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Agu meets another money doubler.

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THE above personification might leave many guessing that I intend waxing poetic about the famous prose which we were so conversant with during our salad days. While the Agu described in the popular Mastering English series might have been a fictitious character, his dream of an instantaneous accumulation of wealth is completely symptomatic of how desperate the average Nigerian could be.

When  the famous Mavrodi Mondial Scheme popularly enthused as MMM burst its seams last month, I was sincerely yours, among the pessimists who saw its anticipated renaissance as nothing but a tall dream.

I wrote in a piece way back then that if opinions had been sought from a cross-section of participants probably moments before it ceded to the alleged heavy workload, many would have still described the money doubling scheme as God’s special manna in these hard times. The economy is in dire straits to say the least and the common man on the street could care less about hard lessons learnt from similar ponzi schemes in the past.

A former colleague of mine related how his hopes were salvaged through the ponzi scheme. According to his saccharine-filled narrative, his investments in MMM helped in offsetting his burgeoning debt profile. In a similar vein, a neighbour of mine revelled me with his new lease of life, courtesy of the fortunes accrued from MMM.

The more tantalising carrot was extended to members of the scheme at the beginning of December. The tagged ‘Christmas bonus’ ditched the thirty percent bonus by moving a notch higher to fifty percent. Did members feel the slightest foreboding at that juncture? I sincerely can’t tell. Enthusiasts kept defending that the scheme had remained resilient in the heat of so much bad-mouthing by the House of Assembly, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation.

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When the death knell was eventually tolled, it was stated that the number of those who wanted to get help were more than those who wanted to provide help. If this is anything to go by, one is then bound to wonder where the returns were actually sourced from in the first place? Was the scheme truly sustained by some cryptocurrencies or the same naira which members deposited into one another’s account? Guess your hunch is just as good as mine.

Nigerians of course, were privy to the fate that befell naïve South-Africans and Zimbabweans who swallowed the MMM bait, hook, line and sinker. It was a gamble many thought they could enjoy and go scot free. A few many who were supposed to know better sentimentally gave in to the point that it came as a relief in harsh times. As such, they equally rebuked Nigerian Legislators for witch-hunting those who kept the scheme afloat.

MMM members were still hesitant in admitting that the deed has been done. Accounts have only been temporarily frozen, they say. MMM promises to bounce back stronger and better come January 14. The site still allows people to provide help, etc. Now that operators of the scheme seem to be ready to live up to their billing, I am left with no other option than to have a hunk of my humble pie. Need I still express deep condolences to aggrieved members who licked their wounds silently sequel to the impromptu hiatus last month? MMM promises to come back stronger than it was before. An avid participant intimated me earlier today that he was received a verification code to activate his mavro account before the d-day. Good news you say uh!

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Drifting away from this deja-vu, it is equally apposite to ask if the typical Nigerian would still be willing to stake a lump sum following the unexpected black-out witnessed last month. Has the last four weeks or thereabout suddenly turned the table in such a way now that the number of people wanting to provide help dwarfs the overwhelming horde in need of help? Will this money-churning scheme blaze through the odds which similar schemes of the past had fallen victim to? It is better I rest my case before the teeming audience sees me as an overnight Prophet of doom.

On a lighter note nonetheless, the anticipated defreezing of accounts is reminiscent of the moonlight tale involving Agu; the wretched washerman and the Money Doubler who claimed to have been  sent by the Marine Goddess. Agu’s joy knew no bounds when the few pennies in his pocket were doubled.

Spurred by this windfall, Agu added his nest egg to the lump sum which a friend lent him and gave it to the Money Doubler. Following the rituals, the money was kept in a can and Agu was instructed to guard it jealously for the next two days before opening the lid. Agu did as instructed and when he eventually opened it,  he was left dumbstruck, to behold white papers neatly cut into the size of currency notes. Agu ran back to the river bank where he had first met the Money Doubler but as they say, the rest is history.

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By Kadiri Tolani

 

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National Issues

2021: President Buhari’s new year message to Nigerians

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Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has addressed Nigerians in a traditional New Year broadcast.

In the speech, Buhari, on Friday, re-echoed his commitment to the Nigerian project, just as he urged other Nigerians to do the same.

The President’s speech read:

My fellow countrymen and women,

First, I would like to thank and praise the Almighty who saw us through the year 2020 and has given us the opportunity to witness the start of another new year. We especially thank God because the year 2020 was one of the most trying years since our existence as a Nation.

2. This can also be said about all other nations around the world, due to the challenges posed on our collective humanity by the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

3. While acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year, we saw this year put to test our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times and also gave renewed hope that we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.

4. As we celebrate the opportunity before us in this New Year 2021, we must also acknowledge the passing away of our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this New Year. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

5. We must remember that we also celebrated the historic occasion of our sixty years as an independent and sovereign country on October 1st 2020. In the spirit of hope and gratitude, I would like to remind us again that as a country on the difficult journey to nationhood and greatness, we have confounded the many pundits at home and around the world who never gave the newly-born country that emerged unto the world stage on 1st October 1960 a chance of surviving much longer than a few years.

