Friday, October 30, 2015

Nigeria not delisted from transit cargo list —Bello

Contrary to media report, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has said that there was never a time Nigeria was delisted from the list of transit cargo nations. Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello disclosed this when he visited the Corporate Headquarters of Vanguard Newspapers adding that landlocked countries only stopped transiting their cargoes through Nigerian ports. He said nobody can delist Nigeria from the list of transit cargo nations adding that it was the importers that decided to go to other countries because they got more efficient services. Bello also said that the Nigeria through the Council has concluded plans to re-direct transit cargo trade back to Nigeria. He reiterated the fact that Nigeria still remains the nearest to most of the landlocked countries, patronizing Nigerian ports will add value to their businesses. According to Bello the issuance of transit permit was another factor that worked against the issue of transit cargo in Nigeria as it was only issued in Abuja. Now, the issuance of transit permit has been decentralized as it can now be issued in Lagos and other Customs Commands and formation. The Council boss disclosed that any moment from now economic operators from Niger will start bringing their transit goods through Nigerian ports. He explained that the uncoordinated manner through which goods are cleared was the reason most importers from landlocked countries had to look elsewhere for efficiency. He further disclosed that the Council has taken advantage of the efficiency brought into the Nigerian port system by concessionaires. Bello said that the Council had also taken some stakeholders to Niger to meet with the maritime stakeholders of that country with a view to seeing how both countries can work together for a mutually benefiting economic relationship.

Secret on how I won ‘Miss Olokun’

Nineteen year-old Onayemi Ol­ amide Mojisola who was recently crowned “Miss Olokun”has revealed the secret behind her victory. Onayemi beat fourteen contestants to win the beauty contest, which held last Sunday, at R &A Hotel, Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos. In a chat with newsplanetb, the beauty queen said her formidable dance steps gave her an edge over other contestants. According to her, ‘My formidable dance steps gave me an edge. I noticed that doing the same thing in the same way repeatedly is wrong. So, I made sure I added creativity to my movements.” In his remark, the promoter of Olokun Festival foundation, Otunba Gani Adams said the Miss Olokun Beauty Pageant is primarily to inculcate high morals in girls and to celebrate the virtues of vivacious women, adding that the pageant provides a platform for contestants to showcase inborn talents like intelligence, adaptation to cultural norms, speech skills, comportment and cultivation of personal esteem.

Nigeria has potential for economic greatness , says ENL boss

The Chief Executive Officer, ENL Consortium, Princess Vicky Haastrup, on Friday said Nigeria has the potential to become an economic giant it longed for despite its current challenges. Haastrup spoke in Lagos at a one-day summit organised for women in business by NECA Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW) to mark its 10th year anniversary. The NECA is the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association . Haastrup said there were opportunities for business growth in different sectors of the economy. She urged women who wanted to become successful entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities for business growth in the country. “Think globally; allow experience, knowledge, good service delivery and quality to drive your passion to harness your resources and potential. “Women have the freedom to be involved in various professions like farming, hairdressing, fishery, construction, real estate and publishing. “Rentals, block making, trading, transporting and tourism businesses are also viable options for them.” The chief executive officer urged women in business to always review and adjust their strategies and proposals periodically, adding that continuous improvement was key to successful projects and businesses. She explained that because of the many issues confronting the nation, there was the need for women to have a long-term view of what their business would be like. “The challenges can take time to be solved. “Entrepreneurs should explore the numerous business opportunities across the continent, taking cognisance of the potential pitfalls and prepared for setbacks. “For those ready to commit to a long-term strategy, the rewards can be immense,’’ Haastrup said. A business consultant, Mrs Ifeoma Williams, advised women to rethink, reposition and represent their personal brands to boost their businesses. Williams said that an effective brand-strategy for a successful business should be consistent and clearly defined. She added that a good business woman should be able to study her field of operation and become an authority in it. Earlier in his remarks, Mr Segun Oshinowo, the Director-General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) urged the women to call on government to create an enabling environment for their businesses to thrive.

Another 29 Customs officer retired

After the resignation of five senior Customs officers on Thursday, the service has disclosed that another 29 senior personnel have been retired saying it is part of on-going re-organization in Nigeria Customs Service. The retirement of the 29 officers which brings the total number to 34 senior Officers retired from the service with immediate effect, was confirmed by Wale Adeniyi, Public Relations Officer, Customs. In a statement, Adeniyi said, “The re-organization of the Service is one of the core mandates of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd). “Those affected in the exercise are five Deputy Comptrollers-General of Customs (DCGs) who have earlier given notification to the Comptroller-General for voluntary disengagement. “They are John Atte, Ibrahim Mera, Musa Tahir, Austin Nwosu and Akinade Adewuyi. “Three others, of the rank of Assistant Comptroller-General are also affected in the re-organization exercise. They are Madu Mohammed, Secretary to the Nigeria Customs Board, Victor Gbemudu, Zonal Coordinator Zone ‘A’ and Bello Liman, Assistant Comptroller-General, (Headquarters). “The others are of the rank of Comptrollers serving in Customs Headquarters, Zonal Offices and various Area Commands. “The Comptroller-General of Customs stated that the retirements were part of measures to kick-start the repositioning of the Service for improved performance.”

Painful legacy of China's one-child policy

China has decided to end its decades-long one-child policy YESTERDAY, BBC has reported. All couples will now be allowed to have two children, the state-run news agency said, citing a statement from the Communist Party. The town of Rudong was once held up as a model of enforcement for the one child policy, but it is now creaking under the weight of an ageing population, as newsplanetb reports.

Breaking News: Drama as A-Court panel disagree over Saraki’s trial

The propriety of the 13-count criminal charge against the Senate President, Dr. Olubukola Saraki has created a sharp division among Appeal Court Justices. Whereas Justice Moore Adumein dismissed the appeal that was lodged by Saraki as lacking in merit, another member of the panel, Justice ‎ J.E. Ekanem upheld the appeal, declaring the charge before the CCT as incompetent. Justice Ekanem specifically quashed the charge and discharged Saraki on the basis that the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Justice, M. M. S. Hassan who signed the charge, did not specify who authorised him to initiate the ‎criminal proceeding. “A look at the charge showed that Mr. Hassan instituted the action pursuant to section 24 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004 which permits only the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings”. Justice Ekanem stressed that though the constitution permits the Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, to commence criminal action in the absence of the AGF, he said that Hassan failed to produce any document showing that he was properly authorised by th‎e SGF. “The opening paragraph of the letter Hassan sent to the CCT on September 11, wherein he applied to commence trial against the appellant is very instructive. “He merely said ‘ I am authorised to file this action’ but did not say that he was authorised by the Solicitor-General. He went short of identifying who authorised him. “It is therefore my view that the charge before the tribunal is incompetent. It is for this view that I hold that this appeal has succeeded and I hereby set-aside the charge and discharge the accused person”, ‎Justice Ekanem held. However, the third member of the panel , Justice M. Mustapha, concurred with the lead verdict which declined to quash the charge against Saraki. Earlier, leader of the panel, Justice Adumein dismissed Saraki’s appeal, saying he should go to the tribunal to answer the charge against him. He held that Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal was properly constituted to try the offences against Saraki, noting that he was not charged in his official capacity, but as an individual. ‎Justice Adumein placed reliance on paragraph 15(1) of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and section 20(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 2004, ‎and held that the two-man panel of Justices at the tribunal formed a quorum to entertain the charge. “The above provisions are very clear and unambiguous and should be given their ordinary meaning. This is in line with ‎the golden rule of interpretation. There is no provision on minimum number of members which the tribunal must have before it can sit to hear cases”. Justice Adumein held that the charge was competently instituted, saying the tribunal had the requisite powers to issue bench warrant against Saraki. He dismissed all five grounds of appeal that Saraki filed before the court for want of merit. Saraki had gone before the appellate court to query the legality of the charge against him. He was among other offences, alleged to have owned and operated foreign bank accounts while being a public officer. However, aside challenging the charge, Saraki also queried the constitutionality of the warrant of arrest that was initially issued against him by Chairman of the CCT, Justice Umar. Besides, the embattled Senate President, through his team of lawyers led by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. J.B. Daudu, SAN, wants the higher court to ascertain whether the Justice Umar-led panel subscribed to the appropriate legal procedure when ‎it ordered him to mount the dock and enter his plea to the charge despite preliminary objections against his trial. He described the criminal proceeding that was initiated against him by the Federal Ministry of Justice as‎ “a politically motivated witch-hunt”.

