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Osinbajo, a Pawn in the latest Complex Power Game



By Ariyo-Dare Atoye 

Naivety is not an excuse in politics and certainly not after spending about two years in the topmost level of powers. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is certainly learning the ropes; but how very fast is only known to him. He could only be on top of his game in the nasty days ahead, in dealing with people who are vociferous about using powers to peddle influence and undermine anything. No doubt he had, in acting capacity as a President for 50 days less, demonstrated, affectionate capacity to preside over the affairs of Nigeria, but the covert side of power play is far more than that. It is wickedly sophisticated in our clime. The daunting question is, has he, reasonably, learnt how to navigate the dangerous bend of power politics which is trapped with deadly potholes? This road destroys if; you do not know how to maneuver it with the right speed and sense.
The VP has been saddled with a delicate task of unraveling the mystery behind the huge cash discovered in the Osborne Apartments in Ikoyi, Lagos State and to equally untangle the invasive scandal of grass cutting business allegedly awarded to self, by the now suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr David Babachir Lawal. This assignment is deceptive and is laced with some elements of conspiracy on all sides. It would require sound political wisdom for the Vice President to come out of it unscathed. He is presiding over a committee in which the remaining two other members have some level of interests and involvements in the matters under investigation. Caution. 
While the villa, albeit pretentiously, and some very naïve persons had bandied the rising unassailable and adorable image of Osinbajo as the reason for being saddled with such “an unnecessary” task, the covert motive is very well known to the schemers. Remember the impulsive echo of Babachir Lawal: “Who is the Presidency?” While we were busy scolding him for that pregnant statement, he had strategically “unleashed the dragon,” by confirming the “government within government,” allegation once made against the executive by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. AsoRock has become a den of a few influence peddlers and power mongers who would continue to take advantage of our indisposed President to run the affairs of the state by “working from home.”
In this unfolding tricky complex game, did Osinbajo really know, and has he ascertained who the Presidency is that constituted the panel and the underlying motive for it? There would be no excuse in future for a Professor of Law that he was used as a pawn by influence peddlers in a hatchet task. And if he is unaware, this is the time to put on his thinking cap to discreetly unravel the web of conspiracy spiraling around the seat of power. You don’t need to be a lawyer to know that the Osinbajo panel is inconsequential to the extent of its formation. The VP is advised to do his own backend findings, including the slant in commentaries by pro-establishment writers and commentators. 
This administration is soiled in divisive religious card; it is yet to acquit itself of some allegations bothering on parochialism and religious bigotry. Babachir Lawal has seen fellow cabals in the administration getting away with worse acts in a circle of impunity, and the system came out to defend them vigorously. He is still startled as to why his own should be different as member of the cabals. But I always knew that Babachir would be used as the “fall-cabal,” someday, and sorry to tell him that, there are some cabals who are more equal than other cabals, and coupled with that, he is from the “guinea pigs” Christian minority, of the Hausa/Fulani dominated Northern politics. 
The top members of the club have found him suitable for the much-expected political sacrifice to remedy a discredited anti-corruption campaign and a failing government. The Pastoral garb of Osinbajo, a Christian leader in the administration was found to be helpful enough, to sacrifice and exit Lawal from the notorious league of the presidency cabals, and equally neutralise the emerging allegation of “because he is a Christian” biases in the media. 
It is obvious that the suspension of Lawal by the same system that had, through the Attorney General of the Federation, Ababukar Malami, previously cleared him on allegations made by the Senate, is curious, suspicious and indeed an afterthought. But it is my take that Lawal and those who are found to have betrayed public trust deserve to go, but it should not be to the exclusion of other “sinful cabals,” because of the content of their bio-data. This may apparently be the worries of the suspended SGF.
In a similar fashion, the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, is also in a shock over his suspension. The media is awash with a claim that he had appropriately informed the National Security Adviser, Babagana Moguno, about the Osborne “covert” cash. The NSA on the hand has not denied this media report and back-channel information that he indeed had knowledge of the cash. The superior information remains that the Presidency was aware of the money via the NSA. 
The question then is, why did Magu ignore the Galton’s whistle in the security circle and deliberately moved after the cash to burst “something?” Is it a payback? Yushau Shuaib, a media expert who had previously worked with the office of the NSA, in his latest article titled “That NIA’s Black-Budget and Mysterious Whistle-blower,” said something very instructive:
 “The incident is coming at a period of an intense inter-agency rivalry where security agencies were allegedly reported to be behind the leakages of classified and confidential information to smear their perceived oppositions within the same government….. With all fingers pointing to the fact that the money belongs to NIA, the burden of proof is who is the mysterious whistle-blower? Could the whistle-blower have acted on behalf of an agency engaged in the rivalry or was it as major counter-intelligence operation by foreign interests to expose and embarrass our intelligence network?”
The VP doubles as the most senior legal mind of the administration, but if he had accepted the headship of a needless committee in order not to be misconstrued; there was no justifiable reason in accepting the membership of the AGF on that panel. Also now that emerging facts have confirmed the culpability of the NSA in the “Black Money,” why then is Osinbajo still carrying on with these two “culpable” figures without asking the President to excuse them? 
The whole truth concerning the attached interest to the Osborne cash may never be uncovered under the Buhari’s administration, except maybe if, the Senate decides to investigate the matter thoroughly through a bipartisan committee. However, legislative inquiry itself is not a full guarantee of full disclosure. But one day the truth will come out. However, Osinbajo must be very wary of the sharp political bends ahead of him. Truth and audacity in humility are sacrosanct. 
* Atoye contributed this piece from Abuja via
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There will soon be respite for motorists plying Agege-Pen Cinema axis in Lagos, as State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu assures accelerated completion of the abandoned Pen-Cinema Bridge.

