Nigeria’s Second Niger Bridge: group lauds Julius Berger, President Buhari for project delivery progress

Chief Ikunna: “Each of us came away thrilled and very grateful for this very functional project, which will ease traveling time and boost business across the country. “

By Antnony Obi Ogbo | International Guardian

Igbo intelligentsia Forum has concluded its onsite fact-finding assessment trip of the ongoing Second Niger Bridge Project with a positive report. After a touring of the entire 11.9km stretch of the construction site, the group described their trip as “a fascinating and rare experience” and endorsed the project as  “Engineering at its finest.”

Igbo intelligentsia Forum is a global group of non-partisan political strategists of Igbo ancestry, passionate about the socio-political progress of the Igbo ethnic group.   

“Each of us came away thrilled and very grateful for this very functional project, which will ease traveling time and boost business across the country. Already real estate prices in the in Asaba, Atani, Ogbaru and Oba are rising significantly,” the group leader, Chief Joseph Chukwuma Ikunna, reported.

IMAGES FROM THE FACT-FINDING ASSESSMENT TRIP: After a touring the entire 11.9km stretch of the construction site, the group described their trip as “a fascinating and rare experience” and endorsed the project as  “Engineering at its finest.”

The Second Niger Bridge project was initiated by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the vision has since been sustained by the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I personally conclude, by thanking President Buhari for his input in ensuring that a proper funding structure was put in place last year, to fund the project. When the project is concluded and commissioned in 2022, President Buhari definitely deserves a lot of the credit. The Managing Director of Julius Berge and the Project Director confirmed to us, that payments were being made regularly and timely. An experience that was alien to them in Nigeria,” Chief Ikunna said.

The Second Niger Bridge is a fundamental national infrastructure, with immense socio-economic benefits for the adjoining states and indeed the entire nation. The scope of work also includes a construction of 1.6 km long bridge, 10.3 km Highway, Owerri interchange, and a toll station. Upon completion, the bridge will ease traffic flow, improve road safety, and create greater opportunities for local residents by advancing the commercial viability of the immediate area and regenerating economic life.

While a formal report of this assessment  is yet to be released, Chief Ikunna thanked Uche Orji, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA),  a major partner project, stating that their “contribution to this project in every respect, has been both valuable and enviable.”  

“Finally, credit should be given to the quality, the expertise and the speed at which the contractors, Julius Berger are performing at, in building not just one, but three bridges, despite the marshy swampy terrain which is being filled to heights of 7metres in some places, whilst using the latest technology to speedily drain excess water from areas that require filling,” he said.

Nnamdi Kanu blasts Allen Onyema; alleges “he is a liar”

“What I said in my last broadcast may have led to his recent investigation for fraud.”

Guardian, Houston, TX – Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, has called the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema a ‘liar.  Onyema, the Nigerian businessman who owns the country’s largest airline, was recently indicted by U.S. authorities on charges of fraud and money laundering.

In a report published this morning by Eloti TV news site, the IPOB leader alleged that “Onyema lied against him to please his Fulani masters.” This allegation was part of the comments which the IPOB leader aired in a live broadcast on Sunday.

KANU (forefront): “He said he wanted to see how there could be peace with our people in the North. He said we should take pictures with some people he came with and I agreed. All of a sudden one day he granted BBC an interview and lied against me.” ONYEMA (Background) allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds by transferring it to other accounts, the Department of Justice said.

He was quoted as saying, ”People have asked me to clarify the visit of Allen Onyema to my house. I think what I said in my last broadcast may have led to his recent investigation for fraud. ”Allen Onyema came to my house and we talked about things happening in Nigeria, including the hate speech.

Kanu continued, “He said he wanted to see how there could be peace with our people in the North. He said we should take pictures with some people he came with and I agreed. All of a sudden one day he granted BBC an interview and lied against me. Then I reminded him that I know more about him than he can even imagine. After my statement the Fulanis went after him, they know that IPOB will not fight for him for undermining our struggle to restore Biafra’s independence. I will not ask him further questions, I believe he has learnt his lessons.”

”Onyema wanted to please his Fulani masters but now they have turned against him,” Kanu added.

Nnamdi Kanu’s allegation is coming after Onyeama was charged with bank fraud and money laundering.

He was alleged to have moved more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.

According to the release by the United States Department of Justice, Onyema  allegedly moved “more than $20 million from Nigeria though United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes,” The company’s chief of administration and finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, was also charged with bank fraud and identity theft in the same case,

Allen Onyema and Air Peace V. US Department of Justice: Points to Ponder

“The Nigerian media space went agog when the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division on November 19, 2019, filed Case 1:19-cr-00464, A “True Bill”, otherwise known as Grand Jury Criminal Indictment against the persons of Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, a Nigerian Citizen, the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace; and Ejiroghene Eghagha, a Nigerian citizen and the Chief of Administration and Finance of Air Peace. Commentators have speculated on the guilt or innocence of the accused. 