6. Yet, here we are, 61 years by the next anniversary in October, and not only are we here, we are standing tall in the comity of nations as one country united under the will of God and also actively growing that indivisible Nigerian spirit that has enabled us, year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated. This nation, this Nigeria will survive and thrive.

7. In this journey to nationhood, we have experienced the highs and lows. 2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability. This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.

8. In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected President and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required. Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you, and all the key stakeholders who are committed to the unity of Nigeria to ensure that every region of this nation is safe for us all, while guaranteeing that the future is also secure for the coming generation.

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9. I wish to also use this occasion of New Year to reaffirm my commitment to the people of Nigeria, especially the youth who need our collective encouragement and support. In securing this nation we need to secure the future of our youth.

10. Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad. Their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all. Many of our young people are excelling in various spheres of life including sports, entertainment, information and communication technology, commerce and are globally recognized as achievers.

11. As a Government we are committed to actively engaging with the creative energies of our young people. In this regard, we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions. This will create vast opportunities in fintech, agriculture, business process startups and in the entertainment industry.

12. The year 2021 will indeed be a year where we will work to reinforce the hopes of fellow Nigerians in the vision of a united and progressive Nigeria. This administration would continue focusing on delivering key strategic priorities under our “SEA” – (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) Agenda. Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include:

ON THE SECURITY:

13. Re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.

14. In line with the current security challenges, we are facing as a Nation, I would like to reiterate the promise I made recently when over 300 of our boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara were successfully rescued by our security operatives.

15. The professionalism shown by our Security Forces and the collaboration from all stakeholders across both State and Federal Governments that led to the successful rescue of the boys is proof that Nigeria has the internal capacity to decisively deal with terror attacks on our citizens.

16. However, we recognize that we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and preemptive posture to ensure that these sorts of traumatic incidents do not become a norm. Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.

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ON THE ECONOMY:

17. Our focus is on revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency. This has helped reduce the growing food related inflationary figures and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lock down.

18. We are also currently rebuilding our national infrastructure base and, in the process, introducing transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports.

19. The reforms we have put in place in the power sector would guarantee increased efficiency in our drive to significantly expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.

20. As an administration we are currently undertaking a series of special interventions designed to boost job creation and support the entrepreneurial drive of our youths.

21. With the recent opening of our borders, we expect that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce.

22. The message to our West African neighbours is that Nigeria is once again fully open for those willing to conduct business in a fair and equitable way.

ANTI-CORRUPTION:

23. On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have recorded substantial gains so far and this year, we are committed to continuing along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight.

24. While we would be working with the Legislature to enact laws that would strengthen this fight, we would also be looking at reviewing some of our laws which would ensure that this fight is more effective. On the part of the executive, we would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases, while appealing to the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are dispensed with expeditiously.

25. The persistence of various forms of violence has meant that in the most affected parts of the country, the fabric of inter-communal harmony woven through years of investment of effort at building trust, mutual respect, and harmony has been threatened.

26. Insecurity as a challenge has direct repercussions on our national economic stability, growth, and development, setting us back at critical points through the destruction of public and private investments.

27. In parts of the country where chronic poverty, social exclusion, and disillusionment among sections of the youth were already a problem, the cycles of violence that have been unleashed by mindless groups like Boko Haram and others have thwarted the efforts of government to undertake the social policy and associated investments that could make a huge difference in the quality of life of our citizens.

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28. I am aware that for some of our compatriots, the progress we have registered since the inception of this administration is not nearly as fast or as sufficient as they would wish. I do not begrudge them their views in so far as they signify a wish, in which we all share, for only the very best for our country.

29. Nevertheless, I call upon all Nigerians to carefully recall the circumstances of our coming to office, the facts on the ground and the resources at our disposal since 2015 with the accomplishments of this administration.

30. As a people, we have shown admirable resilience in the face of every adversity, an unmatched capacity to recover speedily from every setback, an unparalleled generosity of spirit when we resolve our differences, and a constant readiness to invest faith and hope in the destiny we share as a united country built on the diversity of its peoples.

31. It is these attributes that underpin the Nigerian spirit of “can do, will do” that gives me hope that we shall yet get to destination and fulfill our calling together, especially with the solid resolutions we are setting in this new year.

32. Keeping our country on a forward march is a duty which we all have and share. In this regard, keeping our country safe from a resurgent cycle of COVID-19 as this administration finalizes its plans to procure and efficiently and effectively distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, I urge you all fellow citizens to observe strict COVID-19 prevention protocols.

33. As your elected President, my pledge to you is the same as it has always been; I will play my part fully and without fear or favour. I invite all of us to do the same. It is what we owe to the founding generation of our beloved country and also to the coming generation. It is what we desire for national prosperity for all demands.

34. Long Live the Nigerian spirit of oneness, togetherness, and unity. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

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National Issues

SWEGOP charges Buhari, S’West governors to address increased insecurity

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South West Group of Online Publishers, (SWEGOP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Southwest governors and other stakeholders to put in place modalities that will check the activities of the hoodlums and criminals disrupting the peace of the nation.

