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Africa Promises Good Investment Opportunity Says Elumelu at WEF

Mr. Tony Elumelu, group chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and one of Africa’s top businessman, has stressed the need to change the African narrative while concentrating on the myriad of opportunities inherent in the continent, stating that its economic transformation and stimulation should be the focus of all governments and global institutions.

This, he said, is paramount if the continent is to take its rightful position as a strong regional player in the international community, owing to its numerous investment opportunities.

Elumelu, who is the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said the time had come for governments on the continent to put things in place to ensure that the continent which has great potential, lives up to it; adding that already, there are signals of the greatness all around.

Speaking during Richard Quest’s programme on CNN  aired on the sideline of the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, he said; “the time has come for us to prioritise our young ones, who are the future of this great continent. These are the men and women who are energetic in Africa and who can perform wonders if the enabling environment is there.

“We need to get it right with infrastructure in Africa and with the macro-economic policies and environment. And the good thing is that things are gradually falling in place. I think Africa promises good investment opportunities, the problem has always been creating the right environment for it, and this should be our major focus.” Elumelu stressed.

He added that in Zimbabwe, for instance, there have been recent concerted efforts by the government and the people to change the narrative, adding that “I am optimistic about what is happening in Africa right now, because our leaders are getting it right and in fact what has happened in Zimbabwe is also an indicator of great things to come. The fact that they on their own decided to sort things out the way they did, is a new kind of democracy that the world needs to learn from. “There is so much private global capital looking for the right destination, they can go to Zimbabwe as in other African nations, once the right environment is put in place.”

READ: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

While pointing out that the blame game which previously obtained in the continent should be done away with, Elumelu called for increasing support from the private sector as well as key stakeholders to make Africa and African self-sufficient.

Throwing more light on this, he said; “We can’t keep talking about missed opportunities. What I keep saying to people is to put an end to the blame game. Let’s begin to fix what needs fixing and get things right. Our government should get it right, the private sector should come forward and we need to support the young African entrepreneurs; create economic hope and opportunities for them.  “We need to think of how to engage Africa in the 21st century because it is no longer about giving grants and aid to Africa, it is more about engaging them in a way that creates self-sufficiency; independence; and reduces the perpetual syndrome of dependence.

Continuing, he said “There is promise; it is getting better because the way this year has started in Nigeria for instance, we have seen market indicators showing good promise, so we are optimistic that it will be better year. The Key is to prioritise things that are important to us to help the continent to grow.”

– Nigeria Communications Week

Property investors prefer tourist rather than urban areas in Greece

According to the findings of a survey conducted by pollsters Kapa Research for the Hellenic Property Federation (POMIDA), a large percentage of property owners are finding it difficult to pay real estate taxes. Only 21.6% of the respondents said that they would be able to pay the unified property ownership tax (ENFIA) next year, compared to 25.4% who said they were unable to cover the tax. 38.3% responded they would find it difficult and 14.7% refused or did not know what to answer.

The data recorded that most of the property owners received late rents and a significant percentage does not receive delayed rent payments from their tenants, with a large portion not receiving any rent at all. The survey also revealed that the majority of real estate owners reduced rents, subscribing to the notion that it is best to get less than nothing at all. 76% have decreased rental rates over the past three years.

  • 30.2% intend to sell some property in the next two years, while 76.4% noted they do not intend to buy property in the next two years.
  • 76.8% consider property taxes to be unfair, while 63.3% of the respondents argue that leasing property is a net loss.

READ: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

Furthermore, a long-standing trend in Greek society where investors valued more urban real estate (Athens, Thessaloniki, large urban centres) seems to have been reversed as an increasing number opt to invest in tourist areas.