By  Emmanuel N. Emenyonu, Ph.D

My purpose is to shade some light on the issues using the tools of my professional training and exposure, given that this is of national importance to Nigeria and Nigerians both home and abroad.”


Others have offered some theories relating to the motivations and hidden hands behind the Indictment. Some ‘experts’ have pontificated on the seriousness of the charges especially money laundering. Some commentators have even likened the Indictment to some recent high profile indictments involving some Nigerians alleged to have engaged in sundry cybercrimes and advanced fee fraud schemes. 

Nothing could be furthest from the truth as there are hardly any facts in the November 19, 2019 Grand Jury Indictment supporting any such comparison. Let me make it clear that the purpose of this article is not to hold brief for the accused persons. It is my understanding that they accused persons as should be expected, have retained competent counsels for that purpose. 

My purpose is to shade some light on the issues using the tools of my professional training and exposure, given that this is of national importance to Nigeria and Nigerians both home and abroad.

In all, the indictment alleges in its 36 pages and 88 paragraphs 35 counts of diverse criminal offences. Count One alleges Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud an offence covered by title 18 of U.S. Code (U.S.C.)§ 1349. Counts Two to Four allege Bank Fraud contrary to 18 U.S. C. § 1344. Counts Five to Eight allege Conspiracy to Commit Credit Application Fraud, covered under 18 U.S. C. § 371. Counts Nine through Thirty-Five allege Money Laundering, covered under 18 U.S.C § 1957. Finally, Count Thirty-Six, 

Aggravated Identity Theft, 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1). Counts One to Eight, name both Allen Onyema and Ejiroghene Eghagha as defendants. Counts Nine to Thirty-Five, specifically name only Allen Onyema as defendant. Count Thirty-Six names Ejiroghene Eghagha as the sole defendant. If convicted of any of the charges, the Indictment is seeking for forfeiture to the United States of any property derived from proceeds traceable to such offenses, including Money Judgment and Banks Funds held in JP Morgan Chase Account ending in 5512 ($4,017,852.51), Bank of Montreal Canada account number ending 7523 ($4,593,842.05) and Bank of Montreal Canada account number ending in 7515 ($5,634,842.04), totaling $14,246,536.60.
Count One, paragraph 1 alleges that the defendants conspired to, “knowingly devise and execute and attempt to execute a scheme and artifice (i) to defraud financial institutions the deposits of which were insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, that is, Wells Fargo Bank and JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, and (ii) to obtain and attempt to obtain moneys, funds and assets owned by and under the custody and control of those financial institutions by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, as well as by omission of material facts, in violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344.” 

The charges continue from paragraph 2 to give the profile of Mr. Onyema, his trips to Atlanta, opening of US Bank Accounts, transference of funds from Nigerian bank accounts to US bank accounts, ownership of Air Peace, personal expenses at Atlanta area stores and even eating at restaurants and sundry immaterial issues. 


May be, these were aimed at the emotions of the members of the grand jury.  No where did the indictment actually convey how the defendants harmed US depositors and their funds. 


Counts Nine to Thirty-Five give a list of routine transfers from one Wells Fargo Account ending 8621 to two other Wells Fargo Accounts ending in 0125 and 8020, all belonging to and under the control of the accused persons ranging in amounts from $150,000.00 to $1,000,000.00.
The charges either expressly or impliedly cover a wide array of complex topics dealing with international letters of credit, such as: international aviation business; structuring of operations between a foreign parent company and its subsidiary(ies); international banking and financial flows; international transfer pricing and taxation; and Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulations enforcement. 


Any one of these topics is complex enough all by itself and a case that has combinations of these topics is bound to be very difficult to untangle.
It is important to always bear in mind that this is a Grand Jury Indictment, usually secured ex parte, that is, in the absence of the accused. In Grand Jury proceedings the accused is not entitled to Sixth Amendment rights to defense counsel in the grand jury room, nor the right to examine and cross examine witnesses. 


From its historical intentions of protecting innocent citizens against overzealous prosecutors, some experts opine that the American Grand Jury system is broken. 

For instance, the American Bar Association, has criticized the GJ system for “being a mere rubber stamp for the prosecution without adequate procedural safeguards”. William J. Campbell, a former federal district judge in Chicago, noted in 1973 that: 
“[T]oday, the grand jury is the total captive of the prosecutor who, if he is candid, will concede that he can indict anybody, at any time, for almost anything, before any grand jury.” 

Not much has changed since Judge Campbell made those observations. In an Editorial on Sunday, April 16, 2012, the New York Sun reminded readers that, the Chief Judge of New York State’s highest court, Sol Wachtler, “once said that grand juries were so pliable that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” 

It is therefore important for people especially in the court of public opinion to withhold judgement based on a one-sided narrative presented by the prosecutors, who have been known to be overzealous. It is not unheard off to have Grand Jury indictments dismissed. 

