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Unity Bank wants Ado Bayero to reactivate Emirate Council account

By Salihu Othman Isah

A plea has gone to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero to reactivate the old Emirate Council account with Unity Bank Plc, just as its managing director, Alhaji Falalu Bello, revealed that the bank recorded a profit before tax of N2.3 billion for the year 2006 which represents 235 percent significant improvement from the last financial year which stood at N960 million.

Bello said this when he visited the Kano monarch in his palace recently before embarking on a road show (mini-durbar) to promote its N50 billion re-launch in the pipeline, emphasizing that the bank appreciates the several patronages from Ado Bayero through his many accounts in the bank.

He however informed the emir that having the Emirate Council account itself with Unity Bank will be to the great advantage of the bank, thereby urging him to revive it.

According to him, the merger with nine other banks has made the bank stronger, disclosing that Unity Bank which had acquired 95 percent integration since the conclusion of the banking consolidation is presently ranked among the 25 major banks in the country.

The bank chief further stated that the sum of N36 billion was expended on the procurement and installation of software IT infrastructure to connect the 215 branches of the bank across the country on ‘online real-time’ services.

Bello equally solicited for the fatherly blessing and patronage from the royal father, adding the bank currently has the largest network of branches in the country where customers can withdraw their money within the shortest possible time.

He explained that the bank have concluded plans to raise additional N50 billion of fresh funds from public investors in the first quarter of next year aimed at giving the people the assurance that the bank is solid.

The Unity Bank boss further disclosed that the bank has drawn up an elaborate and sustainable micro-financing scheme that constitute the core investors as a way of generating funds for the bank for further consolidation.

Responding, Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero commended the management of the bank for surviving the reconsolidation period and remaining in the banking industry despite the constraint faced by it during the process of merger.

He therefore advised commercial banks nationwide to always ensure safety and transparency in their transactions, noting that before the recapitalisation exercise, many people lost their money to the collapsed banks, adding that existing banks must strive to be prudent in their dealings.

Ado Bayero urged the management of Unity Bank to work hard in the discharge of their primary assignments to their teeming customers, in order to meet the challenges ahead, assuring them of his support. “Unity Bank is a Northern based bank, I will join hands with you to realise its goals”, he added.

Bayero went on to grant the bank the permission to hold a mini-durbar around the eight ancient gates of the old commercial city, as part of support to re-launch the bank’s planned public offer of N50 billion.

Yobe awaits Supreme Court ruling: Like Amaechi Like Albishir?

By Oladipo Sanusi

Since Thursday Oct. 18 when the seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Aloysius Katsina-Ala declared Celestine Omehia’s occupation of the governorship seat of Rivers state illegal and ordered that former speaker of the state House of Assembly Rotimi Amaechi be “immediately” sworn in, political temperature has risen in far away Yobe state.

The apex court concluded its ruling on the Rivers case with an adjournment of an appeal brought before it by Sen. Usman Albishir challenging his wrongful substitution by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Yobe to Nov. 20 for definite hearing and perhaps judgement.

The reverberation of the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Amaechi has understandably become the subject of political discourse in the north east state of Yobe since the landmark ruling, and will, no doubt, remain in the front burner until Nov. 20 when their Lordships are expected to give verdict.

The similarities in the Rivers and Yobe state governorship election contest are all too glaring even though on two different political party platforms.

While Amaechi battled his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to a standstill for contravening the provisions of Section 34 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2006, former senate minority leader Usman Albishir is telling his All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) that “oh you’ve erred” on the same ground.

Amaechi and Albishir, after emerging the lawful candidates of their respective parties for the April 14, 2007 governorship election, were substituted by their political parties with new men who eventually emerged winners at the poll.

Amaechi was substituted with Celestine Omehia by the PDP just as the ANPP replaced Usman Albishir with Sen. Mamman Ali, now the Yobe state governor.

Albishir’s supporters were as jubilant as Rotimi Amaechi’s after the court ruling at Abuja.

Counsel to the embattled ANPP chieftain Tochukwu Unwugbufor (SAN) noted that the similarities in his client’s appeal and that of the new Rivers state governor Amaechi are reasons for the enthusiasm among “our supporters”.

Also speaking with The Mark, media assistant to Sen. Usman Albishir, Mr Seun Akingbile said: “Without prejudice to the outcome of the Supreme Court, we are very optimistic that the same justice done to Gov. Amaechi would be done to us.

“It is obvious that our appeal is the same as that of Amaechi. While we wait patiently for the ruling of the court, we will continue to pray that our expectations to see all the past injustices done to our candidate, who is the party’s legitimate candidate, Sen. Albishir, be undone by the Supreme Court.”