Tech Leaders Show Support For Ambitious Housing Bill

Silicon Valley is facing a major housing crisis and San Francisco’s state representative, Scott Weiner, has proposed a (very) ambitious bill to allow much more construction. Now, his proposal, SB 827, has the backing of dozens of technology leaders, from Linkedin’s Reid Hoffman to Salesforce’s Marc Benioff.
“The lack of homebuilding in California imperils our ability to hire employees and grow our companies. We recognize that the housing shortage leads to displacement, crushing rent burdens, long commutes, and environmental harm, and we want to be part of the solution,” notes the letter, sent in collaboration with the pro-housing group, California YIMBY. “The housing shortage places a huge burden on workers, many of whom face punishingly long commutes and pay over half of their income on rent.”
Regular readers know that I’ve been very skeptical of past attempts to fix housing, because prior solutions didn’t go nearly far enough. San Francisco alone needs hundreds of thousands of units to make a significant dent in the cost of housing, yet many proposals only add tens of thousands over too long a timeline. Cities need to fundamentally overhaul their landscapes to have any chance at affordability for all income levels.
Weiner’s bill takes this fact seriously and removes zoning restrictions on almost the entire city of San Francisco, Oakland and many smaller suburbs dotting the bay area.  Currently, for instance, height and density restrictions make it more or less illegal to build medium-rise apartment buildings in much of San Francisco (hence why there are so few apartment buildings in the western half of the city).
SB 827 removes many of these density and height restrictions for any areas around “major” transit routes, allowing for buildings up to 45 feet around the suburban areas of San Francisco and 85 near large streets with frequent bus routes.
Tech leadership alone won’t get the bill through California’s legislature. California Governor Brown had similar support on a housing proposal to accelerate building through local approval boards, but was ultimately defeated due in no small part to labor unions who were not happy with how Brown’s bill guaranteed wages for construction workers
By Forbes

Over 370 vacant homes bought for social housing

More than 370 vacant houses and apartments have been bought using a €70 million fund established a year and a half ago to provide 1,600 homes for social housing by 2020.

The Housing Agency was allocated €70 million in July 2016 under the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland housing action plan to buy vacant houses for tenants on social housing waiting lists.

The agency targeted portfolios of distressed properties held by banks and investment companies, primarily private equity funds, with the aim of “bulk-buying” homes in batches to secure discounts. Most of the homes were former buy-to-let properties, but did not have sitting tenants, the agency said.

After the agency buys properties, it sells them on to approved housing bodies, which use a mixture of State and private funding to finance the purchases. The agency then uses the proceeds of the sale to replenish the €70 million fund.

To date 260 houses and 114 apartments have been bought for a total cost of €67.2 million or an average of just under €180,000 each – significantly below market prices, agency chairman Conor Skehan said.

“We can get incredible value, because we’re buying in bulk, and financial institutions, and what some people might call vulture funds, come to us, because they know they get a dead straight player. They know we’ll pay on time so we get great value on behalf of the public.”

In need of work

Just 30 of the homes have so far been sold to housing organisations, with €5.8 million recouped for the fund. However, Mr Skehan said, while formal sales have yet to be completed on most of the properties, the majority have already been handed over to housing charities and have been allocated to tenants.

READ: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

“These homes aren’t lying empty. In some cases they have needed work, particularly ones that were vacant for some time, but most we have passed on to the AHBs [approved housing bodies] under caretaker agreements, which allows them to get the tenants in while they sort out the financing.”

The agency hopes to have secured €20 million by the end of January in sales to the housing bodies.

Simon Brooke, director of policy with Clúid, the State’s largest housing association, has described the process as “painful” and slower than expected.

“We have yet to secure any units through the scheme. Because many of the sales involve receivers, there are legal problems to sort out. There was one estate in Tipperary we had hoped to buy but that’s now completely on hold because a legal challenge was taken against the sale,” he said.

“We would hope the scheme could move reasonably quickly, but it has been an extremely painful process, but that’s the painful thing about housing, it’s always a very slow process.”

NMRC and Modern Shelter Partner to Deepen Access to Affordable Housing

The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), Nigeria’s foremost mortgage underwriter has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Modern Shelter Systems and Services Limited (Modern Shelter),a pioneer mortgage brokerage and real estate marketing firm to leverage their respective comparative advantages to address the removal of barriers to home ownership for offtakers. These barriers include but are not limited to issues such as equity contribution constraints, access to mortgage loans and delivery of qualitative and affordable housing.