Okoh to Buhari: Improve workers welfare to suceed in anti-graft war

Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari, to improve on the salary and other allowances of civil servants if his administration must succeed in the fight against corruption. Speaking at the enthronement of the new Anglican Bishop of Kaduna Diocese, Rt. Reverend Timothy Yahaya, the Anglican Primate, identified poor remuneration of public servants at all levels, as one of the reasons for the high rate of corruption in Nigeria, particularly in the public service. Lauding President Buhari’s commitment to fighting corruption, Bishop Okoh, however, maintained that “when public sector wages are too low, employees may find themselves under pressure to supplement their incomes in unofficial ways by embezzling public funds meant for developmental purposes.” He also expressed optimism that the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents would soon be over. It was a day of celebration, as the Cathedral was filled to capacity with members of the clergy, the church and well-wishers present to witness the enthronement of Rt. Reverend Yahaya, as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese. The choir offered beautiful renditions to the admiration of the congregation. The enthronement of Bishop Yahaya follows the exit of the former Bishop of the diocese, Idowu Fearon, who was appointed the Secretary General of World Anglican Church early this year. The new Bishop in his message assured the congregation that he would lead the diocese with the fear of God and ensure the growth and development of the Church.

Biafra, O’odua, and the 7th lesson, by Reuben Abati

Democracy does not necessarily translate into the disappearance of crises and dilemmas, (even trilemmas, quadrilemmas or more) in a country, either developed, developing or perhaps evolutionary. Built into the fabric of the right to choose is also the right to make mistakes and so, across Africa at this moment, in Nigeria, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi, Guinea Conakry, Rwanda, the lessons are being driven home, as elections are being held or have been held or will be held, that even as democracy spreads within the continent, the tension between stabilization and consolidation, trade offs and efficiency, pessimism and optimism, ethnocentrism and nationalism, remains a major concern. Whatever the challenges may be however, both local and international authorities have a duty to ensure that the people learn from their mistakes, build on those mistakes positively, and prevent a relapse to either militarism or militarized democracy disguised either as benevolent democracy or charismatic autocracy, or ethnic revanchism as an option for national movement. The people’s right to make mistakes, oxymoronic as it may seem, is part of the democratic challenge. In Nigeria, our biggest mistake lies in the strange assumption that our problems will disappear simply through intra-elite displacement or the symbolism of grand gestures. And so, we end up with a boringly repetitive national life cycle. This leads us to one urgent point: the biggest challenge that the Nigerian state faces today, tearing into the very idea of statehood, and of democracy, is the centrifugal pull from every direction that seems to have become disturbingly incremental. In the North Eastern part of the country, with the tragedy spreading, with casualties increasing, you have the heart-wrenching Boko Haram menace. The Haram fundamentalists want a divided Nigeria. They have their own flag and they have made it clear that Western education and technology are sinful even if they use the same technology and intelligence to perpetrate their assault. With their flags and propaganda, they want “out” of Nigeria. Their act of defiance and the evil outcomes have increased since May even if civil society has chosen, all of a sudden, to be less anxious. But it is not a problem that can ever be treated lightly located as it is, in the tragic axis of global terror. In the Middle Belt, an indigene-settler dichotomy, mutating as majorities-minorities conflict at the heart of Northern community relations, or as pastoralists-farmer confrontation has created seasons of violence and bloodshed with strong allegations of genocide and no sign of immediate abatement. In the South West, the recent abduction of a Yoruba leader, Chief Olu Falae by persons alleged to be Fulani herdsmen has resulted in the exchange of hate speech among Yoruba and Fulani ethnic champions defending territory, rights and identity. In Ibadan, the other day, a group of Yoruba elders demanded that Fulani herdsmen should be expelled from Yoruba territory and that should the provocation continue, the Yoruba with their 50 million population will be prepared to exit Nigeria. In the Eastern part of the country, there is a resurgence of Biafran nationalism; young Igbos in diaspora, are insisting on the creation of a Republic of Biafra. The new voice of Biafran nationalism is Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Radio Biafra, and the Igbos campaigning for Biafra in front of embassies in Europe, India and Japan! In the South South, there is a renewed consciousness of oil citizenship, with the Ijaw whose kinsman recently lost power at the centre protesting that they are victims of Hausa/Fulani harassment, and intimidation. Perhaps the more worrisome is the noise being made about likely secession from Nigeria, by certain elements in the North East (terrorists actually seeking to carve out territory), by latter-day Biafrans, and by Yoruba irridentists. It may not be possible without empirical inquiry to determine how much of this is pure opportunism, posturing or criminal-mindedness (except in the case of Boko Haram where criminality is proven), but it would appear that while seeking to uphold the law against those who challenge the sanctity of the state, the government must nonetheless take the agitations seriously for they speak to something old and familiar which has become resoundingly deeper. If the matter were to be subjected to referenda across the country, I am not too sure there are many Nigerians today who will vote for the dismemberment of this country. Social scientists advise us not to rule out any possibility, self-determination can be self-fulfilling; and nations have been known to dissolve against all odds, but it seems to me that the majority of Nigerians would rather be Nigerians. Our country has been kept together by the resilience and the optimism of the majority, not the disillusionment of a critical minority. We have not yet reached a point where the idea of Nigeria is lost and forlorn, to the extent that the feeling of self-sufficiency that propels the secessionist instinct may indeed be illusionary. No matter the challenge, I believe that it is the idea of Nigeria that will prevail. The long and the short of it however, is that this remains a grossly imperfect federation, union and democracy. The country is hoisted on a foundation of ancestral fissures. For 55 years, this country has refused to transform into a nation. It has been hijacked by identity politics, and by ethnic and class determinism. It is sad, very sad indeed, that successive governments have not been able to create an enlightened citizenry and an intelligent elite that can look beyond their own greed. The Nigerian political brain has remained a grossly emotional brain. We seem to have lost the national battle to emotions fed by ancestral memory, creating a gap between knowledge, and desire. It is why MASSOB, Nnamdi Kanu, Radio Biafra and Biafra Voice International (BVI) are the new faces of Igbo nationalism, and not Aka Ikenga or Ohanaeze Ndigbo. It is why disgruntled elements in the North East insist on pulling down the country. It is why citizens of a defined oil territory continue to blackmail the Nigerian state. Nnamdi Kanu does not necessarily speak for all Igbos, and neither the Afenifere nor the Yoruba Council of Elders can determine the Yoruba emotion but they throw up ideas that cannot be ignored. It is the duty of government to address the dangerous ideas of disintegration, dismemberment that issue from those political brains, not to ignore or traduce them. The key message is that this is not yet a nation. Kanu’s protest and the frustrations in the Niger Delta or the Yoruba anger over the humiliation of an iconic figure, or the angst of the people of the Middle Belt, or the widespread concern about the arrogance of power, escalated since independence, should be a wake up call. Those who feel defeated politically are drawing attention to subliminal fears about ancestral injustices, inequities, and inequalities in the Nigerian democratic space. The more they perceive an attempt to appropriate, exclude and marginalize, the more vociferous they are likely to be. In the long run, nobody may secede (General Gowon is right on this score), but the inequities of the Nigerian state must be addressed. The man who will save Nigeria is that leader who will engage Nigerians proactively on the issues of inclusion and cohesion, and thereby grant to every citizen, a sense of ownership beyond ethnic identity, a sense of belonging, and confidence in the Nigerian identity. When people relate to the state from a position of fear, and exclusion, they create the kind of problems we witness. One, poverty, not necessarily material poverty, is at the heart of the problem. Two, the failure of the moral dimension is also a veritable cause of national dysfunction. Three, when the people have jobs, and the economy works and education is taken seriously as a tool for empowerment and progress, there will perhaps be better citizens. What this means is that developing a state that works and a leadership that believes and cares, and focuses on governance responsibilities is where the priority lies. To move Nigeria forward, these are the fundamental issues to address. How to go about this is the responsibility of those to whom we have entrusted our mandate. It was the main assignment yesterday, the same today and the compass for tomorrow.

