Those thinking that the political and constitutional crisis occasioned by the refusal of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua to hand over to his deputy, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, was over had better brace up fro fresh challenges.

It is not yet Uhuru as another round of crisis is looming in the Presidency following an alleged plot by Yar’Adua’s diehard loyalists to bring him back to the country at all costs.
Sunday Sun learnt authoritatively that the bemused loyalists are still smarting over the National Assembly resolution that empowered the Vice President, Dr Jonathan, to assume the position of Acting President and are bent on bringing the ailing President back even if it will be for one week.

A source privy to the plan informed Sunday Sun that the plot is for Yar’Adua to be brought to Nigeria in an air ambulance while an ambulance limousine and other life support equipment that had been imported into the country would be on standby.
He would then be made to write a letter to the National Assembly asking that power be reverted to him.

But, according to our source, because the President is still not medically fit to assume office, there is every possibility that he will break down again and the country will begin another round of handover crisis.
“The cabal is very uncomfortable with Jonathan as Acting President, so they are doing everything possible to ensure Yar’Adua returns to Nigeria. Their fear is that they will lose power completely if Jonathan is allowed to complete Yar’Adua’s tenure. They want to bring Yar’Adua back to Nigeria at all costs,” said the source.

Another source said the visit of the Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, his Benue and Katsina counterparts, Gabriel Suswam and Ibrahim Shema, as well as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, to Saudi Arabia is part of the plot to bring the ailing President back.

Even the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, who was redeployed to the Special Duties Ministry on Wednesday in a minor cabinet reshuffle, is also said to be in Saudi Arabia on his annual leave, which is believed to be a decoy.
A source close to the Presidency however said Aondoakaa should not have been allowed to travel out of the country because of the mood of the nation and the role he played in the handover crisis.

Sunday Sun however learnt that Aondoakaa’s redeployment sent jitters into members of the Yar’Adua kitchen cabinet and they now are afraid that Jonathan would sooner or later move against them.
Some politicians close to the corridors of power are also said to be unsure if Jonathan will not move against pro-Yar’Adua elements in the government.

“The demotion of Mike Aondoakaa from the exalted position of Attorney General to Special Duties on his first day in office without consulting anyone, including the party hierarchy, is a clear signal that Jonathan wants to be his own man and might be ready to rock the boat.

“Some are scared of the possibility of the man going after some ministers in Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet like Sayyad Abba-Ruma and super-aides like Mohammed Abba-Aji and Tanimu Kurfi as well as others who treated him with scorn while he was vice president,” the sourced said.

Sunday Sun gathered that the biggest fear of the Yar’Adua loyalists is “the possibility of the man (Jonathan) inserting certain provisions in the 1999 Constitution that might be against the interest of the North. What happens if he suddenly decides to support the call for resource control? You know he is from there (Niger Delta) and he will be seen to be doing his people a favour. He can do that on the pretence that he is trying to ensure that the restive militants don’t disturb again. We heard the man is also very committed to electoral reform.”
Perhaps, the biggest fear that prompted the plot against the Jonathan government is that he might contest the 2011 presidential election.
“Yes, they were able to extract some commitment from him in that direction, but can you stop a man that has all the power he has from doing anything? After all, such commitments are not binding on anyone.

“They feel this is the time to quickly move in and circle him before he grows wings. The actions he took in the first few days in office did not inspire a lot of confidence,” the source said, adding that part of the plot is to discredit the Jonathan-led administration before Nigerians, for instance, by pinning the tag of a stooge on the Acting President.
“They will try to pin the tag of a stooge of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on him. You know not many Nigerians love Obasanjo because of his style. They feel the best way they can make him lose the acceptance of Nigerians is link him to Obasanjo,” the source further said.

Given all these permutations, there is already panic in the federal capital that the Acting President will this week appoint new Service Chiefs and a new Chief of Staff, who would also double as a de facto Vice President.
Yar’Adua’s Principal Private Secretary, Mr David Edevbie, is also said to have briefed Jonathan on the outcome of his visit to Jeddah purportedly to present the 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill to Yar’Adua for his signature.

Edevbie was said to have confessed to Jonathan that he was not allowed to meet Yar’Adua in Jeddah.
“He (Edevbie) admitted before the Acting President that Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai, and the ADC did not allow him to meet President Yar’Adua. He said he was asked to stay in his hotel where Yar’Adua’s ADC and CSO (Chief Security Officer) met him to pick the budget document and later returned it to him there.
“Edevbie has been in a dilemma over the controversy that his visit to Saudi Arabia sparked off and he is desperate to clear his name. That was why he had to tell Jonathan the whole truth,” our source said.



ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan has had his elevation backed by “a force of law.”

This is sequel to a letter that was sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, from the National Assembly.

The Assembly exalted Vice President Jonathan to Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation on Tuesday.

The contents of the National Assembly letter were expected to be conveyed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ignatius Katsina-Alu, the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) and the Acting President.

The letter, which a legislative source said is tantamount to a law being passed by the National Assembly, is referenced NASS/C5/R/05/III/92 and dated February 10, 2010.

It came from the Clerk of the National Assembly (CAN), Mr. Yemi Ogunyomi, to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Titled, ‘State Of The Nation And The Way Forward – National Assembly Resolutions, Of 9th, February, 2010’, it reads in full:

“On Tuesday 9 February, 2010, the Senate and House of Representatives adopted Resolutions on the State of the Nation occasioned by the prolonged medical holidays of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Members of the National Assembly noted that Nigerians fervently prayed for the speedy recovery of Mr. President and his early return to Nigeria.

“However, on 12 January 2010, Mr. President informed Nigerians through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), that he was receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and would only return to Nigeria to resume his functions as President when his doctors so certify.

“Satisfied that this declaration by Mr. President amounts to substantial compliance with the provision of Section 145 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, the National Assembly resolved that:

(i) the Vice President, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, shall henceforth discharge the functions of the Office of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation as Acting President; and

(ii) the Vice President shall cease to discharge the functions of the Office of the President when the President, Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in writing, that he has returned from his medical vacation.

“Kindly convey these National Assembly Resolutions to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Chief Justice of the Federation for his information, and Members of the Federal Executive Council for compliance.

“Find attached hereto, the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives in this regard, please.

“Accept the assurances of my highest regards for your office.”

A knowledgeable source said last week that because the resolutions of both Houses of the National Assembly were similar, it could pass of as a law and be tendered as such.

The source said: “Perhaps unknown to both Houses, that is the way to give a force of law to their resolutions. Pass the same resolution and it has the same force as a law.

“But when you pass resolutions intermittently and they are not similar, the other arms of government can afford to ignore them and nothing will be done.”



Following  the growing criticism on the Seven-Point Agenda  of the present administration, eminent elders group has advised the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to scale down the Agenda, possibly to two, and concentrate on “few” measures to deliver good governance to Nigerians.

The group, comprising former Heads of State and key national leaders across the nation led by General Yakubu Gowon, gave the advice yesterday during a visit to Dr. Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Addressing State House correspondents after the visit, Professor Jerry Gana, who spoke on behalf of the group, said the elders also wanted the Acting President to focus on how to ensure a free and fair election in 2011.

“First of all, we emphasized the issue of good governance in terms of ensuring that the processes of government are effective and deliver results for the benefit of the people of Nigeria. We also emphasized that of the very good 7-point agenda, they should identify a few that can be done effectively because people really want to see action and result on the ground, and we emphasized about two or three of this”, Gana said.

He said the former Presidents, former Heads of State together with some eminent elders have come to have a consultation with the acting President ,saying what  Nigerians are looking forward to is for this  administration to do its very best to ensure free, fair and credible election in 2011.
Professor Gana charged the administration under the Acting President to do everything humanly possible to ensure that elections in Nigeria is free and fair so that we can have legitimately elected government in the coming election.

“Second on our list is the issue of energy and power. There is no reason in this world that Nigeria should be in this kind of situation regarding power supply or even in the energy sector because we are an oil producing nation. The elders would like to see the demonstration of strong political will in these areas so that decisive action would be taken to resolve the issues and give the nation a new lease of life,” he said.
Gana, who observed that Nigeria should be able to produce more power and resolve the problem in the energy sector, said the elders recognised that no economy could grow and prosper without good infrastructure, food, roads, good railways, pipelines.

He said things have to move in the country, “so, we want the administration in the short time to take a few things and do them effectively to ensure result. In other words, the elders are just emphasizing that it is not how long, but the focus, the concentration should be on a few things and getting them done properly. Nigerians are very observant; they know when efforts are being made to get things moving.”

“The elders also emphasized on the need to promote peace and security without, which, according to them, development and progress will continue to elude the nation. It is not just in the Niger Delta now, even across the nation. These political killings are getting very worrying and the elders really emphasized the need for resources to be deployed to ensure that criminals are detected and punished effectively, and we hope that the issue of restoring fairness, justice and equity even in the Niger Delta area can be pursued because people love justice, they love fairness.