For instance according to the 2018 Annual Statistical Report of the US Attorneys Office, out of the 151 non narcotics related Money Laundering indictments that were determined, 18, representing about 12 percent were dismissed.

As at last count, it has been reported that the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has entered the fray. The EFCC will need to bear in mind that the overriding interest in the US Department of Justice Grand Jury Indictment against the named officials of Air Peace is the interest of the United States, not natural justice per se. 
The US DOJ in the Indictment is asking that funds which clearly originated from Nigeria should be forfeited to the United States if the accused are found guilty. 

This is against natural justice and biased towards US interests. In the Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Statistical Report of the US Attorneys Report, the US Department of Justice declined to press ahead with the prosecution of a total of 2,573 alleged criminal matters on account of “Prioritization of Federal Resources and Interests (emphasis mine) “. 
A partial breakdown of some of these offenses the US DOJ declined to prosecute for the above stated reasons: violent crimes (452), Terrorism/National Security (171), Drugs (414), Official Corruption (67), white collar crimes (623), government regulatory offenses (99) and organized crime (13). These are very serious offenses for the US DOJ to decline prosecution citing prioritization of Federal Resources and Interests. 
I have not seen anything in the Grand Jury 

Indictment of the CEO of Air Peace Chief Allen Onyema and the Chief Administrative and Financial Officer of the same company Mr. Eghagha to warrant the US DOJ to rank this issue higher in their priority than even crimes involving terrorism and national security of the United States. Except there are aspects to this case that the US DOJ has not mentioned yet, the Nigerian EFCC should resist the temptation to be used as a pliant tool for bringing down a thriving Nigerian company that is providing jobs directly and indirectly for thousands of people all across Nigeria and beyond. 
The EFCC should remember the case of Arthur Andersen LLP which was charged by the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas on May 6, 2002, in connection with the ENRON scandal, convicted on June 15, 2002; the conviction affirmed by the 5th Circuit (the relevant US Federal Appeal Court) in 2004, only for the US Supreme Court to overturn the rulings of these lower courts in favor of Arthur Andersen in 2005. 
Unfortunately, for the Arthur Andersen, it was unable to recover from these legal setbacks and had to shut its doors notwithstanding the ruling of the highest court in the land. 

Overzealous US DOJ prosecutions can lead to incalculable harm to individuals and companies even when they are finally exonerated. The economic interest of Nigeria should weigh heavily on the minds of the leaders of EFCC as they proceed on this issue.

In conclusion, with respect to Money Laundering cases, banks and financial institutions who are the gatekeepers of the financial system have a high degree of responsibility in combating the crime by adhering to AML due process procedures especially, knowing their customers (KYC). 
This is a major plank of Anti Money Laundering (AML) laws and regulations in many jurisdictions. 

For instance, in September 2019, ING, the big Dutch bank was fined the sum of $900 million for lapses in the bank’s KYC implementation. If as alleged, Air Peace and the leaders of the company engaged in serial AML offenses using wells Fargo, why is Wells Fargo Bank not included in the Indictment or in any separate indictment for that matter for Counts Nine to Thirty-Five? 

It appears here that the US DOJ is primarily concerned with protecting Wells Fargo and the two other systemically important banks named in the Indictment. 

The connotation of sinister criminal activities on the part of the accused which has been suggested by the Indictment and various headlines is not supported by a careful reading of the Indictment. 
Usually in major financial crime cases such as this, the indicting US Federal agency will identify the victims and the magnitude in US dollar terms of losses suffered by the victims. No victims were specifically mentioned not to talk of the monetary amount of the losses incurred by the victims. 

The US companies that sold airplanes and the banks that profited from facilitating those transactions have not asked to disgorge the profits arising from those transactions. Air Peace and the accused persons should put up a robust defense to clear their names from what looks to be an overreach by zealous prosecutors.

Emmanuel N. Emenyonu, Ph.D (Glasgow), LLB (London), CPA (Massachusetts), FCA (Nigeria), a Professor of Fraud and Forensic Accounting at Southern Connecticut State University, has at various times taught International Accounting, Financial Accounting, Taxation, Finance and Accounting Information Systems at leading universities such as University of Nigeria, Yale University, Covenant University, Howard University and Quinnipiac University

Nigeria Airline CEO, Allen Onyema Indicted by U.S. for Money Laundering

“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.

Allen Onyema, the Nigerian businessman who owns the country’s largest airline, was indicted by U.S. authorities on charges of fraud and money laundering.

He allegedly moved “more than $20 million from Nigeria though United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes,” according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice. The company’s chief of administration and finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, was charged with bank fraud and identity theft in the same case, the statement said.

