Monthly Archives: August, 2009

Nigerian infant, Indian in first swap liver transplants

Nigerian infant, Indian in first swap liver transplants
By Ben Ukwuoma with agency reports

BATTLING for survival on different continents, an 18-month-old Nigerian child and an Indian housewife, suffering from advanced liver failure, have virtually given each other a new lease of life and the answer to the problem of organ donor shortage.

Dike Ezeanya, son of a Nigerian businessman, and 44-year-old Priya Ahuja have undergone what is being claimed as the first successful swap liver transplant, also called paired donation, for which a team of 35 doctors laboured for 26 hours in four operating theatres.

“In such cases, an incompatible pair of donor and recipient are matched with another incompatible donor or recipient pair and the livers are exchanged between them,” Dr. A.K. Soin, chief liver transplant surgeon, Sir Ganga Ram hospital (SGRH) said.

Five months after his birth, doctors diagnosed Dike with Billiary Atresia – a rare condition of newborn infants in which the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent. If unrecognised, the condition leads to liver failure. And this is exactly what happened to Dike. On the other hand, Priya’s state was also critical. Already suffering from advanced liver failure due to Hepatitis C infection, she was later diagnosed with tuberculosis.

With transplantation being their only hope, doctors hit a dead end – unavailability of compatible cadaver donors. But by a stroke of luck, Dr. A. K. Soin, chief of liver transplant unit, Dr. Neelam Mohan, paediatric hepatologist and Dr. Sanjiv Saigal transplant hepatologist found that the blood group of Dike’s mother, Chinwe, was A which matched with Priya. On the other hand, Priya’s husband, Haresh, belonged to the blood group B which was the same as Dike.

A 35-member surgical team then took 50 per cent of Chinwe’s right liver and transplanted it into Priya while Hariesh gave 20 per cent of his left liver to save Dike. Almost two months after the surgery, both Dike and Priya are now in normal health.

According to Mohani: “While both donors’ blood groups did not match their own recipients’, they were suitable for the other recipient. Dike’s father had the same blood group as the kid but he had very fatty liver and so wasn’t a suitable donor. When we suggested the idea of a donor exchange, which is also called paired donation, both families jumped at the opportunity.

“The blood groups of Dike and his mother Ezeanya Chinwe, the donor, were B positive and A positive respectively and that of Priya and her husband Haresh (donor) were A positive and B positive respectively. Both donors’ blood groups did not match their own recipients’ but they were suitable for the other ones.

“Dike was detected with advanced liver failure five months after his birth. His family flew down to SGRH in February 2009 for treatment.

“Immediate remedy could not be chalked out. Dike’s father was not medically fit to donate,” Neelam Mohan, pediatric hepatologist at SGRH said adding, “only a cadaver donor could be of help.”

Meanwhile, Ahuja, who was admitted to the hospital in March 2009, was also detected with advanced liver failure three months later.

“Since both were struggling with their lives due to terminal liver failure and with no cadaver donor and living donors’ liver not fit for them, the idea of swapping donors struck us, ” Soin said.

“The biggest challenge in paired donation transplants is that both transplants must take place simultaneously, otherwise the donor for the second transplant may refuse to undergo surgery once his own loved one has received the donated organ,” Soin said.

Sanjiv Saigal, the Transplant Hepatologist in charge of Priya’s case said: “This opens up unique opportunities for matchmaking between donors and recipients from different families, thus helping save more lives with liver transplants.”

Priya’s husband was said to have donated 20 per cent of his liver to Dike while the child’s mother donated 50 per cent of her liver to save Priya.

Interestingly, swapping is still not officially allowed in India. The team of doctors at Gangaram hospital, who conducted the swap did take the approval from an in-house regulatory body before going ahead. “It was the only way to save Dike and Priya. Three members on the committee are from the government,” said a doctor.

India has been planning to launch a national organ transplant programme. The health ministry had drafted changes in the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 under which swapping of vital organs between willing but incompatible donors was to become legal.

