INCREDIBLE! Odili Claims He Spent N5BN on Security Every Month for 8 Years

If Dr. Peter Odili, former Governor of Rivers State is eventually brought before the court of law to answer to charges of corrupt acts and abuse of office, the revelation of sums purloined from the treasury of the State would go into the records book as new highs in stealing in high places.

Odili, a medical doctor, had voluntarily told a team of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s investigators that he spent a mindboggling N5billion on security matters in his state. Prompted to detail how this sums were deployed, the governor evasively told the investigators that he was not obligated to give details of how he spent the monthly N5billion security vote. He, however, offered that the N5billion monthly expenditure on security was undertaken because of the volatile nature of his State.

If he spent this amount for the eight years of his two terms in office as governor of the State, he would have spent N460billion on to maintain security in the State. Yet, some indigenes of the State observed that it was during Odili’s stay in power that the security situation in the State degenerated into a state of anarchy.

Another Rivers State indigene noted that the sum claimed by Odili to have been spent on security would have transformed the state into a modern day Dubai if properly expended.

Another worrisome disclosure by Odili to EFCC’s investigators was how he spent N30.31billion on the construction and installation of gas turbines as part of the State’s Independent Power Project (IPP). Justifying the money spent on the gas turbines, Odili insisted before the EFCC investigating team that the IPP produced 80 percent of power generation in Port Harcourt which translates to 3,800 Mega Watts of electricity while NEPA generated a mere 15 percent.

The statistics provided by Odili obviously seem to be far fetched especially as Port Harcourt residents continue to grumble over continuously long periods of power outage.

“If Odili had given us 50 percent of the power he claimed to be able to generate we would have bettered the whole of Nigeria in power generation because I know that the Power Holding Company of Nigeria has problems sustaining even a power generation of 2,500 Mega Watts. But we cannot see any evidence of such investment or hope of accessing such huge supply of electricity power,” said a Port Harcourt resident.

Odili, however, insisted that the contract for the construction of the gas turbines was properly bided for even as he noted that the contractor showed similar jobs done for Shell, Agip and the Federal Government of Nigeria, explaining that the contractor was the most competent in power project.

As it turned out, the contractor was Rockson Engineering, the company owned and managed by his (Odili) bosom friend and front man, Mr. Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, who also owns controlling interest in Arik Air.

The EFCC notes observed that the elaborate electricity project was executed without the appropriate legislation by the State House of Assembly in flagrant abuse of constitutional requirements.

The Odili’s loot revelations continues next week

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The tragedy of the Okada generation

The most important resource to a nation is the human capital. This is because with it other resources can be harnessed for growth and development with ease. This is why most countries the world over strive to put in place policies that will have their citizens achieve goals in life through education in the first instance, with such other opportunities that will guarantee professionalism in a chosen careers. In some cases, the state puts a tab on their growth and progress, particularly the young ones, who, in most cases, form the largest part of the population from among whom leaders emerge to administer the country in the near future.

The importance of youths made them command reasonable attention to discerning minds so much so that both governments and non-govermental organizations, world institutions like UNESCO, including those institutions that we sometimes view with suspicion and disdain as the IMF and the World Bank, gladly make provisions for the development and education of this segment of the population. Even the scripture backed this position with the Lord himself decreeing that we should not despise the children “for the kingdom of God is for such like ones.”

It is arguable that beyond the politically expedient rhetoric, this country has no plan for her youths. This is evident in the education sector that has gone comatose with no signs of something concrete and positive happening in that sector so soon. Neither is there alternative to having some semblance of what will enable our active sector of the population contribute to our development process.

In all areas of human index, this country has progressively failed to measure up, while yearly we always come up with policies that will see to it that our youth, who are supposed to be the hope of our tomorrow, are further pushed down the rung of the ladder of poverty and deprivation. If we are not increasing prices of very essential items that will ensure that few factories gasping for breath are finished up and worsen the unemployment situation, as was the case with Obasanjo of the better forgotten era, we will be engaging in bizarre activities on the very day of the new year thus ensuring that Nigerians begin the new year on a sad and confusing note. It is Nigerian.

At the start of 2009, we all woke up to be confronted by a new decree from The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), compelling ‘Okada Riders’ and their passengers to wear crash helmet by way of guaranteeing safety of the head in case of accident. And the Lagos state authorities had since latched on this to collect the revenue it believes is due it, asking operators of Okada to come and procure it from the state at a cheap rate upon presentation of a tax receipt. Smart idea.

While not against the FRSC intentions, and particularly, not against Lagos State for collecting its taxes, something that must be done by any one who earns an income, I am worried about our legitimizing the use of Okada as a means of commercial transport with all the health and social implications. I am also wondering if the use of Okada is allowed in our carriage laws as one for commercial purpose.

