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Tribute To Captain Hosa: His Whole Essence Was Making Sacrifice For Others – Greg Uanseru

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I have been saddled with Herculean roles throughout my six decades of existence. One of the hardest tasks I have had to take up, however, is penning this tribute in honour of my bosom friend and brother, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo, with whom I shared ancestry, career history, and an unbreakable filial bond. These saw us through thick and thin and consolidated our strong ties.

It is hard to write this heartfelt eulogy for a good friend without it bringing a tear to one’s eyes, knowing that we have lost one of the most courageous and profoundly noble human beings that any of us will share time with on earth. The demise of Capi as I used to call him, has left a huge gap nobody can fill because he was unique and wired differently. His fierce dignity, compassion, and unbending will to sacrifice for the greater good, in the interest of the larger society, speaks volumes of his uncommon personality.

Many have said a lot about Capi – extolling his magnanimous spirit and the generosity of his large heart – but as someone who was close to him, I was privileged with a deeper knowledge of his extraordinary humaneness.

In a world, filled with people of different shades and backgrounds with uncertain motives, Captain Hosa’s natural ability to deal successfully with everyone, without compromising his honesty and transparency spoke volumes of his excellent human relations and diplomatic prowess.

I recall vividly, that, many years ago, he told me that: “If you want to play the game, it is important to know all the players. This knowledge prepares you ahead and helps you to navigate through and manage every conflict that may arise.” Such was his profound depth – which clearly distinguished him as a corporate titan and socioeconomic player of note.

Captain Hosa hardly prevaricated on any matter. He was a man of conviction, whose intents were always known from the word ‘Go!’ He never gave room for anyone to question his integrity because his words were his bond. Even so, he never claimed to be sanctimonious. If anyone had issues with him, chances were that they would be at fault, for he would never take advantage of anyone. In fact, he would rather deprive and sacrifice his material benefits should they stand in the way of the robust relationships he had with people.

For Captain Hosa, peace trumped everything and formed the basis of his existence; and core to his pursuit of peace was his capacity to show love. This is why most tributes about him dwell on his benevolence and generosity.

Capi and I shared a bond that could best be described as filial. It wouldn’t be out of place for anyone to describe our relationship as that of two brothers from different mothers. We were that close. Our brotherhood dated back to our formative years. We had a great, long-standing relationship rooted in shared respect and understanding of our common values. I will try to illustrate the depth of our bond with three poignant stories.

A month before his death, Capi had called me to ask when I would visit him in London. He wished to spend time with me. But he was particularly interested in me coming to see him so we could have our favourite delicacy – bean porridge. This was a routine we both enjoyed from childhood through our struggling years as young men. And the habit had stuck with us, even after God blessed us with prosperity.

So, off I went to London, to see my friend and brother. He was so happy to see me and we feasted on our bean porridge delicacy in the company of a few mutual friends. Capi was in high spirit but little did I know that that would be our last meal together.

A few weeks after our meeting, I returned to Nigeria but I was suddenly called to see Capi. He had been rushed to the hospital after his health relapsed. I travelled back to see him, but I had to quarantine, first in London, due to the COVID-19 guidelines in the United Kingdom. A day after the end of the quarantine, I got a Whatsapp message from the daughter saying, “Uncle start coming to the hospital”! I rushed down to the hospital and beheld my best friend, lying almost lifeless on the bed. I barely managed to control my tears. I called him, by some of the special names I used to call him from our childhood days. He opened his eyes, looked at me, and shut his eyes because he could not talk to me. It dawned on me that life was ebbing out of my best friend. That was it. I succumbed to grief and burst into tears.

Capi and I shared many sobriquets by which we hailed ourselves. The sobriquets were used for many of the memorable moments we shared as friends and brothers. We had special names by which we called ourselves during the good moments. And we had the special names by which we hailed ourselves during the not-so-good times. But they were special names because they carried meaningful endearment with them. They were shared, strictly just by the two of us. Such was the depth of our bond.

Capi, was a beacon of hope for many people, with whom he came in contact. His was a story in conquests – conquest over poverty and rising from a lowly beginning to the pinnacle of his professional calling in the aviation sector. He was an outstanding pilot with feats and feathers to his cap. I was a first-hand witness to his exploits in aviation because I operated side-by-side with him.

His bravery was conspicuous in the face of the few challenges and setbacks he had while here. The manner he handled his struggles with grace and good humour, and his ability to acknowledge his own imperfections made him remarkable.

I am one of the thousands of people who drew inspiration from Captain Hosa’s life. I paid attention to his words and actions, which sometimes served as life lessons in spite of the fact that we were contemporaries. The fact that he achieved greatness in all ramifications speaks of how much one can achieve when they are guided by their hopes and not by their fears.

