Ambode inherits N418.2b debt burden

• Cuts cost of governance
• Relocates to Ikeja
By Wole Oyebade
AS he officially resumes work on Monday, the new governor of the State, Akinwunmi Ambode, is inheriting a debt burden of N418.2 billion from the outgoing administration.
The debt burden, though accompanied with a repayment plan lasting 40 years plus, is an astronomical increase from the N15 billion Babatunde Fashola (SAN) inherited from his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in 2007 when he took over.
A breakdown of the debt bequeathed to Ambode showed that the Fashola administration has a domestic debt of N69.666 billion, which it obtained from borrowing from banks; N225 billion from bond issuance and N207.499 billion external loan from foreign bodies.

AmboBut the Lagos State Government is quick to defend its position, saying its debt profile is sustainable, quoting Agusto and Co, Global Credit Rating (GCR) and Fitch Ratings to justify its position on the debt sustainability.
Commissioner for Finance, Ayo Gbeleyi said government’s huge debts were sustainable, as it would not constitute a burden to the incoming government.
He said the total revenue of the state government currently stood at N33.95 billion monthly from N27.82 billion monthly it used to be in 2011, as the state’s Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) averages 65 per cent of total revenue with Statutory Allocation plus Value Added Tax (VAT) being about 35 per cent.
Gbeleyi stated that the internal loans from Commercial Banks have tenors of four to six years, while the Multilateral Agency Financing-World Bank, French Development Agency and others are generally on concessionary borrowing terms, such as 20 – 40 years tenor and average of 1.75 per cent per annum interest rate. On the Debt Issuance Programme of N275 billion, in which N50 billion was paid last year, leaving a balance of N225 billion currently outstanding, he disclosed that government had over N100.73 billion as at March 2015 in its Sinking Fund reserve for repayment.

Governor Fashola

Fashola

On the Commercial Bank debt of N69.666 billion, Gbeleyi added that the incoming government is expected to pay N14.27 billion this year; N13.68 billion in 2016; N34.68 billion in 2017 and the balance of N6.85 billion in 2018.
On the overall loan of N418.2 billion, the mode of payment, according to the commissioner, is that the Ambode government would pay N15.96 billion in 2015; N16.796 billion in 2016; N48.57 billion in 2017 and N10.644 billion in 2018, while the next government after Ambode in 2019 would service the remaining debt by paying N59.313 billion in 2019; N86.54 billion in 2020 as the remaining N180.397 billion would transcend beyond 2020.
MEANWHILE, there are indications that Ambode will streamline operations in the state to reduce the cost of governance.
Besides, the governor has hinted that he would be residing at the Lagos House, Ikeja, to help him resume work and be available from 8am daily.

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor's Office, Alausa

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor’s Office, Alausa

Speaking in his inaugural meeting with the Body of Permanent Secretaries in the State Public Service at the weekend, Ambode said though new offices would be created, the present ones would be streamlined in order to ensure that cost of governance is reduced while ensuring greater efficiency.
Some agencies, according to him, would be returned to their original supervising agencies to ensure that the control, which used to be in place for those agencies returns. He noted that part of his speech at Friday’s inauguration ceremony already dwelt on the creation of a Ministry of Wealth Creation that would ensure that not only does his administration create wealth, but also ensures that when investments from foreign sources drops, a pro-active situation is in place to take care of them.
The governor added that since the All Progressives Congress (APC) has already formed a government at the centre, investments are also bound to come from the centre, saying when such investments come, the state should have a front desk office that would attend to such people bringing in the investments and people with interest.

Inauguration Ball: Ambode, Dame Abimbola Fashola, Babatunde Fashola and Bolanle Ambode

Inauguration Ball: Ambode, Dame Abimbola Fashola, Babatunde Fashola and Bolanle Ambode

Harping on a revisitation of ministerial responsibilities of all ministries, departments, and agencies, he said that the ministerial responsibilities were last reviewed in 2001.
Ambode stressed that he would saddle the Body of Permanent Secretary with the task of taking a look at the draft, which the administration of Babatunde Fashola (SAN) could not conclude, urging them to work on such drafts to fit into his vision.
He added that he would ensure that Permanent Secretaries exercise the authority that comes with their positions efficiently and ensure that each officer works for the position he has attained.
The governor insisted that his latest pronouncements were not about reinventing the wheel but about his taking full advantage of the experience he had garnered while in the public service of the state. While advising the public servants to align with his administration, Ambode said he expects all public servants to also be at their desk by 8am so that if he has cause to get in touch with anyone, they would be readily available.
He said he expects the protocol of his administration to be as simple as possible to convey the essence of seriousness and professionalism that would be the hallmark of the administration.
The governor reiterated that the state civil service would drive the change and the continuity, which he intends to put in place in the next four years.