Department of Justice Release >>

Onyema, who is also the airline’s chief executive officer, allegedly used export letters of credit that were supposedly to fund the purchase of five Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace to get banks to transfer the money, according to the Justiced Department statement. Supporting documents from a U.S. registered company owned by Onyema “were fake,”it said.

He then allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds by transferring it to other accounts, the Department of Justice said. More than $3 million of the transferred funds allegedly came from accounts of organizations set up by Onyema to promote peace across Nigeria, according to the statement.

Onyema and Eghagha deny all the charges and will “vigorously defend” themselves, according to a statement prepared by their lawyers, A.O. Alegeh & Co. “The allegations are unfounded and strange,” said the statement that Onyema emailed to Bloomberg.

The Air Peace boss “looks forward to an opportunity to rebut these allegations in court,” the statement said.

Onyema founded Air Peace in 2013 and the carrier now offers numerous domestic routes in Nigeria as well as flights to other West African destinations and Dubai. The Lagos-based carrier recently won praise for repatriating Nigerians from South Africa during a wave of xenophobic violence.

“Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt,” Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Robert J. Murphy said in the DOJ statement.

Oprah Winfrey Is Looking for African Women Who Are Passionate About Public Service

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is offering fully funded scholarships to study at New York University
The Fellowship provides full tuition, fees, housing or a housing stipend (if enrolling in the Global EMPA program), travel to and from the United States, and a small stipend to cover books and miscellaneous expenses.

Oprah Winfrey is once again lending her name and influence to help educate and empower more African women.

The mogul — who is fondly known as Mama Oprah in South Africa — announced that the Oprah Winfrey Foundation has launched a fully-funded fellowship aimed at empowering African women who are in public service.

It offers women from African countries the chance to study for free at New York University’s (NYU’s) Wagner graduate school of public service — in the hope of supporting Africa-led solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The African Women’s Public Service Fellowship — a partnership between Winfrey and NYU — will provide full tuition, fees, housing, travel to and from the United States, and a stipend to cover books and other expenses.

The aim of the fellowship is to “expand the opportunity for African women” who want to change public service in their countries,according to the New York University (NYU).

The opportunity isn’t open, however, to applicants who are looking to fund advanced professional certificates and non-degree programmes, NYU highlights.

To qualify, applicants must also be a citizen and resident in an African country; have a strong academic record; and a proven commitment to public service in their country or around the continent.

The fellowship is applicable to study on these programmes at Wagner: Masters of Public Administration (MPA) in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy; MPS in Health Policy & Management; Master of Urban Planning, and Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) for Public Service Leaders.

Recipients of the fellowship also must commit to returning to their home countries when the programme ends, with the goal of taking on a leadership position in Africa — where they can “meaningfully contribute to the challenges currently confronting Africa,” the university says.

To apply for the opportunity, applicants must send an essay, a one-minute submission video, and fill out this online application form by Dec. 2.

Candidates who make the shortlist will be invited to Skype interviews with the selection committee by mid-February 2020.

The fellowship joins many other education initiatives supported by the Oprah Winfrey Foundation.

Speaking at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 event that was held in Johannesburg in Dec. 2018, Winfrey said society can change if we all play our part, no matter how small, in helping others.

“I always thought it was because Madiba was a citizen of the world that he really got to see how the power of one leads to the empowering of many,” she said. “He knew when a society is wounded, we all bleed.”

She added: “As Maya Angelou taught me: Your legacy isn’t some big grand gesture that’s waiting to happen, your legacy is every life you touch… I built a school right here in South Africa to help girls become leaders of a new South Africa. Every time one of them succeeds, it is my greatest reward.”

Egyptian TV News Report Alleges Turkey Supplying Weapons to Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow in Journalism at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and an expert on the Middle East and Islam, appeared on CBN’s Newswatch to talk more about Turkey’s alleged ties to Islamic terrorism.

Turkey is clearly a terrorist state with a broad reach, according to an Egyptian television news program. Ten.tv reports Turkey is supplying weapons to Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Ten.tv host Nasha’t al-Deyhi reported on a leak confirming an intercepted phone call from a few years back – confirming the action. 

He reported in part: “Today’s leak confirms without a doubt that Erdogan, his state, his government, and his party are transferring weapons from Turkey to – this is a shock, to where you may ask – to Nigeria; and to whom? – to the Boko Haram organization.”

Raymond Ibrahim is the Shillman Fellow in Journalism at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an expert on the Middle East and Islam. During an interview on CBN‘s Newswatch, Ibrahim said he’s not surprised by the Ten.tv report. 

“The tape was made in 2014 or 15 and it was reported widely in certain areas, in the US and the west not so much and not much came out of it,” Ibrahim said. “The reason I think is that (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan didn’t have his fingers so much in Islamist politics outside of his own nation.”

