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Port Harcourt mall management commiserates with victims, reassures customers of safety

The owners and management of the Port Harcourt Mall has commiserated with all the injured people in the gas outburst that happened last week Wednesday at the mall.

According to the Mall’s Manager, Mrs. Chioma Okorie, in a statement, “The Management of the Mall empathizes with all the victims of the unfortunate incident that happened recently. We have undertaken an extensive analysis of the situation alongside other agencies of government and we can assure our customers that the mall is safe for our teeming customers.

“The gas outburst happened in the evening of June 12, 2019. As a safety conscious organization, we have hitherto trained all our security personnel on managing emergencies. Our internal fire fighting team was able to curtail the situation within 20 minutes. Simultaneously, mall staff evacuated everyone from the mall, and all those injured were taken to the hospital immediately, and are currently recuperating. We wish them swift recovery.

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“As an organization, we would like to reiterate that the mall is installed with the best safety measures and our safety equipment are top-notch because the safety of our tenants and shoppers is of utmost importance to us,” she added.

Mrs. Okorie noted that the commitment of the management and the staff of the mall has kept us from such emergencies in the last five years in which the mall has been in operation. She assured customers that the mall is a very safe place where various family bonding activities take place and people can get their quality products from all the stores in the mall.

The award winning Port Harcourt Mall located at Azikiwe Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has been described as the city’s number one lifestyle destination where global brands are located to address various needs of Nigerians.

“The mail is ready to serve all residents and visitors to Port Harcourt.  The mall was given the Leisure Spot of the Year Award by Garden City Advancement Award in 2016 and 2018 respectively. This was in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the advancement of the city”, the manager stated.

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Naija must go!

By Obadiah Mailafia

NIGERIA and Ghana are two presumptuous cousins – a rather complicated relationship. When the two national sides meet at a football match it always feels like the Battle of Armageddon. But when either team faces another, we rally to each other’s support. Nigerian music is all the rage in Ghana, as is Nollywood.

The young taxi driver that drove me around during a recent visit to Accra always addressed me as “Igwe” or “Chief” to my eternal irritation. He later handed me a bill of US$700. When I raised some eyebrows he expressed surprise. He said most of the Nigerian “Igwes” that were his clients would not even question it. I beat it down to US$500.

Nigeria

I went to Ghana in company of my better half, Mrs Margaret Mailafia. On the return journey I was ahead of her at the immigration queue at Kotoka International Airport. I passed without incidence. When it was her turn they asked her to empty everything from her lady’s bag. She obeyed. When she emerged at the other end to recoup her belongings an envelope with thousands of dollars in cash could not be found. When she went to complain, all hell broke loose. The immigration officials descended on her, calling her a liar and a “Nigerian 419”. The bedlam was intolerable. My poor wife was almost in tears.

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Their boss sauntered into the affray with the hauteur of Caeser looking down upon the vulgar crowd.  She demanded to know what this kerfuffle was all about. We explained that after recouping the things in her bag, some money in an envelope could not be found. I threatened that we would have to call our friends in the Presidency. I explained that my wife is a highly qualified systems analyst and an evangelist to boot and that calling her a 419 was totally unacceptable. A balloon had seemingly been deflated! A plaintive voice from the background suddenly announced that they had just seen a white envelope lying on the floor. Could that, by any chance, be what this hullabaloo is all about? It sure was!

The envelope was handed over to my wife with a profusion of apologies, kneeling, kowtows, begging, and tears. My wife just wanted us to leave. I insisted she counted the money in full view of everyone. The amount was intact. I congratulated “Madam Caesar” and her officials on their remarkable feat of having overtaken Nigeria in the 419 business. As far as I know, no Nigerian immigration official would ever attempt to defraud innocent travellers in such a cheap and stupid way. Most would rather beg for a dime or two. And if truth be told, there is no Nigerian to beat the record of the Ghanaian currency trader Kweku Adoboli who defrauded Swiss investment bankers UBS of more than US$2 billion in illegal trading in London.

