2face insists Protests will hold in Lagos, Abuja
20—SATURDAY Vanguard, FEBRUARY 4, 2017 The Vampire is on the loose. And jitters have spread. He can’t remember just how many he has killed and how many millions ,in ransom, he has collected. They are too many to be remembered. But he remembers coming to Lagos and storming the house of one of his girl friends and killing the girl and everyone in the house. Everything he does, he does savagely. The girl, he alleged, stole his 45 million naira. And he executed her family. Not that he has earned any money in his entire life - his criminal career started precociously at age 11. When the DSS snared and caged him a year ago, his criminal career seemed all but ended. And the region heaved a sigh of relief. That was before he bought over the whole prison. Many accounts suggest imprisonment didn’t dampen his criminal propensity. With a prison system that has too many officials available , ready to be bought and hired, Chibueze Henry’s wings didn’t remain clipped for long. But the only difference between Vampire and many other lords that litter our rickety prison system is his extreme ruthlessness which attracts notoriety. Others otherwise as imperious are scattered all over the nation, quietly, dominating the prisons and running rings around the law. Corruption doesn’t just birth impunity it fattens it to dangerous sizes. Vampire’s gang strolled into the Owerri high court last week , shot at hapless warders, took away Vampire and set 48 others criminals fluttering away. Judges hiding under tables isn’t a good sight . But corruption ultimately leads to the desecration of the sacred. The judges that day squirreled into holes. The amoured police vehicle kept at the Judiciary gates stood like a statue while policemen dropped their guns and fled. Evidently , corruption, in the end, endangers everyone. A free ravenous vampire is an apocalyptic nightmare. Witnesses, security officials, real and imagined enemies are all vulnerable. It is reported that in the melee that gang foisted on the Owerri high court that evil day, he found the composure to personally shoot a particular prison warder. That in itself tells the danger. The very notion that a serial murderer in prison can break loose so easily, in the vicinity of the seat of government in Owerri, is as sickening as it is frightening. Every criminal justice system relies on witnesses , police and judicial officers who must trust the system for their safety. This case is a national security priority. The state government scrambled a security The Vampire and the torn nests of Nigeria’s prisons meeting and placed a paltry 5m naira on such an enormous head. The prison Comptroller General rose from his slumber in Abuja to carry out pretentious raids at the Owerri prisons. He found hundreds of mobile phones and laptops, concrete evidences of the entrenched laxity that enabled Vampire. Without strict supervision, the prisons can become criminal heavens. And thoroughly, Kirikiri maximum prison has become such a center. But rather than institute proper inquiries into the Vampire escape and improve the system through scientific findings, shallow makeshift measures , by people worried only about their jobs will prevail. And the prisons will continue their decay. The decay in the prisons is systemic and pervasive. That Owerri prison , like the Kirikiri , is so overcrowded that no meaningful rehabilitation can commence there. The overcrowding exists because too many people who have no business being in prison are in prison. Our slovenly criminal justice process has only one conveyor belt. People are remanded in prison for minor infractions, for meager unsettled fines. Only an insignificant minority of inmates are convicts. But many handed custodial sentences could have been processed differently. Our probation service is almost non existent, so community service as a retributive option is hardly explored. Without efficient state counsels for indigent accused persons many are left to rot in prison because they have no legal representation. Some on remand now live perpetually in the prisons, their case files have gone missing for years. Those in prison therefore feel no need for repentance. They only feel unlucky. The A ‘good’ bed space will cost you 250,000 naira at the KiriKiri maximum prison. This was the price before the fall of the naira. Your options are few. You could be kept in the condemned prisoners cell. There, you will meet a leaking bucket of urine and faeces in a room meant for one occupied by eight. overcrowding of the prison may not be directly responsible for Vampire’s escape but it helps create and diffuses cynicism which affects even the warders and corrodes integrity. Our prisons are old and poorly maintained. The inmates are shabbily treated. No ethical codes can thrive where chaos , physical and psychological , has taken root. Basic rights are sold and bought as privileges. Human dignity is made utterly negotiable, dispensable. If the prisons had good livable accommodation, inmates won’t live like animals in