THIS WAS FOUR YEARS AGO
Turkish President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan on assured Nigeria of its support in the fight against terrorist, Boko Haram. He gave the assurance at a joint press conference after holding bilateral talks with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“But now that we’ve seen Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS Islamic state caliph that was killed recently, and he was found just three miles from the Turkish border, which is, in fact, the last bastion of jihadi-so-called ‘freedom fighters’ attacking the Syrian government,” he told CBN News.

“It has brought it up again, he (Erdogan) is supporting ISIS,” Ibrahim noted. “Now we’re remembering and that was I think the point of the Egyptian show, we’re bringing back to see that there’s some continuity here. He’s involved with some of the worst Islamic terror groups. If you remember, Boko Haram, whose name loosely means ‘western education is forbidden’, (Haram) was basically doing what ISIS was doing and is notorious for – years before ISIS was doing it. 

“One of the things international observers have been noticing, especially increasingly, is that their armaments, their weapons are very sophisticated,” he continued. “It’s even spilled into the Fulani tribesmen in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. For example, in Burkina Faso, also in western Africa the attacks on Christians have become horrific in just the last few months.”

As CBN News reported, a senior State Department official said last week that Turkey is backing forces in Syria who have the same radical ideology as ISIS.

“The problem is that the people doing the fighting are these ill-disciplined Arab militias, some of whom we’ve worked within the past when we were arming the opposition, but many of whom are (a) ill-disciplined, and (b) relatively radical, and their ideology is essentially Islamic ideology,” the official said.

A fragile government in northern Syria called the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (DAA) released a statement on Tuesday saying that Erdogan seeks to subjugate them through radical Islam.

“Erdogan plans to turn are free, democratic region back into turmoil under radical Islamic occupation,” the government said.

Critics of Erdogan’s invasion say he is trying to revive the Ottoman Empire and establish a new caliphate.

“Their open intention is to restore the original caliphate which was disbanded in 1924,” said Dalton Thomas of Frontier Alliance International.

Recently Turkey’s defense minister posted a map to his social media that shows portions of Greece, Syria, and Iraq as part of a greater Turkey.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar posted a message alongside the map: “We have no eyes on anyone’s soil. We will only take what’s ours.”

The map reflects the 1920 Ottoman National Pact that includes lands Turkey believes it deserved at the end of World War I.

Xenophobia: Ghana Union of Traders Association lock Nigerian owned shops in Kumasi

Angry members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) on Thursday stormed shops owned by Nigerians in Kumasi, the Ashanti Region capital, and locked them up. GUTA members have for some time now waged a war on foreigners doing retail business in the country.

They cite Ghanaian laws to justify their action, insisting that they have been left with no choice than to move into the markets and lock the shops up themselves because the law enforcement agencies fail to do their work.

GUTA says foreign retailers flout section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865. That law stipulates that the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place must be reserved for Ghanaians.

 Other activities not permitted for non-citizens include:

  • Operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles
  • Operation of a beauty salon or a barbershop
  • Printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services
  • Production of exercise books and other basic stationery
  • Retail of finished pharmaceutical products
  • Production and retail of sachet water.

GUTA members say this law is being flouted by foreigners, particularly Nigerians, on grounds that the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and persons across the sub-region allows them to trade and do any kind of business in Ghana.

Luv FM’s Asenso Mensah reports that agitated GUTA members on Thursday morning stormed at least five big markets in the Ashanti Region, forced out the foreign retailers and locked their shops.

Foreign traders in Kejetia, Suame Magazine, Adum and Asafo markets were all yanked out of the shops on Thursday, reports Asenso Mensah.

GUTA Public Relations Officer, Albert Mensah Offei, told Joy News that the locking up of retail shops owned by foreigners will soon be extended to other parts of the country.The action by GUTA is the second time this year.

Meanwhile, many say the action by GUTA is retaliation for the Nigerian government’s decision to close its land borders indefinitely. Nigeria says it hopes to cut down on smuggling by closing its borders.

The move has been widely criticised by both regional and international trade associations. GUTA has been among the fiercest critic of the decision by Nigeria to close its borders.

Culled from Joy News

The Policy of Dishonesty–Between the War Situation Room and a shameful Photo Op

President Trump created his own Situation Room moment. He set up his table, gathered and positioned some available officials, ushered in the photographer and pretended to be watching the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

From fabricated or deceptive claims about trade and the economy to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, the United States’ President Trump has made ‘dishonesty’ the core focus of his policy-making scheme. Apparently, the only time he doesn’t lie is when he is asleep. 


BY ANTHONY OBI OGBO

Apparently, the only time President Trump doesn’t lie is when he is asleep. 