Buhari’s second coming and the audacity of Change

DawnBy Tope Templer Olaiya

THE dawn of change is here, after a long anticipated wait that lasted 59 days. Since the historic call made by former president Goodluck Jonathan to his successor on the afternoon of March 31 that simmered all post-election hostilities, all eyes had looked forward to today, May 29, with bated breath.
The transition was expected to be anything but smooth, considering that this is the first time in the nation’s history there would be a change of government from a political party to its bitterest rival. But it was a small hill to surmount for the people’s general, who had not only fought wars, but also swallowed the bitter pill of defeat, taking it in his stride after three straight routing in presidential elections.
The March 28 election was heralded with a vigorous, no-holds barred campaign either for ‘change’, as represented by General Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) or ‘continuity’ as proclaimed by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In a never-seen-before manner, blood-dripping and nail-biting crusades from both divides interrupted sanity and polluted the traditional media and social media space.
It was therefore somewhat of an anti-climax for the curtain to have fallen on the general elections in such dramatic fashion, hours before the umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Buhari as President-elect in the early hours of April 1.

Saybaba The 72-year old president has returned to power 30 years after a military coup masterminded by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd), his then Chief of Army Staff, sacked him as Nigeria’s military head of state. He has also equaled national statesman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s enviable record of leading Africa’s most populous country at twice.
Buhari has also made history as the first opposition candidate in the nation’s political history to dislodge an incumbent president from power. He had contested for the highest office in 2003, as candidate of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP); in 2007 as candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); and in 2011 as candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Buhari is not a quitter, one virtue that would readily be required to salvage the country from the precipice of ruin. Defeated in the previous three attempts, he returned from self-imposed political retirement to contest for the highest office again, becoming victorious the fourth time, and bringing home the story of former United States president, Abraham Lincoln, who tasted several defeats at previous elections before getting to the Oval Office.
In 2003, Buhari lost to Olusegun Obasanjo in an election, which European Union (EU) observers reported was marked by widespread irregularities. He lost again to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, which was widely condemned for rampant rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation.
After Yar’Adua’s death in 2010, Jonathan rose from being vice president to president and squared up with Buhari for the first time in 2011. Buhari had formed the CPC a year earlier, saying it was “a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party, the ANPP.”
BabAfter Jonathan’s victory in 2011, amid accusations of rigging, riots broke out in the North. Armed protesters took to the streets chanting Buhari’s name. More than 800 people were killed in the post-election violence. Buhari issued a statement describing reports of burning of places of worship a sad, unfortunate and totally unwarranted development.
Ahead of this year’s election, Jonathan and Buhari signed a non-violence pact, known as the Abuja Peace Accord in January. On March 26, they renewed their pledge and reiterated their commitment to “free, fair and credible elections.”
Very popular among the poor in the north known as the Talakawas, Buhari was able to dislodge the PDP, which had dominated the political scene since the end of military rule in 1999, with the aid of heavyweight defectors from the PDP but principally the triumph of people power, which like an opera orchestra, loudly chorused Change.
With his military background and spartan credentials, the ‘Change’ campaign was able to warm up to many Nigerians, who felt he possesses just what the country needs to get to grips with not only the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency in the north, but the financial recklessness that characterized the Jonathan years.
A Muslim from Daura in Katsina State, who has given his support to Sharia in the north, Buhari has previously had to deny allegations that he has a radical Islamist agenda. This posed a problem for him in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 polls, when he failed to secure much support among Christians in the south. But haven escaped an attack on his convoy in Kaduna in July 2014, which bore all the hallmarks of a Boko Haram assassination attempt, he has promised to end the insurgency within months.
Bab2In 1983, Major-General Buhari and Major-General Tunde Idiagbon were selected to lead the country by middle and high-ranking military officers after a successful military coup d’etat that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31.
In 1985, Buhari was himself overthrown in a coup led by Babangida on August 27th, and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) were sacked ostensibly, because Buhari insisted on investigating allegations of fraudulent award of contracts in the Ministry of Defence.
His first sojourn in power was a period remembered for strict campaign against indiscipline and corruption. The verdict on the president’s first coming is mixed. About 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were jailed as part of a campaign against waste and corruption.
Some saw this as the heavy-handed repression of military rule. But others remember it as a praiseworthy attempt to fight the endemic graft that prevented Nigeria’s development. He retains a rare reputation for honesty among Nigeria’s politicians, both military and civilian, largely because of this campaign.
It is on this plank of untainted record that so much expectation has been dumped on the president by millions of Nigeria, including those who campaigned vigorously and voted against him. The burden of expectation is enormous at the least and outlandish at best. Something akin to turning stone into bread or water into petrol or as widely circulated on social media, making the dollar at par to the naira.
Buh3In summary, Nigerians expect Buhari, starting from today, to do all the things Jonathan didn’t do, and that expectations to be modest, is arduous.
In specifics, one Prince Ajibola Adebayo Odusanya expects the newly sworn-in president to do the following: restructure the power sector, sanitise the oil sector, create jobs for graduates, construct good roads, reduce salaries and allowances of senators, House of Representatives members and ministers, rebuild natural resources to make the country not depend solely on oil and revamp the educational system to standards attained in developed countries.
Buhari’s campaign was also fiercely anti-corruption. He ran to office under the slogan of “new broom,” the symbol of the APC as against the ruling party’s symbol of an umbrella.
The first litmus test for the Buhari presidency will be the colour of his cabinet, which will shape the direction of his administration. In this new age of political awareness where the voter is king, the president would not have for 2019 to know the people’s verdict. The change administration would be assessed right from its first 100 days in office.
The president’s 100 days covenant with Nigerians has been classified into several sub-heads, which include corruption and governance, insurgency and insecurity, Niger Delta, diversity, health, agriculture, management of the economy for prosperity, industrial relations, power, and youth and ICT development.
The first few sentences of the covenant on corruption and governance really excite Nigerians, where the president in a pre-election document had pledged to: “publicly declare my assets and liabilities; encourage all my appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment. All political appointees will only earn the salaries and allowances determined by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC); work with the leadership of the National Assembly and the judiciary to cut down the cost of governance and present a National Anti-corruption Strategy.”
The promised change has arrived on a fresh clean sheet of unadulterated goodwill. How this open cheque handed to the president by millions of expectant Nigerians will be spent will be the defining moment of Buhari’s second coming and his place in posterity.