In anticipation for the take-over of government in Yobe by his boss, Akingbile added that within five months of assuming office “the people of Yobe will feel the difference between the current caretaker government and ours”.

Reacting to the recent comment by the former governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim assuring Gov Mamman Ali that the much expected ruling would not change the status quo in Yobe, Akingbile said:

“Neither Bukar nor Mamman Ali can be bigger than the Supreme Court. The judiciary has proved beyond reasonable doubt that it holds the key to the sustenance of the nation’s democracy through its landmark pronouncements in recent time. So, the question of somebody or a group of people manipulating the judges or their decision does not even arise.”

Conversely, a serving commissioner in Gov Mamman Ali’s administration (names withheld) said “equating the Rivers case with that of Yobe is a mistake”, adding: “I want to categorically say that ANPP followed due process to replace Albishir with the present governor after 60 days notice.”

The commissioner also disclosed that “the EFCC advised the party to take precaution due to the corruption allegation against Albishir before the election.”

“Well we will wait for Nov. 13 case in Jos and that of Nov. 20 in Abuja. I know the skies will not fall,” he said, noting that “those warming up for the replacement of Gov Mamman Ali with Albishir are coming to embezzle and squander the money on ground.”

He praised the governor for changing the culture of waste and ensuring that the state account is no more in red.

“Never in the history of Yobe had there been so much money in reserve as we have in Mamman Ali’s administration. The state’s account was always in red during the past government,” the commissioner said, concluding on a philosophical note: “God will do His will”.

In the same vein, a reliable source at the Government House Damaturu waived aside the claim that the similarities in Rivers and Yobe cases may ultimately result to replacement of Gov Mamman Ali with Sen. Usman Albishir come Nov. 20.

“I don’t think anything will change in Yobe. Even though some of us are not really happy with the present government, it seems the man is sure nothing like that of Rivers will happen here. Can’t you see the way he carries on”, the source said.

The ruling party in Yobe, All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) is largely divided between Mamman Ali and Usman Albishir. The Mark can authoritatively reveal that the majority of top echelon of the party are clearly pro Albishir.

Many of them, apparently dissatisfied with the manner in which the former governor and party leader, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, suddenly switched allegiance from his erstwhile friend and financier, Albishir, to Mamman Ali few days before the April 14 poll, are anxiously waiting for a change of guards at the state Government House.

Since the Oct. 18 Supreme Court ruling ordering the swearing-in of Rotimi Amaechi as the governor of Rivers State, activities have picked up among the Sen Usman Albishir’s supporters in anticipation of a favourable judgement from the apex court next week.

A senior member of the group told The Mark that a recent meeting of the group held at Sabon Pegi area of Damaturu, the state capital had in attendance two serving chairmen of local government councils, serving special advisers and even commissioners.

This, according to him, led to a threat by the government to sack any member of the administration caught romancing with the opposition.

“The turn of event in Rivers state is an indication that this rude man Mamman Ali will soon pack out of the Government House”, a former member of the state House of Assembly and close ally of Sen. Usman Albishir told The Mark on condition of anonymity.

The former lawmaker, dissecting the last five months of Mamman Ali in government, deplored the former senator’s style of politics. According to him, “the governor is the only clean and holy person in the state”.

“How can you see everybody as a thief, going about insulting everyone that comes near you as if you are a Saint. Insha Allah, his days are numbered,” he concluded.

The party secretariat in Damaturu was a ghost of its old lively centre when The Mark visited last week. A group of young men smoking away their boredom, who volunteered comment, told our correspondent: “There is nobody you can talk to here. Things have changed. No one comes here again. Maybe you can trace them to their houses”.

A source close to the party executive disclosed to The Mark that the state Gov Mamman Ali recently called the attention of the state chairman and former finance commissioner of finance, Alhaji Lawan Goroma to all the crises plaguing the ruling party in an attempt to gain the party leaders’ confidence.

According to the source, the party chairman Goroma bluntly blamed the near death of the ruling party in the state on the governor himself. “Ever since you came to office, you have not given the party a kobo to run the secretariat. This is why the party office is deserted”, the source quoted the party chairman.

Efforts to get some of the party leaders for comment proved abortive as many of them were said to have sworn not to be any where near the capital “because of the unfriendly disposition of the state governor” to those who he perceived as sympathetic to Albishir’s cause.

A former senior special assistant, who did not want his name in print however told The Mark that “the ANPP is almost dead in the state”, adding “the outcome of the court case will determine if its coffin will finally be nailed or a sort of revival effort will be done if the Supreme Court verdict favour Albishir.”

The Mark also learnt from a reliable source that a mass decampment of top ANPP members to the opposition PDP may not be ruled out. This, the source explained, is planned to slight the former governor whose inconsistency has been the bane of the party in the state.