There has always been this rivalry between our two countries. It goes back to the sixties when Nkrumah declared that “Balewa died of forces he did not understand” – a rather callous statement to make on the tragic assassination of our Prime Minister. As the gods would have it, Nkrumah himself was brought down in a military putsch masterminded by the CIA. Ghana has always positioned herself as the pace-setter. Big Brother Nigeria has always been the follower. During the sixties Prime Minister Kofi Busia expelled thousands of Nigerians, confiscating their businesses and properties. In the 1980s Shehu Shagari reciprocated. Ghana Must Go became a popular cliché in Nigeria.  Today, Ghanaian authorities are humiliating Nigerian traders and closing down their businesses.

The relations between go back to antiquity. The Ga of Greater Accra and the Ewe of the Volta Region are regarded by historians as branches of the ancient Bini people of Nigeria. The intellectual odyssey of Nnamdi Azikiwe served as a great inspiration to many Ghanaians of that generation, notably Kwame Nkrumah. When Nkrumah decided to go to the United States he spent months in Lagos with his cousin. It was from there he got the money to set sail for the United States. He also attended the same Lincoln College that Zik had earlier attended. When Azikiwe returned from academic sojourn he first settled in Ghana where he built up a thriving newspaper business. Nkrumah and my political godfather, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, were the best of friends. When the former first visited Nigeria in 1961 he stayed at the latter’s home in Ibadan.

There have also been intermarriages. The first wife of late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was Titi Alakija of the famous Alakija family of Lagos. They were later divorced. There are prominent Ghanaians who bear Yoruba names and whose parentage are Nigerian in origin. Same with us. One of our great heroines is the late Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the medical doctor who literally gave her life to prevent the Ebola pandemic from being spread by an evil foreign agent. She was the daughter of the Ghanaian-Nigerian medical scientist Kweku Adadevoh who became the highly respected vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos.

Despite the Shagari episode, we Nigerians have always viewed Ghanaians as our brothers. In times of difficulty we have always stood by them. We have given aid in cash and kind. We have even quietly bankrolled a succession of Ghanaian leaders without preconditions and without asking anything in return. How I wish the love is mutual!

We once drove from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to Lagos through Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. Our worst experiences by far were when we were crossing the Ghanaian borders. At the western end we were detained for more than 10 hours. At the Aflao border at the eastern flank we were kept overnight. The cruelty of the border guards when they realised we were Nigerians was unbelievable.

For my generation, Kwame Nkrumah was the epitome of progressive pan-Africanism. There is no time I ever visited Accra without making the obligatory pilgrimage to the Nkrumah Mausoleum to pray at the graveside of the great man. Nigeria’s nouveaux riche have massively invested in Accra. In fact, Ghanaians blame them for the skyrocketing prices of properties in their national capital. Except for the tasteless food, I enjoy everything about Accra. The streets are safe and the people are friendly.

Under the leadership of the indefatigable Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his highly able and loyal deputy, Muhammadu Bawumia, a new Ghana is emerging. Ghana is the real come-back kid in the block. From being a basket case in the eighties, the country registered an impressive 8.143 per cent growth in 2017 and is forecast to exceed 8.8 per cent in 2019. The Ghanaians have, wisely, never allowed the discovery of oil to get into their heads. Rather, they are deploying it as a vehicle in their ambitious goal of economic transformation. Ghana with a population of 28 million generates more than 4,500 MW of electricity compared to Nigeria with its 200 million and a mere 5,000 MW.

Ghana’s leaders are laying the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous democracy. Last year President Akufo-Addo expelled more than 50,000 illegal Fulani herdsmen families that had infiltrated the country, with the terse warning that “Ghana is not Nigeria”.

A few months ago my friend, Vice-President Muhammadu Bawumia, announced an ambitious programme of economic reforms. The country has abolished VAT on real estate sales, airline tickets and on all financial services transactions. It has also abolished capital gains tax on sales of shares on the stock exchange. Import duties on spare parts and industrial machinery have also been abolished. The justice system is also being reformed with deployment of e-governance to ensure speedy trials and timely adjudication. At the rate we are going, we might not see even their trafficator lights!

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Task before the ninth National Assembly leadership

By Tony Ademiluyi

SINCE the inception of democracy in 1999, the National Assembly has been in a battle of supremacy between its members and the apparatchik of the party in power at the centre.

The members have been locked in a battle for the selection of their leaders as a way of asserting their independence while the party leaders have always wanted to impose their stooges on the top echelon as a way of ensuring that there is less friction between them and the executive so that the ‘dividends of democracy’ can be better delivered to the masses.