The Governor spoke on Sunday while inspecting ongoing rehabilitation work on major roads in Iju area of the state by Lagos State Public Works Corporation.

Sanwo-Olu, in company of his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the contractor handling the bridge construction was being prepared for re-mobilisation back on the site.

Expressing concern over the pains residents go through due to regular gridlock on the alternative routes occasioned by abandoned project, Sanwo-Olu said his government would compensate for the discomfort by ensuring timely completion of the bridge.

He said: “I can assure you that we are currently in talks with the contractors handling key road projects in Ikorodu, which are Igbogbo and Ishawo roads, and also a critical project in Agege area, which is the Pen-Cinema Bridge. Our promise is that, if it is not by end of this month; then, by next month, the contractors will be fully mobilised back on sites to complete the work.

“We are particularly concerned about the pain motorists are going through because of the incomplete construction of Pen-Cinema Bridge. We are hoping that the contractor handling the bridge construction, too, will be mobilised back on site. Once we push these three critical infrastructures and get them completed, relief would come to residents in these areas.”

The Governor said the ongoing road repair across the state was an outcome of his Executive Order, which declared emergency rehabilitation of critical roads.

Sanwo-Olu said the repair was being carried out in six segments, pointing out that the highways and arterial carriages were captured in the first set of repair across the state.

He said repair work would begin on roads captured in other segments in succession. The Governor urged commuters to be patient while the repair is being carried out.

He expressed satisfaction on the level of work done, while assuring that the road rehabilitation would be ongoing to until 100 major roads marked for repair in all Local Government Areas across the state get done.

Sanwo-Olu said his administration would continue to be responsive to the challenges confronting the people, assuring the actions of his government would focus on bringing relief to taxpayers.

“We have risen up to the expectations of Lagosians and we believe there is still a lot more to do. It is a work in progress. But we can feel the immediate relief that are coming to residents of all the areas where the rehabilitation work is being done currently,” the Governor said.

Also joining the Governor during the inspection is the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, and General Manager of Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Engr. Daramola Olufemi.

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EDITORIAL: Healthcare Reforms in Nigeria; A Mere Political Statement Lacking Commitment