The current rule restricts organ transplant to between blood relatives (father, mother, son, daughter, wife, husband, sister and brother), near and distant relatives and those having love and affection towards the patient.

Swapping will help patients who have relatives willing to donate but are medically incompatible for the recipient.

Dr. Saigal said: “Encouraged by this case, we have instituted registration of patients with medically suitable family donors who do not match their own recipients due to inappropriate blood group or liver size. This opens up unique opportunities for matchmaking between donors and recipients from different families, thus helping save more lives with liver transplants.”

Dr. B.K. Rao, chairman of Ganga Ram Hospital added: “This swap transplantation will come as a blessing at the time of acute organ donor shortage. Around 30 per cent of rejected donors can become suitable swap donors, increasing transplant rates by 30 per cent.”

India at present requires 30,000 liver transplants a year. Unfortunately due to the country’s abysmally low cadaver donation, doctors end up carrying out about 400-odd transplants a year.

source: click here


Nigerians Manufacture first home made armored carrier



By Elizabeth Archibong
August 13, 2009 09:28PMT
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A Nigerian made armoured car was on Thursday launched by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua at the eagle square in Abuja.

It is the first home made armoured car, with most of the materials used in its production sourced locally, while others were imported.

It was built by two Nigerian brothers who recently relocated from the United States of America. The brothers; Victor and Johnson Obasa, came back home to use their talent to boost security and also create employment in the country.

The brothers are based in Ekiti State and the duo own a company named Mobile Truck Technology where they nurtured and built the first Nigerian armoured car.

According to Johnson Obasa, the local production of the armoured car would help in upgrading the nation’s security status. “It will promote up to 50 percent security in the country, it is something to protect the armoured personnel in their line of duty and it can work anywhere. It is designed to help the nation’s security; we also did it to create employment,” he said.

Also, Victor Obasa in a conversation with the press stated that they were in a better position to create this kind of cars since they are in Nigeria and understand the Nigerian terrain.

He added that they were willing to do it for the government at almost half the price of importing it. “We would do it for Nigerians for almost half the price they get it outside,” he said.

The truck which was tested with different kinds of ammunitions, from a far range had little or no mark left on it, but from a close range left peripheral marks.

On how they created such a truck with products from Nigeria, Johnson said: “It’s been a little bit of up and down’s. When we encountered some challenges, the Senate president encouraged us and at the end of the day we were able to put this together.”

The other brother Victor pledged that they would produce a vehicle carrier that would meet international standard at a reasonable price.

The Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Adamu Aliero who represented the president at the launch said it was commendable that Nigerians with talents will come home and contribute to the nation’s development.

He disclosed that the President had directed the Inspector General of Police to meet the fabricators on what they required to produce the vehicle to specification.

He also called on Nigerians within and outside the country with such talents to come out and contribute to the development of their country.

“This is also to call on other Nigerians with similar talents to also come back home and join us to contribute their own quota to the country and for other Nigerians with this kind of talent to put it to use,” Mr. Aliero said.

Present at the event to inspect the vehicle were top police officers and the Minister for science amd Technology, Al-Hassan Zaku who said the ministry would send a team of engineers to the base where the truck was fabricated to further examine the product.

“We will examine it thoroughly and work with the police to ensure that it is properly produced to the standard they want,” he said.


The Fall of Intercontinental Bank by Dayo Coker

The Fall of Intercontinental Bank.

A Short History

The chickens have come home to roost. After years of bad management and dubious financial practices, the head honcho of Intercontinental Bank Plc has been sacked. This should not come as a surprise to readers of my blog. Five months ago, I pointed out Intercontinental Bank’s precarious state in a series of articles questioning the competence of its chief executive, Dr Erastus Akingbola. In these articles, I asked the bank to reveal its true financial state in the spirit of full disclosure.