What I can not understand is the decision to reduce the value of our youths who struggled to go through hell that our higher institutions represent to graduates only to be condemned to Okada riding. Worst still is the fact that the state is not thinking of how best to engage these young vibrant ‘hands productively other than to expose their lives to avoidable danger as in riding Okada along with all the health implications.

Often we promote policies that help run other economies to our own disadvantage as in the rush for crash-helmet. While the manufacturers in Asian countries are smiling to the bank with money being milked from Nigeria, our factories are groaning under very unfriendly and hash economic environment as a result of the nation’s inability to get its bearing right. It seems we have chosen to remain an import dependent country and remain a dumping ground perpetually.

Nothing seems to work here. Not when the presidency has given up on NEPA by budgeting for generators for 2009, an amount that looks very scandalous. The states and local governments are yet to make public their provisions for energy power for 2009.

The fact that some of our citizens are dead on account of inhaling fumes from the generating sets imported from our new found friends in Asia does not worry our President nor did he see it as a motivating factor to compel to act on PHCN. No.

We must continue groping endlessly in search of an Eldorado that we did not plan for in 2020, a mere 11 years away.

We are the future of television in Nigeria

Tayo Adewusi was right at the heart of the democratic struggle to validate the annulled presidential mandate of Bashorun MKO Abiola after his 1993 presidential election was annulled by the military government of then military president Ibrahim Babangida. But today, he is a wave making TV-preneur, the owner of a TV satellite channel.


In this interview with GOKE OLUWOLE, Tayo recounts his days in the struggle and how that exposure ultimately attracted him to broadcasting.

What prompted you into becoming a TV-Preneur?

Because of my inclination, influence and motivation from the likes of my big brother, Mr. Niyi Akinsiju, whom I met in my formative years and who was always there to encourage me with all his heart; Mr. Niyi Akinsiju is one of Nigeria’s most articulate journalists, who, today, publishes FORTUNE & CLASS magazines, Nigeria’s most authentic and authoritative business journal, and the likes of Mr. Segun Banjo, who also writes for Fortune & Class and Mr. Femi Davies, who currently manages the White House Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

But among all these friends, I have in the entertainment and showbiz world, the man, whom I can call my mentor, Bob Dee [Mr. Dele Momodu] the publisher of Ovation, I can’t forget these people. They were there in my trying periods, their words were energizers that kept me going until I arrived here. You know, having been to most of these TV and radio stations for MAVED programme, I was exposed to the power of television which I realized is the most powerful media tool.

But really, it was my brother in-law who introduced me to mainstream broadcasting, he was the one who called me and told me to come and relief him in presenting his Information Technology focused IT TV programme while he was away for just one month as he was relocating his family to Europe then. Can you believe that that one month had become six years as I’ve been producing, directing and presenting the programme since then and I’ve even elevated it to become ICT WATCH on MITV, and MINAJ and some other stations.

However, in the course of doing some ICT public relations jobs for Engineer Banjo, the Chairman and CEO of DISC Communications Ltd. we became very close because he was one of the pioneers of indigenous TV in Nigeria and, of course, I also aired my programme on the platform.

It was in the middle of a discussion with Femi Davies who called me at MITV and said “Tayo, you are very close to Uncle Banjo, why don’t you tell him you want to have a TV channel on his platform,” I said, ‘fine,’ it was this statement that spurred me into the adventure you all are seeing today as FOCUS TV.

I remember that it was in July, 2006 that I first came to see him (Engr. Banjo) and told him my intension to have my own TV channel. Engr. Banjo’s response was, “my friend, do you know what it takes to have a channel?” I said, ‘yes, I’m prepared.’ He then asked if I had the money; naturally, that question was popular with him. He loved to ask anybody who made such a request on him, if they have the money to manage a cable station.

I responded that I was capable, so, I went to the drawing board and between that July in 2006 and April 2007, when we were given the nod to start, we commenced operations inside a very small cubicle, where we started our test transmission that April ending in 2007. Because I knew that every new station that comes up the first thing that they always do to attract viewing is to have a lot of entertainment programmes like film and musicals.

We just had it behind our minds that we were not going to do what other people were already doing, so we remained FOCUSed just like our name and our plan then was to be the channel to beat on this platform in six months, but in just two months of our operations, we became the channel to beat and that again threw up challenges of remaining on top for us.

Was that really your biggest challenge as TV- preneur ?

I would say no, it was just one of the challenges but because we don’t have any bank to support us. Nigerian banks don’t help small customers grow; they prefer to go and sponsor blue chip companies with billions of naira whereas there are entrepreneurs who need only N50,000 to survive. My brother, just like any other business owner in Nigeria today, I still believe power is one of our biggest problems.