“They also called on the Acting President to urgently address the problems of unemployment, especially among the youths to combat crime in the country. We have energetic youths; they want to work but no job. So the elders just came to wish the acting president well and to say to him be focused, courageous, decisive, firm, but fair, honest and just,” Gana further said.

Earlier, leader of the delegation, Gen. Gowon, said the elders were in the State House on a solidarity visit and to consult with the Acting President and offer advice for peace, security progress and general development of the nation.

He said there was the need for a robust determination to move the nation forward and also advised that emphasis should be placed on ensuring good governance, free, fair and credible election at all levels of governance in 2011 and for the nation’s democracy to be deeply rooted to bear fruitful harvest.
According to him, the proposed electoral reforms should be thoroughly pursued and that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs to be reconstituted before the 2011 polls.

Gen. Gowon also called for greater attention to power, resolution of the crisis in the oil and gas sector, vigorous pursuit of the amnesty programme, peace and security, as well as infrastructure development.
“What is required is a courageous political will to take and implement appropriate decisions on these areas. We will urge you to have the courage to take and implement such bold and pragmatic decisions as you steer the wheel of the nation,” Gowon said.

Receiving the elders, Acting President Jonathan assured them that he was committed to doing the right thing, just as he promised to continue consultations with ex-leaders.
He assured the former leaders of his commitment to doing what is right, as he steers the affairs of the nation in the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“Let me sincerely welcome you and appreciate your kind gesture and advice on areas of critical needs and concerns of Nigerians. As a government, we are time bound. We are looking at just a little over a year or so to round up. All of you that are here have one thing in common. You have all written your names in the positive side of history in this country. Even if I leave this job today or tomorrow, I want to be able to raise my head to say this and that is what we have done,’’ he said.
Dr. Jonathan reiterated the commitment of the administration to conducting credible, free and fair election come 2011.

Stating the need for the country to develop the culture of good elections, Jonathan said in achieving this, there was the need to come up with credible people who will be at the helm of affairs of the nation’s electoral body.
The Acting President stressed the need to quickly do things that will impact positively on the lives of Nigerians within the shortest possible time.
He said the administration would work towards stable power supply, ensure adequate security of Nigerians through the on-going reform of the Police and improve on the force’s intelligence gathering capacity.
The Acting President assured that suggestions by the elder statesmen would be presented as council note to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration.
Among those on the visit are former Vice President Alex Ekwueme; former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore; former Defence Minister, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma;  Chief Solomon Lar; Mallam Adamu Ciroma; Sen. Ahmed Joda; Chief Edwin Clark; HRH Johnny Turner;  Prof. Jerry Gana; Sen. Jonathan Zwingina; Senator Isaiah Balat and Dr. (Mrs) Christy Silas.Following  the growing criticism on the Seven-Point Agenda  of the present administration, eminent elders group has advised the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to scale down the Agenda, possibly to two, and concentrate on “few” measures to deliver good governance to Nigerians.

The group, comprising former Heads of State and key national leaders across the nation led by General Yakubu Gowon, gave the advice yesterday during a visit to Dr. Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Addressing State House correspondents after the visit, Professor Jerry Gana, who spoke on behalf of the group, said the elders also wanted the Acting President to focus on how to ensure a free and fair election in 2011.

“First of all, we emphasized the issue of good governance in terms of ensuring that the processes of government are effective and deliver results for the benefit of the people of Nigeria. We also emphasized that of the very good 7-point agenda, they should identify a few that can be done effectively because people really want to see action and result on the ground, and we emphasized about two or three of this”, Gana said.

He said the former Presidents, former Heads of State together with some eminent elders have come to have a consultation with the acting President ,saying what  Nigerians are looking forward to is for this  administration to do its very best to ensure free, fair and credible election in 2011.
Professor Gana charged the administration under the Acting President to do everything humanly possible to ensure that elections in Nigeria is free and fair so that we can have legitimately elected government in the coming election.

“Second on our list is the issue of energy and power. There is no reason in this world that Nigeria should be in this kind of situation regarding power supply or even in the energy sector because we are an oil producing nation. The elders would like to see the demonstration of strong political will in these areas so that decisive action would be taken to resolve the issues and give the nation a new lease of life,” he said.
Gana, who observed that Nigeria should be able to produce more power and resolve the problem in the energy sector, said the elders recognised that no economy could grow and prosper without good infrastructure, food, roads, good railways, pipelines.