MDGs to SDGs: meeting the new target

Since 2000, Nigeria’s response towards the attainment of the eight international goals and 21 individual targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been the focal point of social and developmental agenda at local, state, and national levels. The primary aim of the MDGs is to encourage overall human development by improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries on a set 15-year timeline. An enthusiastic signatory to the MDG’s, Nigeria pursued the targets vigorously with emphasis on improving the social and economic conditions of the poorest Nigerians. By utilising the principle of the right of every individual to dignity, freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence, Nigeria, like many of the other 188 signatory countries, produced moderate results. Nigeria’s achievement of the MDG targets is a mixed bag: while progress has been above average in some areas, it is less satisfactory in others. Nigeria utilised the MDG framework to improve its relatively poor health indices such as reduction of maternal and child mortality, eradicating polio, reducing the spread of malaria and HIV/ AIDS, among others. We are faced with the challenge of tackling a new development framework: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were set at this year’s UN General Assembly to mobilise the world towards confronting the many problems facing the people. These new 17 goals for sustainable development are to be met by the year 2030. The MDG’s were meant to start a universal partnership towards tackling developmental challenges in the world’s least developed countries to achieve a global baseline by 2015. The SDGs are meant to finish the work in 2030 by widening the scope of work needed to be done to promote conditions for sustainable human development such as peace building and overall improvement of the environment. As Nigeria transits from the MDGs to the SDGs, government should provide political support and policy guidance. We must pay quality attention to measures that will promote peace and stability, bearing in mind that countries that are embroiled in conflicts always lag behind in sustainable development. We must work harder to improve our education and health sectors. We are still far from attaining the MDG’s in these areas, with many of our well-to-do countrymen and women still streaming abroad for quality education and challenging healthcare issues. It is also crucial that we pay more attention to issues of environmental protection because of issues of flooding, coastal erosion, desertification, gully erosion and massive deforestation, which threaten present and future of our country. Meeting the targets of the MDGs and SDGs Agenda is panacea towards securing a better future for posterity.

Rivers gov poll: Appeal Court expunges part of APC’s petition against Wike

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, expunged some paragraphs of the petition that led to the annulment of the April 11 governorship election that brought Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to power. In a judgment it delivered, a three-man panel of Justices of the Appeal Court headed by Justice Datti Yahaya, struck out portions of the petition alleging that security agents were used to rig the election in favour of Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The decision of the appellate court followed an interlocutory appeal that was lodged before it by the APC and its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside. Both APC and Peterside had gone before the court to challenge the ruling of the previous chairman of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal panel, Justice Muazu Pindiga, which deleted paragraphs of the petition containing criminal allegations against unnamed security operatives. Justice Pindiga, who was subsequently removed from presiding over the petition by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, based his decision on the fact that the petitioners failed to join the said security agents and other persons it said participated in the alleged electoral fraud as parties to the suit. Among those that the APC alleged masterminded the rigging of election in Rivers State included wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience. But, dissatisfied with the ruling of the lower tribunal, the petitioners took the matter before the appellate court. While upholding the decision of the tribunal yesterday, the appeal court held that paragraphs of the petition containing allegations of electoral crime against named and unnamed security agents and alleged political thugs should be expunged from the record of the tribunal. The court stressed that the petitioners ought to have joined the accused security agents and political thugs as parties to the petition. Specifically, the court directed that evidences that were led against security agents and political thugs, whether named or unnamed, in the course of hearing of the petition against Wike, where the said security agents and alleged political thugs were not joined as parties, should be struck out. The Court of Appeal further directed that all the criminal allegations contained in the petition against the said security agents and alleged political thugs be expunged as they had no opportunity to defend themselves at the tribunal. The court held that in cases where criminal allegations were made against institutions, agents and individuals, the law required that in the interest of justice, they should be joined as parties to the matter. Other members of the appeal court panel that delivered the judgment were Justices Tanim Yusuf and Mustapha Mohammed. Besides, the appeal court, dismissed an application by the APC requesting the Appeal Court President, Justice Bulkachuwa, to constitute a new panel to hear the appeal that would flow from the judgment of the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led tribunal that nullified the governorship election that produced Wike. The application was vehemently opposed by counsel to the PDP, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and that of governor Wike, Mr. Osima Ginah. Olanipekun urged the court to disregard the application which he said was tantamount to asking the appeal court panel to disqualify itself from hearing the appeal for no just reason.

Five Deputy Comptroller-Generals Of Nigeria Customs Resign

All five Deputy Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service have tendered their resignation yesterday, October 29. The senior officers who jointly wrote a one-page letter said they were all unanimously and voluntarily resigning from the service of the Nigeria Customs Service having risen to their current position. According to Skytrend News, the officers were billed to proceed on annual leave but they opted to unanimously resign.There are a total of six Deputy Comptroller-Generals in the Nigeria Customs, but a source who chose to be anonymous disclosed that the sixth one had earlier retired. The source further revealed that before now, the five Deputy Comptroller-Generals were briefly posted to Zonal Offices to work with the Assistant Comptroller-Generals. After they came back from the assignment, they were given letters to proceed on a schedule of annual leave.

