ONE: The buzz of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s return is getting stronger. She is apparently in the process of accepting another major leadership position in Nigeria. Major Nigerian newspaper outfits in the country have all reported that she is currently negotiating her pay package and also her right to choose the economic team and design the economic policies that the country will pursue. She is to serve as a super minister or economic tsar. Mrs. Iweala was responsible for negotiating the payment of the majority of the Paris club debt as minister of finance during President Obasanjo’s tenure. Her work led to an increase in economic growth. By the time she left office the excess crude account had a huge surplus. Unfortunately, subsequent governments have since depleted the account. Some are concerned about the illegality of her previous salary package and her potentially monopolistic hold over economic policy. However, one hopes the economic outlook will improve with the return of such brave and talented technocrats with a track record of getting results in a contentious policy arena as Nigeria. Welcome back Iron lady. (We hope).
TWO: An investigative report published today attempted to present to the public the current EFCC chair’s corruption and abuse of office. Mrs. Wasiri is accused of granting letters of pardon to corrupt politicians who were under investigation by her agency. Her proposed intent was to use these letters to thank those who supported her appointment to EFCC. Prominent among those who apparently received these letters is James Ibori, who is currently on trial in England. These letters were discussed extensively and they are the sole evidence put forth by the writer. Unfortunately they were not provided in the piece or as supplementary material. Frankly, it is important that when officials are being accused of such crimes, their accusers provide incontrovertible evidence as support. Otherwise such insinuations only serve to desensitize the public when in the end no one is held accountable because there was never enough evidence. One hopes that we are aware of the burden of proof placed on the court before it can convict. Such a burden should be placed on reporting agencies as well. It is a problem that Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC faced with the prosecution of Bode George and it is one that Mrs. Wasiri’s EFCC too faces.
THREE: Another investigative article published today in the same paper accused minister for petroleum resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke of corruption and the abuse of office. She is said to have “violated Nigeria’s procurement law by quietly signing away operatorship rights in five lucrative oil blocks to two barely established companies”. Mrs. Madueke is possibly being tapped for reappointment as the minister for petroleum resources and her name is on the presidential ministerial list.
FOUR: A Nigerian organization is offering free breast cancer screening in Abuja. The rapid increase in world breast cancer rates is alarming even in countries where cancer reports aren’t comprehensive. Early detection offers the best opportunity for treatment. Data presented by the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that 31.5 of 100,000 Nigerian women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Early detection offers these women a chance to live; one hopes that more women will take this chance.
FIVE: Boko Haram killed 25 Nigerians yesterday evening. The death toll rises. The government seems to have convinced itself that reconciliation with the murderers is what the dead and the ‘soon to die’ deserve in place of justice. The Nigerian life should be worth more than it seems to be worth to the institution responsible for its safety. Boko Haram continues its brazen rain of terror and the death toll rises and no one will be held responsible. This article presents the history of the movement and provides a possible way out.
SIX: Last week, the CBN released its final guidelines on Islamic banking or Non-interest banking. The policy might potentially open up the capital market to the millions of devout Nigerian Muslims that have been locked out of the capital system of the country. Access to capital can change the economic landscape of Nigeria and it is a step in the right direction. The CBN has also stated that the guideline covers all non-interest banking, which in this case might include informal banking like “the Yoruba Esusu or Ajo, the lgbo Utu, Edo Osusu, Hausa Adashi” and other variations of community banking.
SEVEN: The Lagos state government has taken steps in protecting citizens from potential attacks by Boko Haram. In this mini documentary, the Governor also presented the gains his administration has made on the educational system of Lagos state. Is Lagos working?
EIGHT: The Bureau of Public Procurement saved the country a sum of N216 billion from January 2010 to March 2011. The BPP is the federal agency responsible for ensuring that Federal Government contracts are awarded at reasonable costs. The surplus was possible because the agency extensively reduced the costs of contracts awarded by federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies. This shows that due process works. The agency reviewed 952 contracts in 15 months. Of the 952 it reviewed, 843 were approved and 9 procurement proposals were rejected.
NINE: The Ministerial nomination list is out. 12 women apparently made the list, although some claim that there will be an increase in the number of women appointed by the end of the nomination process. The full list and a brief biography of the nominees are available here.
TEN: The Jewel. The most beautiful girl in Nigeria was crowned last Friday. May her reign bring beauty and grace. Congratulations to Sylvia Nduka.