He said things have to move in the country, “so, we want the administration in the short time to take a few things and do them effectively to ensure result. In other words, the elders are just emphasizing that it is not how long, but the focus, the concentration should be on a few things and getting them done properly. Nigerians are very observant; they know when efforts are being made to get things moving.”

“The elders also emphasized on the need to promote peace and security without, which, according to them, development and progress will continue to elude the nation. It is not just in the Niger Delta now, even across the nation. These political killings are getting very worrying and the elders really emphasized the need for resources to be deployed to ensure that criminals are detected and punished effectively, and we hope that the issue of restoring fairness, justice and equity even in the Niger Delta area can be pursued because people love justice, they love fairness.

“They also called on the Acting President to urgently address the problems of unemployment, especially among the youths to combat crime in the country. We have energetic youths; they want to work but no job. So the elders just came to wish the acting president well and to say to him be focused, courageous, decisive, firm, but fair, honest and just,” Gana further said.

Earlier, leader of the delegation, Gen. Gowon, said the elders were in the State House on a solidarity visit and to consult with the Acting President and offer advice for peace, security progress and general development of the nation.

He said there was the need for a robust determination to move the nation forward and also advised that emphasis should be placed on ensuring good governance, free, fair and credible election at all levels of governance in 2011 and for the nation’s democracy to be deeply rooted to bear fruitful harvest.
According to him, the proposed electoral reforms should be thoroughly pursued and that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs to be reconstituted before the 2011 polls.

Gen. Gowon also called for greater attention to power, resolution of the crisis in the oil and gas sector, vigorous pursuit of the amnesty programme, peace and security, as well as infrastructure development.
“What is required is a courageous political will to take and implement appropriate decisions on these areas. We will urge you to have the courage to take and implement such bold and pragmatic decisions as you steer the wheel of the nation,” Gowon said.

Receiving the elders, Acting President Jonathan assured them that he was committed to doing the right thing, just as he promised to continue consultations with ex-leaders.
He assured the former leaders of his commitment to doing what is right, as he steers the affairs of the nation in the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“Let me sincerely welcome you and appreciate your kind gesture and advice on areas of critical needs and concerns of Nigerians. As a government, we are time bound. We are looking at just a little over a year or so to round up. All of you that are here have one thing in common. You have all written your names in the positive side of history in this country. Even if I leave this job today or tomorrow, I want to be able to raise my head to say this and that is what we have done,’’ he said.
Dr. Jonathan reiterated the commitment of the administration to conducting credible, free and fair election come 2011.

Stating the need for the country to develop the culture of good elections, Jonathan said in achieving this, there was the need to come up with credible people who will be at the helm of affairs of the nation’s electoral body.
The Acting President stressed the need to quickly do things that will impact positively on the lives of Nigerians within the shortest possible time.
He said the administration would work towards stable power supply, ensure adequate security of Nigerians through the on-going reform of the Police and improve on the force’s intelligence gathering capacity.
The Acting President assured that suggestions by the elder statesmen would be presented as council note to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration.
Among those on the visit are former Vice President Alex Ekwueme; former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore; former Defence Minister, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma;  Chief Solomon Lar; Mallam Adamu Ciroma; Sen. Ahmed Joda; Chief Edwin Clark; HRH Johnny Turner;  Prof. Jerry Gana; Sen. Jonathan Zwingina; Senator Isaiah Balat and Dr. (Mrs) Christy Silas.



Goodluck Jonathan wasted no time in asserting his authority last week when he orchestrated a minor cabinet reshuffle on his first full day in charge. The reshuffle itself was an offshoot of an attempt to sack Michael Aondoakaa, who was until recently attorney general of the federation.

Reliable sources told NEXT that Mr. Jonathan was advised not to sack the former justice minister and the deployment to the “special duties” ministry was seen as a concession.

Sources have also confirmed that there are likely to be a few more changes in the coming weeks and more cabinet members are in danger of being dropped in the next round.

NEXT can also reveal that Mr. Jonathan has met individually with almost all the members of his cabinet and is believed to have outlined his expectations for each of them.

Powerless

One of those considered at high risk of losing his job is Lanre Babalola, the minister of power who presided over the abject failure to deliver the promised 6,000 mega watts by December last year. On Thursday, Mr. Babalola was locked in a meeting with the Acting President which lasted for about 45 minutes.

During the meeting, Mr. Jonathan expressed his “embarrassment” that the administration had broken its promise to meet its power target last year. Mr. Babalola has been asked to draw up new plans on how exactly he intends to deliver on the proposed 6000 MW.

