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Ministerial Nominee: Godwin Jedy; A Seasoned technocrat with the midas touch

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One of Nigeria’s very experienced energy administrators, Mr. Godwin Jedy-Aba, is a minister-nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari. And there is, understandably, song and dance in the quarters of those who know the capacity and experience of the nominee in the oil and gas sector. But for those who crave the enthronement of mediocrity to aid and abet the culture of incompetence or the regime of laissez faire in the management of the petroleum sector, the prospects of Jedy-Agba emerging as Buhari’s choice for the critical sector cannot resonate well with them.Regardless of the prognosis of possibilities or otherwise, Jedy-Agba is one of the few “technocrats” in a list that has been largely dubbed “political” by critics.

Notwithstanding his previous temperate, restrained and strategic foray into partisan politics, his accomplishments and exploits as an astute administrator have not diminished a bit. His administrative savoir faire and legerdemain had been writ-large in his public service trajectory from which he retired at the NNPC.While the likely portfolio that would be assigned to the Prince of Obudu from Cross River state is not the subject of this piece of writing, it is, however, not in doubt that Buhari has made up his mind about using the few “technocrats”-like Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sunday Dare (journalist) Osagie Ehinare (consultant physician) et al, in his list to man some specialized ministries to demand value for knowledge and experience, and, if this is the intendment, then one does not need a crystal ball to guess where Jedy-Agba, a former Group General Manager (GGM), Crude Oil Marketing Division (OMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will likely be assigned: perhaps, not far away from the petroleum ministry.

While it is unlikely the President will hands off his direct control of the Petroleum Ministry, as the substantive Minister-in-charge, he will need a brilliant and effective minister of state who can be saddled with all the basic responsibilities of the ministry without caving in.If the politics of administration is played with humility and wisdom, a minister of state can enjoy the privilege of full control with the confidence of the President to boot. Nothing suggests to the contrary that Jedy-Agba cannot be trusted to deliver on a presidential mandate with tact and precision. That will be in spite of the salacious narratives by detractors and traducers who are on a voyage of upending a luminous epoch that beckons. With President Buhari’s commitment to consolidating on the achievements of his first four years in the saddle, attention is focused on experience.

The president appears unprepared to gamble with “untested hands”. He is greatly seeking to make a better impression in his second term of office. To do this, he cannot afford to put square pegs in round holes. Buhari cannot afford to deploy a learner who cannot take the pressure off him in the administration of the critical petroleum sector.Besides, time is of the essence. While the nation is waiting to see the ministers hit the ground running, critics are also waiting to feast on the administration’s mistakes.

Viewed from any angle, Jedy-Agba is a good pick who could help the administration to weather the storm in the entire oil industry. That is why the malicious media campaign against him has been thick. His traducers know that he cannot be stopped when he gets cracking in delivering on any mandate.Sadly, we are in a season where traducers who masquerade as critics, are wont to sacrifice everything – knowledge, capacity and accomplishments – at the altar of contrived criticisms in the guise of seeking the promotion of perfection in the land of sinners. This is not unexpected.

However, the ninth Senate is urged not to entertain needless distractions in the screening and confirmation hearing of Jedy-Agba. But of course, while the law must take its course where and when it is activated to do so, a phony media campaign to smear someone who has never been questioned or prosecuted by any anti-graft commission, must never be dignified as something worth scrutinizing or countenancing. President Buhari was an appointee of the late General Sani Abacha.

Hundreds of millions of dollars that were taken out of Nigeria during that regime have been recovered from the late dictator and his family; but, this cannot, in anyway, qualify or translate as an indictment, simply because Buhari served under Abacha.

Unfortunately, the merchant of the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba cannot grapple with the fact that he was a top official of the NNPC, who could not escape working with a Minister of Petroleum. It is therefore disingenuous and wicked to think that everyone who has anything to do with Deziani Alison-Madueke, in the line of duty, is guilty as opined in the media. This is distasteful and uncharitable.

This concern is not just about Jedy-Agba alone but it is also inclusive of everyone who had previously worked with Diezani Alison-Madueke.Interestingly, in all the corruption cases filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, there is not one in which Jedy-Agba has been listed as a party, whether separately or jointly with her. This is a matter of judicial records for anyone to verify.

