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Opinion: Dubai Robbers: Why I Support Abike Dabiri-Erewa- Comfort Obi



By Comfort Obi

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, is in trouble. A section of the country – the Igbo – is angry with her. She has unwittingly stepped on the toes of the Igbo. And the people,
, if you think they are being overly sensitive. They probably have reasons to. At times, they have been brazenly discriminated against in their own fatherland.
Here’s one recent example.
In some parts of Lagos state during the recent general elections, they were marked out for special treatment. They were not allowed to vote. Those who did watched, in disbelief, as their votes were publicly burnt. A number of them, recruited for election duties, were shut-out and, stopped from performing their duties. Nobody was punished for that criminal disenfranchisement of a people. I have digressed.
So, how did the ever sure-footed Abike put the wrong foot forward? As you know, the office she holds requires tact. You know, diplomatic niceties. But as you also know, politics was not her turf. Nor was foreign and Diaspora affairs.
Before she joined politics, she was a journalist, one of NTA’s star reporters. Journalists are not usually diplomatic. They are trained to present the facts as they are. So, because of her background, when she became a member of the House of Representatives, she was, naturally, expected to chair its Information committee. I don’t remember now if she ever did. But, we woke up one day to hear that she has been appointed the Chair of the House Committee on Diaspora. Not a few of us were, at once, both disappointed and angry. What’s that?, we asked. We felt somebody, somewhere, are on an over-drive. They don’t want her to shine, to show her talents. Nobody had heard of that committee before. Newly created, it was not expected to make any impact.
But Abike disappointed whoever the coup plotters were. She took it in her stride. She did her homework. And before anybody knew what was happening, Abike had made the Diaspora Committee the envy of many of her colleagues. She was everywhere. Her committee was so busy there was no breathing space. She was the star.
That’s how come she was appointed Mr President’s Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora – the first to be so appointed. That’s how come she is more known, by not a few Nigerians, than the Minister for Foreign affairs and/or the Minister of State. No jokes intended here, but in March of 2018,1 asked a policeman, intent on a Peace Mission posting, to tell me the name of our foreign minister. Without wasting a second, he responded: Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa. See? That’s how come many Nigerians in the Diaspora refer many of their challenges, directly, to her. That’s how they see her as Nigeria’s face. And that’s how come she has talked herself into this trouble with the Igbo.
It started last Tuesday when the news broke that a Nigerian woman had just been beheaded by the Saudi government over drug offences. The previous day, news had also broken that a gang of five armed robbers, all of them, Nigerians, had slurred our dear country’s image with coal tar in Dubai. The guys got to Dubai and, within 48 hours of entry, planned an armed robbery attack. They, successfully, robbed a Bureau de Change to the tune of millions in every currency. The collective shame of a nation.
Given the office she holds, and how so often she rises in anger against the injustices her compatriots face abroad, Abike must have been very embarrassed. The two incidents in Saudi and Dubai are worrisome. But she issued no statement. She bore her embarrassment with calmness, perhaps, waiting for clearance. Her office is at the Federal Secretariat. But being an aide to the President, she gets called up to the Villa when needed.
So, this Tuesday, she went to the Villa. And, on her way out, she was cornered by State House Correspondents. Cheeky fellows! They put her in this problem. They may have sensed why she came. So, they wanted her to address our shame in Saudi and Dubai. She had no choice.
In addressing the case of the beheaded woman in Saudi, she did not disclose her name. She identified her as one woman. No first name. No surname. Nothing. She even gave the impression she may have been innocent, considering the unwholesome roles some airlines play.
At times, she revealed, their staff smuggle drugs into the luggages of unsuspecting Nigerian pilgrims. She briefly made mention of two airlines which staff may be guilty of that wickedness. True? If so, the questions are: Why has this not been made public until now? And, what is the FG doing about it? Have the airlines been reported, before, to their countries of origin? Or, are we just talking? This allegation is serious and disturbing. But, again, I digress.
So, Abike also added that the executed woman brought to eight the number of Nigerians so executed in Saudi. And this: 20 more are waiting same fate. Again, she mentioned no names. Then, the crux of the matter. Abike proceeded to the armed robbery in Dubai. While, rightly, condemning it in very strong terms, she revealed their names one by one. Unfortunately, all are of the Igbo ethnic group. Our shame! How dared she name them?, some Igbo queried. They took offence.

Their anger?
Why should Abike mention the cursed alleged armed robbers by name, and not the drug pushers – beheaded or alive? Why should she name and shame them, and not the other people? So, they are alleging ethnic bias. They are saying she named and shamed them because they are Igbo? Or, what will be her reason?, they ask.
So, in a Whatsapp message that has gone viral, they not only took on Abike, they also engaged in a tit for tat. They listed the names of those executed for drugs (there was no Igbo), and those in waiting (I saw one Igbo name).
At times, I can be unbelievably slow-witted. When, I first got the Whatsapp message, I thought nothing of it. I was like: hey, more news. It was the second day when the person who forwarded it to me asked me “Has Abike reacted?” And, I was like: to what? It was then I put two and two together. And, I felt low for my people.

And, my questions to nobody, in particular were: What’s all the nonsense about? Are these people trying, by any means, to suggest that our boys, the alleged armed robbers, ought to have remained anonymous? Na lie. Perish the thought. They should be named. And they should be shamed. There is no competition in crime.
For the records, I am proudly Igbo. I love our business mindedness. Our independence. Our ruggedness. Our industry. Our survival instinct. Our self- esteem. Even our hustle and loudness! But, hey, I will never read ethnic meaning in the condemnation of any
Meaning: I don’t see what Abike did wrong. She was doing her job. And, it doesn’t worry me whether she named others or not.
Many things should worry the Igbo instead. The questions should be: Were those boys armed robbers or not? Did they travel to Dubai to go and rob or not? Was it okay that, barely two days after they arrived Dubai, they embarked on such a disgraceful act? Did they not remember their Igboness when they were disgracing their tribe and country?
What should worry the Igbo is the shame the young boys have brought on their tribe, and to other Nigerians living in Dubai, and doing their legitimate businesses.
Now, no thanks to them, every Nigerian youth going to Dubai will be looked upon with suspicion, as a potential criminal. They may start denying them entry. The businesses of those who already live there will be scrutinized and re-scrutinized.
Many of our people are doing so well in the diaspora. They are working hard. And the commendation we give them is to export armed robbery, drugs, prostitution and 419 to where they live? And somebody is thinking of ethnic bias?
Crime has no colouration. A crime is a crime, it doesn’t matter which ethnic group any criminal comes from. It is our collective shame. To think that, perhaps, the Igbo are deliberately being singled out to be named and be shamed is a no-no. It doesn’t gel with me.
The Igbo, as well as other ethnic groups, should worry about the lifestyles of some of our youths which encourage crime; which encourage get-rich quick by all means; which encourage irresponsible lifestyles. Did any of these people read the story of the four youths, students of FUTO, all Igbo, who soaked themselves in drug and sex and died therein? That is not the Igbo. We are better than that. The Igbo should do away with this persecution syndrome. No youth should, in any way, be encouraged to embark on crime because others are doing it. If they get away without being named and shamed, you may not.
Finally, this is to whoever constructed, and began the circulation of that Whatsapp message. You did the Igbo a great dis-service. The true Igbo spirit abhore such crimes.
You have drawn a negative attention to them. That’s neither the Igbo spirit, nor what the Igbo stand for.

Obi is the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of The Source (Magazine)

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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