If I tell you how much it is costing us to fuel our three stand-by generators in a month, now, if that same amount is injected into our operations, our production quality will be better and tighter and that means more income for us. Despite the fact that we are in an industrial neighbourhood, we at times, don’t have power from NEPA or PHCN as they call them, for hundreds of hours in a month. It is annoying when they prefer to supply power in the thick of the night while everyone was asleep and then switch it off before day break. If government can listen to me, let them forget other infrastructure and face power supply, every other thing will fall in place.

How have you been able to manage your business related challenges?

Till date I cannot tell you I’ve conquered my challenges because they are still there. There are some I cannot conquer, so what I did was to find a means of living with them like the alternative power supply. These are some of the challenges that as an individual I cannot conquer. We are barely floating, I tell you, since the day we commissioned our live studio in October 2008, if I show you the bill we’ve paid on fuel alone you’ll marvel, but I can tell you we are still not close to our target. The dream is big, we are not even close yet. It is just a dream coming true, but we are not yet there.

How would you describe the impact of regulations in your industry of choice compared to other sectors?

What I can say about the ICT sector of the economy is that we once clapped our hands for increasing telephone subscriber base from NITEL’s 400,000 to the 62 million lines we have now. But looking at it critically, a lot of people carry an average of two to three phones, so don’t let us look at the specific number but the service delivered. It would have been okay if we all carry one phone and we are satisfied with the services. The issue is that I want to call Mr. A and I want to reach him on time and spend my normal time but you’ll see that before I can reach him I will have to spend some additional time and when you even make the calls, they are not going and you have drop them.

Even at that, the GSM service providers are better than the CDMA phone service providers. The moment you started dialing their computer will start counting on your charges between the time you started dialing and the time your receiver picked up his phone, you are already being charged for time spent calling. Why can’t they configure their lines just like the GSM service providers, the quality of services rendered by all the networks are very poor and that had been our campaign for a very long time; the regulators, in fairness to them, one should say they’ve done a good job, but when we look at the quality of services by these providers, it leaves much to be concerned about.

Does this have direct negative or positive impact on your operations?

Yes, because we are still under the same ministry, the current challenges those of us in the broadcast sector are having with the National Communication Commission is that while we are trying to better the quality of our services, the frequency we transmit from, the NCC is planning to auction it. We are talking of people who had secured their licences for the past 15 years; the frequency had been allocated in the past 15 years, why are you now opting to sell it while these people have their renewal in the last five years still in tact.

I think that there are duplications of roles by the regulators; we are under BON [Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria] and if there is any erring broadcaster or operator, he should be disciplined by the NBC [Nigerian Broadcasting Commission] but the NCC is usurping that role of overseeing the frequency band. According to Engr. Banjo, the power of broadcasting cannot be compared to the power of communications, the two are far apart, the industry needs more regulatory framework that will help drive and develop the sector.

How would you compare the impact of the new minister on the sector with that of the former minister?

I think the background of the new Information Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili as a renowned regulator has certain implications. Being in the kind of the country we are, she should be in the real sense of it the Minister of Information and Communications and not the Minister of NCC as she is now inclined to be. I say this because there has been a tendency in Nigeria’s government where ministers appointed to oversee different aspects of a ministry ended up just concentrating on one aspects of the responsibility of the ministry.

We have had sports ministers that performed more or less as ministers for football, while ministers for mines and power have only concerned themselves with electric power, leaving the mines aspect of the ministry. Now, since Prof. Akunyili does her things with passion, we are expecting her to use the same passion to drive the general information sector.

For now it will be unfair for me to start comparing her with her predecessors, all I know is that the sector needs someone who will help nurture and tend it.

What is the capital base or worth of FOCUS TV?

Well, I may not be able to tell you how big we are or how rich we are, but I know we are still acquiring equipment and expanding our frontiers, so the only thing I know is that to have a local channel on our platform, you’ll need to build your own studio from the scratch like I did, costing you millions of naira; but what I know is that you must be a millionaire to run or own a TV station in Nigeria, because we have over head very close to what obtain in banks, because we burn our generators 24/7, so when you add that alone to the cost, it is very heavy. What I’ve learnt over the years, running this business, is that every business has a gestation period and it must be clearly defined at the inception. What we are doing now is to plough back all our returns to the business, and to remain focused.

What are the future expectations of focus TV?

By the special grace of God we know that FOCUS CABLE Channel will be transforming to terrestrial television, but we are also looking at the possibility of kicking off with our own private owned radio station and our area of coverage is Lagos zone though we have our footprints in all the South West states of Nigeria, at times we stray into the Midwestern states.