Online publishers decried the increasing rate of lawlessness and criminalities in all the nooks and crannies of the country.

SWEGOP, in a statement signed by its Chairman,  Olayinka Agboola and the Public Relations Officer,  Remi Oladoye described the alarming rate of attacks on innocent citizens and members of the general public as a worrisome situation, which requires an urgent solution.

It further noted that since the end of #EndSARS campaign which was hijacked by hoodlums,  the crime rates have been on a high increase and the security operatives seems to have lost control of the ugly situation.

“The situation we have found ourselves is nothing  but a reckless abandonment of  responsibilities  by those saddled with  the task. Everybody  including officers of the  security  agencies now live with the fear of being attack by the hoodlums  who are kidnapping , robbing and killing people for rituals.

SWEGOP calls on stakeholders in the country not to leave the role of protecting lives and properties to government alone but see it as a task that must be done by all and sundry.

While commending the South West governors for launching  Amotekun corps, the group however urged the  militia group to do their work diligently and collaborate with other security  agencies in their respective states to curb the crime rates in the society.

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National Issues

Pan-Yoruba group, carpets S’West governors on insecurity, charges them to empower Amotekun

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Governors of the South-West States of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo Oyo and Osun have been accused of grossly abdicating their primary constitutional duty of protecting the lives and properties of their citizens, judging by the escalating security crisis in the region.

A pan-Yoruba group, the Majeobaje Movement, leveled the allegation in a ‘save our souls’ letter to the Chairman of the South-West Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, which was copied to the five other governors.

In the letter leaked to the press, the Movement described itself an alliance of professionals, entrepreneurs, policy specialists and academics concerned about and working for improved governance in Nigeria.

The group decried the spate of killings, kidnappings, rape and sundry criminal activities ravaging the region under the governors’ watch, with the attendant loss of lives of many illustrious citizens and the destruction of their livelihoods.

Majeobaje wondered why the much trumpeted South West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, is yet to be effectively pressed into the service of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of the region, against the high expectations of the citizens.

It highlighted several unresolved security breaches in the region especially in different parts of Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Ogun states, which had caused anguish to many families.

The group said it is worrying that little or nothing had been done by the government of these states to mitigate the sufferings of residents in the hands of violent herdsmen, kidnappers, rapists and armed robbers or to bring the band of criminals to justice.

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The group further stated, “Insecurity in the SW has now reached a crisis point, partly because the Federal Government refuses to act decisively, and also because our SW governors are failing to use Amotekun effectively.

“Because banditry has overwhelmed the Northwest, Fulani herdsmen are fleeing desertification, victims of Boko Haram in the Northeast are seeking refuge, and the unemployed from all parts of Nigeria are looking for work, these people are now streaming mostly into our SW states.

“They often do so with a high level of aggression including bearing of AK47 rifles with which our people are being raped and killed with scant regard to the sanctity of life, our culture or the rule of law.”

In a five-point recommendation, Majeobaje wants the governors to act decisively in stamping out criminal activities within the region and ensure that citizens sleep with both eyes closed, especially now that the end-of-the-year festivities have peaked.

The recommendations:
1) That the six governors should urgently allocate more funds to Amotekun so the outfit can be fully equipped and recruit more personnel to improve its operations, especially by the deployment of Surveillance Drones and Forest Rangers. The ongoing assistance to conventional security agencies should be enhanced and sustained.

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2) Use new and existing laws to revamp Neighborhood Associations and to strengthen LGA Security Committees to include Traditional Rulers, Amotekun/Police and Vigilantes. These two units will help document residents, deter criminals, and collate data to monitor the activities and welfare of itinerant workers such as Okada riders, farm workers, herders and others.

3) Encourage the setting up of private security companies that will specialize in intelligence gathering services as well as the imperative use of drones for aerial surveillance and the investigation of kidnappings.

4) Set up or reboot a Security Trust Fund in each state in such a way that will encourage and compel the private sector to support with funding and management of these security initiatives.

5) Demonstrate leadership by physically leading the charge to secure your states, by mobilizing resources at the front lines, and by rekindling the hopes of our farmers, their families and other residents to demonstrate that their governors have not abandoned them to the impunities of marauding forces.

The Majeobaje Movement cautioned that ‘before Apocalypse arrives,’ Governor Akeredolu and his brother governors must urgently act so that the long suffering people of the six states are not left with no option than resort to self-help, the consequences of which can only be imagined for both leaders and the led.

The group said, “We, therefore, call on you and your colleagues to rise up today, take leadership and fulfill your primary purpose of protecting and defending the lives and properties of your people!

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“If you fail to urgently do the needful by pushing back the marauders, we are concerned that our anxious people may regain their composure and be left with no other option than to defend themselves,” the group stated firmly.

Assuring the governors of their highest regard always, the letter dated 12th December, 2020 was signed on behalf of its general membership by its steering committee members including Chief Akintayo Akin-Deko, Sir Gbenga Adebusuyi, Revd. Muyiwa Bamgbose and Mr Ibukun Fakeye.

Other signatories included Dr Dolapo Sikuade, Mr Deola Kumapayi, Mr Yomi Layinka and Mr Ayo Oyerinde.

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