Two days ago, the White House released what would have been a War Situation Room showing President Trump and his team supposedly directing and monitoring the killing of the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.  But this bizarre gathering was actually a sham to replicate a historic 2011 moment when President Barack Obama watched from the Situation Room as commandos went after Osama bin Laden the leader of al-Qaeda.

The difference in the photos reveals the difference between a real war situation room and a discreditable photo-shoot situation

Obama’s ‘Bin Laden Situation Room photo was impromptu, capturing a tensed moment as  this President flanked by his national security team, received live updates from Operation Neptune Spear, which led to the killing of bin Laden. But last week, eight years later, President Trump created his own Situation Room moment. He set up his table, gathered and positioned some available officials, ushered in the photographer and pretended to be watching the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

President Trump’s photo in the real sense reveals the dishonest face of this administration. It may be recalled that early in September, President Trump displayed his fabricated version of Hurricane Dorian forecast map to show the powerful storm was on track to hit Alabama. Of course, he had to lie. He had falsely stated in a tweet earlier that Alabama was among the several states expected to face impacts from this storm.

President Trump on holds a chart showing the original projected track of Hurricane Dorian that appears to have been extended with a black line to include parts of the Florida Panhandle and Alabama.

In an administration pervaded with mediocrity and policy-making inaccuracies, the White House is experiencing an alarming decrease in trust and reputation.    Just last month, the Washington Post reported that President Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims over 993 days by significantly uttering exaggerated figures, making unwarranted claims and irritating the social media with horribly outright falsehoods.

So it is not a coincidence that the photos reveal the difference between a real war situation room and a discreditable photo-shoot situation. 

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

November 5 Houston’s Mayoral race is no joke: you must vote the incumbent or perish

Politics is all about interests grounded on a philosophy of “who gets what?” Voters make their choices based on their individual and communal policy-making expectations and necessities. Thus, the choice of keeping the incumbent must be based on not just his accomplishments but also the quality of his challengers.

In just is few days, voters in Houston would go to the polls to make their choices over a roster of candidates running for various city office positions. Among those contests, the mayoral race is considerably critical—coming when the disastrous team in the White House has flung democracy in the United States into a chaotic experience. They have created bogus laws and executive orders to destroy families, law enforcement, commerce, and strangulate the very fundamental rights America was built on.    


BY ANTHONY OBI OGBO

Buzbee says he wants to end corruption, restore effective government and deliver results for all Houstonians, but it would take an ethical leader to restore ethical leadership.


But the Houston city government led by Mayor Sylvester Turner stood its grounds to protect the city against such challenges. He liberated the city from two major catastrophes; Hurricane Harvey and the Political Storm Donald Trump. Besides his leadership performance during this historic Harvey catastrophe, Mayor Turner also resisted Trump’s cold-blooded immigration policies; and rallied his law enforcement to focus on saving lives rather than a collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to tear up families. According to Mayor Turner,

“My job starts with the never-ending effort to provide a safe, secure and prosperous environment for every resident of Houston in their places of work, their places of worship, their school, their homes and elsewhere. The city does not try to do ICE’s job, nor does it try to impede ICE. And we will continue to be a city that builds relationships, not walls.”

There are other policy issues at stake in this election, but let us remember that no strategy actions would persevere without a peaceful and secured city.

While this may sound satirical, there are essentially two major candidates in this race–Mayor Turner and others. Turner’s argument rests on his first-term stewardship, touting a successful handle of the budget, a deadly Hurricane Harvey, pension system reforms and the economy. His closest rival, Tony Buzbee, objected. Buzbee is a decorated Marine, a successful lawyer and business owner running on governance ethics. He says he wants to end corruption, restore effective government and deliver results for all Houstonians.

Cover of International Guardian’s election edition.   Houston’s Mayoral race is, therefore, a fraternal call to vote the incumbent or perish. Just like America and Trump, if Houston scorns the current opportunity to keep its current leadership, this city might end up in self-destructive misery.  

But it would take an ethical leader to restore ethical leadership. For example, to date, Mr. Buzbee has not properly come clean on how and why a young Dallas-based female court reporter descended on his home and vandalized his valuable collections.  29-year-old Lindy Lou Layman was accused of smashing and destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of paintings and sculptures in Buzbee’s mansion. Layman according to Harris County court documents, poured liquid onto paintings, tore paintings off the wall and threw sculptures across the room, resulting in about $300,000 damage.

Challengers from left: Tony Buzbee, Bill King , Dwight Boykins, and Sue Lovell. In any election process involving an incumbent, the choice of a candidate must be based on not just his accomplishments but also the quality of his challengers.

In furtherance of his questionable moral worthiness, Mr. Buzbee has shuttled in-between parties courting the most questionable moments and supporting underhanded politicians. For instance, in 2002, he unsuccessfully ran for the Texas state House as a Democrat. But in2012, he supported squarely, Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. That was not all.  In 2016, Buzbee hosted a fundraiser at his River Oaks mansion for then Presidential candidate Donald Trump, and subsequently gave $500,000 to Trump’s Inauguration Committee.