After the publication of these articles, I was inundated with questions from journalists, executives and members of the public. While some of them denounced me as an agent of an imaginary northern cabal that was intent on taking over the banking sector by creating an unstable atmosphere, a majority of readers thanked me for the expose and encouraged me to continue with my investigations. My persistence paid off when the European Investment Bank exposed some of Intercontinental Bank’s bogus claims. I released my findings to the mainstream media who curiously decided not to further pursue the matter although their pages were suddenly filled with advertisements from the financial institution.
Rather than address the issues raised by several notable pundits including the respected eggheads at Proshare, Dr Akingbola proceeded to the tabloid press where he gave interviews to City People and other magazines. He also launched a smear campaign against Sanusi Aminu Lamido Sanusi, then the chief executive officer of First Bank. This wide reaching campaign claimed that Mr Sanusi was “de-marketing” Intercontinental Bank in order to increase his chances of being made the governor of the Central Bank.
In addition, the bank purportedly showed its books to Renaissance Capital whose resident analyst Kato Mukuru affirmed that it was strong enough to manage its risk. Renaissance Capital was wrong. Its PR supremo Matthew Pearson has already started a damage control exercise by trying to limit the damage wrought by his firm’s irresponsible analysts. But then Renaissance Capital is a dubious research firm backed by Russian oligarch money. Its chief executive, Stephen Jennings sees Africa as the next big thing and is happy to continue praising Nigerian banks as long as they steer their securities business to his other firms. This scenario has repeated itself time and time again in developed economies where analysts tout stocks backed by their employers in order to get profitable deals. That report should have been thrown into the trash but the gullible Nigerian press swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
Recent Developments
On Wednesday, August 12, 2009, Intercontinental Bank commissioned an advertisement in The Guardian where it appealed to the President and released an abridged version of a list of purported debtors. The list which was released by A.O.S Practice, its loan recovery agents, included three popular petroleum marketing firms Rahamaniyya, Capital Oil and Tanzila Petroleum. Their respective promoters, Alhaji Abdulrahaman Bashir, Patrick Ubah and Alhaji Shehu Badamasi were also named. To put it mildly, the advertisement was ill advised and stupid. A few bankers who agreed to speak to me yesterday unanimously agreed that Intercontinental Bank was trying to undermine the CBN and prepare the public for a huge bad loan provision in its financial statements.
Intercontinental bank issued a denial on Friday, August 14, 2009. This is a matter that the NBA should look into as one of the parties must be lying. If the bank did not authorize the publication, then the lawyer, Chief Ajibola Aribisala must be disbarred for acting contrary to his client’s instructions. But since Intercontinental Bank still retains the firm as its loan recovery agent, it is obvious that the two firms were acting in concert. The first statement of the advertorial reads: “We are the Solicitors to Intercontinental Bank Plc., hereinafter referred to as “Our Client” in respect and on behalf of whom we have instructions to write to your esteemed office.” In my opinion, there is no ambiguity in this sentence.
The advertisement then goes on to classify the Nigerian banking sector into two groups; those devoted to the growth of Nigerian industry and those acting on behalf of foreign-based institutions. In his inimitable Yoruba-influenced English, Aribisala then goes on to say that Intercontinental Bank belongs to the former group. According to him, “By using its broad financial base, our client as with other banks of its ilk, have patriotically oiled the wheels of wholly Nigerian owned manufacturing entities, production companies and investments corporations with the allocation of the needed finance to such businesses and companies ostensibly driven by persons perceived to be (sic) immense integrity.” He argues that it is wrong to classify Intercontinental Bank as risk-prone while other less patriotic banks are being recognized for their financial prudence. Aribisala ends this rambling preamble by suggesting that there is a cabal of influential people who are bent on destroying the banking sector by defaulting on huge credit facilities.
However the most curious part of the advertisement is the complaint which Intercontinental Bank presents to the president. It says that it does not have a “preponderance of bad loans” on its books but has been held hostage by an influential cabal whose members have saddled with non-performing loans. What is the meaning of this dumb statement? Mr Aribisala who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria then shockingly condemns the Nigerian legal system which has made him wealthy enough to acquire the Protea Hotel Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island.
The lawyer also asks the government to amend the legislation covering financial crimes in order to strengthen the system. If he is really serious about such reforms, then Erastus Akingbola should end up in jail for his role in plundering shareholder funds. The timing of this letter is highly suspicious. For instance, the Tanzila Petroleum case was reported well before Sanusi became the CBN Governor. Why didn’t Intercontinental Bank write to the president then? Why start this media campaign now?
Opinion and Analysis
Intercontinental Bank is an institution built on quicksand. Its top executives have never felt the need to instill a culture of ethics and good corporate governance. Buoyed by soaring oil prices and a bubble stock market, they invested heavily in high risk sectors such as downstream oil marketing and margin trading. Now that the house of cards has collapsed, Intercontinental Bank is trying to shift the blame to businessmen and a convoluted legal system. Alhaji Shehu Badamasi’s case is a good example. The oil and gas man used 600,000 shares of a small insurance company to borrow 17 billion naira from the bank and then used the money to buy luxury houses. What sort of bankers would sign off on such a glaring case of diversion?

