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Fuel scarcity and the follies in Saraki option

“Even at a point in time, we have listened to some ridiculous reasons why fuel subsidy must go, including the fact Nigerians were buying a litre of petrol too cheaply because it was less than the price of a bottle of coke. One doesn’t have to be an economist to rationalise and know that buying of a bottle of Coke is a matter of choice “

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Senator Saraki

Bukola Saraki

By Bomi Samuel

His first salvo came when the Senate received his motion that according to expectations would have received applause for targeting at probity and anti-corruption, which the government, the National Assembly inclusive, champions as major slogan. Former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki, initiated a motion in the Senate for the investigation of the N240b budgeted in the 2011 Appropriate Act.

The silence that followed the motion was loud enough to make watchers fear that some powerful interests benefiting from the manner fuel subsidy is managed might have found their ways into the National Assembly to ensure that the motion does not come up to anything. To some, Saraki seems to have stepped into the terrain of cabal men who never want any interference with their method of management of public resources, especially the 2011 budget.

People keeping track of the motion say that since it was presented before the Senate, it has been listed for consideration severally but unfortunately, each time it was carefully dropped or avoided for one excuse or another.

Saraki represents the Kwara Central Senatorial District and justified his action on the provisions of Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, which empower any chamber of the National Assembly to probe any sector of the nation’s economy especially as a means of curbing corruption or saving the nation unnecessary waste in public spending.

What really worries me is if Saraki needs someone to remind him that in Nigeria nothing puts the rulers and the ruled on warpath than the issue of fuel subsidy removal and the resultant increase in fuel price and nothing also reveals more policy contradictions and double-speak than this time-worn subject. Nigerians are always of the opinion that any removal of subsidy only feeds ‘fat cats’ at the expense of the poor and pays for gross inefficiencies down the fuel import value-chain.

Now the battle line is drawn all over again. On the one side are the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) representing Nigerian workers; and on the other side the government – they are all putting on gloves to do battle on the issue of fuel subsidy–the bogey to which the suffering masses of Nigerians have been subjected by every successive government that has run out of money to, as they claim, undertake new development projects as well as maintain existing ones. Two weeks ago hundreds of workers marched on the national assembly to demonstrate their opposition to plans to remove subsidies on petroleum products. According to experts, if government has its way and the subsidies are removed, a litre of petrol would cost N150.

Our recent economic history is replete with several instances of subsidy-removal. From all indications, Jonathan’s government is seeking to remove fuel subsidies so that it can use the proceeds to repair and revitalise existing refineries. This is definitely not a departure from recurring argument successive governments have given for removal of fuel subsidies in the past, which has always been that they need funds to implement both capital and recurrent projects.

 

Even at a point in time, we have listened to some ridiculous reasons why fuel subsidy must go, including the fact Nigerians were buying a litre of petrol too cheaply because it was less than the price of a bottle of coke. One doesn’t have to be an economist to rationalise and know that buying of a bottle of Coke is a matter of choice while the price of petrol affects every Nigerian and that as soon as the issue of subsidy is raised, anytime in our history, it also raised an automatic inflationary effect on every area of our daily living, raising astronomically the cost of transportation, consumer goods, health bills and even school fees. I know most Nigerians can do without a bottle of coke for six months. The effect of fuel price hike is always unbearable even for the well to dos, as the common man is further put under unbearable economic pressures, driving many into desperation.

The plank of Saraki’s motion is transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum subsidy and why it is important to investigate it. A peep into the motion also revealed that the Federal Government operates a fuel subsidy scheme with the policy purpose of making petroleum products available and protecting the people from the economic shocks that paying the true value of the prices of the petroleum products may cause. He, however, insisted that in sponsoring the motion, he is propelled by the need to make the scheme more transparent, corruption-free and competitive within an appropriate legislative frame work and in compliance with the Appropriation Act.