I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example set by this illustrious, true son of Edo. We shared so many beautiful moments when we were growing up. He had been kind from when he barely had much to give. For him, giving was a religion which he practiced unabashedly. He would always be with people in their difficult times. His philanthropy was without any sociological limitations or any primordial sentiments.

As friends and partners, we had our moments of disagreement on issues, but we both allowed the sacred saying of Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians in chapter 4 verse 26 to be our watchword: “…let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” In fact, each argument we had, deepened our knowledge about each other and strengthened our bond.

Captain Hosa was also big on passion. He constantly sought out new passions and gave every last ounce of himself to his pursuits. More importantly, he was a great dad, an amazing husband, who dedicated himself to his family. He loved his children with all his heart. He never left anything in the tank; he left it all on the floor. I strongly believe that is what he would want us to do.

I solemnly make a promise from this day forward that I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a friend and a brother, whose whole essence was making sacrifices for others to live well.

To the Okunbos, I extend my deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us.

Rest in peace, my dear great friend.

BIG STORY

Terrorism: Nnamdi Kanu in Fresh 15-Count Charges

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On Monday, the Federal Government (FG) filed a new 15-count terrorism charge against Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the self-proclaimed leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The Federal Government upped the counts in the initial accusation it filed against Kanu from seven to fifteen in an amended charge filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

With the fresh charges, Kanu who has been facing a seven-count charge bordering on treasonable felony will now take a fresh plea to a 15-count amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/ CR/383/2015, signed by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) M. B. Abubakar.
The IPOB leader was scheduled to appear in court on January 18 (today) to argue his case in two separate applications contesting the competence of the earlier accusation leveled against him as well as the court’s authority.

Count one of the charges alleged that Kanu, sometimes in 2021, being member and leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra did commit an act in furtherance of an act of terrorism against the Federation Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria by making a broadcast received and heard in the country with the intent to intimidate the population, and also threatened that people will die, the whole world will stand still, thereby committing an offense punishable under Section 1(2)(b) of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013.

Count 15 of the charge reads, “That you, Nnamdi Kanu, male, adult of Afaranukwu Ibeku, Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia state on diverse dates between the month of March and April 2015 imported into Nigeria and kept in Ubulisiuzor in Ihiala LGA of Anambra state, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court a radio transmitter known as Tram 50L concealed in a container of used household items and you thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 47(2)(a) of Criminal Code Act. Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”.

It would be recalled that the IPOB leader breached the bail conditions granted him by Justice Binta Nyako, before whom he was standing trial. He was however rearrested and brought back to Nigeria to continue with his trial.

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BIG STORY

Fuel Subsidy: States Kick As NNPC Continues Deductions, FAAC To Meet On Wednesday

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As the Federation Account Allocation Committee meets for the first time in 2022 on Wednesday, there are significant indicators that state and federal governments are once again at odds.

Officials from the state, speaking to our correspondents on Sunday, criticized the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s continuous diversions from FAAC monies to support fuel subsidies, stating that the issue would be discussed at the meeting on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the NNPC was set to remove N270.83 billion from the January FAAC allocations, which would be divided by state, federal, and local governments.

Asuquo Ekpenyong, Junior, the Cross River State Commissioner for Finance, verified to one of our correspondents that the FAAC meeting will take place between Wednesday and Thursday.

In its December 2021 report to the FAAC, the NNPC announced that it will deduct some monies as a value shortfall sustained by the oil company in January 2022.

During the FAAC meeting in January, the company said it would subtract N270.83 billion from the amount to be split by the three tiers of government.

It said, “The estimated value shortfall of N270,831,143,856.56 is to be recovered from December 2021 proceed due for sharing at the January 2022 FAAC meeting.

“This value shortfall consists of N220,110,853,427.56 for November and N50,720,290,429.00 deferred for recovery in December 2021 FAAC report.”

Deductions unjustifiable – Delta

Speaking ahead of the FAAC meeting, the Delta State Commissioner for Finance,  Mr. Fidelis Tilije, in an interview, said that the Finance Commissioners’ Forum had made a series of conclusive resolutions on the deductions by the NNPC to finance fuel subsidy.

According to him, state governments will continue to oppose the deductions, which he described as non-transparent.

Tilije, who chaired the finance commissioners forum’s committee on the Petroleum Industry Act, said, “The issue of removal of fuel subsidy is the Federal Government’s responsibility and not FAAC responsibility.

“Ours is to look at sources of funding and expenditure. We have made a series of conclusive resolutions on the need for subsidy to be removed on one angle and secondly to also check the NNPC because we don’t know who is checking on what kind of subsidy they are paying.

“Because they are the one collecting the subsidy and they are the one spending it.  Those issues have been queried, of course, the Federal Government is in charge of the NNPC and the NNPC also behaves like a law. Until the Federal Government can take a decision on the issue of subsidy and there is nothing anybody can do.

“But unfortunately the Federal Government is also saying that it will need the state governors to guarantee the wellbeing of the people and ensure that there is no labor strike in their various states before they can remove subsidy. Who does that?”