During his televised address on Tuesday, the Acting President mentioned power generation as one of the “most critical areas which continue to plague our effort at engendering meaningful economic growth and development.”

One of Mr. Babalola’s aides denied that any ultimatums were laid down based on performance but confirmed that the power ministry have been asked to draw up new plans to present to the Acting President.

“It is normal that any new president will have a one-on-one with his ministers,” the aide said. “There was nothing like [an] ultimatum during the meeting. We just need to re-strategise on how to meet our target for this year. That’s all.”

Crippling education

Sam Egwu, the education minister, is also in charge of a sector that has performed poorly in the past year. The Academic Staff Union of Universities and various other teachers’ unions went on strike for a large part of 2009 with several protesters calling for Mr. Egwu’s resignation.

The academic ranking of world universities for last year indicated that no Nigerian university was ranked within the top 500 higher institutions in the world.

Ukachukwu Awuzie, the universities’ union president, said last August that Mr. Egwu and his advisers had made it difficult for an agreement to be reached between the union and the federal government.

Fuel queues

The minister of petroleum, Rilwanu Lukman, is also likely to be dropped said analysts who noted his poor performance in the past two years. A stalwart of several administrations, Mr. Lukman will be hard put to convince the Acting President that he is still the right man for the job.

The privatisation of the nation’s refineries is no closer to completion than when he took over. Additionally, Abuja and Lagos have been beset by fuel scarcity and irregular pricing since last year. NEXT has also indicated that Mr. Lukman has long had several business interests which represent a conflict of interest for an oil minister.

However, Mr. Lukman has considerable influence and is highly regarded and it will require some high degree of tact for him to be replaced.

Information

Dora Akunyili, the Information minister, submitted a memo last week that arguably jolted the National Assembly into action. It has been long suggested that her role as the government spokesperson was an under-utilisation of her talents.

After bravely pitching her tent in the Jonathan camp, it is not likely that she will be booted out but she is almost certainly earmarked for a more substantive role in any future shake-up. She said on Wednesday that the Acting President “has the power to move any of us.”

The Yar’Adua loyalists

Abba Ruma, the minister of agriculture, is one of Mr. Yar’Adua closest confidantes. In December, Mr Ruma said Mr. Yar’Adua’s absence was not a problem and that a previous military ruler had once vacated the country for so long with no repercussions.

Speaking to journalists, he said: “Let us not hold the Nigerian public to ransom; let us not continue to deceive them but educate and enlighten them because we have the opportunity, with information at our doorsteps today.”

The minister, who previously served under Mr. Yar’Adua in Katsina State, has been embroiled in a controversy surrounding fertiliser subsidy after his ministry’s decision to centralise the distribution of the commodity. Food importation has also risen sharply and has not stabilised but in spite of this,

Mr. Ruma claimed last year that Nigeria was immune to the global food crisis.

Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi is the ailing president’s chief economic adviser. He is undoubtedly one of Mr Yar’Aadua’s key men and is one of the few people who is on the loop concerning the true status of the president’s health.

During Yar’Adua’s time as Kastina State governor, he was commissioner for finance between 1999 and 2003. In the run-up to the 2007 presidential election, Mr. Kurfi was appointed finance director of Mr. Yar’Adua’s campaign organisation. Following the disputed election victory, Mr. Kurfi reappeared at Aso Rock as the president’s deputy Chief of Staff. It was from that position that Mr. Yar’Adua named him as his chief economic adviser.

He will certainly not enjoy the same closeness with Mr. Jonathan that he did with Mr. Yar’Adua and the acting president may decide that he is better placed elsewhere.



MAJORITY of the lawmakers in Ondo State billed to travel to the United States of America for a seminar have been denied visa by the Country’s embassy in Nigeria.

Out of the 26 members of the state House of Assembly, investigation revealed that only the Speaker Hon Taofiq Abdusaalam and three other Principal Officers of the Assembly who applied for visa before the attempted suicide bombing of an American plane on 25 December last year by a Nigerian, Abdulmutalab Farouk,  were granted.

The denial of their visa might not be unconnected with the Abdulmutalab attempted bombing saga.

The members were scheduled to travel to the US for a two_week Seminar on the act of lawmaking from the middle of February this year after their recess last week.