NASS. Nigeria

In 1999, the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, wanted the late Chief Evan Enwerem as the nation’s number three man but the majority of the senators wanted the charismatic late Dr. Wilberforce Chuba Okadigbo as the Senate’s president. There was a great altercation between the two elephants with the former carrying the day. The Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration witnessed the ascension of five Senate presidents because of his desire to control the national legislature. The last of the Senate presidents, Ken Nnamani, said he had taken care of the infamous banana peel that led to the sweeping away of his ‘capable’ predecessors.

It was the same story in the lower chamber which saw the emergence of Ghali Umar Na’abba as House of Representatives speaker after the ouster of Alhaji Salisu Buhari over an age and certificate forgery scandal.

The Kano born speaker was a thorn in the flesh of Obasanjo and he wasn’t allowed to return in 2003 when he lost the primaries in very controversial circumstances. His successor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, who is the current Katsina State governor was more pliable and gave Baba Iyabo less troubles.

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In 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari first won the presidential election, he concealed who he wanted at the helm of the National Assembly leadership. His inauguration speech ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’ portrayed him as not willing to impose his will on the legislative arm of government.

However, the party leaders insisted on Senator Ahmad Lawan and Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila as their chosen leaders. But the duo of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara outsmarted the party leadership and became the helmsmen to the chagrin of the bewildered leaders.

In 2019, the party leadership still insisted on Lawan and Gbajabiamila. They were determined not to repeat the mistake of 2015 with the anointed ones reaching out to the opposition PDP in order not to leave anything to chance.

Gbajabiamila went as far as promising them 60 chairmanship slots. In the end, victory was theirs as they both defeated Senator Ali Ndume and Umar Bago.

Now that Lawan and Gbajabiamila have emerged as winners, there is the need to first and foremost extricate themselves from the vicious grip of the party leadership and assert their independence.

They shouldn’t allow themselves to be pawns in the hands of the party leadership by being yes men and invariably having a rubber stamp legislature.

Buhari in a recent speech said that he didn’t have a good working relationship with the eighth Senate. This doesn’t mean that the ninth Senate shouldn’t act in compliance with the interest of the masses who elected them there in the first place. There is the need to checkmate the tyranny of the executive through adequate checks and balances which the 1999 Constitution duly provides for.

There is the need for the leadership to show magnanimity to their opponents who they shouldn’t regard as foes. The APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was quoted to have said that the sins of the opponents won’t be forgiven so soon. There is no need for this act of vindictiveness as it’s totally unnecessary. There is the need for the leaders to behave like statesmen instead. The Zulu leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was giving Nelson Mandela hell on earth as the Minister for Home Affairs. The veteran liberation fighter responded with tact by not only giving him more powers but making him acting president when he and Thabo Mbeki were away on an official visit.

The current National Assembly leadership should disregard Oshiomhole and co-opt Ndume and Bago by giving them the chairmanship of juicy committees in order to douse the tension that the election generated.

Their supporters should also not be made to feel inferior as they should be gracious in victory. National interest should supersede petty party or personal interest.

There are many issues begging for attention, ranging from insecurity to unemployment, poverty as we were recently declared the poverty capital of the world and an extremely terrible image abroad as our nationals are treated worse than dogs there.

These issues should be on the front burner and the leadership should ensure that they are given the much needed attention that they urgently deserve.

There should be topmost priority given to bills that have a direct impact in the lives of the people. Views from the opposition should be heartily welcomed. This is not the time for needless petty bickering along party lines. The needs of the nation should be put first before any other considerations.

The other members of the National Assembly must not follow their leaders sheepishly or merely for the sake of getting chairmanships or memberships of juicy committees.

The interest of the electorate must be put first. If the leadership doesn’t act right, nothing stops them from changing them as quality representation must be top of their agenda.

When the dust finally settles, posterity is the ultimate judge. Like death, nothing can be altered when it judges. There will be no public relations specialists or spin doctors to play any mind games. It is the final and harshest judge.

I hope the ninth National Assembly members pass this litmus test when it’s finally time to settle scores and the chickens come home to roost. Their time starts now!

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