Battle for Yemen's Taiz takes rising civilian toll

Local monitoring groups say at least 1,300 killed in recent weeks as fighting around the southern city intensifies. At least 1,300 civilians have been killed in violence that has increased in intensity over the past few weeks in the Yemeni city of Taiz, according to local monitoring groups. Among those killed were 198 children, the Local Monitor's Network in Taiz said on Friday, adding that 6,000 others, including 641 children, had been injured. Taiz, the Arabian Peninsula country's third largest city, has been the site of deadly clashes and intensified air strikes by the Arab coalition as forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi try to defeat Houthi fighters. Yemen has been rocked by months of fighting between the Iran-allied Shia Houthis and Hadi loyalists, supported by the Arab coalition, leaving thousands dead and 21 million people in need of urgent aid. Reports say at least 45 Houthi fighters and eight Hadi loyalists have died in the latest battles. Doctors Without Border's (MSF) said stocks of essential medical supplies cannot be delivered to most hospitals in a besieged enclave of the city of Taiz.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Never again would politicians seek public office for personal gains – Buhari

New Delhi-President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his main target for fighting corruption was to stop corrupt individuals from seeking to occupy public offices for selfish gains. This is even as he stated that his government would not relent in the current anti-corruption war, stressing it would continue to many years. According to him, the prosecution of alleged criminals would serve as a deterrent to others, stating that he was committed to curbing corruption, plugging all loopholes in public sector accounting and deploying available resources for the good of all Nigerians. The president spoke, Wednesday, during a meeting with members of the Nigerian community in New Delhi, India where he is attending the 3rd Summit of the India and African Nations. President Buhari also prioritized the recovery of looted funds, saying he was conscious of the devastating consequences of the illegal diversion of public resources meant for national development into private bank accounts. He said: “The anti-corruption campaign will be on-going for many years. We are committed to the enthronement of good governance that plugs the loopholes in public sector accounting, and the use of scarce resources for public good. “We are determined to demonstrate exemplary leadership that will make our citizens to change their ways in a manner that lays a solid foundation for reconstruction and development. “I am confident that our approach to fighting corruption through value re-orientation, improved internal processes and systems and the rule of law, as well as enhancing the capacity of the various anti-corruption agencies and institutions will prove more enduring in addressing this evil.

Senate kicks against N64 bn second runway for Abuja Airport

The Senate on Wednesday kicked against the N64 billion contract for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The Senate, at its plenary declared that the contract sum was “too high’’. In a three-point motion by Sen. Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West), the Senate acknowledged the urgent need for a second runway at the airport, but that the contract sum was “just too exorbitant’’ . The Senate also urged the Federal Government to ensure that due process and diligence was followed in the design, award and procurement of the contract, while the cost should be “drastically reduced’’. “The Federal Government should reduce this unrealistic cost and duly monitor the award process,’’ Melaye said. Melaye noted that the proposed cost of the runway far exceeded the cost of constructing some airports around the country and even abroad. He noted that the terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport, with four lanes of 4km runway, cost less than N25 billion, while the entire Gombe Airport, with 3.66km runways, cost N8.2 billion. He said that the Jigawa Airport cost N11 billion, Bauchi Airport, N12 billion, Enugu Airport, N13 billion, while the Akwa Ibom Airport cost about N18 billion. He, therefore, wondered why the proposed construction of a mere runway at Abuja Airport would cost N64 billion. Melaye recalled that the contract had been cancelled earlier by the Jonathan’s administration over its high cost, and urged President Muhammudu Buhari to similarly reject it. The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, acknowledged that the second runway was necessary, but added that it could only be executed “at a reasonable price’’. “It is important, but we cannot continue with such reckless expenditure.

WELCOME TO NEWS PLANET-B: Buhari in India for 4-day working visit

WELCOME TO NEWS PLANET-B: Buhari in India for 4-day working visit: Some hours after departing Nigeria in one of the Presidential jets via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, President...

Buhari in India for 4-day working visit

Some hours after departing Nigeria in one of the Presidential jets via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari arrived New Delhi, India for a 4-day working visit to attend the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit. Arriving the Indirha Ghandi International Airport, President Buhari was driven in a cart shortly before he held talks with India’s Minister of Petroleum, Dharmendra Pradhan.

Senate Conducts Last Lap Of Ministerial Screening

Senate President Bukola Saraki
The Nigeria Senate will conduct the final lap of ministerial screening today, October 28 as five nominees are expected to answer series of questions raised on the floor of the House.

31 ministerial nominees have been screened with 18 of them confirmed as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The 18 confirmed ministers are: Udoma Udo Udoma (Akwa Ibom state), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti state), Audu Ogbeh (Benue state), Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi state), Osagie Ehanire (Edo state), Abdulrahman Dambazau (Kano state), Lai Mohammed (Kwara state), Amina J Mohammed (Gombe state), Suleiman Adamu (Jigawa state) and Ibrahim Jibril (Nasarawa state), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos state), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu (Delta state), Abubakar Malami (Kebbi state), Chris Ngige (Anambra state), Aisha Jummai Alhassan (Taraba state), Solomon Dalong (Plateau state), Kemi Adeosun (Ogun state), Hadi Sirika (Katsina state).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Code of Conduct Tribunal adjourns Saraki’s trial to Nov 5

The chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar has asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to “go and relax” as he adjourned his (Saraki) trial to November 5 and 6. Saraki is facing a 13-count criminal charge bordering on false declaration of assets preferred against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The adjournment followed the pending judgment of the appeal court‎ on the trial of Saraki. While Saraki’s lawyer, Mahmud Magaji, prayed that the trial should be adjourned sine die, the prosecuting counsel‎, Rotimi Jacobs, argued the tribunal to adjourn the trial out of respect for the appeal court, which reserved judgment on the suit filed by the Senate President to stop his trial for alleged false declaration of assets. Umar, objected the prayer of Saraki’s counsel, saying the he (Saraki) might “go and relax” as he gave a two-week time-off.

Customs bars Journalists from CG’s Kano visit

Journalistic reportage suffered set back in Kano Wednesday, when members of the Fourth Estate of the realm were barred by Customs from covering the visit of its Comptroller General of the service, Colonel Hamid Ali. The visit of Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali who was represented by the Deputy Comptroller General, John Atte to the commercial nerve centre of the north where he was expected to meet with Stakeholders was shrouded in secrecy by the service which brought about suspicion in the media circle. Reporters who stormed the Kano office of the Customs and Exercise located along Club Road were humiliated by the tall order allegedly handed down by its spokesperson, Duru Emmanuel Okechukwu that prevented them access to the heavily fortified office at Bompai GRA. Stern looking officers at the gate were not ready for a tea party as attempt by Reporters to gain access were contained by the heavily armed guards who successfully bundled no fewer than four Journalists that played a smart game. “We are under strict instructions to keep intruders away, and I’m afraid Reporters are not welcome for this event. “, an Inspector explained. Kano came under spotlight recently following a high profile seizures by the service from Chinese businessmen that was discretely released weeks after. A textile merchant at Kanti Kwori market, Alhaji Isa Gara told Vanguard and newsplanetb that ” there are lot of dirty deal in this Kano zonal office and it is not tactical to allow critical press into it”. In a swift reaction, Chairman of the Correspondent chapel, Mr. Edwin Olofu has transmitted a protest letter to Deputy Comptroller, Kano zone over the ill treatment.

Did one woman really give birth to 69 children?