pens and warders won’t metamorphose into extortionists. If the warders were properly trained and adequately motivated they won’t let their wives become petty contractors and food hawkers in prisons. And how can the quality of food served prisoners ever improve when warders supplement their income selling food to inmates. Corruption thrives so brazenly in our prisons it squelches all seeds of correction sown in those prisons. The corruption in the prisons is a shade more sinful than that at police roadblocks. The victimization of incarcerated poor people under all circumstances is extraordinarily heinous. The inmates are not just more vulnerable than motorists, they are perpetually vulnerable behind high walls and iron bars. You go to visit an inmate in any Nigerian prison you are compelled to pass through two toll gates. So you must shed at least 200 naira per visit per person. And it happens in the open and in every prison. Institutionalized corruption doesn’t fret. A ‘good’ bed space will cost you 250,000 naira at the KiriKiri maximum prison. This was the price before the fall of the naira. Your options are few. You could be kept in the condemned prisoners cell. There, you will meet a leaking bucket of urine and faeces in a room meant for one occupied by eight. The condemned prisoners cell? Don’t go there! Its very existence is a crime against humanity. What the general prison environment does is to foster a confused moral climate that cannot help a convict find redemption. Prisons all over the world are called colleges of crime for a reason. But our prisons that do not even pretend to be rehabilitative must be flourishing crime colleges. We must hesitate therefore to send youngsters guilty of misdemeanors to our poorly supervised, soulseering prisons. A free intercourse between a criminal like Vampire and our merely rascally but incarcerated youths in Owerri prison must be forbidden. The society must then rethink how it processes youth crimes even before it begins to rebuild the prisons. Vampire’s reign in Owerri prison is tragically familiar. It is hoped his escape doesn’t herald a new trend. The society celebrates money. The warders who granted him special privileges aren’t a few bad apples. The tree is rotten, root and branch. Petty thieves must have watched in envy as he dominated the prison. The idea that crime pays and pays even in prison is unfortunately in our country. His escape is a lesson for the criminal justice system and the society. The worship of money is the root of all evil. My condolences to all the victims of that attack. OPEC and America tangle in web of output Recently oil prices found a bracer from production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC and other producers. The OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to output reduction in November 2016, to shore up prices that plummeted in July 2014. The OPEC attempt to reclaim price seemed to have fired another salvo that has pitted its wit against American shale. A price war seems to be brewing over the production cuts that took effect last January. Two years on negotiations by OPEC Ministers culminated in last November’s Vienna meeting deal in hand for production cuts to shore up prices. The successful dousing of production output and market share tensions from OPEC producers reverberated in the United States which brought a renewal of interest in shale production hitherto in limbo. Projections are that prices in the high 50s or low 60s would attract more American investors deploying technology to bring more rigs to production. Many are however watching their flanks because the second half of the preceding year showed perceived signs of good tidings which became turbulent. OPEC’s production cut may be heading for the rocks with the American shale producers benefiting from the higher prices of oil freeze. The US shale output is increasing just as the oil cartel commenced output cut from the 1.8 million barrels per day, MMbpd agreed to by OPEC and non-OPEC. Again the new administration of President Donald Trump is bent on increasing output of petroleum with his ‘America First Energy Plan.’ This may again trigger another round of animosities reminiscent of the last six years price war between OPEC led by Saudi Arabia and the United States. The United States drillers tested their might in output control from their ‘fracking’ shale oil technology that outpaced global oil supply from January 2011 to June 2014, to make America the number one oil producer. The retaliation by Middle East producers’ led by Saudi Arabia between June 2014 and September 2015, led to increased production to dwarf the America’s dream. The richer ones from the Gulf States went along with the Saudis in the market share battle, while the poorer members of OPEC reluctantly accepted; a decision that became an evil with many oil dependent nations experiencing economic crises. But who wins the price-giver battle is again the controversy in the offing with International oil price rally this year will depend on oil-producing nations upholding