You know, the Federal Government has declared that by 2011 every broadcast establishment must go digital that means that AIT, GALAXY, MITV,etc; will be satellite stations and you can only watch them via cable network system, that is the future of television broadcasting.

We hope advertisers can see the quality of our programmes, like some of our superb programmes that can stand shoulder to shoulder with some premium TV programmes on our local stations. We have a popular breakfast talk-show running from Monday through Saturday, ICT programme runs from Monday to Saturday, Lalale Friday is an entertainment programme that showcases spots for fun seeking viewers to know what is happening around town and where they are happening. Our presenters are seasoned professionals with track records in the industry.

Our Celebrities Hangout programme over the last three months had showcased and featured top celebrities including the likes of Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, Sammie Okposo, Adewale Ayuba, Wale Thompson while we have lined up artistes of the likes of KWAM 1, Lanre Teriba Atorise, Evag. Dunni Olanrewaju Opelope Annointing, as our next set of guests.

We have a review of 10 top movies in English and Yoruba home videos; there are a lot of programmes on the terrestrial TV that are also on our channel, both local and foreign. Really, FOCUS TV is a must watch channel for everyone.

What does it take to get FOCUS TV to our homes?

All you need to do if you reside in Lagos State or its neighbouring towns or cities, is to buy the old antenna and a decoder, this will cost you about N300, but if you preferred the bundle, it is going to cost you N11,500 plus one month free subscription. And you are likely to watch about 60 channels, you are even permitted to watch about 16 foreign channels, and 20 indigenous channels including FOCUS TV when you are not able to pay your monthly subscription. The bundle subscription is family channel including CNN, Al jazerah, Christian Channel, Cartoon Tv, Sports, Music Channel, Movie Channel and many more. You cannot compare FOCUS TV with all these regular TV stations, our programmes are packaged with the niche viewers in mind and the maturity in our production is of world class standard.

Who is Tayo Adewusi?

I was born 40 years ago in Ilorin, Kwara State to Owu parents, which means I’m an Owu person. I started my primary education in Ile-Ife, Osun State, but I completed it in Lagos, I was at the Methodist Boys High School, Lagos and thereafter at the Lagos State School of Basic Studies, on Agidingbi Road, Ikeja, now converted to the Lagos State Technical College, Ikeja.

After my studies at the Lagos State School of Basic Studies, I did not get into a higher institution straight away because I wasn’t able to secure admission for the course of my interest so this delayed me a bit because I told myself that once I did not secure admission for the course of my interest I will not go for any other course. My intention then was to study Computer Science but I invariably went into the Lagos State Polytechnic to study accounting.

Again, though I had the goal to get to the top of my accounting career, to be a Chattered Accountant, due to my inclination for the democratic struggle in Nigeria during the heady days of the military era, I was more or less distracted.

I started out my democratic struggle while in school as a student activist, I was the public relations officer of the Student Union Government – Lagos State Polytechnic, and later, the Director of Travels & Exchange of the National Association of Nigerian Students [NANS] Under Dennis leadership. These were some of the things I engaged in between 1992-1996,and thereafter, by the time I was probably leaving the school, my encounter with the likes of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Olisa Agbakoba, Ayo Obe, Femi Falana, Festus Keyamo had influenced my decision to go into a full time activism which made me to pitch my tenth with the Civil Liberties Organisations [CLO] I use to have my desk at the CLO’s office.

This was at the height of the June 12 crisis, of course, we formed the Moshood Abiola Vanguard For Democracy [MAVFD] I was the founding and still the Secretary General. It was a trying period for all of us in the struggle between 1993-1999, it was evident that we weren’t looking beyond 1999 when we had democracy. Even Baba Abraham Adesanya, the leader of the Afenifere then, now of blessed memory, was not looking beyond 1999.

We were short sighted in the contemplation of what those that struggled for democracy should do when the military returned power to civilians in 1999. That is why, today, most of us that were in the struggle were not really part of the team running the country now. A lot of us were not just prepared for that, none of us was preparing to become even a councillor or hold any political position.

But in the course of our struggles, two organizations really supported and funded us, they gave financial backing to MAVFD programmes, these were the Democratic Department of the United States Embassy, and the Dutch Embassy. They were very supportive of our advocacy programmes. I can recall that we went into a relationship with MITV, RayPower 100.1FM, and MINAJ TV. We aired a programme called “Democratic Values” on all these stations between 1999 and 2001.

In the course of your activism which singular event would you say influenced you greatly?

One of such event as an activist was that I was privileged to be one of the few people that spoke with late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the winner of June 12 election, Bashorun MKO Abiola, before she was shot dead. She had a brief meeting with our group, the Moshood Abiola Vanguard For Democracy [MAVFD] which I was the General Secretary at their home before she was shot and killed less than an hour later.