 

 

 

Oil spill puts 500,000 Ejigbo residents at risk of explosion

By Tope Templer Olaiya
While Nigerians were groaning and battling with the adverse effects of petrol scarcity across the country, some residents of Ejigbo were having it rough with security agencies. They had their problems compounded by police harassment and detention over alleged oil bunkering activities in their neighbourhood.
The alarm had been raised by several unsuspecting victims of adulterated petrol, who had bought the much sought-after product from the ‘black market’ at exorbitant price in Ejigbo and environs at the height of the fuel scarcity crisis, which came to a head last weekend. Many vehicle owners had complained of buying petrol mixed with water and this had sprung policemen from the Ejigbo division into action.
After some snooping around, some trail led police detectives to some streets in Ejigbo, in particular Abuna, Sanusi and Surprise Avenue and some parts of Victory Estate, where oil spill had polluted underground water in the area. Instead of water, residents were fetching petrol from wells and boreholes. Since the police discovery, residents have not slept with both eyes closed, as the police have subjected them to constant harassment.

The 'oil well' in Ejigbo

The ‘oil well’ in Ejigbo

Former chairman of Abuna Sanusi Community Development Association (CDA), Chief Samuel Obembe, said over half of million Ejigbo residents are sleeping on a time bomb, which could explode anytime soon if urgent action is not taken to arrest the oil spillage, which first occurred in 2013.
“About 28 streets are presently affected, where there are no water. All the wells and boreholes have been polluted. Even the pumping machine cannot withstand infection of fuel mixed with water. Contrary to what the police is insinuating, we are not oil vandals, we are instead suffering from the neglect of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“We have made the necessary complaints to the Wasimi station of the NNPC and they directed one Alhaji Abubakar to inspect our area but since that inspection in 2013, nothing has come out of it. We pray there is no explosion in this area because over 500,000 people would be affected.”

oil

When The Guardian visited the area yesterday, there was relative calm in the affected streets and it was devoid of residents for fear of police arrest. Traders also locked up their shops, while community leaders were locked up in a meeting with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ejigbo station and representatives of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
Legal adviser to the community, Barrister Ekpeh Paschal, told The Guardian after the meeting that the community has resolved to take the issue up with the Commissioner of Police, informing him of the grave security risk the area is exposed to and bring to his attention the activities of his men.
Aside the risk of contaminated water, which studies confirm could cause cancer and physical or mental disability, Paschal noted that the area’s exposure to highly inflammable materials could result in a fire outbreak like the disaster that occurred 10 years ago in Ijegun.