Conceiving and raising one child is demanding enough – yet historical reports suggest that one woman bore 69. Are they true? And will modern medicine push the limit even further? If British tabloids had existed in the 18th Century, they would have gone utterly barmy over the family of Russian peasant Feodor Vassilyev.

Place Okah on chains during trial, FG begs court

The Federal Government on Tuesday asked Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to put the alleged mastermind of Independence Day bombing, Charles Okah, in chains. Okah, who is standing trial on charges of terrorism alongside Obi Nwabueze, had on Oct.6 attempted to jump out of the court located at the third floor of the five storey building. At the resumed hearing, the prosecution, Dr Alex Iziyon (SAN), made an oral application requesting that Okah be chained to avoid a possible abortion of justice. Iziyon, who referred the court to Section 269 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, urged it to grant the application to save the life of the accused person henceforth during proceedings. “Where a defendant or an accused person misbehaves or displays misconduct in the course of proceedings in such magnitude, he or she should be placed under fetters. “I urge the court to take judicial notice of the proceedings of Oct. 6 and grant our prayer,’’ he said. Responding, Mr. Samuel Ozidiri (SAN), counsel to Okah, apologised to the court on behalf of his client and urged the court to discountenance the prosecution’s request. He argued that the application was pre-mature and not worthy of any sympathetic consideration, arguing that the prosecution failed to put the defence on notice before coming up with such an application. Delivering a bench ruling on the application, Justice Kolawole said granting the prosecution’s request might turn out to be the greatest distraction in the suit. He said: “by the provisions of section 6 subsection 6 paragraph 8 of the 1999 constitution, this court as one of the superior courts of record created by the constitution, is imbued with discretionary jurisdiction.

Buhari appoints Mahmood Yakubu as INEC chairman

President Muhammadu Buhari has announced a professor of political history and international studies, Mahmood Yakubu, as new chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The appointment which is to be ratified by the senate was made on Wednesday by the president at the council of state meeting in Abuja. Yakubu, who is a former executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund is to take over from the acting chairmanof the commission, Amina Zakari. Following Yakubu’s appointment, Amina Zakari, is now the INEC Commissioner representing the North-West.

Tribunal rejects application to adjourn Saraki’s trial indefinitely

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, this morning, failed to persuade the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja to grant an indefinite adjournment on the 13-count criminal charge that is pending against him. The Justice Danladi Umar-led tribunal, while rejecting the application which Saraki made through his lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, ordered him to appear before it ‎on November 5. Justice Umar said the tribunal was minded to adjourn full-blown hearing on the substantive case till next month, to enable it to ascertain the outcome of the appeal that Saraki lodged before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal. Meantime, Saraki, who stormed the court today with ‎34 Senators and 50 lawyers, initially declined to mount the dock, placing reliance on the fact that a higher court is already seized with the ‘Res’ of the case against him. He was eventually compelled to enter the dock by the tribunal‎ at exactly 10:59am, even as the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, urged the court to as a mark of respect for judicial hierarchy, defer further proceeding on the matter for two weeks.

Buhari Appoints New Head Of Service

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the sacking of Danladi Kifasi, the head of the civil service of the federation, yesterday, October 20, just two months to the expiration of his tenure. However, the update which came with immediate effect, did not come with the announcement of a new replacement announced until the early hours of today, Wednesday, October 21. Newsplanetb gathered that the 51-year-old Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, has been named as Kifasi’s replacement. Oyo-Ita is presently the permanent secretary of the ministry of science and technology. The chartered accountant hails from Cross River and will be in the position acting as the service head. It was revealed that the presidency ordered Kifasi’s retirement in order to ensure that his administration adheres to the federal character principles as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Although there was no statement by the presidency on Kifasi’s sudden removal, it was reported that Kifasi is from Taraba state where Lawal hails from, and his removal is also connected to the fact that he was having a running battle with some permanent secretaries.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Group Calls For Suspension Of Okonjo-Iweala’s Appointment

On September 21 Nigeria’s immediate past minister of finance was appointed the chair-elect of the board of GAVI, the alliance founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. In the petition signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, the chairman of CSNAC, the group called for a review of Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment, Premium Times reports. The civic group explained that its call was based on the circumstances surrounding the suspicious refund of $2.2 million paid by Nigeria to GAVI. According to CSNAC, the refund that was made without consultation with the Ministry of Health exposes the gross abuse of office by the former minister. However, the group also noted that “the appointment also shows that she was being rewarded for her “loyalty” to the organisation at the detriment of her country.” “In view of the above, CSNAC is therefore by this petition, requesting that the recent appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as chairperson of the Board of Directors be reviewed and suspended until all the spurious allegations against Nigeria under this audit are proven by GAVI and the circumstances surrounding the suspicious and unpatriotic refund of the $2.2m are resolved,” Suraju said.

Why There Should Be Stay Of Action On Amaechi’s Screening

The Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions may have advised a stay of action on Amaechi’s screening. Newsplanetb through Daily Sun gathered that the committee, which will officially present its report to the Senate tomorrow, made the recommendation based on the difficulty of his case. One of the members of the committee led by Senator Samuel Anyanwu disclosed that members took into consideration the white paper submitted to it by the Rivers state government, which accused the former governor of corruption. In addition to that, the senator said the committee considered the advantages and disadvantages of other petitions against Amaechi. The insider said: “We made some recommendations on the case and that of other nominees. We felt that there should be a stay of action on the screening until some issues are addressed.” Anyanwu also wondered: “Why are you people al­ways interested in Amaechi’s case? There are other petitions before the committee. We have other ministerial nominees that have been written peti­tions against. All the petitions will be submitted on Tuesday. That is all I can tell you. We are meeting tomorrow (today) to conclude on the final report. “I am sure that by Tues­day, it will be ready. I cannot tell you what we are going to submit to the Senate. There is nothing I can tell you. By Tuesday, you will hear about the report when it will be pre­sented to the Senate. We ought to have finalised the issue by the weekend. But I travelled to my state. I just came back today (yesterday). Everything will be handled all together. We have invited the nominee from Sokoto state. She will appear before the committee tomorrow (today). Her own report will be ready too by Tuesday,” he said.


The Vice Chancellor has directed all staff to access the link below and vote for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) as the most outstanding public institution in Nigeria under the category of service providing agencies. The Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) online voting for the year 2015 is scheduled as follows: Start Date: 5th October, 2015. End Date: 9th October, 2015. Click the link below for more info.