“Whether or not Usman Albishir is declared the governor of the state by the Supreme Court, I can assure you that the ANPP will never remain the same again. This party may never win election in the state again. Many of us will move to the PDP because we are not sure Bukar himself has not even moved. It is however better for us to move before he does so. After all, he has also failed to carry us along in his past decisions”, the source said.

Public opinion on people’s expectation from the Supreme Court conducted across the state by The Mark, however, showed that while the court ruling which replaced Celestine Omehia with Rotimi Amaechi was saluted, over seventy percent of the respondents frowned at this political development replicated in Yobe.

In this category are educated non indigenes, who deplored the culture of waste and indolence prevailing in the state before the coming of Gov. Mamman Ali.

“You can’t rule out the fact that people don’t take lightly to change especially as it affects bad behavioural attitude which has proved profitable to them. This is the problem those who are complaining about Mamman Ali have”, Ibrahim Jaja, a senior civil servant in one of the Federal Ministries said.

In the same vein, the down-trodden, who have watched with awe the culture of stealing in the state in the last eight years, would not want a return to the bad past. Two-third of those who spoke to The Mark expressed hope that the Mamman Ali’s administration promises a bright future for the state.

They however, agreed with the governor’s critics that his style is a bit too high handed, advising that civil servants in the state should not be starved of their monthly pay, a phenomenon that came with the new government.

Maryam, a mother of three, who fries bean cake to support her family lamented: “Our business is not the same again. People cannot even afford to buy kose (bean cake). But I think things will get better; let him just release money.”

Bunmi, a hair dresser, also complained of low turn out of customers since the assumption of office of Gov Mamman Ali, praying that the Supreme Court would put an end to her hardship and near death of her business with the replacement of Mamman Ali.

“I want the present governor to leave office. Things are too hard. People don’t come to make hair like before. They either complain of lack of money or unpaid salary”, she explained.

The Mark reports that the league of critics and political foes of Gov Mamman Ali has soared in recent time. This is not unconnected with his government’s delay in payment of salary.

In the past, Yobe ranked among the first three states in the country where civil servants’ monthly dues are paid promptly. But this merry seemed to be over with the coming of the present administration as workers’ salaries are sometimes delayed into the second week of a new month.

For a largely civil servant state like Yobe, it is a political suicide by any government to toy with workers monthly pay. The governor, on assumption of office, noticed that the state monthly wage was over-bloated, hence his introduction of verification exercise before payment of salary. No doubt, the revelation from the exercise was mind-blowing.

Ghost workers abound especially in the local government areas where it was discovered that certain individuals collect salaries of about 30 to 40 people on monthly basis.

The intention of government to block these conduit pipes was commended by well meaning political watchers, leaving only those who have benefited from the corrupt practices over the years to mouth the criticism of Mamman’s administration. But all this changed when the exercise became over-flogged, causing untold hardship to workers whose only source of income and survival is the monthly wage.

Rumour of Gov Ali’s alleged underground financial deal including contract award to his brother and the new hospital projects when the existing ones could just be renovated and made to serve the people better, all these did not help a government yet to be on proper footing.

Ethnic meaning has also been given to some of his recent steps. There are allegations of fixing his people from Potiskum area in ‘juicy’ positions to the detriment of others especially from his arch rival’s constituency. This could not however be substantiated when The Mark made effort to do so from the accusers.

Nevertheless, Nov. 20 is a date with destiny in the political history of Yobe. Will Sen. Usman Albishir, whose appeal is similar to that of Gov Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, get a similar verdict from the Supreme Court while Mamman Ali joins the already swelling number of casualties from the electoral fašade of April 2007? The apex court has the answer – and the waiting will not be too long any longer.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

BAKAN DABO: Crew of epic film on Emir of Kano hit location

By Salihu Othman Isah

The long-awaited shooting of a film that will put into perspective the position of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, as the custodian of the religion and tradition of Kano people and the Emirate Council has finally commenced.

Titled Bakan Dabo (Bow of the King), the project cost is put at a conservative estimate of N15 million and is a brain-child of ace-producer, Mahmud Ahmad Sarkin Fada and Muhammad Auwal George (MAG), a popular director in the Hausa film genre.

The crew hit location at Kofar Kudu, the palace of the respected Kano monarch on the eve of the last Eid-el-Fitri festival to shoot the traditional rites involved in the citing of the moon and subsequent announcement with gun-shots to herald the commencement of Sallah celebrations.

Bakan Dabo, the huge budget flick, which the producers pride as the first epic film on the Kano traditional institution, will contain three segments - the historical, dramatic and true life story. The film, which has the full blessing of Alhaji Ado Bayero and the Kano Emirate Council, is coming under the auspices of Hasin Enterprises and Film Production.