There might be nothing wrong with supporting candidates, but Mr. Buzbee’s double-dealing attitude with both the Republicans and Democrats possibly reveals con and disloyalty, and questions his moral decency in politics and leadership.

Please note that there might be nothing wrong with supporting candidates, but Mr. Buzbee’s double-dealing attitude with both the Republicans and Democrats possibly reveals con and disloyalty, and questions his moral decency in politics and leadership.

Another issue with Mr. Buzbee’s candidacy is his contribution of almost $10 million to his campaign. The message might be simple – that Bagby Street might be up to be mortgaged to a millionaire affiliated to Donald Trump. And you may not be surprised too if Hilton Americas becomes a Trump Tower.   

Other candidates in this race are rightly exercising their constitutional rights to vote and to be voted for. Yet their chances remain infinitesimal based on the latest poll by the University of Houston published on the eve of early voting. The poll shows that Mayor Turner could win without a runoff, as he keeps a wide lead over his opponents, with 43.5 percent support among likely voters.  Mr. Buzbee followed by 23.4 percent. Bill King and Councilman Dwight Boykins trail with 7.8 and 6.8 percent respectively. The rest of the candidates, including Sue Lovell, poled below 2%.

Replacing Mayor Turner must not just be based on his first-term superintendency, but also the caliber of his challengers.  Because the incumbent is not working does not mean that we should replace him with a numbskull unfamiliar with the people of Houston, their resources, and the city’s political terrain.

Mayor Turner is the incumbent. Replacing him must not just be based on his first-term superintendency, but also the caliber of his challengers.  Because the incumbent is not working does not mean that we should replace him with a numbskull unfamiliar with the people of Houston, their resources, and the city’s political terrain.

Mr. King actually  admitted when in an interview with ABC13, that  “I think that people probably don’t know the more human side of me because, uh, they see me as a sort of analytical person,” King says, proclaiming himself as somewhat of a nerd.”  So if the people do not know him, why is he in the race?

Politics is all about interests grounded on a philosophy of “who gets what?” It means that voters make their choices based on their individual and communal policy-making expectations and necessities. In just is few days (November 5), voters in Houston would go to the polls to make these choices. But as usual, the discussion question would be whether voters would go to the polls with emotional conscience regarding their interests or whether they would ignore those values to seek candidates peddling frivolous but deceptive campaign rhetoric.  

In typical electioneering process where the incumbent is seeking reelection, a contender must substantially establish four core causes;  

  • A blueprint to transform campaign promises into action.  To date, days before the election, these contenders have not offered any significant proposal besides the rendition of uncorroborated website campaign narratives.  
  • Contenders must show solid proof of policy-making competence. Buzbee and King had pledged to clean up the city office from corruption. But a proposal to fight corruption with amoral characters would bastardize any transformation process. It takes moral people to shape moral society.
  • Contenders must show a connection with the people. Houston, the most diverse nation in the country deserves a leader that is familiar with the multi-cultural face of the city. Mr. Buzbee does not know Houston beyond River Oaks’ vicinity where he resides. Another major contender, Mr. King actually  admitted when in an interview with ABC13, that  “I think that people probably don’t know the more human side of me because, uh, they see me as a sort of analytical person,” King says, proclaiming himself as somewhat of a nerd.” So if the people do not know him, why is he in the race?
  • Last, this position is for a city’s top leadership, not a store manager. Any contender ready for this position must have been tested in managing a high-figure budget; must possess unmatched knowledge of the legislation process, as well as running voluminous city’s day-to-day activities.  

Therefore, based on the aforementioned circumstances, Houston has a choice to make between an incumbent and some incompetent contenders yet to defend their campaign claims. In any election process involving an incumbent, the choice of keeping him must be based on not just his accomplishments but also the quality of his challengers.

Also, I must remind voters that Houston is a family. November 5 Houston’s Mayoral race is, therefore, a fraternal call to vote the incumbent or perish. Just like America and Trump, if Houston scorns the current opportunity to keep its current leadership, this city might end up in self-destructive misery.   

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

KPRC’s “Internship” story series: between Investigative Story and Political Hit Job

In the media clan, political hit job can be crookedly camouflaged as an investigative news, especially when the story segment is suffused by sentiments, lacks integrity, and denotes a blatant show of unfairness.

Investigative Journalism often entails an in-depth story examination with the purpose to either uncover fraud or test various policy actions for public attention. In the newsroom confraternity, one major challenge in managing report process standards is having trained researcher-reporters who understand the fundamental techniques about the subject.   However, this process becomes a hit job where it is bastardized into a destructive political vendetta to appease specific political interests.