their side of the bargain to cut 1.8MMbpd from supplies globally global expectations that American shale output would increase this year. The battle appears to have been drawn on the board game over which capture may checkmate the opponent’s king. Many OPEC members including Saudi Arabia had bitter experiences when oil prices crashed. Commentators believe that the marketshare war involve too many unknowns. Based on the economics of petroleum production, it was thought that the price range of $50 to $60 meant that American shale producers and investors would be out of business. The Saudis according to expert report made sure that the low oil price drop lasts enough to exhaust oil pricing hedges, enough to cause banks to tighten credit, and cause investors to withdraw. The cost of Saudi production is between $10 and $15 a barrel. The Saudis, the key player in OPEC did not reduce production in the face of global glut to get Americans out of production. To produce Bakken shale at the wellhead in 2014 was US$59.03 the breakeven cost per barrel, on average, which fell to $29.44 in 2016, according to consultancy Rystad Energy. Bakken is the most competitive of major U.S. shale though they pay more to transport crude to market than producers in most other U.S. regions. In spite of the 2014 uncontrolled output that drove some producers out of the market the two-year price war made shale producers more resilient and a stronger rival. Improved technology and drilling techniques have boosted efficiency for the North Dakota Bakken shale and the entire U.S. oil industry. A price of $45 a barrel is enough for Bakken producers to profit and $55 would encourage production growth, said Ness. Petroleum Economist surveyed six banks and consultancies with Energy Aspects having the most bullish; forecasting an international benchmark for Brent will average almost US$66 per barrel in 2017 while BNP Paribas is the most bearish, with an average of US$50 per barrel across the year. Last year’s average was $43.55bpd. Oil prices had marginal falls this week with WTI closing at US$53.57 on Thursday fueling speculations that the US recovery mode may out way that of OPEC and non-OPEC supply cut deals. Is global crude oil price likely to experience another bearish spiral? From experts that track OPEC supply, compliance in OPEC target of 1.2 MMbpd cut by the first half of 2017 is believed to have recorded 82 percent supply cut at 984,000 bpd by the end of January 2017. The Americans have increased rig deployments far and above their 2016 levels with the number of oil rigs deployed by last week put at 566 as against 498 for the same period last year. It is however not certain whether there would be significant difference in the projected global oil consumption estimated for about 95.41 million barrels per day in 2017 up from the 2016 demand of 94.26 MMbpd, a projection in the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report published in August 2016. The OPEC deal is to cut 1.8 MMbpd from global output from January to end a twoyear excess that brought down prices. A successful implementation of this target would replace more than half the barrels OPEC promised to eliminate from the market. International oil price rally this year will depend on oil-producing nations upholding their side of the bargain to cut 1.8MMbpd from supplies globally. Iran was mandated to maintain production below a threshold of 3.8 MMbpd just below the 2012 sanctions output of 4MMbpd. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said that crude production had reached 3.9 MMbpd to restore market links with Europe and Asia. When OPEC met in Vienna, Nigeria was given exempt status after suffering a year of violence and outages from the activities of Niger Delta militants. President Muhammadu Buhari believes output can reach 2.2MMbpd. Evan Kelly of Oilprice.com reports that veteran energy trader Martin Tillier admits that while fundamental analysis usually outweighs technical analysis, there is a very strong case for a correction in crude. Tillier sees increased global demand figures along with OPEC cuts as bullish long term fundamentals, but finds short term technical more decisive in the near term. Who wins this war between the shalemen and the sheikhs in OPEC? It appears the American deployment of technology may be a problem for OPEC. President Trump is bent on reducing oil imports; so relying less on OPEC to meet domestic needs. Although the Saudis have enough fiscal sovereign reserves to gamble, the oilmen of Dakota since 2010, have new wells more than ten times Arabian score.