Foreign News:Man dies on Aer Lingus flight after being restrained - reports

A man has died on board an Aer Lingus flight from Lisbon to Dublin after reportedly being restrained when he became agitated and bit a man, Irish police said. Officers were investigating after the flight was diverted to Cork when the captain declared a “medical emergency”. According to an RTE report, the man became unwell and then fell unconscious after being restrained on the Sunday night flight. It is not known exactly when he died, but police said he was pronounced dead at the scene when the aircraft landed at Cork shortly before 6pm. He was reportedly unaccompanied on the flight. RTE reported that a second man was taken to hospital and that the estimated 170 passengers and crew on board the plane were being questioned. The passengers were due to be taken to Dublin by bus on Sunday night. Aer Lingus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

12,700 APC Members Join PDP In Kogi

A huge defection has rocked the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi state ahead of the November 21 governorship election. Idris Wada, the governor of the state and PDP candidate in the poll, has visited Igalamela/Odolu and Ofu local government areas during this weekend to assure the locals of continued delivery of democracy dividends. At Ofu local government area, the home base of the aspirant of the APC, Prince Abubakar Audu, 12,700 party’s members formally deserted to the PDP. Simeon Adejoh, one of the converts, told reporters that their choice was hinged on the transformation agenda of governor Wada. Elder Friday Makama, the member representing the constituency in the state House of Assembly, speaking on behalf of the people, gave the assurance that PDP would receive over 80% of the votes in the area. He said: “I will continue to say it that APC cannot penetrate Igalamela/Odolu. All our political leaders here are PDP and our people have asked me to tell his Excellency that on November 21, they shall show their appreciation for all the governor has been doing in the constituency.” On his own part, the governor assured the people that he will do more for them if chosen on November 21. He enlisted the projects he had implemented in the two local government areas to comprise roads, healthcare facilities among others. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, ex-governor of the state, said the leaders of Kogi East had made it clear that Wada earned another term, instructing the people of the area to turn out en masse and vote for the PDP aspirant. The Independent National Electoral Commission recently informed that it has employed 13,052 ad hoc personnel that will help in the conduct of the governorship poll holding in Kogi state on November 21.

Buhari’s ministerial nominees not the best — Mrs Sarah Jibril (Mama Nigeria)

Mrs. Sarah Jubril, Nigeria’s first female presidential candidate, was Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Ethics and Values. In this interview, she blamed some of government functionaries and Jonathan’s appointees for the woes the immediate past administration suffered. She also frowns at the infighting and alleged impunity in the current administration and says that implementation of ethics and values in the polity is the surest way to rescue the country from the clutches of corruption. Her assessment of President Buhari’s fight against corruption It is a worthy fight, a good fight on behalf of all of us. However, it is a continuous fight because even the previous administration talked about zero tolerance for corruption, that was what late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was talking about. The fight this time is coined as fighting corruption for change. The previous administration mentioned about fighting corruption by transformation agenda. The realisation of the result is the issue. It is not only the government that has been trying to fight corruption, there are other social institutions that have embarked on such initiatives. There are people in the public and private sectors, and the international community who expect Nigeria to raise the standard of fighting corruption. Fighting corruption So, Nigeria as a leading country in Africa is expected not to relent in fighting corruption. But it should be a fight on PPP level. Public and private partnership, not only the government. The government and stakeholders should partner with the private sector, the family and the institutions. They should also not sit back and leave the whole fight against corruption to the government because they are the people that pay taxes and make the population, they are the voters. They were the people that gave votes to the people that contested and became political leaders. That is why I keep talking about the stakeholders as the first fighters against corruption. This issue of corruption is a whole thing that starts from the oath taking of public officials, if you read the content of the oath of office and the oath of allegiance which are supposed to be in line with the fulfilment of the implementation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If I refer you to Section 2, subsection 15.5. It says that states shall abolish all forms of corruption and abuse of power. In subsection 23, it is talking about the national ethics. The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, chapter 2:23 says, the national ethics shall be discipline, integrity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism. Subsection 24 talks about the duties of citizens. The fight against corruption started when the public officers took oath of office either as appointees or elected officials taking oath as senators or governors or president. Do you think the ministerial nominees are the best after waiting for four months? They don’t appear to be the best but whatever happens we must have the patience and spirit of tolerance because we will not ask people to go and riot. These people: their records are there but if Nigerians want to remain complacent and sweep things under carpet, it’s left for them, the hypocrisy about corruption continues. It is alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governments, in the past 16 years, operated in a corrupt environment. What is your take? I think the PDP government starting from the board of trustees, the party executives, did not open their minds to understand what their slogan and manifesto stood for. The PDP government had desirable virtues, which turned out to be a moral verbalisation that did not touch their conscience and minds. The PDP government had, I will say, the best of party slogan anywhere in the world, but unfortunately the plague was philosophical understanding of the manifesto. The ignorance about the high sense of responsibility of claiming to be a progressive party, and only thinking of the slogan and not acting practically. When you have a constitution and you don’t abide by the constitution and whatever your slogan is, they are the first steps of preventing corruption. By the time we take the oath of office and oath of allegiance, and after we have read it we say, ‘so help me God.’ Raising of godly politicians The PDP government and even their predecessors had the problem of not realising that politicians in public office or civil service are supposed to ensure that the name of that God they called, they are supposed to raise godly governors. But they forget the contents of what they pronounced at the oath taking. They do not remember to obey God. How? If there were so much stealing, inappropriate behaviour and not practicalizing what the manifesto said, then it means people deviated from what they took oath to do, what they were supposed to be doing as a party. It appears to be demonic plague that they will not understand what they are supposed to be doing. There was no strength of correcting, to put back on track what was going on. And those who want to do the right thing and get back to track were blackmailed, maligned and were shut up from the presidency that was supposed to steer the country in the direction. Unfortunately, I just saw a book that says that people deceived President Goodluck Jonathan. What they are saying, believe me, those things are true. People did not have the fear of the Almighty God. There was a government by the so-called people who are supposed to fear God, progressive people that left out the fear of the Almighty God to which they took oath. They saw Mr. President coming with the money from the South-South, there were supposed to be enough money, it was God’s grace that brought Mr. Goodluck from an obscure background to the presidency. The oil money was there but the PDP missed how to use the grace of the Almighty God upon this country. And if we choose to disobey God, to disobey the words of our mouth, of course, we will go astray. So PDP lacked discipline. But you were part of the administration, what were your efforts to point out and correct those anomalies in the system? Was I not given the assignment by Mr. President to handle ethics and values? Assignment on ethics and values I will give you my schedule of duties and you will see it. Didn’t the elders in the party from the board of trustees, from the financiers, to governors, senators, Reps, councillors, council chairmen, party executives, didn’t they know about the constitution? When Mr. President gave me the assignment on ethics and values, it means they did not find out what ethics meant if they didn’t know.

IMF/World Bank to Nigeria, others: Adopt country-specific measures to address ailing economy

Nigerian delegation to this year’s IMF/World Bank meetings held several meetings with World Bank/IMF Officials, colleagues from across the globe and institutional investors that picked interest in Nigeria. The delegation led by CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs A. M. Daniel-Nwaobia had back to back meetings. At the end, they explained what transpired inside the various plenary sessions. Excerpts Introductory remarks These meetings are biannual statutory meetings of the Finance ministers and Central Bank Governors, from over one hundred and eighty countries of the world. We held meetings with some international banks who are thinking of developing some relationship with the Central Bank as well as Ministry of Finance and the Federal Government. We also held meetings with some rating agencies to provide insight into the Nigeria economy and what we are doing to support and grow the Nigerian economy. Global economy projected growth Basically what you can say are some of the main issues facing the global economy is that the world finance leaders as well as the Governors of central Banks came to the conclusion to the point where the global growth was further revised downward, when the Spring Meetings were held in April, 2015, global growth was projected at 3.8 percent. The Growth was revised downward to 3.1 per cent. For Africa economies in April when we held the Spring Meetings, global growth was projected at over 5 per cent but at this meeting, global growth for 2015 has been revised downward to 3.5 per cent and for 2016 growth for Africa has been projected at 4.2 per cent. What this tells us is that the slow down as a result of drop in commodity prices or the end of the quantitative easing to the extent that the United States is already contemplating raising rates through assets as well as the geo-political situation has affected many economies to the point that they are slowing down and in some cases some of the economies have also gone into recession. Countries specific advice The meeting also concentrated on what can be down to revise the trend and what kind of specific solutions can be provided for the different economies to turn their situations around. Basically, we find that for those economies that are really affected by the drop in commodity prices, and in this case Nigeria, basic solutions suggestions that came up were first that there is the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy in this case from oil or from commodity prices. This we are already doing and we seize this opportunity to thank Mr. President for the support he has given for most of the intervention that he has made in diversifying the economy away from oil. That has given credence to what we are doing to catalyse the Nigerian economy by making available intervention funds to support agriculture, micro small and medium enterprises, and other various interventions, that we are putting in place to support the Nigerian economy.