The partnership agreement, which was executed on the 25th of January 2018 will see NMRC and Modern Shelter working together towards the provision of housing finance, training, research, advisory and project structuring to increase housing stock that will drive mortgage creation and penetration in Nigeria, using alternative financing mechanisms that align with NMRC’s underwriting standards. The agreement is also expected to promote knowledge, technological transfer and support that grants Modern Shelter access to and use of NMRC’s flagship Housing Market System (HMS) as a means of mortgage prequalification and source of investment for construction finance.

According to NMRC’s Managing Director/CEO, Professor Charles Inyangete, in driving mortgage penetration and influencing housing stock development the company has invested substantial sums of money in providing and improving policy requirements and Information systems’ infrastructure that will assist market players like Modern Shelter and Brains and Hammers to make affordable housing delivery and access to finance scalable hurdles, as a result of the refinancing support that the agreement will prov
ide through NMRC’s member lending financial institutions.

READ: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

On his part, the Managing Partner of Modern Shelter Mr Abdulmalik Mahdi noted that Modern Shelter considers NMRC to be a major stakeholder and pillar in driving home ownership through mortgage refinancing in addition to innovative technology. He further stated that the partnership with NMRC would facilitate access to alternative finance investors and improve Modern Shelter’s ongoing engagement with Sterling Bank and Jaiz Bank using non-interest mortgage banking structures. He added that Modern Shelter has partnered and works closely with reputable developers such as Nigeria’s foremost housing developer Brains & Hammers Limited, Earthpoint Development Services and others to ensure availability of good and affordable housing stock for clients of different income brackets.

The Chairman of Modern Shelter, Mr. Adebola Sheidu who is also Chairman of Brains & Hammers, noted that the MoU and engagement would tie in with the proposed delivery of various projects by Brains & Hammers. The company is working to deliver over 5,000 housing units over a 5-year period across key states in Nigeria. These include, Brains & Hammers City Abuja, Jubilee Estate, Iganmu Lagos and a proposed housing spin – off of the landmark Kano Economic City project. He assured of Brains & Hammers capacity to deliver the housing stock needed to fuel this partnership.

The partnership has the huge potential of improving mortgage finance standards, particularly for the informal sector; it will also better enable NMRC’s member Banks to further create assets that will in turn drive refinance activities, add value and expected outcomes to first time home owners and attract non-interest investors into the housing and real estate sector.

NMRC EMPOWERS 45 INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDP)

In the bid to meet up with the 17 million deficit in the Housing sector in Nigeria, the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) graduated 45 Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) trainees as part of its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR), the Skills Empowerment Training which covered three sub sectors within the building construction industry were in Masonry (Block Making/Laying), Plumbing and Electrical installations.

The training which was sponsored by NMRC and coordinated by the Industrial Training Fund Abuja Area office is first of its kind in the series by NMRC. The event kick started and was declared open with a welcome address by the Executive Director of Policy & Strategy, Dr Chii Akporji  followed by  the head of the Industrial Trust Fund (ITF) represented by Mrs Evelyn Irabor  who charged the trainees to utilize the opportunity which will help them chart a new cause for their lives especially  when they get back to their respective locations. The CEO/M D Prof Charles Inyangete advised the trainees to take the skills they have learnt to heart as a valuable asset that can take them through the next phase of their lives. The MD also said that the empowerment training will be a continuous exercise.

Prof Inyangete  promised to create opportunity for internship for the graduands in other to enable them horn their skills as the two months training was short and not enough to fully equip them with the rudiments  needed in the construction industry as well as provide market for the skills acquired.

Mrs Evelyn Irabor presented the certificates to the graduands alongside the M D of NMRC,  Professor  Charles Inyangete  which was also followed by the presentation of working tools for the trade.

READ: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

The trainees thanked NMRC and ITF and also suggested that the same gesture should be extended to other IDP camps in Goru and in other camps.

One of the displaced persons, Enoch Yohanna, an assistant coordinator of Nelson Mandela skills center located within the camp thanked the organizers on behalf of the graduands for their support but called on the federal government to do more in alleviating their sufferings as the government has not provided the camp with any form of infrastructure. He stated that the camp lacks basic infrastructure as the only source of portable water was provided by NMRC two years ago. At the end of the event, Mr Philemon Emmanuel coordinator of the camp also thanked  NMRC.