Ireally don’t understand the noise about our President taking a medical time out. We knew, or should know, what we signed in for when we elected a septuagenarian as our President. He may have looked lean and trim during the campaign. He may even have been fit for his age. But 70 is not 50, and it would be an unusual 70 year old who would not have health issues. In any case, any responsible person who is fifty plus should have a regular medical check–up. And anybody, 50 or less who wants to pace himself for optimum performance should take his leave seriously. I therefore consider all the hullabaloo surrounding the medical leave an unnecessary distraction. The presidency should be commended if anything, on the orderly way it transferred power. It was a gesture of seamlessness, trust and continuity. The only reason highbrows should be raised is if it was more than a routine medical check-up as announced. Or if, come Monday, he is not at his desk. In order words, we need to know if the President is facing a lifethreatening illness or one that could incapacitate him in any way. The President being human, should be expected to be sick at some point. He also has every reason to take care of his health. But then so do the rest of us because our lives are as important to us and our close families as his life is to him and his close family. Unfortunately, the President and members of the political elite have medical options that are denied the rest of us. They can go to the best hospitals anywhere in the world. We can’t. And our hospitals at home are in such a state that they are no longer consulting clinics—because many of the good consultants are no longer there—but half way mortuaries. I wonder, I really wonder, what it would take to have seven new, or upgraded professionally managed medical centres of excellence in the country. Apart from what we would save in FX, we would save lives, generate employment and also bring national pride to the country. I am sure a lot of our medical professionals in the Diaspora would gladly participate if there was a seriousness of purpose on the part of government. I feel ashamed for the country and the leaders themselves who are in a position to make a difference when they rush abroad for routine medical check-up and treatment for illnesses like ear infection, leg infection and so on. Apart from the obvious security implication of our President being treated abroad, what respect does that fact accord him or the country? He is not alone. In fact, almost all our political leaders and top civil servants have personal doctors abroad. It is therefore routine—to our shame and embarrassment—to hear foreign medical treatments being used as reasons for bail applications in our courts. People who steal money that could have been used to build good hospitals don’t deserve to be granted bail so they can go abroad for treatment. I honestly look forward to the day when we would have a courageous, committed and visionary leader who would ban foreign treatment for certain classes of ailments for all Nigerians, especially government officials. Let us all learn to treat ourselves or die in the process. It is also a cause for concern that our President chooses to recuperate in the UK according to the photographs that went viral. Couldn’t he have found a place anywhere in the country, particularly in the south for political reasons, where he could recuperate? SATURDAY email@example.com All lives matter Couldn’t he have used that as a little tourist message? That said, I believe those who concocted and pushed the false news of his death belong to the lows of the low. The publishers who helped to disseminate this wicked news without fact checking are reckless and irresponsible. The urchins in the social media who glee at the death of a President and a father figure need help. I mean that seriously. The amount of venom and hatred that oozes out in the social media under the guise of anonymity is frightening. If it is a barometer to gauge the thinking of our The President must address firmly, the various killings around the country youths then its readings are alarming and worrisome. It is understandable that the President would have many enemies. After all, millions did not vote for him. And many of those millions took his victory personal. His actions, if not his policies since he took over have not exactly endeared him to them. Added to that, is the fact that many Christians, north or south of the country, who voted Vanguard,FEBRUARY 4, 2017—21 for him before might not do so if elections were to be held today. But to wish him dead? He is someone’s father and husband for goodness sake! A Yoruba proverb translates roughly ‘that we quarrel should not be unto death.’ Death is so disruptive; so final that nobody should wish it on his worst enemy. The only plausible reason I can adduce for our cavalier attitude to death is that death has become too common in this part of the world. Just look around you. There is death, preventable death everywhere. While we were contending with the carnage of the Boko Haram adherents who slaughter human beings like rams, the Fulani herdsmen came on the scene to unleash what can only be described as mindless violence. These agents of destruction have moved from village to village, maiming and killing. Yet the State seems powerless. These criminals in the name of Fulani herdsmen have become ghosts that cannot be apprehended and brought to justice. On top of this came the eruption in Kaduna where wanton destruction and hundreds of