Auwal George said of the flick: “Bakan Dabo will be the first film on a living legend in the mould of the Emir of Kano. We see him as a legend that is very respected and adored in his leadership style, both at home and abroad. We are doing this as our own contribution to eulogise him and have something, a medium, to honour and further portray him to the coming generations”.

On his part, Sarkin Fada explained: “We are surprised that in spite of his awesome image and the rich history of Kano, no producer, both in the Hausa and English film sectors, has deemed it fit to honour the Emir with an epic film of this magnitude. This vacuum is what we have decided to fill and we are very glad with the kind of reception and goodwill being accorded us so far. The project seems to have gotten the approval of all and sundry and is considered long overdue”.

Besides being shot on High Definition (HD) camera with special effects, the kind never witnessed in the Northern film industry, it also parades some of the finest artistes in this part of the country.

These include veterans Kasumu Yaro, Dauda Galadanchi, Hussaini Sule Koki, Ibrahim Muhammad Mandawari, Kabiru Nakwango, Isa Bello Ja, Dan Magori, Amina Garba (Dumba), Zainab Booth, Hauwa Ali Dodo (Biba), Hajiya Tambaya, Hajara Usman, Tambawa Kaduna and Hafsat Sharada (Me Aya).

Others who are mainly the new generation of artistes in the Hausa film genre are; Ali Nuhu, Shuaibu Lawal (Kumurchi), Sani Musa Danja, Mai Shinku Ibrahim, Salihu ‘Hotman’ Isah, Saratu Gidado and a host of others.

Unfortunately, the film co-director Auwal George disclosed that sponsorship has been the only hiccup confronting the realisation of the project as, according to him, “the response in this direction, I mean getting sponsors, is nothing to write home about”.

He, however, posited that this is not surprising as making huge budget films, especially an epic production, is novel to the Hausa film industry, popularly called Kannywood since its birth some fifteen years ago. He therefore appealed for financial backing from interested individuals, corporate organisations as well as governments.

His words: “We are calling on both individuals, corporate organisations and the various governments, especially in Northern Nigeria to come out and identify with this project as we believe their effort will be hugely appreciated for supporting a worthy cause for posterity”.

Bakan Dabo, which will be marketed by Jarat Marketing Services, is expected to be premiered internationally just like the last three productions from the stable of Auwal George namely, ‘Abokin Kowa’, a film on the Nigeria Police which was endorsed by immediate past Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, ‘Rigarmu’, a Fulani traditional flick and the latest one, ‘Ali Kwarra’. The three films were all launched into the foreign market.

 

OMOSEXY, PAUL PLAY OUT WITH BLUCKBUSTER

By Dele Ogunseemi

Star actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, hip hop act Paul Play Dairo and rave of the moment, Nollywood sensation, Uche Jombo recently thrilled movie buffs in a soon to debut blockbuster entitled ‘When the Heart Lies’.

Also starring in the big budget flick produced and financed by Vivian Ejike, the ex-banker turned moviemaker are: veteran actor Enebeli Enebuwa, Desmond Elliot among others.

Interestingly, the movie directed by Lancelot Oduwa, revolves around a group of pals who were brought together by a chance meeting at the airport and immediately formed a close friendship.

Sixteen years later, however, one of them became a very successful musician and this inadvertently pitched her against her religious parents.

Unknown to many, especially her teeming fans, their super star singer, has a dark secret, a secret from the meeting at their port 16 years ago. In fact, a secret that was so dirty and inglorious that her fans and highly revered pastor parents must never know about.

And in order to keep this secret for eternity, every one connected to it must be avoided like a plague. “Therefore, this dark and dirty secret must remain buried,” disclosed Ejike, a French graduate.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, Angel, a rising teenage music star who is poised to rule the scene and incidentally idolises the star with the dark and dirty secret, has a lifetime regret. She is looking for the heartless woman who bore and dumped her several years ago, in a public toilet.

“But despite this regret, she would do anything to meet her idol, the star with the dirty past,” added Ejike. ‘When the Heart Lies’, which was shot at several locations in the Lagos metropolis, is expected to hit the market nationwide and on the foreign scene, after a world premiere scheduled in Nigeria, the U.K. and the U.S between the months of October and November.

“This is my sixth and most challenging movie as a successful producer. It will definitely blow the minds of all lovers of quality movies as soon as it hits the shelves. It was masterfully packaged and produced for solid enjoyment and entertainment...”, Ejike submitted.

                  

Vol. 6 No. 15 November 17, 2007  EDITION...Of Truth and Excellence