The IDP camp is located in Kuchingoro part of the F C T and houses the Internally Displaced Persons who were sacked from their village of Goza in Borno state and Muchika in Adamawa state by the most dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram. The camp is made up 4,000 refuges comprising of  450 Children, 1573 Women and 1977 Men respectively.

By Martha Habu

Obasanjo attacks Buhari, asks president not to run in 2019

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday, in a blistering and excoriating 13-page statement has called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.

Mr. Obasanjo, in a special press statement entitled, “The Wat Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement” said Mr Buhari has performed far below expectation and should honourably “dismount from the horse” to join the league of the country’s former leaders whose “experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.”

Mr Obasanjo, a two-term president on the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP), said he feels disappointed by Mr Buhari, whom he supported during the 2015 election over then incumbent and candidate of his former party, Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr Obasanjo had written a condemnatory open letter in December 2013 titled “Before it is Too Late” where he highlighted the numerous failings of the Mr Jonathan administration.

Mr Obasanjo argued that his decision to go against Mr Jonathan, at the time was the right one as events in the last three years have since proved, was for the good of the nation and nothing personal.

“Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.”

Likening the state of the nation to lice-invested clothes, he said the country’s fingernails is stained with blood as it tries to kill the lice by pressing them in-between two fingernails. According to him, in other to make sure that our fingernails remains blood-free we must do what it takes rid our clothes of lice.

“The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today,” he wrote.

“With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’,” he added.

While thanking Mr Buhari for the effort of his administration in rolling back the Boko Haram insurgency and his fight against corruption, Mr Obasanjo said Mr Buhari has ultimately failed in other areas where he had thought he would be efficient.

The octogenarian, who bagged a PhD over the weekend, admitted he knew Mr Buhari was weak in handling the economy, he went ahead and voted for him because at the time “it was a matter of ‘any option but Jonathan’” and because he thought Mr Buhari would appoint qualified Nigerians to help out in that area.

He slammed Mr Buhari for turning a blind eye to corruption within his government saying it amounted to condonation and cover-up saying whoever is “going to justice must be with clean hands.”

He also berated Mr Buhari for allowing the clashes between herdsmen and farmers to go “sour” and messy saying the endorsement of the President by some governors to seek re-election barely 24 hours after 73 people who were killed by herdsmen in Benue State were given mass burial was “a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness.”

But Mr Obasanjo reserved his harshest words for what he described as Mr Buhari’s clannishness, lack of understanding of the dynamics of politics, and his tendencies to pass the buck of his government’s inadequacies to the immediate past administration.

“But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him.  One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court.  This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation.  It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest.  What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action?  How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?

“The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics.  This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced.  It also has effect on general national security.

“The third is passing the buck.  For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility.  Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today.  If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in.  He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game.”

Buhari and the APC do not have the answer

Mr Obasanjo thus argued that neither Mr Buhari nor his party, the All Progressives Congress hold the solution to the country’s problems. He suggested that Mr Buhari was not healthy enough to withstand the rigour associated with running a country like Nigeria neither does his party capable of providing the answer needed to sail the country through its difficulties.

Mr Obasanjo said Buhari should step down at the end of his first term with honour and dignity and attend to his health and should not listen to the his “self-serving so-called adviserswho would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say.”

“President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.  His place in history is already assured.  Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.

“I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age.  I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service.  President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice.  But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward,” he said.

“I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling.  I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise.  If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction.  The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria.

“To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger.

“If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do?  Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.”  We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.

Coalition of Nigerians

Having ruled out the PDP and the ruling APC of possessing the panacea to the malaise that ails the country, Mr Obasanjo therefore called for a movement he termed Coalition of Nigeria, which he offered to be a part of, to wrest power from the present ruling class and lead the country into the path of rebirth.

“We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves.  It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up.  This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance.

“Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us.  They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give.  Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving.  To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth.

“The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream.  We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations.  Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck.  All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck.  We need all hands to move our country forward.