When asked about the stand of states ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, he stated, “We have always been kicking against it (deductions for subsidy) and we will continue to kick against it, what we are saying is that the subsidy they are paying cannot be justified.

“We don’t know the exact figure we are consuming on a daily basis but their own argument is that now the price of crude oil has gone up and if you sell the crude oil at a high price and import petrol, you will have to be buying the petrol at a high price but for me, it is not true.”

It’s injustice against Ekiti – Commissioner

On his part, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Akin Oyebode,  expressed the opposition of the state government to the deduction of money for fuel subsidy from the Federation Account without the consent of states.

Oyebode, who said he could only speak for his state, said such deductions, which exemplified the country’s flawed fiscal federalism, amounted to injustice to some states including Ekiti.

The commissioner said, “I have been on record at the various Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meetings to state my vehement opposition to the continued deduction of subsidy without subjecting it to the consent of the states”.

He suggested two options for the Federal Government to resolve the issue going forward.

Oyebode said, “The issue is very clear, if the Federal Government decides in its wisdom to operate the subsidy on petroleum products without getting the consent of states, then it should bear the cost of the subsidy 100 percent and that cost should be taken from the Federal Government’s share of the Federation Account, not deducted at source from the Federation Account.

“And in the event that we, as a country, agree to continue with the subsidy regime, then the deduction should be made in line with the consumption of petroleum products in each state.

“A situation where Ekiti, for example, that consumes less than one percent of petroleum products gets a deduction of N3bn a month, is a significant loss to Ekiti. We could have used that money to meet all sorts of different demands from our people.

“We believe that this is again another example of the flawed fiscal federalism structure that we operate. Of course, this subsidy request has been tabled at FAAC, all we get at the meetings are reports of deductions taken at the source which I very strongly believe are even unconstitutional because these are not subject to appropriation.

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in its wisdom, just comes and reports that this is how much was taken and they call it some funny names, but we know what it is – deductions for subsidy.”

Oyebode said that a curious aspect of the whole thing was that “there is even no basis for interrogating if in truth the volume of products on which subsidy had been charged had actually even got to the consumers.”

We are not in charge of Subsidy – NNPC

But when contacted, the spokesperson of the NNPC, Garba-Deen Mohammad, told our correspondent that the issue of petrol subsidy was beyond the control of the oil firm.

He stated that with the advent of the Petroleum Industry Act, the matter of subsidy was outside the control of the NNPC but was a matter being handled by the Federal Government.

Garba-Deen said, “Subsidy is not under the control of the NNPC. The subsidy is now a PIA issue and it will be determined by the principles of the Petroleum Industry Act. Not by the NNPC.

“The NNPC is an operator now in the market, just like Shell or Chevron or like any other oil company. So I don’t know anything you are talking about.”

When probed further on whether petrol subsidy would be stopped, replied, “We are speaking the same thing, I say I don’t know. I have no idea, I am just an employee of the NNPC.”

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BIG STORY

Nigeria’s Debt Stock Hits N39.6tn In 11 Months – Reports

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The overall debt stock of Nigeria increased from N32.9 trillion in December 2020 to N39.6 trillion in November 2021.

The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in her presentation of the 2022 approved budget, disclosed that the government borrowed N6.7tn between January and November 2021, according to a copy of the presentation obtained by our correspondent.

The new borrowing in the period under review consists of N5.1tn domestic debt and N1.6tn. The domestic debt, however, includes borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria, according to the presentation document.

In March 2021, the Debt Management Office had disclosed that the country’s total public debt stock was N32.9tn as of December 2020.

An additional N6.7tn loan means the total public debt stock would be about N39.6tn as of November 2021.

The DMO had disclosed that the country’s total public debt increased to N33.1tn at the end of the first quarter of 2021, from N32.9tn in December 2020, showing an increase of about 200bn.

In Q2 2021, the total debt stock rose by N2.4tn to N35.5tn by June 2021.

The increase continued by N2.5tn to hit N38tn by Q3 2021, which was the last figure provided by the DMO.

However, based on the minister’s presentation, there was an increase of N1.6tn from September to November 2021.

The PUNCH had reported that within the 11-month period, debt servicing gulped N4.2tn which represents 76.2 percent of the N5.51tn revenue generated during the period.

The minister defended government borrowing and the country’s debt level, insisting the country had a revenue challenge, and not a debt problem, adding that the debt level was still within sustainable limits.

She had said, “This is to restate, that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits. Borrowings are essentially for capital expenditure and human development as specified in Section 41(1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

“Having witnessed two economic recessions we have had to spend our way out of recession, which contributed significantly to the growth in the public debt.  “It is unlikely that our recovery from each of the two recessions would have been as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded partly by debt.”

However, economic experts, including a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, have countered the minister.

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