Monday, 2 June 2014



When I read about the match Fixing allegations the British Police was investigating prior to the Nigeria/ Scotland Match, I waived it off as one of those attempts by the British media to paint Nigeria black.

However, events of the last few days has confirmed my worst fears.
Considering the fact that we are still recovering from the Amos Adamu bribery fiasco, the revelation that a Nigerian match-fixing agent, who is also a licensed FIFA agent is offering matches involving Nigeria to the highest bidder has cast a dark cloud over the quality of Nigeria’s participation in this month’s world Cup.
As I write this piece, images of Yakubu Ayegbeni's Goal mouth miss and Sani Keita's unnecessary red card kept flashing though my mind, unfortunately for us  these sad memories which has refused disappear  are about to be re-enacted.

The activities of Mr. Henry Chukwuma Okoroji who was caught telling an undercover reporter that he could fix games and organize certain outcomes during the tournament in Brazil this month is not only despicable but deeply regrettable.

Furthermore, his attempt to lure Ogenyi Onazi one of Nigeria's finest players into this shameful scam is a clear indication of how far these criminals are willing to go to in their quest for sour grapes.

Nevertheless, Onazi must be commended for being a true professional as evidenced by his decision to rebuff Mr. Okoroji's offer, choosing to place the country above financial and material gains. Onazi's experience should be an eye opener to other players, that endorsement could sometimes mean a career ending free ticket to jail.

A critical review of the Nigeria/ Scotland match also tends to suggest that Unlike Ogenyi Onazi some players might already be dancing to Mr. Okoroji's tune.
Finally,  as we match towards the World cup In Brazil, I am not convinced that the present crop of players paraded by Stephen Keshi has what it takes to make us proud, but for the sake of  the over 170 million Nigerians I sincerely pray I am wrong

Oche Otorkpa



WE just passed through, this road a while ago and  decided to stop and capture the progress work on this axis of the transformation sphere.

NB: the Abuja – Lokoja is almost completed with huge concretized flood barriers and raised embankment


Let’s score President Goodluck Jonathan on road infrastructure. To drive economic and social wellbeing of any nation, a good road infrastructure can be likened to arteries, veins and capillaries that comprise the human circulatory system. These blood vessels ensure that digested food, water and oxygen are sent to where they are needed; and thedangerous stuff are shipped out. If, for instance, a blood vessel is blocked so much so that the right amount of oxygen is not sent to the brain on time, the individual could suffer astroke. In the same vein, its social and economic wellbeing could suffer a stroke, if any nation, especially the developing ones like Nigeria, refuses not only to build, but also to expand and maintain its road infrastructure. Raw materials must be moved to manufacturing centres, imports must move from ports to warehouses, exports must be moved to the ports for shipment to target ports, finished goods must go to the market and to individual consumers, workers and others must commute from home to work. Apart from economic reasons, movements also serve social and cultural needs for the people. So, let’s score Jonathan on roads. 

