants his wife, doesn’t want a second wife and neither wife nor mistress is ready to let him have his peace of mind.

Whichever way you look at it, each time a man wanders back into the arms or bed or both of his ex, he ends up cheating both women. For in most cases, he doesn’t actually leave the new girl or commit himself to the ex. He ends up using and betraying both.

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