In addition, the sponsors of this narrative about his involvement in large scale corruption under Diezani Alison-Madueke should also have known that the security agencies must have subjected the nomination of Jedy-Agba to due diligence checks before the final pick.

This nomination, for Jedy-Agba, is a spring board for bouncing back to a familiar terrain of service, having worked for several ministers as a Personal Assistant and in different other capacities between 1985 and 1995. He is perhaps one of the most versatile nominees with requisite administrative experience, who once worked at ministerial level. For decades, he had acquitted himself creditably and meritoriously without scandals. He is indeed a great addition to the Buhari’s team. It is going to be difficult to cut shady deals on his watch behind the government, whether or not he is sent to the petroleum sector.

It is therefore not impossible that the people behind the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba are among the notorious oil mafia and cartel whose deep backend activities and shady deals are threatened by this strategic nomination. Jedy-Agba knows the oil industry like the palm of his hand, and his likely headship of the sector or as a minister of state to Buhari is bound to ruffle feathers and put an end to some underhand dealings. The level of opaqueness in the management of public finance in the oil industry in Nigeria has continued to be worrisome.

This could thus be another tough call for an administration that has committed itself to fighting corruption.It could be recalled that Jedy-Agba’s onerous tasks as Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC had put him in a good stead to manage a complex terrain.

He was responsible for liaising with Crude Pricing & Technical Evaluation Section on Price movement and other input data for market reports. He also monitored and analyzed consumption of other energy types, terms of cost availability and relative impact on world petroleum supply/demand balance. Jedy-Agba was simply vast and deep; and was capacitated enough to handle his huge responsibilities.

The campaign of calumny will not be over even after the senate screening and confirmation hearing. To be sure, those behind the sponsored malicious media reports are likely to shift their attack to the specific – calling on the president, not to appoint him as a Minister of State for Petroleum, while playing up their unsubstantiated allegations. Regardless of the shenanigans, Jedy-Agba remains a wonderful pick.

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Coup de Disgrace…The Aisha Buhari/Fatima Daura Debacle: Before The ‘Cabal’ Self-Destructs

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By Chinedu Okpara

If nothing else buttressed the omnipotent powers and vicelike grip of Mamman Daura, the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the presidency and the president himself, his daughter, Fatima’s brazen and embarrassing face-off with Aisha, the wife of the president, as contained in a viral video, is the ultimate coup de grace.

At the height of speculations that the president was getting a new wife rumoured to be Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, a video emerged of a raging woman inside an expansive room complaining, in an admixture of English and Hausa, of how an apartment was under lock and key in spite of the hordes of security personnel in the villa, and distinctly saying, “Enough is enough.” The video would later be revealed to have been in circulation since 2017.

In an interview with the BBC Hausa on her return from the United Kingdom where she had been for over three months, Mrs Buhari said, “I was the one in that video and this person you see standing at my back are my security personnel.” She continued, “It was Fatima, the daughter of Mamman Daura that shot the video in front of my security and everybody there. She was actually recording the whole thing right in front of me and was laughing and mocking me. They did that because my husband sacked them from the house. He told them to get all their belongings and leave the house for my son (Yusuf) to occupy. I left them and wanted to get to one of the rooms but they prevented me from getting through. I left them and took another way yet, I met the store locked.”

In a separate interview, Fatima, who admitted to recording the video, traced the relationship between her father and the president to when they were very young, how the president allocated the Glass House to them– a place originally meant for the children of a sitting president – and described the First Lady as abrasive and violent. Fatima said that when Yusuf, the first son of the president, had an accident and returned from Germany, the president asked that the Dauras vacated the Glass House for another apartment within the villa so he could convalesce. However, she said that Mrs Buhari did not wait for the time given by the president for them to vacate before she stormed the Glass House to forcefully eject them. “I recorded it to show our parents and the security so that they will know the truth should anything happen because the way she was raging and shouting, I thought that she would pick something and hit us with it or something like that. That was why we recorded it. Had it been we wanted to release the video, we would have done it earlier. But you know if a video clip enters one or two hands, you can’t control where it will get to,” she said.

What Fatima didn’t say was that long before Yusuf’s accident, Mrs Buhari had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the building which is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president. The IG of Police, DG DSS and the NSA were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies.