Dr Akingbola is the Madoff of Nigerian banking, a crook who brazenly diverted funds to his wife’s companies while emasculating all his top management executives. He hides behind the cloak of religiosity using his “Christian” carapace to fool members of the public. He has decimated an institution by refusing to hire competent managers and allowing parochial ethnic and religious considerations to influence key judgements. Even junior staffers of the bank are taught that the bank is built on Jesus and cannot be “pulled down” by detractors. This sort of shallow thinking encourages sloth and inefficiency. How can managers be effective when they are not held accountable for their actions?
Intercontinental Bank’s argument that a cabal is trying to destroying the financial sector holds no water. If a “smaller” bank like AccessBank could force African Petroleum, an energy behemoth, to meet its obligations, what prevents Intercontinental Bank from using the same means unless its people have dirty secrets? The bank is at war with nearly all its clients in the energy trading sector as a result of its sharp practices. These firms know that they have the bank over a barrel and will continue to use this as a bargaining tactic. The bank’s venture into real estate has also been a failure as the economic meltdown has cooled the market for luxury houses. 
Erastus Akingbola’s foray into downstream marketing had less to do with patriotism and more to with good old lucre. The bank’s bosses saw the sector as an easy way to exploit oil traders by charging abnormal management charges and “upfront” interest. Since most of these marketers were swashbuckling cowboys who desperately needed these loans to finance imports, they did not bother to contest the loansharking habits of the bank. There is a lack of accountability and transparency in Intercontinental Bank. Intercontinental Bank also borrowed heavily from foreign financial institutions and regular loan repayments have exacted a heavy toll on its balance sheet.
During his days at the helm of First Bank, Mr Sanusi said something very important when the he spoke to the Financial Times. He explained that the size of a bank was secondary to its ability to manage risk. This ideology explains why some banks have been able to weather the storm in spite of their huge loan portfolios. GTBank, for instance, recently gave a 50M dollar loan to AMNI International and was part of the consortium that financed a recent Lafarge WAPCO project. What project has Intercontinental Bank financed this year? Instead, Dr Akingbola has been on a nationwide tour lobbying Northern traditional rulers to put pressure on Sanusi L. Sanusi. In the past three months, he has visited countless emirs, the Sultan and northern governors.
In spite of the bank’s professed patriotism, the bank has done nothing with the 100 million dollar loan that it got from the African Development Bank. Instead, Intercontinental Bank keeps making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The bank was named in the controversial Gbenga Daniel affair where a lowly cook had 400 million transferred into his account. It was also named as one of the underwriters that refused to meet their obligations to African Petroleum’s public offer.

The End of Erastus Akingbola’s banking career.
Sanusi has done the right thing by dismissing Erastus Akingbola and his fellow travellers in the banking industry. We can no longer allow ourselves to get sentimental over matters of such importance.
Thank you for your time.
Dayo Coker.
Blogger and Policy Analyst