Nigerians who have been following the debate on fuel subsidy removal know that the federal government has been inundated with calls to institute a probe into the activities and operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the past. The calls are predicated on the fact that nobody knows the exact amount the country earns from the sale of crude oil. Every attempt to know this has often been frustrated through manipulation. In addition, the country’s refineries have not worked in the last 10 years because some powerful forces do not want that. Knowing the consequences of conducting a probe, each time the calls are made, those who think that such action is targeted at them do everything to frustrate it.

But Alas! The same Saraki who exposed the ills and armed with the knowledge that a strong cartel is holding the nation to ransom turned around to canvass for removal of fuel scarcity. Saraki, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, observed that although N20 billion was set aside for subsidy on a monthly basis in the 2011 Appropriation Act, a total sum of N165 billion was expended in August, 2011 out of which NNPC got N88 billion and independent marketers N77.7 billion. He observed that although N240 billion was budgeted for the entire year, a total sum of N931 billion has been spent as at August ending, translating to a variance of N771 billion or 700 percent above the budget. Then why his capitulation to making the masses suffer the crime they did not commit? This Saraki’s option of increasing pump price is thus riddled with follies that need attention.

The Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was also recently quoted by the Daily Trust as insisting on the deregulation of fuel prices, arguing that the country “was feeding refineries abroad to the detriment of the ones at home by paying subsidies on imported refined petroleum products”, while noting that we are keeping refineries abroad open and shutting our own adding that the ministry of finance has supported deregulation but there would be a safety net. What is or are the safety nets in specifics?

What Saraki and his co-advocates of deregulation may have missed is that the general populace is disenchanted with most of government programmes premised on the fact that government actions and measures to reduce poverty never goes beyond the official launch of the policy document. This is a fact that can be easily verified. Again, financial technocrats in Brussels and Washington are more obsessed with the pace of privatisation than the transparency of its process. It may be noteworthy to state that in much of Africa, there is no clear boundary between the private and public sector, the former is frequently an extension of the later and quite often than not, it is government officials and their associates that end up buying these public holdings.

Towards the expiration of Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure and even of recent, huge sums of money were earmarked for the resuscitation of the refineries, all in an attempt to put a stop to petroleum importation. At a point, we were inundated as a nation with the talks of downstream and upstream sector deregulations, yet nothing has put the check incessant price hike or rejuvenation of our refineries. If as we are now been told, after so much has been spent both in repairing of the refineries – which are still not working – and signing of papers for the construction of new ones – which information has it that none of the companies that got the contract had made move to commence Environmental Impact Assessment not to talk of starting job, shouldn’t those charged with the assignment be made to account for the continuing disrepair of the refineries? And why on earth should the man on the street be made to provide another fund, when earlier ones provided through public funds has been squandered by those put in charge?

It should not be business as usual and for once we Nigerians should be relieved of the burden of increase in petroleum prices by the fact that there exists an agency of the government saddled with the responsibility of fighting corruption and if the the only reason we as a people should suffer is because some few people are holding the country in the jugular through corrupt practices then EFCC should put all its iron in the fire to fish them out and hound them into jail. This in my opinion is the way forward for Nigeria as all Nigerians including leadership of all the civil unions march in the right direction by calling for the prosecution of everyone linked and involved in the fraud surrounding fuel subsidy.

Some of the questions Bukola Saraki and his compatriots need to answer go thus; How has similar schemes and projects fared in the past and how well re-organised is the government agencies and mechanism to cope in the face of corruption that has become a second nature? What has been the effect and impacts of past efforts and programmes as related to palliative measures following past increase in fuel price? How possible is it to identify projects, measure and evaluate individuals businesses that are the product of such interventions? And if answers to these questions remain a puzzle, would it not be sensible then to delay the removal of subsidy until the government delivers on the electricity supply required to service industries, before the removal of fuel subsidy sets Nigeria on fire again?

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Aremo Olusiji Balogun

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Aremo Olusiji Balogun

A Phenomenon at 50

Hitting the age of 50 is a landmark and a milestone to be celebrated. Fifty years and still counting, Aremo Olusiji Balogun, is a phenomenon and a case study in humanity.