Before that 2017 incident, the wife of the president never hid her disdain for some of the people around her husband. In 2016, she famously took a swipe at the cabal which she said had hijacked the presidency from Buhari, saying, “The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either despite being his wife for 27 years. Some people are sitting down at their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or ministerial position.” This was in apparent reference, according to those who should know, to Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari, Lawal Daura and Isa Funtua.

If there is anyone Buhari always listened to and confided in over the years, it is Daura. This is a relationship that predated Aisha’s wedding to Buhari in 1989. Daura runs what is called the ‘Daura Mafia’ within the Buhari presidency and incidentally shares his last name with Buhari’s home town in the parched lands of Katsina.

When Buhari overthrew Shagari in 1983, Daura was one of the few people he trusted enough to give principal advisory roles. He later succeeded Ibrahim Dasuki as the head of the African International Bank and went on to serve as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). Lawal Idris, an ally of Buhari for over 45years, once declared in a chat with Daily Trust that Daura controls the presidency; adding, “As long as Buhari cannot get Mamman away from his side, his problem will continue. Firstly, Mamman is a sadist and has no respect for anybody, not even Buhari. The problem is that the godfather never sleeps, which is Mamman Daura.”

Similarly, Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff, though an associate, never openly identified with Buhari’s aspirations on the three times he first contested for the presidency before luck smiled on him in 2015. In fact, throughout electioneering, Kyari played virtually no role. Yet, he currently holds the most powerful position in the government, a fact that is further lent credence with the pronouncement recently by the president that any minister that wants to see him must go through Kyari. Kyari was brought into the presidency by Daura. But it is not only this septuagenarian Daura that controls the levers of power in the presidency. There’s a younger Daura in the scheme of things.

Appointed as the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) in 2015 when Buhari was inaugurated as Nigeria’s president, Lawal Daura has a chummy relationship with Buhari as he often joins him for the Friday Jumat services inside the mosque close to the President’s office. He was born in Daura as Buhari. He was brought out of retirement to be appointed as the successor of Ita Ekpeyong as DSS DG in 2015. He was, however, sacked last year due to the invasion of the National Assembly by DSS operatives who prevented the lawmakers from gaining access into the premises. Daura may have been sacked but he still wields considerable power in the security architecture of the presidency. Now, there is a groundswell of rumours that he may be prepping to return as DG of the DSS as he has lately been sighted at the M16 in the UK and other international security agencies on behalf of Nigeria.

On June 24th, 2019, an unusual political activity took place in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. A public demonstration staged by the APC Concerned Nation Stakeholders led by one Dr Symeon Chilagorom who proclaimed that they were protesting against internal forces pulling down the administration of President Buhari. Chilagorom specifically identified Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Kyari as members of the group that is pulling down the administration. In his words, “the people of this country elected Muhammadu Buhari as their President, not Mamman Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Mall Abba Kyari.” The demonstration was widely reported in the media.

Like Mamman Daura, Funtua has no official designation in this government. Yet, he reportedly calls the shots as far as appointments of board members into most federal parastatal are concerned. He is reputed to be the ‘go-to man’ for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria while many of the multinational deals brokered with the Federal Government were said to have passed through him. Funtua has earned the sobriquet of the money-man of the administration. Unconfirmed reports recently linked him to the acquisition of a huge amount of shares of defunct Etisalat and Keystone Bank.

These are the people Mrs Buhari has been waging a war with privately and publicly. Even though she did not explicitly say what she was doing in the UK for that long, feelers are that she took a break from the whole drama as she prepares to break the hold of the cabal on her husband and Nigeria as a whole. And, it is a mission that the generality of Nigerians seem to be battle-ready to help her win especially with the revelation of the disrespect meted out to her by Fatima.

Chinedu Okpara is an Owerri, Imo State based Public Affairs Analyst.

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Aminu succeeds Egbemode as MD/EIC New Telegraph

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The Board of Directors, Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, publishers of New Telegraph Newspaper, on Tuesday approved the appointment of Mr. Ayodele Aminu as the new Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the media house.

Aminu whose appointment takes immediate effect takes over from the former MD/EIC, Mrs Funke Egbemode who has been nominated as Commissioner-designate in Osun State.