The question is simple: has the present federal governmentunder Goodluck Jonathan delivered good road infrastructureto support the smooth operation of economic activities, big and small, in Nigeria? The answer, however, cannot be a yes or a no. A little overview of the context can help. According to the federal ministry of works, there are 35,000 kilometres of roads belonging to the federal government. As at 1983, that is 32 years ago, 80 per cent of these federalroads were constructed and 150,000 vehicles were plying Nigerian roads. The ministry of works further asserted that by 2000, the number of vehicles on the roads had increased to 1.3 million, further jumping to 9 million in 2012. All this time, the total number of bituminous roads in the country did not witness any appreciable increase. The available road network was therefore put under enormous pressure.Meanwhile, rail system which could have provided an alternative means of transportation, especially for haulage has been in coma, more or less, for years. The rail is talk for another day, less we digress. For many years, therefore, it become a nightmare to travel on Nigerian roads with many of these roads described as death traps. The deplorable condition of these roads exposedtravellers to all sorts of hardships and risks. On Benin-Ore-Shagamu expressway, Abuja-Lokoja highway, Kano-Maiduguri expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, Onitsha Head Bridge and many other corridors across the country, you meet the same frustrating scenario. Motorists spent days on the roads, especially during rainy seasons and festive periods. Governments came, government went, and the situation remained the same for many years. At times, motorists had to take detours to alternate routes, meandering through bushes to evade long stretches of bad roads. Robbery gangs took advantage of the deplorable road network, ambushing and robbing travellers of their valuables and sometimes their lives. Take the Benin-Ore-Shagamu expressway, for example. Itwas in such a deplorable shape that a journey that should take four hours at times stretched to over twelve hours. OnAugust 6, 2007, the then minister of transport could not hold her tears when she saw what Nigerians go through on that road. “I am very displeased that this road was allowed to degenerate to this level” she said. What was true for Benin-Ore-Shagamu expressway was equally true for lots of federal roads in Nigeria. Democratic rule under mostly Olusegun Obasanjo did not do much as far as federal roads are concerned. President Goodluck Jonathan has not rebuilt all federal roads in Nigeria. No. However, it is safe to simply state that his administration has supervised the most massive construction and rehabilitation efforts on federal roads that Nigerians have ever seen. The Jonathan administration is making a concerted effort to develop a sound road network across the country, an infrastructure that would drive economic growth.A few examples may be necessary here: Let’s go back to the Benin-Ore-Shagamu expressway. The contract for the reconstruction of the 262.5 km road project is being executed by Reynolds Construction Company Nigeria Limited and Borini Prono & Company Nigeria Limited. President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Phase One of the road last September. The second phase, as Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen explained, had not been fully completed because of technical challenges but was commendably over 60 per cent done. Today that road is a traveller’s delight. Travellers and transporters on that road have not had it so good in a very long time. Due to the fact that the road is as good as brand new the days of four hour trips has returned on the road.Such delight was last experienced in the 1980s and 1990s. In a move that is not common in this climes, transport giant, ABC Transport Company reportedly reduced its fare prices in a widely circulated advert carried by newspapers, citing the improved condition of the Benin-Ore road and others in general. Literally, the country is today awash with completed and ongoing construction and rehabilitation of federal roads. The Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja dualization road project, the Kano-Maiduguri Dualization road project, the Onitsha-Enugu road project, the Ibadan-Ilorin Road, the Apapa-OshodiExpressway. Others are: Gombe-Bye-Pass in Gombe State,Katsina-Daura Road, Katsina State, Aba-Owerri road in AbiaState, Eleme Junction Flyover and the Dualisation of Access Road to Onne Port, Phases I & II in Rivers State,Rehabilitation/Construction of Ijebu Igbo-Ajegunle-Araromi-Ife-Sekona Road, Section II in Ogun and Osun States,Emergency Reinstatement of Collapsed Section of Gombe-Potiskum Road [Km.12] in Gombe State, Completion of the construction of Mararaba-Bali road in Taraba State,Rehabilitation of Hadejia-Nguru Road, Phase I [Hadejia-Kirikasama] in Jigawa State, Dualisation of Onitsha-OwerriRoad [Section I] and Onitsha Eastern Bye-Pass Section I in Anambra State, Completion of the Rehabilitation ofObiozara-Uburu-Ishiagu-Awgu Road, Phase I, in Ebonyi and Enugu States, Construction of a bridge at Lafenwa in OgunState. Rehabilitation of 8 Nos. Expansion Joints on 3rd Mainland Bridge [Phase I] in Lagos State, Dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin road Section I [Ibadan-Oyo] in Oyo State, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and so on. 
The Nigerian economy is better off for it. Goods and services are moved from point to point in reduced time and reduced cost as travelling on new and improved roads becomes easier and safer. Research shows that majority of Nigeria road users found it easier to travel to their different destinations in various parts of the country during the last Christmas holiday, unlike the previous years. These ones feel that the roads are indeed better. The taste of pudding is indeed in the eating. So how do we score President Jonathan? Should we leave it to those road users who heave a sigh of relief anytime the use the newly refurbished federal roads? Should we score Jonathan based on reduced passenger travel times, reduced vehicle operating costs, and reduced traffic related fatalities? Nigerians has witnessed all these indices go up as a result of the effort of the present administration under Goodluck Jonathan. Let everyone score the president on road networks according to facts on the ground and dictates of conscience.

 Ranti, a social commentator, lives in Akure, Ondo State