Their last legislative assignment was the passage of the 2010 appropriation bill forwarded to them in December last year by the governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko. It was also learnt that the action of the US embassy to stop the lawmakers might not unconnected with the attempted suicide bombing of an American plane on 25 December last year by a Nigerian, Abdulmutalab Farouk.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that aside the four members that applied before December the other 22 legislators who applied after the December 25th 2009 were turned down”.

Speaking on the development, the member representing Ilaje 11 Hon Thompson Otito Atikase described “the US government’s action against them was unpleasant, callous and a slap on Nigeria as a nation.”



ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday has said the Federal Government was determined to make electricity available for all Nigerians.

He stated this when he received Mr. Samuel Jonah, Director of Jonah Capital Companies; a pan-African mining investment group, in State House, Abuja.

Dr. Jonathan affirmed that improved power supply will fast-track wealth creation for the citizenry and assured that Government is working round the clock to address the sector.

He noted that Government is aware of the yearnings of Nigerians for improved power supply and expressed Government’s resolve to alleviate the strains being experienced by small and medium scale enterprises with regards to adequate power supply. “The power sector will be addressed and Government is totally committed on this,” he stated.

The Acting President welcomed initiatives towards exploring alternative sources of electricity generation, saying “we will encourage what is best for the country”.

Earlier, Jonah, who is also a distinguished member of the Honourary International Investors Council (HIIC), congratulated the Acting President on his assumption of office. He said his company is ready to partner with Government.

The Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has said the Federal Government is determined to make electricity available for all Nigerians.

He stated this today when he received in audience Mr. Samuel Jonah, Director of Jonah Capital Companies, a pan_African mining investment group, in State House, Abuja .

Dr. Jonathan affirmed that improved power supply will fast_track wealth creation for the citizenry and assured that Government is working round the clock to address the sector.

He noted that Government is aware of the yearnings of Nigerians for improved power supply and expressed Government’s resolve to alleviate the strains being experienced by small and medium scale enterprises with regards to adequate power supply. “The power sector will be addressed and Government is totally committed on this,” he stated.

The Acting President welcomed initiatives towards exploring alternative sources of electricity generation, saying “we will encourage what is best for the country”.

Earlier, Jonah, who is also a distinguished member of the Honourary International Investors Council (HIIC), congratulated the Acting President on his assumption of office.

He said his company is ready to partner with Government on coal exploration as an alternative energy source to boost electricity generation in the country. He said discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development on the best way forward in this regard.



There were conflicting reports over the casualty figures of the Port Harcourt residents, who were electrocuted during a heavy downpour in the city yesterday.

Eyewitness account had put the figure of those who lost their lives when a 33KVA high tension line cut between Oginigba and Slaughter, Port Harcourt at 40 persons while no fewer than 30 were injured and hospitalised at various health institutions in the State.

However, the Rivers State Government, which has taken over the treatment of those injured, put the casualty figure at 10.
Meanwhile it asked Power Holding Company of Nigeria to produce a clean technical report on what happened as it insisted that any faulty line ought to have automatically shut off and wondered why the line cut and still had current in it.

Acting Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi; Mr. Blessing Wikina who explained the government position said that only eight people died on the spot while another two died in the hospital to bring the total casualty to 10.
Although the number of people that died is still a subject of controversy due to the method of evacuation of the dead and wounded, eye witness accounts said it would not be less than 40 dead as the line reportedly fell on two buses and some smaller cars roasting all occupants.

Hundreds of residents who witnessed the evacuation of the charred remains of the victims to the morgue at Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, wailed openly some of the victims were burnt beyond recognition.
Initial acknowledgment of the deaths came from the Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Mrs. Rita Abbey who put the number of deaths at 10. When THISDAY visited the site, people who claimed to have been around when the incident happened disputed the number, pointing out that at least 11 bodies were removed from two buses which the line fell on before the effect of the live line with current killed many of those standing in waterlogged areas.

Rita had said in a text message to THISDAY that, “At about 0930hours, there was a report of a high tension wire falling due to the rain and electrocuting an unspecified number of persons around Slaughter Bridge, Port Harcourt. The number of death now is 10, while 12 are unconscious. All of them are now at BMH. But we are going to spread our tentacles to ensure that we give security to such persons and advise them on the danger of loading under high-tension wire.”

The area was immediately barricaded by the police who refused people taking photographs though the PPRO said the essence of barricading the area was to ensure that no one strayed into the death zone till PHCN assures that the place was safe again.
Contacted, Spokesman for PHCN in the Port Harcourt zone, Mr. John Onye attributed the tragedy to “line cut” but said they were still investigating what led to the unfortunate incident.