Until his appointment, Aminu was Deputy Managing Director of the company and former Editor, Business.

Over the past two decades, Aminu has been a financial journalist in THISDAY and Business Editor, The Nation before joining New Telegraph. His expertise covers finance, capital market, industry and energy.

The new MD holds a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication from The Polytechnic, Ibadan (Upper Credit)  and has attended many international trainings locally and internationally, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring and Annual General Meetings.

The Board of the company thanked Mrs. Egbemode for her immense contributions to the growth of the newspaper in the last four years as the Chief Executive Officer.

Her tenure according to the board witnessed steady remarkable growth, which led to the acquisition of a corporate head office in Lagos and winning of several awards, both within and outside Nigeria.

In her leave-of-absence letter to the Board chairman, Egbemode said she was leaving New Telegraph fulfilled and would be ready to always lend her support to the company whenever her services were required.

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Mr Bigg’s Remodels Restaurant, Raises Ante In Customers’ Lifestyle Experience

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Mr Bigg’s, the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) arm of UACN of Nigeria, being run by its subsidiary, UAC Restaurants Limited has begun the remodeling its restaurants in a new initiative aimed at positively redefining the lifestyle of its numerous customers

The new business initiative centered on a remodeled restaurant structure is principally aimed at sustaining the heritage and leadership of the 33 years old outfit by raising customer service to a new level.

The foremost indigenous and largest fast-growing QSR business in West Africa, with over 100 restaurants in Nigeria. On inception, the business operated a fully owned restaurant operations model before it transformed in partial franchise, and later into full franchise restaurant operations model. 

The new initiative according to Mrs. Ethel Mba, Marketing Manager, UACN Restaurants, will remodel the restaurants into a scintillating center of high value having a  21st century ambience. 

Speaking at the pioneer model Restaurant located at Northwest Filling Station by the Victoria Garden City, VGC, Lekki, Lagos, during a media tour of some restaurants on Wednesday, Mba added that the new approach promises to sustain excellence in wide variety of dishes, Patries and Confectionaries to the delight of its teeming consumers, which is the heritage of Mr Bigg’s.

She explained that VGC outlet which was opened on the 9th of July, 2019 will remain the ‘signature poster’ for all the other restaurants in the new concept, aimed at bringing world class service and ambience to satisfy the taste of Nigerians in terms of meals. 

The VGC restaurants boosts of cozy ambience, call center and kiddies corner backed up by excellent service delivery professionals to give customers un-parallel experience in a friendly and family setting. The conveniences, the eating area and the lobby are world-class, coupled with a play area for the kids.

Mba assured that apart from the VGC Center, two more restaurants will spring up at Amuwo Odofin in Festac town and Abule Egba along Lagos Abeokuta Express Way very soon.

“The new restaurants will be patterned after the structure of the Lekki restaurant to deliver high-quality food and good ambience as the basic standard. Aside this, the menu range will be equal and well-balanced in terms of meal choices depending on customers’ tastes or new trends,” she said.

Not a few customers agree that no restaurant can survive without offering quality food and service aimed at giving patrons a satisfying experience.

 For example, Mrs. Bunmi Olanrewaju who came to the VGC restaurant with her kids asserts that a good family restaurant is the one that offers comfort food that reminds people of the favorite meals their mothers cooked when they were kids.

She recalled with excitement that products like the Mr Bigg’s Meat Pie, Chicken Pie, and Scotch Eggs are legendary and still remains the best.

Other patrons averred that In terms of comfort, the new outlet is well cut out with space wide enough to avoid congestion and movement interruptions.

Mr Bigg’s history began with the coffee shops inside Kingsway Department Stores in the 1960s. In 1973, these shops were rebranded as Kingsway Rendezvous, which became Mr Bigg’s in 1986. The chain saw rapid expansion after becoming one of the first Nigerian companies to sell franchises to investors.

In 2012, UAC Restaurants adopted a full franchising business model making it the first to establish company owned restaurants in other to grow the brand footprint and equity

UAC Restaurants Ltd has since then owned and operated quick service restaurants with a range of products including her signature Meat pie, Chicken pie & Beef roll, Rice and Peppered Chicken, Ice cream, Pizza, and locals meals.

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