He is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria among others. He is the Founder of Ase Youth Association and several other organisations.

His company Promec Innovative Concepts was a child of necessity when his attempt to register Prince Royal Media Concept (Promec) at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) met a brick wall.

Olusiji Balogun is a media guru and an organizational growth and business development expert with adaptable skills. He is able to use own initiative or work as part of a team. An efficient and effective Human Resources Manager, community worker, excellent communicator at all levels within and outside organizations; he has good problem solving and analytical skills with pioneering spirit.

Olusij’s specific interests include teaching and learning for new product development, business development, participatory social activities, keen insight into the needs of others and with high energy, initiative and focus, proven leadership skills including managing and motivating others to achieve objectives.

An effective community and social worker, he is fluent with information technology and capable of handling executive assignments and leadership. His other qualities include being positive with potential ideas, he has the ability to work with anyone under any condition or situation and contribute greatly to achieving the best goals of the establishment.

Oluwasijibomi Gideon Balogun was born on the 8th September, 1972 in Ondo town to the family of Samuel Olusegun Balogun and Mrs Grace Remilekun Balogun of Ase Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State. Both parents are retired Civil Servants. Olusiji was raised up with strong Christian virtue.

He had his early education at St. Luke’s Primary School, Akure but finished at Muslim Primary School, Ikaram Akoko, all in Ondo State, where he obtained the First School Leaving Certificate. He subsequently earned his West African Senior School Certificate in 1990 after attending Omoluorogbo Grammar School, Akure before proceeding to Ala Community Comprehensive High School, Ala-Elefosan, Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State.

He also attended the Institute of Journalism and Nigerian Institute of Journalism, (NIJ), Akure Campus for his Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations, after a sojourn at Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) briefly in the Institute of Science Laboratory Technology. He also went to Akwa-Ibom State Polytechnic, for his Higher National Diploma in Business Administration.

He later proceeded to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State for his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration.

He is a Member of various professional bodies.

After leaving school, Olusiji started working as a freelance Journalist and Printer. He started Eminent Leaders Magazine in 1996 and registered Prince Royal Media Concepts with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in 1999 which he upgraded to Eminent Leaders World Communications Limited publisher of Eminent Leaders magazine.

He worked with several organisations where he left indelible footprints of punctuality, hard work and professionalism. He worked with Mentors Communications, Abuja in different capacities. At Mentors Communications, he was the pioneer Editor of Rootswatch Magazine. He was Technical Assistant to the Managing Director of Quarry Managers Company in Abuja, headed by the late Abdulhakeem Amao. He was Special Event Manager with ITAD/MotMacdonald/PWC in Calabar and Water Supply and Sanitation Reform Programme (WSSRP) in Abuja. Both projects under the Integrated Water Resource Management European Commission.
He also had a stint with Hatlab Delight as a Business Development Manager and Head of Administration, O.T. Otis Engineering Limited. He resigned his appointment with Successory Nigeria Limited, Abuja, as Head of Project Management, in year 2019 to move his outfit forward.

Olusiji Balogun experience in politics is vast. His team helped installed Olusegun Agagu and Olusegun Mimiko as Ondo State Governors. He was the nucleus of Olusegun Mimiko Campaign Organisation for his second term when he was Editor of Grassroots Vanguard Newspaper of Grassroots Network.

He attempted to contest for the coveted seat of Ondo State Governor in 2020.

His experience in administration is versed as he is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Full Member Institute of Professional Administrators and Managers (IPMA) and many other professional bodies. He is a partner in many companies and Chief Executive Officer of Promec Innovative Entrepreneurship and Science Academy (PIESA) and several other firms.

He currently has his hand in farming as he started Ase Farms Nigeria Limited, asefarms.com.ng.

His hobby includes travelling, reading, surfing the internet and adventures.

