The levels of anxiety over the health of the first lady Patience Jonathan has risen in the past week. She was reportedly flown to a German specialist hospital two weeks ago for an undisclosed medical treatment and the presidency has been discreet over her condition and whereabouts. When the sudden disappearance of the first lady from the country was initially reported, the presidency released a statement stating that “she went to take a rest” but neither disclosed the location nor duration of her rest. Patience Jonathan’s spokesman, Ayo Osinlu, has insisted that the President's wife travelled out of the country to take a "moment’s rest". It has been speculated that she has undergone a cosmetic surgical procedure.
Nigeria's excess crude account (ECA) has risen to $8.027 billion, representing a $1 billion increase since June. The Federal Government through consensual agreement with other tiers of government had earlier set a $10 billion target for the ECA by the end of the year as part of steps being taken to achieve a more stable financial system and protect the country from the increasingly volatile oil market. Jonah Otunla, Accountant General of the Federation, stated that the "build up in the ECA was the result of fiscal retrenchment measures adopted by government at all levels to boost savings". Otunla gave a financial breakdown on August’s earnings: "The distributable statutory revenue for the month is N440.792 billion [$2.8billion]. In addition, the sum of N35 billion [$222 million] is proposed for distribution under the SURE-P programme. Also distributed is the N7.617 billion [$44.5 million] refunded by NNPC. The total revenue distributable for the current month (including VAT) is N527.743 billion [$3.3billion].”
11,500 people have been displaced by flooding in the northern states of Kano and Jigawa. Relief camps have been opened and Musa Ilallah, the North-West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, stated on Sunday that relief materials have been donated to those affected. Flooding has become a regular occurrence in the last 11 years, particularly in Yakasawa and Centrimawa communities. Murtala Abubakar, the Chairman of Ringim Local Government, has appealed to the state government to tackle the menace of incessant flooding.
Team Nigeria Paralympics athletes and the under-20 female football team, the Falconets, were rewarded over the weekend by President Goodluck Jonathan for their superlative showing in the London Olympics and the women’s under-20 World Cup in Japan. The cash prizes, which were presented to the athletes during a reception held in their honour at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, included N5million (around $32,000) each for the six gold medallists in the Paralympics games, and N3million (around $19,000) for the five silver medallists. The two bronze medallists received N2million ($12,700), whilst all the Paralypians who participated but did not obtain any medals are to receive N500,000 ($3,200). The coaches and officials are set to receive N2.5million ($15,900). For the Falconets, Jonathan announced that all the members of the U-20 female Football Team would get N1millon ($6,350) each, while their coaches and officials will receive N1.2 million ($7,600).
Former Minister of Interior, Emmanuel Iheanacho has been released by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) after his arrest - allegedly in connection with stolen petroleum products. News reports on Thursday had implicated Iheanacho in the hijacking of the vessel, M.T. Grace. The ship's diverted petroleum products were traced to the tank farm of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, owned by Iheanacho. Iheanacho was arrested on Friday alongside three management staff by NIMASA and handed over to the State Security Services (SSS) for interrogation. Iheanacho suggested that the arrest of him and his staff and the sealing of the tank farm were aimed at crippling his business.
Last weekend saw President Goodluck Jonathan unveil an 80-page report, entitled "Sure and Steady Transformation", to lay out the progress made under his tenure. It includes a thorough breakdown of the economy and analyses the important power, aviation and agriculture sectors.
It is important for the electorate to be well-informed about the plans of the government and this release certainly adds a transparency to the regime. However, it also comes at a time when the government is the subject of criticism for its inability to accelerate the change in fortunes of millions of Nigerians living in abject poverty. In this context, a well-structured roadmap for positive change should have been one of the reports top priorities. However, the document is based on hope and future projections rather than concrete achievements.
There is no shortage of ambition in the plans. The report details the proposed remodelling and construction of five international airport terminals, an electronic fertiliser project, and the strides in foreign relations. However, a single downloadable document is no substitute for food or good health. It is hoped this document will produce tangible gains for the entire population.
The disappearance of the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, has been dominated Nigerian social media, discussion forums and public debates. Always a vocal and visible public figure, her lack of prominence comes as a surprise to many. Not only are the Nigerian people concerned about the whereabouts and health of their First Lady, the explanations and information on offer is vague.
It seems that the government has not learned from the media blunders in the last days of Umaru Yar’adua's presidency. The lack of information creates panic and allows for wild speculation. Why is there a need to shield her health from the rest of the nation? An issue of this calibre runs the risks of eroding the trust between the presidency and the millions of Nigerians who placed their faith in them. Nigerians would like to know, where is Patience Jonathan?
"Adenuga: Loud Ovation for a Silent Achiever" by Yemi Ajayi extols the virtues of business magnate and philanthropist Mike Adenuga. The writer covers Adenuga’s life in a well-written piece which tells a story of success in the face of adversity. Ajayi attempts to unravel the life of the billionaire businessman who last week was present with the award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by President Goodluck Jonathan. Ajayi’s piece explains why.
"Nigeria’s comatose capital market: Papering over the cracks" by Tayo Oke delves into the various issues relating to the Nigerian capital market. The banking sector is scrutinised alongside the role of the financial regulator, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The writer explains the on-going debacle facing Nigeria’s capital market and allows the reader to gain a better insight into needs of the sector.
The Nigerian Healthcare Foundation (NHF) was established in 2006 with the objective of highlighting the urgent healthcare issues in Nigeria and focus on bringing necessary relief. NHF’s mission remains to support and conduct medical services, combat the spread of disease and unnecessary death, and to prevent community deterioration by improving healthcare conditions within the Nigerian population. In the United Nations Economic & Social Council’s session of July 2008, the Nigerian Healthcare Foundation was granted Roster Consultative duty.
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