“We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong.  That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress.  Coalition to salvage and redeem our country.  You can count me with such a Movement.  Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request.  This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us.  Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections.  But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position.  Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.

“This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward.  It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women.  It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress.  It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.  Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead.  Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

“The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality.  What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden.  It is our human duty and responsibility so to do.  Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.”

READ MORE: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT

THE WAY OUT: A CLARION CALL FOR COALITION FOR NIGERIA MOVEMENT
Special Press Statement
By
President Olusegun Obasanjo
———————————————————————————————-
Since we are still in the month of January, it is appropriate to wish all Nigerians Happy 2018. I am constrained to issue this special statement at this time considering the situation of the country. Some of you may be asking, “What has brought about this special occasion of Obasanjo issuing a Special Statement?” You will be right to ask such a question. But there is a Yoruba saying that ‘when lice abound in your clothes, your fingernails will never be dried of blood’. When I was in the village, to make sure that lice die, you put them between two fingernails and press hard to ensure they die and they always leave blood stains on the fingernails. To ensure you do not have blood on your fingernails, you have to ensure that lice are not harboured anywhere within your vicinity.
The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.
Four years ago when my PDP card was torn, I made it abundantly clear that I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since, I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. We have set the target that Nigeria with the participating States in the Zero Hunger Forum should reach Zero Hunger goal by 2025 – five years earlier than the UN target date. I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair. I believe strongly that God has endowed Nigeria so adequately that no Nigerian should be either in want or in despair.
I believe in team work and collaborative efforts. At the international level, we have worked with other world leaders to domicile the apparatus for monitoring and encouraging socio-economic progress in Africa in our Presidential Library. The purpose of Africa Progress Group, which is the new name assumed by Africa Progress Panel (APP), is to point out where, when and what works need to be done for the progress of Africa separately and collectively by African leaders and their development partners. I have also gladly accepted the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to be a member of his eighteen-member High-Level Board of Advisers on Mediation. There are other assignments I take up in other fora for Africa and for the international community. For Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country. It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.
All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria. As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation. For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard. He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.
The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj). But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution. I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time. No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance.
I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move. I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria. There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.
I thought President Buhari would fight corruption and insurgency and he must be given some credit for his achievement so far in these two areas although it is not yet uhuru!
The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.
But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public? The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game. Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.
President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery. But whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say. President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.
I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.
I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.
I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion. Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days. At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark. They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey. Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.
Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give. Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.
What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.
Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well. Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.
The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream. We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck. All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck. We need all hands to move our country forward.
We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.
This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.
The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.
Some may ask, what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians and he will continue to want nothing less. And if we have the best, we will be contented whether where we live is described as palaces or huts by others and we will always give thanks to God.
I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so. Members must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general. For me, the strength and sustainable success of CN will derive largely from the strong commitment of a population that is constantly mobilized to the rallying platform of the fact that going forward together is our best option for building a nation that will occupy its deserved place in the global community. May God continue to lead, guide and protect us. Amen.

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SOURCE: Nicholas Ibekwe

MEET WITH MANUFACTURERS WHO CAN DELIVER A TWO BEDROOM BUNGALOW FOR UNDER N1.5M

Abuja International housing show  brings together a broad-based, nationwide partnership of public and private organizations and committed individuals. The organizers believe that all Nigerians should have access to high quality, affordable housing in suitable locations.

We accomplish our mission by promoting a positive image of affordable housing; demonstrating the need for affordable housing throughout Nigeria; supporting the work of state and federal housing networks to educate, communicate and advocate for affordable housing; influencing public policy and planning to enhance the supply and quality of affordable housing; encouraging the development of a supportive administrative, regulatory and financial environment; and convening key stakeholders to advance forward-looking housing policy development.

The 12th Abuja International housing show will feature THE LATEST Technology and Innovations in affordable housing delivery…….If you are a Real Estate Developer seeking Strategic Alliances or a Government Agency looking for Reliable and Trusted Partnerships……….You must attend West Africa’s Largest Housing Expo.