preventable deaths took place. Again, the perpetuators have become ghosts that cannot be apprehended. These deaths and the failure of government to contain them, are threatening the unity of the country and exacerbating religious and ethnic fault lines in the country. It is worth repeating that poverty, religion, ethnicity and injustice are fuels for chaos and disorder. The President must address firmly, the various killings around the country. Every death is a painful loss to someone because everybody has a root. The President must move the earth if necessary to safeguard the lives of its citizens. All lives matter. These killings must stop. I hope he has had a good rest because he has a lot of work to do; not only on the economy, but also on the religious and social fabric of the country. May God grant him the health and the will to set the country on the path of justice, equity and religious harmony. Political Editor firstname.lastname@example.org 08052201189 What is the difference between PDP and APC? The controversy surrounding the Rivers State Government-owned helicopters best exemplifies the saying that in politics there are no permanent positions, but permanent interests. Politicians will switch sides whenever their interests are best protected. In the course of political adaptability, politicians have been found to destroy national institutions as the helicopter incident is now seen to be doing to the image of the Customs. The story of the two armoured Bell helicopters flows back to the beginning of the decade when the relationship between Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and President Goodluck Jonathan was rock solid. Apparently determined to check the spate of criminality in Rivers State, Governor Amaechi with the support of the Jonathan administration ordered the two Bell helicopters and as we now know, with $15 million support from the Federal Government. The helicopters were to form part of the security architecture that Amaechi was building to check crime. As part of that set up, scores of policemen were trained in Israel by the Amaechi administration, while a number of Israeli security advisers were ferried into the state. Security cameras and dogs were also deployed around the state that at that time had become a haven for criminals and bandits. The helicopters were to be at the peak of the security architecture that Governor Amaechi boasted would leave criminals totally exposed. From the air the armed helicopters equipped with night vision equipment would beam their searchlight on the bandits. However, at about the time, the deal to import the helicopters was agreed, Mrs. Patience Jonathan and Governor Amaechi had their famous falling out at the Okirika Water Front when the First Lady publicly scolded Amaechi. That became the turning point in the relationship between the Jonathans and Amaechi, and led to the politicisation of governance and the relationship between the two men. The specially trained policemen who had received training in Israel to operate in the state were not long after reportedly transferred out of Rivers State making a waste of the millions of naira invested into their training. Even more, the Federal Government subsequently dithered on the earlier gentleman agreement to support the importation of the armoured helicopters. That was how the helicopters were stranded while crime made a resurgence in the state. However, with the switch in administrations in Rivers and at Abuja in 2015, the drama and intrigues it seemed did not go away. Months after the Nyesom Wike administration came on board it claimed to have discovered that the state had helicopters wasting away at the ports. The PDP administration asked the APC Federal Government for a waiver to the custom duties including demurrage which reportedly ran into billions of naira. The state government buttressed the need for the waiver on the fact that the helicopters were not for commercial use but for security purposes. The APC Federal Government according to documents presented by the Wike administration turned down the application for the waiver. In frustration, Governor Wike wrote the National Security Adviser to hand over the helicopters to the Nigerian Air Force on the ground that the state cannot afford the money to clear the helicopter. It was thus a shock when officials of the Customs at a ceremony last week handed over the two helicopters to the Nigerian Air Force, claiming that they were confiscated from unknown importers. That was despite the fact that the state government had been in correspondence with federal authorities. How Customs officials would allow their institution to be used for such murky political passions, show how politicians damage national institutions. It is a shame that the two aircraft that would have curtailed the reign of insecurity in Rivers State became pawns for political manipulation. The shame goes to both the PDP and APC which at several times had control of the Federal Government but allowed partisan politics to becloud good judgment! It is a shame! C M Y K