DSS commissions 385 officers, to tackle insecurity

Department of State Services (DSS) during the weekend, in Lagos, commissioned 385 cadet officers in a bid to combat the rising security challenges in the country. The 385 officers were the lucky ones that successfully went through 10 months of rigorous professional, academic and physical training and were certified fit to serve the nation in their capacity as members of DSS, out of the 459 cadet officers that started the training late last year. The officers were commissioned amidst promises by the DSS to collaborate more with other sister security agencies in its fight against insecurity and to ensure that recruitment into the Service was merit-based in keeping with its extant guidelines. Speaking at the passing out parade at the State Service Academy (SSA), Lagos State, the Director General, SS, Mr. Lawal Daura, said gone were the days when misfits or non-eligible candidates found their way into the Service. “The aim is to ensure that only the right calibers of people are recruited into the Service,” he said, adding “recruitment will be strictly in accordance with future needs of the Service and other compelling exigencies that may come up from time to time.”

Vanguard Annual Banks Review 2015 coming soon

The Vanguard Annual Banking Industry Report 2015 is coming soon, it will feature profile and challenges of the Nigerian banking industry from last year till date. The publication, which will be the 14th edition, would present the relative strength of each of the banks while giving insight into what to expect at year-end 2015 and in the medium term into 2016. Preliminary reports on the banking sector profile and activities of all the deposit money banks in 2014/ 2015 focusing on the aggregate money supply, credit to the economy, assets and liabilities, interest rate structure and financial ratios are all pointing to a tough operating environment, especially in 2015. But many contributors to the Report indicate that most banks are weathering the storm. The Vanguard Report will be a key source of data and analysis for the industry. The report, first published in 1998, has been Nigeria’s major banking and finance resource, providing comprehensive financial intelligence about the health and wealth of the banking sector. Newsplanetb gathered that the Vanguard Report provides comprehensive financial data, news feeds and executive profile of bankers in Nigeria. The publication over the years (1998 – 2011) has been a reference material on the Nigerian banking industry’s performance and strength representing over 95% of the industry’s total assets.

Friday, October 16, 2015

If Boko Haram isn’t defeated by Dec, I’ll stay to fight it out – Buhari

Eighteen months after more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, a largely Christian populated remote town in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has for the umpteenth time pledged to defeat the Islamist armed group by December this year, adding that his government is willing to negotiate to secure the girls’ release. Buhari, who spoke to Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hasan in a wide-ranging and exclusive interview with the tv’s flagship current affairs show, ‘UpFront’, reiterated his pledge to defeat Boko Haram by December, but also acknowledged he would be willing to negotiate with the group to secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. The President in the interview which Headliner preview was monitored by Vanguard, said: “They (Boko Haram) have to prove to us that they (Chibok grils) are alive, they are well, and then we can…negotiate with them,” President Buhari told ‘UpFront’ host Mehdi Hasan. “We said it and we meant it. If we are satisfied that the girls are alive.” When asked whether he would offer financial payments, or a prisoner release, to Boko Haram in return for the girls, Buhari did not rule out either option. “Well it depends on the negotiations with the leadership of Boko Haram.” The President has pledged to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015 and told Hasan: “As soon as the rainy season comes, which is by the end of the year […] Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it [….] Attacks by Boko Haram on townships, on military installations, will certainly stop.” If Boko Haram isn’t defeated by December, however, Buhari said he “will not resign”. “I will be determined to stay and fight it out.” The President claimed not to have seen the Amnesty International report from June 2015, ‘Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands’, in which the human-rights group documented abuses, torture and unlawful killings by the Nigerian armed forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders. “I haven’t received that report personally,” said Buhari, “If I get those documents… I assure you that I will take action as Commander in Chief.” In the past, Buhari has been quoted as saying he supports “the total implementation of the sharia in the country” but he told ‘UpFront’ that “Nigerian law does not allow for” so-called sharia punishments, such as stonings and amputations, adding, “I cannot change it. I haven’t been voted by [a] majority of Nigerians to change Nigerian constitution.”

Our blog picture of the week

Nollywood changes entertainment landscape of Germany

History was recently made in Frankfurt, Germany at the just-concluded third edition of Nollywood Europe Golden Awards, NEGA, which is a platform designed to honour Nollywood stakeholders, stars, comedians, musicians (both in Africa and in the Diaspora) which has also been expanded to recognize the artistic bias of outstanding politicians and business men, whose actions have directly or indirectly impacted upon Nigerians worldwide and the industry in particular, thereby shaping what it has grown to become today. Nollywood Europe Golden Awards Gala Night, was the climax, heralding the closing ceremony of Nollywood Film Festival Germany – NFFG, a viable platform designed for Nollywood film makers to showcase their movies to Europeans and Nollywood fans in the Diaspora which held at the prestigious Filmforum Höchst VHS Cinema, Emmerich-Joselstr, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Describing the prestigious NEGA Award trophy on her Facebook timeline, one of the notable double-winner of this year’s awards, Senator of the United States of America, Senator Donzella James, Democratic Senator representing Metropolitan Atlanta’s 35th District of Georgia, wrote: “This is the most cherished award that I have ever received! The Nollywood European Golden Award, ‘the Mouthpiece for Voiceless Africans’ globally! I am humbled and truly honored!” Her Excellency, Senator Donzella James, was originally invited as Special Guest of Honour in recognition of what she does for the African people in the State that led to her being honoured by the Nigerian Community in the USA. But on a second thought, after a closer look at her blameless efforts in creating voice for the voiceless and less-privileged in her State and beyond, which led to her 2014 Friend Of Nigeria award from the Nigerian Women Association of Georgia, NWAG, and having Queen Blessing O. Itua a Nigerian, as Her International Liaison – Adviser, to name but a few, which are testaments of her love and support for the Nigerian people in particular and Africans in general, NEGA organizers were left with no other option than to surprise her with the prestigious award as a well-deserved winner of “Distinguished Mouth Piece Of The Voiceless Africans” with additional FESTAC head artifact that symbolizes Black freedom as Ehizoya’s first Highest Recognition Awards designed for very selected personalities with extraordinary track-record. Among those honoured at this year historic classic NEGA Awards gala-night are: The Edo State born USA-based Hollywood artiste, who is also an author, motivational speaker and the host of the gala-night, Queen Blessing O. Itua. The Hollywood actress / producer and of course, the International Liaison – Adviser to Senator Donzella James was awarded NEGA 2015 “Reputable Cross Cultural Actress”. Other big winners of the prestigious NEGA 2015 Awards are: Ime Bishop Umoh – “Best Comic Actor”, showstopper, Cossy Orjiako – “Distinctive Daring Actress” She has shattered records with a daring role in Nollywood’s blockbuster, Shattered Homes, Grand master comedian, Ereku Mofe aka Gandoki, awarded NEGA 2015 “Nigeria’s Most Creative Comedian”, Mr. Steve Olu, a trained Surveillance and Intelligence officer in Germany, manufacturer of sensitive camera that can film almost every impossible angles even under water by minimizing the rigorous filming risk in film making. – NEGA 2015 “NEGA Grand Innovation”, Mrs. Rosalyn Dressman, the President of African Union Tide e.V, also awarded NEGA 2015 “Grand Supporter of Nollywood in Germany”, Benjamin James, Former Stationary Store and Super Eagles player but now Bundesliga Junior Hoffenheim team coach – NEGA 2015 “Outstanding Diaspora Soccer Coach”, Victor Olusegun Akande, currently the Entertainment Editor at The Nation newspaper – NEGA 2015 “Distinguished Nollywood Critic” and the Art Editor of National Mirror newspaper, Mr. Emedolibe Ngozi Erasmus was also awarded “Outstanding Film art Critic of Nollywood”.