If you attend this year’s event, you will meet one of our EXHIBITORS from Asia, whose most recent project in Africa includes 88m2 two bedroom house for an average family. 70% of building materials used can be recycled. It is simple to assembly, it can resist earthquake of magnitude 8 and can withstand 12 mph wind gusts.

Read: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

The estimated economic life is more than 70 years. The homes boast of superior thermal insulation performance, sound insulation effect; and it can be customized according to customer preferences and shapes.

Meet with our featured manufacturer and other Exhibitors from Asia at the 12th Abuja International housing show, the Largest Housing event in West Africa……….. promoting smarter growth, sensible transportation choices, community revitalization, and open space conservation.

Abuja International Housing Show, if you’re not there, then your not there…….

by Kunle Faleti

Expert urges Nigerians to key into FG`s housing schemes

The Group Managing Director of Alphea Mead Group, Mr Femi Akintude has said it is only when the people key into government`s housing schemes that it would be able to provide funding for the housing sector.

Akintunde further said for the government to actualize the set target of any social housing programme, private sector developers must be infused into such arrangement with the government providing a sizable chunk of the funding, while private sector balances up the difference.

He stated this in a paper presentation entitled “perspective on social mass housing infrastructure.”

He said, “The upper income is not where we have a problem; unfortunately, that is where the return on investment seems to be more attractive and that`s where we also see oversupply and under demand because of affordability.

“The middle income can be defined as the housing in the range from N10 million to 15 million. These are housing for middle income professionals those who are gainfully employed but cannot afford the luxury of buying houses of N100 million, N200 million without a loan. So, they must rely on mortgage facilities

“There is also the lower level that`s where the bulk of the gap resides about 50 or 60 percent of the gap is at this level. Houses in this range cost between 5million to 10 million naira. The people in this range can’t simply pay for any house more than N2milion.”

READ : 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

He noted that given the current economic situation, 2milion naira cannot conveniently build a quality house.  “This simply implies that something must give way or someone must pay the difference to enable the people in this category own houses and that is where the concept of social housing comes into play.”

Akintude said it is the responsibility of government to provide housing for people in this category.

He, however, said government`s approach to deliver housing should not be through government directly; else, it will not be  slow and inefficient.  He said The Federal Mortgage Bank, the Federal Housing Authority and National Housing Insurance must come to play here, and that is why government encourages people to participate in these schemes.

“It is only when the populace key into these schemes that government can provide funding that can support the counterpart funding from either the domestic or international finance market.

“But the critical question is when the people contribute to this course, how can the government guarantee the security of their contributions?”

by Mustapha Suleiman

CORBON, N-Power begin skills acquisition training

The Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and N-Power have jointly commenced skills acquisition training for 100 Master Trainers in the ongoing ‘Train the Trainer Skills Acquisition Programme for Construction Artisans in Nigeria.’

At the end of the training, the master trainers will be sent to the 36 states to train other trainers who will in turn transfer skills to construction artisans.

Speaking to journalists at the training centre in Abuja, Vice Chairman of CORBON, Dr. Samson Opaluwah, explained that the training of master trainers included going to the states and zones across the federation to train other trainers who would in turn train construction industry artisans for the country.

He noted that the training progammme was “a major problem solver” because the artisanship level of the construction industry in this country was being taken over by foreigners while Nigerian youths remained unemployed.

He said, “The CORBON/N-Power initiative will equip Nigerian youths with the skills to win jobs and execute them competently and professionally in a competitive economy.”

He said no economy could be sustainable without home grown inputs and management specialists, adding that any nation which depended on foreign expertise would be disappointed because foreigners would migrate to locations of greener pastures as soon as they got better offers, but that citizens were likely to have residual interest that would make them stay in their country.

READ : 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

“So, it is best to train an in-country man, and that is what we are doing, and we commend the Federal Government for the effort,” he said.

Speaking on the impact the training will have on the economy, he said: “Nigerians will be trained at the tactical level, meaning the artisanship level of the construction industry, and they will be jointly certified by CORBON and the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) so that they will be competent to deliver world class services in the construction industry, especially in building and the allied industries.

“The training is also remarkable for the huge jobs it will create across the federation. It aims to restore the dignity of man in working with his axe.

by Mustapha Suleiman

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