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Opinion: Akinwunmi Ambode @ 57: Salute To A Restless Reformer



By Bodurin Olayinka
On 14th June 2020, H.E Akinwunmi Ambode, the former Governor of Lagos State, will be 57. But as it has been his practice over the years, you are unlikely to easily locate him for celebration of this momentous day. However, his teeming and loyal supporters will certainly not forget to celebrate a man who re-defined governance in Lagos and touched the lives of so many Lagosians with his indomitable spirit, pragmatism and reform mantra.
There is nobody on this planet that will forget, the iconic Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road, The Oshodi Transport Interchange, The Ajah Jubilee bridge, the Lay-byes, the New Ojodu-Berger junction, the High Capacity transport buses, the Epe transformation, the Onikan arena, the Oshodi Safety arena, the DNA Centre, the Alimosho 21 roads, the five community cinemas/ theatres, the Imota Rice Mill, the Lagos Employment Trust Fund, the Lake Rice, the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the Epe Jubilee Chalets, the Light-Up Lagos, the Lasema Rescue Unit, the One Lagos Fiesta, the Johnson, Jakande Tinubu Park, the Lagos City Marathon, the reformed Ayinke House, the Abule-Egba Bridge, the Ready Set Work and Code Lagos, the 114 inner/link Roads and several other reforms too numerous to mention. Even his detractors would grudgingly admit in Yoruba about his tenure- “jẹki àsọ otitọ, Ambode ṣiṣẹ” meaning “let’s say the truth, Ambode worked”.
Also unforgettable, is his proclivity for philanthropy and kindness. From his days at practically every major local Government in Lagos State to his tenure at the State Civil service, he is reputed to have touched the personal lives of so many people both in and out of Government through personal gifts, sponsoring of medical expenses, personal interventions etc. This earned him the Yoruba sobriquet “Babaojuoto” meaning the silent giver that takes care of all and sundry without expecting anything in return.
It has been argued that this often-unheralded philanthropy was shaped by his upbringing which was particularly difficult after the early passing of his father and the challenges he faced in order to complete his education. He was once heard saying that because of the delays faced with the pensions of his late father, who retired as a secondary teacher, he would ensure that the state pension system was reformed so it could be paid more regularly.
Very few can argue that his ethic for hard work was not legendary. Public servants would remember his ability to call you at any given time of the day or night to answer questions regarding governance. A man whose intellect and reputation as an “ideas man” is first class; Ambode would wake up at 3 a.m. to brainstorm on an idea and would remain awake till the wee hours of the morning fine tuning it until perfection.
A man of deep introspection and loyalty; those who know him well, attest that he is deeply spiritual and has the abiding faith that God always has a plan no matter how daunting it may seem at any given time. Apparently, there have been many instances in his illustrious career where friends and foes have “written him” off as spent, only for another path to be opened by the singular grace of God and people of good faith.
Akinwunmi Ambode remains an enigma to some and an idol for many more who continue to remember his restless zeal for reform and change for the good of Lagos State.
As the man popularly called “Ambo” celebrates another year, it is our fervent wish and prayer that his spirit is not dimmed by the vicissitudes of life, because many believe that he still has more to offer.
Bodurin Olayinka, a journalist lives in Badagry.

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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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