Pains of fuel scarcity

Pains of fuel scarcity

According to an oil sector analyst, Victor Ohai, pipelines have a lifespan of 15 years. This means there should be periodical change of pipeline installations across the country.
He went on: “These things are not meant to last forever. I don’t know when but I am sure the pipelines have been there for much longer. The danger is that there is a lot of corrosion that goes on over time leading to some perforations on the pipes.
“Any time oil is being pumped, the product leaks and goes underground. When it rains, the underground water level rises and because oil will always float when mixed with water, the oil will seep through into neighbouring wells. With the present situation, residents of this area are already victims of the negligence of the NNPC, who are the owners of the pipelines. Apart from the health implication, the hazards of exposed pipelines cannot be quantified.”
It would be recalled that the NNPC in November 2013 confirmed the oil spillage at Ejigbo area, saying two samples of the leakage had been taken for laboratory test to ascertain the true nature of the spill. The spillage was first discovered in a well belonging to one Mr. Adedanji Ogunba.

Elemoro seeks more development for Ibeju-Lekki

Monarch marks five years on the throne
By Tope Templer Olaiya
BARELY two weeks from now, there would be a lockdown on the Lekki-Epe expressway as drums would be rolled out at the Elemoro’s palace, Ibeju Lekki, to celebrate the fifth coronation anniversary of Oba Tajudeen Afolabi Adebanjo Elemoro, the Onitedo of Itedo, Oke-Odo in Iwerekun land.
There are five reigning monarchs in the expansive Ibeju-Lekki local council area, domiciled in the Epe division of the state. They include the Onibeju of Ibeju, Oba Rafiu Olusegun Bamidele Salami; Onilekki of Lekki, Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun; Onise of Ise, Oba Ganiu Adegbesan; Onimedu of Orimedu, Oba Hamzat Atiku; and the Onitedo of Itedo, Oba Elemoro.

Oba Elemoro

Oba Elemoro

Surrounded by traditional rulers and palace chiefs at the weekend, Oba Elemoro excitedly reminisced on the journey of the last five years. According to him, a lot of developments have occurred in his kingdom during his reign to be thankful for. “There is nothing in life without its good and bad side. But in our case the good has overshadowed the bad. This gladdens our heart because God has been by our side. I have been on the throne of my fathers since June 29, 1996, though I had spent 14 years on the throne before the Lagos State recognition came with the formal handing over of the staff of office to me on April 27, 2010.

“Since then, there has been rapid development in the land but we still need more. We have left three hectares of land to be used for primary and secondary school. Our Senator, Gbenga Bariwu Ashafa, has built a primary school for us waiting to be commissioned for use and for the secondary school, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye has promised that once the Akinwunmi Ambode administration is sworn in, preparation would be activated to kick-start the secondary school building.

Oba Elemoro

Oba Elemoro

“In addition to that, we have reserved one hectare for a community library to be built by the state government. We have also reserved land for a mobile ambulance to be stationed on the busy Lekki-Epe expressway, where we record several accidents. The facility for this has been built by Senator Ashafa. It only remains to be equipped with ambulances and personnel to provide first aid treatment to accident victims before they are transferred to hospital,” the monarch said.

It is just four days to the inauguration of the Governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode, but his desk is already piled with a huge file of ‘To-Do’ lists. To that file is added a few notes from the monarch, which is of upmost importance to Lagosians living in the Ibeju-Lekki axis. They include the bad state of roads in the area, absence of drainage in the water-logged communities, lack of schools and hospitals/Primary Healthcare Centres and rising insecurity and kidnapping.

Oba Elemoro

Oba Elemoro

“The road by the police station once it rains is flooded because the flow of the water from the canal to the ocean has been blocked. We have made several appeals to the state but nothing has been done. Once it rains, the expressway is always flooded to the extent that if an inexperienced driver runs into it, it would make the car tumble. “So many lives have been lost that way. Last year alone, between myself and my chiefs, we have spent over one million naira to provide palliative measure but that is not a lasting solution, because until the drainage way is opened up and some buildings on the right of way are brought down, there would be danger in the nearest future.

“On the spate of insecurity, we appeal to the state government to hasten the commissioning of the Area J Elemoro Police Command. We need security because there has been an upsurge of crime, especially kidnapping in Ibeju-Lekki.”

The Palace of the Elemoro

The Palace of the Elemoro

Those who live long on earth will have stories to tell and Oba Elemoro has a lot, both good and bad, to share. One of the sore tales is surviving two kidnap/assassination attempt on his life within six months last year. The invaders, suspected to be land-grabbers, popularly known as Ajagungbales, invaded the palace of the Oba on May 10, 2014 and November 24, 2014 at midnight, breaking a section of the fence and shooting into the air in frenetic search for the monarch. Highlighting the gravity of the invasion, Elemoro noted that it is a taboo for the king to be slain on the throne, especially in Yorubaland. “An Oba should not run away from the stool of his fathers. It has never happened in modern times. For some hoodlums to be confronting me with weapons and guns in my private residence is really scary.”