By  Manny Ita

Nigeria has since her independence in 1960 had a very robust verbiage or policies by successive gobernments on health reforms but with very little progress or success recorded in what might well be a lack of political will in reforming the health sector.
Over 90% of the Nigerian population are without health insurance coverage. The inability to effectively address the country’s numerous public health challenges has contributed to the persistent and high level of poverty and weakness of the health system.
Political instability, corruption, limited institutional capacity and an unstable economy have also been major factors responsible for the poor development of health services in Nigeria. Households and individuals in Nigeria bear the burden of a dysfunctional and inequitable health system – delaying or not seeking health care and having to pay out of pocket for health care services that are not affordable.
The health challenges of the country include:
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),
National Immunisation Coverage Scheme (NICS),
Midwives Service Scheme (MSS)
Nigerian Pay for Performance scheme
After many attempts at implementing legislation on health insurance since 1960, NHIS, although established in 1999, was eventually launched only in 2005 with the goals to ensure access to quality health care services, provide financial risk protection, reduce rising costs of health care services and ensure efficiency in health care through programmes such as the: Formal Sector Social Health Insurance Programme (FSSHIP), Mobile Health, Voluntary Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP), Tertiary Institution Social Health Insurance Programme (TISHIP), Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP), Public Primary Pupils Social Health Insurance Programme (PPPSHIP), and the provision of health care services for children under 5 years, prison inmates, disabled persons, retirees and the elderly.
The NHIS was expected to provide social and financial risk protection by reducing the cost of health care and providing equitable access to basic health services with the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria including children, pregnant women, people living with disabilities, elderly, displaced, unemployed, retirees and the sick.
Free health care services and exemption mechanisms are expected to provide financial risk protection for the most vulnerable populations but evidence suggest that they are ineffective and have failed to achieve this aim.
The maternal mortality ratio for Nigeria remain quite high at 814 per 100000 live births according to 2016 World Health Statistics. Across the country, pregnant women and children under five years are generally charged fees when accessing health care services, despite the federal government’s declaration of free health for pregnant women and children under five years in 2005.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole in 2016 announced the Federal Government’s plan to provide free health services to 100 million Nigerians in the next two years. Under this new health agenda, pregnant women across Nigeria are expected to enjoy free maternal and delivery services at the primary health care (PHC) level.
Unfortunately, Free health care services and exemption mechanisms often arise as campaign promises of political actors to the electorate and fall short in meeting the health needs of the most vulnerable populations. According to Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) in 2013, over 60% of pregnant women aged 15-49 deliver their babies at home without any antenatal care visits. In rural areas, this value reaches 76.9%. The situation is critical in North East and North West regions of Nigeria where over 79% of pregnant women age 15-49 deliver their babies at home. Over 60% of pregnant women in Bayelsa, Plateau and Niger deliver at home rather than a health facility.
The cost of health care and the low quality of care by the public have been argued to be the reason for the poor utilisation of maternal and child health services in Nigeria.
In addition, health spending in Nigeria is low and this is responsible for the over-reliance on out of pocket payments for health care services.
Despite its launch in 2005, NHIS covers less than 10% of the Nigerian population leaving the most vulnerable populations at the mercy of health care services that are not affordable. This means the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria are not provided with social and financial risk protection. Poor people constitutes about 70% of the Nigerian population. They lack access to basic health services, which social and financial risk protection should provide, because they cannot afford it.
CBSHIP was expected to meet their health needs as well as provide social and financial risk protection to this group, which mostly reside in rural areas. As evidenced in the high rate of out of pocket payments for health care services , poor people financially contribute more to health care than official care and funds programmes in Nigeria. Out of pocket payments for health care services limit the poor from accessing and utilising basic health care services.
The quality of health care services delivered is poor and remains a huge source of concern. Most of the PHC facilities that are supposed to meet the health needs of the poor and rural dwellers are in a poor state due to poor budgetary allocation.
In trying to solve these issues, healthcare in the country must be tackled headlong in order to stem the detyeriorating development therein, which could portend grave danger for citizens of the country in the no-ditant future.
Policy makers and political actors need to devise health care reforms to address the lack of social and financial protection for the poor and vulnerable populations. Part of this reform is the expansion of the NHIS. States should be mandated to provide health insurance coverage to all residents. Making health insurance optional for states over the years has affected the ability of the NHIS to increase the level of coverage for the people.
While the mandatory CBHI scheme is being scaled-up as a supplementary measure, state governments should enrol poor residents in a private health insurance plan and bear the responsibility of paying the monthly premium per person to Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs). It is not enough to have a national health insurance policy, it is important to ensure that health insurance coverage is provided to the poor and most vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health.
Although the NHIS Act made provision for children, who constitute the largest population in Nigeria, many children still have to pay for health care services in spite of being born into poor families that do not have the ability to pay for health care services and suffer financial hardship as a consequence. The free health policies and exemption mechanisms provided by some states, targeted at children, pregnant women and the elderly, are not social and financial risk protection policies, as these groups are largely responsible for the cost of health care with the free health care programme barely covering their basic health care services.
Another way of providing social and financial risk protection for poor and vulnerable populations is by establishing a legislative framework for a UHC scheme and setting aside funds for it. Evidence from Thailand has shown the effect of UHC schemes through PHC on expanding access to health care for the poor and vulnerable populations.
Political actors, policy makers and all stakeholders in the health sector should establish a government funded social and financial risk protection scheme through a general tax financing system for the poor and vulnerable, and invest in basic infrastructure for health care in rural areas for quality health care service delivery. UHC schemes are important in addressing the problem of poor coverage, limited access to health care, and poor quality of health care services.
Nigeria is yet to adopt innovative ways to protect the poor and vulnerable populations against financial risk of ill health. It is important to guarantee by law the right to health care of all citizens in Nigeria. Although the National Health Act (NHA) that was signed into law in 2014 stated that all Nigerians are entitled to basic minimum package of health care services, it is not clear if the provisions made in the NHA are capable of achieving UHC in Nigeria. In addition, the NHA is yet to be implemented over two years after its signage into law.
Some low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been able to provide social and financial risk protection schemes for poor and vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health. Therefore, there is a need to provide social health protection schemes targeted at these groups in Nigeria. The poor and vulnerable populations should not become impoverished because of failure to obtain much needed health care services. Governments must reduce out of pocket payments for health care services by households through the adoption of a tax financed non-contributory UHC scheme.