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Nigerian Attains American Diplomatic Status In Brazil

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Ambassador Bayo Lawal Appointed American Diplomatic Representative in Brazil Ambassador Bayo Lawal, is truly a chip off the block. Born in Osogbo, Osun State of Nigeria, into the royal house of Olumodi Oyipiloye and Asuni Compound (Maternal) Osogbo. Bayo Lawal has become the first Nigerian to receive an American diplomatic status in Brazil. At a diplomatic ceremony held on the 17th of December, 2021 in the executive auditorium of the State Legislative Council, Saopaulo , Brazil, the American Government, through its Diplomatic Mission of International Relations (ADMIR) sworn In Ambassador Bayo Lukman Lawal as one of its appointed diplomatic representatives of the American diplomatic mission in Brazil. The humanitarian and diplomatic mission , which for the first time, included a Nigerian living in Brazil, inaugurated other important personalties in Brazil as members of its humanitarian project scheduled for Africa and Europe in the year 2022. Bayo Lawal is from a royal and polygamous house where hardwork is the hallmark. Though born by a successful business man popularly known as “Were Nise Oluwa”, Bayo Lawal has been a focused, hard-working and persevering youngman. His stint with the Osun State Board of Internal Revenue after his days at The Federal Polytechnic, Offa, set him in a progress pedestal. At the Board of Internal Revenue, his hardworking nature, made him a darling of all. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, before leaving the shores of Nigeria, originated the idea of honouring women in Nigerian society in 1999, tagged “Women Entrepreneur Merit Award” organised by Spotlight Media Ventures. He was then the PRO and Reporter for the firm. Ambassador Bayo Lawal and other personalities like the notable former Brazilian football captain, Capitão Cafu , the Saopaulo State First Lady, Mrs. Bia Doria, the Director of Federal Police, the Honorable speaker of the House of Assembly in Saopaulo , Representatives from several African and European countries witnessed the event. According to the President of the mission in Brazil, Dr. Fernando Navarro, the principal function of the American diplomatic mission of International relations is simple, it is humanitarian, it is helping to make the world a better place to live, he said the mission is to combat hunger and help the needy. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, who has lived in Brazil for over twenty years has worked in different functions in the international relations, he is an administrator who has led his team of excellent professionals within and outside Brazil. He is the presently the CEO of Mab Consulting Services, an International Trade and Business Development company with spread in the South America, Africa, China, USA, Europe and UAE. Bayo Lawal, who served as a Business Consultant at Grupo Empresarial Costa Negocios, taught courses in several English Schools in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was Business English Teacher For Executives between 1999 – 2014. He worked at the Costa Negocios Group, FGV Projetos, Bimex Comercial Ltda., and many others. In his interview with Heritage news, Ambassador Lawal said “I am dedicating my achievements in Brazil to the Almighty God and also to my late parents, Prince Yekeen Lawal and Mrs. Bolanle Lawal. I also owe this success to my family in Brazil , my friends and colleagues who are always by me.” Ambassador Bayo Lawal said he is ready to work with all humanitarian organizations in Nigeria and overseas, using his office as an ambassador to help better the standards of every Nigerian, African immigrants in Brazil and around the world. He promised to lead projects of housing estates to Osogbo and other necessary locals in Nigeria.Ambassador Bayo Lawal is married to an Italian descendant Brazilian, Mrs. Sara Guerino Lawal and blessed with three children; Nathalie Mariam Oyenike Lawal, Derick Afeez Oyewale Lawal and Allan Khalil Babatunde Lawal.

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DR TOLULOLA OLAJIBIKE BAYODE OPENS THE BIGGEST HOME FOR THE LESS PRIVILEGED IN AFRICA

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Iyalaje Tolulola Olajibike Bayode was born in Akure and hails from Oba-Ile. She’s the daughter of Chief Joseph Bayode and Pastor Mrs Bayode.

Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, RN, BSN, MD, is a trained medical professional but with an unusual passion for the well-being of the less privileged. Having travelled far and wide,Tolulola share an uncanny obsession of giving abandoned children and widows another shot at life,employing both her professional training and God given resources in assisting the less privileged at will leading her to initiating Dorian Home for Displaced Children & Mothers Initiative.

Vice President of Nigeria and Iyalaje Tolulola Olajibike Bayode

The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council appointed this Akure born philanthropist Dr. Tolulola Bayode as Head, Social Affairs and Health Cluster Committee. The job description entails implementing the overall goals of the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio in line with the AU Agenda 2063, Sets annual performance targets for the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio and report on annual progress to Specialized Technical Committees and AU Policy Organs.

In 2009, Dr.Bayode established Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). She’s the CEO/ President. Her personal encounter and experience in the course of discharging her professional duties, most especially in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camps, Community/Rural Medical Outreach programs, just to mention a few, afforded her a first-hand and comprehensive understanding of the plethora of unsavoury plights of women and children in our society.

Governor of Ondo state with Iyalaje Tolulola Olajibike Bayode

Dorian Home is the biggest orphanage home in Africa, consisting of 700 homes for children,500-capacity skill acquisition centre for women, large hall for events, modern clinic and a worship centre. Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development is situated at Akure, the Ondo State capital.

Described as the biggest orphanage home in Africa, the ultramodern facility worth $5million and was finally commissioned on the 14th of October 2021.

Dorian Home is not limited to taking care of just abandoned babies and widows but also focused on research, training, empowerment and mobilize women towards self-emancipation. A glamorous persona imbued with the philosophy of giving hope to the hopeless, creating a better living condition for the abandoned, Tolulola is in the forefront of Safe Haven Law in Nigeria – the leaving of unharmed infants with statutorily designated private persons so that the child becomes a ward of the state with proper upbringing.

At the commissioning of the home, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President of Nigeria, called for the provision of adequate welfare for vulnerable children and women in the society. The vice president commended Bayode for making provision of the basic needs of homeless children and women her passion. He said that about nine per cent of Nigerian children were homeless; a figure Osinbajo said seems to be growing rapidly. The vice president, however, called on well meaning Nigerians to join hands with the government to provide adequate care for the homeless children, saying that government alone could not do it. Osinbajo described the laudable project as one that would stand the test of time for the less privileged and empowerment for women in society.

During her speech, the Founder and President of Dorian Home, Dr Tolulola Bayode, said that vision of the project was about leaving a legacy of hope for the orphaned children, widows and less privileged women in the society. According to Bayode, reality dawned on her after the shocking demise of her elder brother, the purpose of man on earth is to touch life and uplift humanity. Bayode said the covenant she had with God to have the home was based on her love for humanity, widow, indigent and displaced children to live a better life. She also appealed to the government to provide adequate security checkpoints along Akure/Idanre Road, adding that the future of any child should not be toiled with. She emphasised that not that she has the resources but has a heart of giving.

Represented at the ocassion, was the governor of Ondo State represented by his Deputy, Mr Lucky Ayadatiwa, who said that the project compliment the administration’s REDEEM agenda of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. He commended the Founder of the home for her initiative. Akeredolu described the project as unique because it focus on the neglected section of the society. Akeredolu said the project would receive the support and patronage of the state government. He said the state government would continue to support the social initiative programmes of the Dorian Home.

Also, speaking at the ocassion, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, urged people to emulate the kind gesture that counts for the good of humanity by trying to make the society a better place for humanity. Alasoadura said that Nigeria would be a better place, if everyone tried to provide a home like heaven on Earth, especially for the displaced and indigent children, just as the orphanage.

Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, as a natural social and talented care giver has continually provided training, education and health consultations in the non-profit entrepreneurial sector to youths in different parts of the world and has successfully maneuvered the delicate balance between dedication to mission in a wide range of settings. Aside her passion for the creating a better living for commoners, she has years of extensive managerial experience in the non-profit sector, with outstanding records in getting initiatives off the ground and flourishing.

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