BY ANTHONY OBI OGBO

Perhaps if Mr. Marvin Agumagu’s name was “Marvin White,” KPRC 2’s headlines would have read differently and most positively, too.”


Using media to systematically cajole undecided voters or a gullible populace to favor specific interests or candidates is not new in America’s politics.  Last year, the National Enquirer parent company, American Media Inc., paid $150,000 in hush money to suppress alleged mistress of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump prior to the 2016 election. Specifically, David J. Pecker, chairman and CEO, admitted paying off a former Playboy model to crush her account of an alleged sexual affair that could have jeopardized Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Using media to systematically cajole undecided voters or a gullible populace to favor specific interests or candidates is not new in America’s politics.

Therefore, it might not be a coincidence that Tony Buzbee, one of Mayor Turner’s major contenders in the upcoming City general election immediately hit the campaign ground with a video collage of KPRC 2 News pieces. It is also not a coincidence that same week, Buzbee injected into his promotional networks, a whopping $2.5 million, pumping up his campaign treasury to almost $10M from his pocket. Yes, his pocket.

David J. Pecker, chairman and CEO, admitted paying off a former Playboy model to crush her account of an alleged sexual affair that could have jeopardized Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

In the media clan, a political hit job can be crookedly camouflaged as investigative news, especially when the story segment is suffused by sentiments, lacks integrity, and denotes a blatant show of unfairness.  For the record, this story centers on the validity and ethical implications of a 31-year-Marvin Agumagu, who was offered a position in an airport’s Executive Internship Program. KPRC 2 News rightly needed information.  But retrieving this information from the Mayor’s office was never an issue. Indeed, it was a matter of public information request as the law permits.

It is barbaric for KPRC 2 News reporters to stalk Houston’s mayor and chase him around all corners of his official business venues with cameras for information they conveniently had access to.

Therefore, it is barbaric for KPRC 2 News reporters to stalk Houston’s mayor and chase him around all corners of his official business venues with cameras for information they conveniently had access to. When KPRC 2 News was finally done, it declared in another watery story, “Mayor Turner finally answers questions on camera about intern paid $95K annually.” For God’s sake, what is the difference between written responses made available to the media and the same responses expressed on camera? Of course, the whole idea was to create sensational videos for specific Mayor Turner’s political opponents for the upcoming elections.

We can take this to the banks, but if Mr. Agumagu is guilty of any sin, it must be unconnected with his ethnicity, his color, and his rapport with the City of Houston–fourth largest city in the United States presided by a Black Mayor who has refused to yield to the mainstream media tyranny.  

This story which persevered for almost three weeks without an iota of new information did not establish how $95,000 annual salary is inappropriate for a senior staff analyst who attained three advanced degrees, including a bachelor’s degree, Master’s Degree and a law degree. Yet KPRC 2’s story totally scorned a reasonable investigation of Mr. Agumagu’s workforce competence, rather, it focused on his salary and hiring process to generate a drumfire of negative political attacks to bully the Mayor. The story hammered consistently on discrepancies over specific emails, mayor’s statements, and the program’s design process.

Perhaps if Mr. Marvin Agumagu’s name was “Marvin White,” KPRC 2’s headlines would have read differently and most positively, too.  

Besides his unmatched academic feats, Mr. Agumagu is not an entry-level rookie and would not have been hired to make coffees and teas as KPRC 2’s story sarcastically implied. My goodness, this dude has worked around local governments, facilitated projects, and maintains vast knowledge on international business, politics, and diplomacy–a skill-set consequential to the core mission of the Houston Airport systems in expediting an upper echelon of international connectivity for Houston’s growing diverse population.

Stalking Mayor Turner: Therefore, it is barbaric for KPRC 2 News reporters to stalk Houston’s mayor and chase him around all corners of his official business venues with cameras for information they conveniently had access to.
Stalking Mayor Turner: Therefore, it is barbaric for KPRC 2 News reporters to stalk Houston’s mayor and chase him around all corners of his official business venues with cameras for information they conveniently had access to.

We can take this to the banks, but if Mr. Agumagu is guilty of any sin, it must be unconnected with his ethnicity, his color, and his rapport with the City of Houston–fourth largest city in the United States presided by a Black Mayor who has refused to yield to the mainstream media tyranny.  Perhaps if Mr. Marvin Agumagu’s name was “Marvin White,” KPRC 2’s headlines would have read differently and most positively, too.  

Again, I must reiterate that the public must ignore any attempt by the media to decide their prospects. The last time a set of American voters gambled with their chances to elect a leader, they ended up with Donald Trump–an unscrupulous bigot that is currently making a mockery of essential values of America’s democracy. At this time, voters must be very careful with unscrupulous contenders hiding behind the media to steal their votes. With the city elections less than a month away, voters must be careful about those investigative stories on the TV screen. They might just be another “political hit job.”   

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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