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Protest Rocks Alausa Over Supreme Court Verdict On Agidingbi Community



Scores of community leaders and residents of Agidingbi area of Ikeja on Thursday embarked on peaceful protest against the judgment of Supreme Court which awarded ownership of 398 acres of landed property in the community to a traditional land-owning family, Akinole-Oshiun.

The possession order is said to cover a large section of the Lateef Jakande Road, Acme Road, Fagba Close, and other streets around the area, totaling over 2000 buildings.

The protesters, who marched from Agidingbi to House of Assembly complex in Alausa, said Akinole-Oshiun family, which is the judgment-creditor in the case, had already given them seven days ultimatum to vacate their houses, urging the government to quickly intervene to avert bloodshed.

They displayed placard of various inscriptions such as “There is no ancestral link between Akinole and Agidingbi Land, Land Grabbers are enemies of Lagos State,” among others.

Leader of Ojodu Legislative Arm, Hon Wasiu Bolaji-Seidu who is also a community leader in Agidingbi said the news of the possession order came to the community as a big surprise as nobody from the area was served with the court process that led to the judgment.

He said: “On Friday, they (judgment-creditor) brought a judgment and placed it on our houses and said they have taken over the entire Agidingbi land. The issue is Agidingbi was not mentioned in the judgment; nobody from Agidingbi was part of the case and I don’t know how you will enforce a judgment against a person that was never part of the case.

“Agidingbi has been in existence for over 200 years ago. I was born and bred in Agidingbi; my forefathers were born and bred in Agidingbi and I don’t see any reason why somebody will just wake up and say they are the owner of the community.

“I am over 50 years; my father lived for over 90 years in this community before he died; my great grand-father died at the age of 150 years and I don’t know where Akinole is coming from and we have people like Habibatu Mogaji who was the Yeye-Oba of Agidingbi; we have Femi Okunnu who is our father in the community and we don’t know where Akin-ole came from.”

He particularly urged the State Government to activate the provisions of the Anti-Land Grabbing Law of the State, and prevent the matter from degenerating into a full blown crisis.

“To the best of my knowledge, I know that Lagos State has enacted a law duly signed by the Governor prohibiting land grabbing in the State because this is a clear example of such case. That is why we are here to call on the Lagos State House of Assembly to look into it and find a lasting solution, failure of which there will be bloodshed,” Bolaji-Seidu said.

Also speaking, Baale of Agidingbi, Chief Ganiyu Ayinde Haruna, said they were embarking on the peaceful protest to call the attention of government to the silent crisis that is brewing in the community.

Narrating how it all began, Haruna said: “On Friday last week, we woke up to see people posting possession order on our property and we don’t know these people. We have been living here for several years and the issue is we don’t know this family that is laying claim to ownership of our land.

“We have never heard any relationship with this Akinole family and so it is surprising to us. Nobody knew anything about the court case. I mean how can you enforce court judgment against a party that was never part of the case?  We are peaceful people and we are urging the Lagos State Government especially Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the House of Assembly to intervene urgently in this matter because we don’t want bloodshed in our community.”

Also speaking, an 83-year old resident and Iyalode of Agidingbi, Evang Dorcas Faworaja said her great grand-parents were born in the area, therefore the claimant cannot just come from anywhere and lay claim to the community.

Receiving the protesters, Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Hon Olumuyiwa Jimoh commended them for conducting themselves peacefully, assuring that the House would look into their case.

“Let me assure you that we are going to look into your petition without any fear or favour and I can assure you also that you will receive judgment at the end of the day,” Jimoh said.

Agidingbi Community leaders presents their petition on the Supreme Court judgement to the Deputy Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Jimoh Olumuyiwa Wahab (2nd right) on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

Agidingbi residents and community leaders protest against a Supreme Court judgement on their properties at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

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