World News: CIS summit: Russia to bolster Central Asia military

Leaders of post-Soviet states are gathering in Kazakhstan to attend the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a regional organisation dominated by Russia. One of the key documents they are expected to sign is a concept of military co-operation until 2020. Russia has been pushing its military presence across the region and this document will certainly fit this policy. Interestingly, this document will be reviewed in Central Asia, where Russia has been rapidly increasingly its military capacity lately. Moscow struck deals with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to extend its bases till 2042 and 2032 respectively. It has announced an increase in troops in Tajikistan, its largest foreign base, from 5,900 to 9,000 soldiers by 2020. Russia is planning to renew the fleet of its airbase at Kant, Kyrgyzstan by 2016. It has already sent a dozen of new and modified versions of Su-25 fighter jets to replace older planes. It has been upgrading other equipment at the bases - from trucks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to drones. The Central military district that oversees Russian bases in Central Asia has recently announced that it will dispatch a helicopter unit to be stationed at the airbase in Ayni, Tajikistan. Moscow has been trying to gain access to this airbase since at least 2004. Russia has also pledged to provide $1bn to Kyrgyzstan in military aid. Tajikistan is receiving Russian military aid too, though the exact figures are not known. 'Growing threat' The number of military drills at Russian bases in the region and joint exercises with Central Asian forces has gone up recently. Alexander Golts, a Moscow-based military analyst, says that during such drills Russia is not only training its troops but also improving contacts between political leadership, to work on the scenario of obtaining "a legitimate right" to intervene with Russian troops at the early stage of a conflict. Moscow justifies building up a military presence in the region by highlighting the threat Central Asia and Russia are facing from Afghanistan and beyond. "There is a growing threat that terrorist and extremist groups can penetrate into the territories that border Afghanistan," said President Vladimir Putin at the Dushanbe summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led security bloc, in September. He added that the situation was exacerbated by the presence of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan.

Turkey: No deal on EU migrant crisis

A woman holds her child wrapped in an emergency blanket shortly after arriving with other migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos
Turkish officials have stressed that a plan agreed by EU officials for joint action with Turkey on the migrant crisis has not been finalised. The leaders agreed to speed up visa liberalisation talks for Turks if Turkey stems the influx. They also promised to "re-energise" talks on Turkey joining the EU and to consider more aid. However, Turkey's Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu said the agreement was still a draft. He called the financial measures proposed by the EU "unacceptable", according to the AFP news agency. Earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made scathing criticisms of Europe's reaction to the crisis. "They announce they'll take in 30,000 to 40,000 refugees and then they are nominated for the Nobel for that. We are hosting two and a half million refugees but nobody cares," he said.

Abductors of five teachers in Rivers demand 25m naira ransom

THE kidnappers of five secondary school teacher in Agba-Ndele community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State have demanded 25 million naira as ransom for the release of the teachers. Monday, gunmen stormed Rundele High School, Agba-Ndele and whisked away about five persons, composed of an NYSC members serving in the school, a civilian security attached to the school, and three other teachers from the school. So far, the visit of the gunmen to the school has ruptured the peace enjoyed by the people of the area leaving the people in total fear and tension. Five days after the abduction the teachers are yet to regain freedom, although, contact has been established with the abductors. The Community Development Committee, CDC, chairman of Agba-Ndele, Mr. Ikechi Chimezie who spoke exclusive to newsplanetb reporters, disclosed that contact has been established with the gunmen and that they (the kidnappers) are demanding 25m to free the five persons in their custody. Chimezie said that the community does not have such money to pay for the release rather called on the kidnappers to please free the teachers unconditionally.

I Won’t Resign Over Boko Haram – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will not resign if he does not fulfill his promise of defeating Boko Haram by December 2015. In a recent interview with Aljazeera, he acknowledged that he would be willing to negotiate with the Boko Haram group to secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. oko Haram in return for the girls, Buhari did not rule out either option. “Well it depends on the negotiations with the leadership of Boko Haram.” The president has pledged to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015 and “as soon as the rainy season comes, which is by the end of the year… Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it …. Attacks by Boko Haram on townships, on military installations, will certainly stop.” If Boko Haram isn’t defeated by December, however, Buhari said he “will not resign. I will be determined to stay and fight it out.” The president claimed not to have seen the Amnesty International report from June 2015, ‘Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands’, in which the human-rights group documented abuses, torture and unlawful killings by the Nigerian armed forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders. “I haven’t received that report personally,” said Buhari. “If I get those documents… I assure you that I will take action as Commander in Chief.” The president refused to concede that his now-notorious ‘war against indiscipline’ in the 1980s featured any such “injustice”. The full interview will air of Aljazeera later today, October 16, by 7.30pm.

Ghana Escapes Gas Cut Threat, Pays $10m

Ghana Escapes Gas Cut Threat, Pays $10m

The Government of Ghana has paid part of its debt to the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo) and Nigeria Gas Association (NGA). The US$10 million paid yesterday Thursday 15th October 2015 buys Ghana time to conclude negotiations to avert cut in gas supply to Ghana WAPCo suspended the treat to cut gas supply to Ghana after US$10 million was paid. Ghana owes WAPCo and the Nigerian Gas Association over US$ 180 million. NGAs is owned by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and other multinational oil companies including Chevron and Shell. The partners are expected to meet over the weekend to structure out a payment plan which will be agreed on by other partners.
Diezani Alison-Madueke, the ex-minister of petroleum, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, has reacted to the Senate screening of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial appointees. Clem Aguiyi, Diezani’s media consultant, praised the Senate for televising live the screening of ministerial appointees. He commented on the screening of Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, saying that the wonderful performance of the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) during the screening confirmed almost all the policies championed and actions taken by Alison-Madueke. Aguiyi further praised the NNPC chief for speaking from the courage of his convictions because his declared plans to distribute free cylinders to every home with gas stations closer to homes is in line with Alison-Madueke’s stimulation of gas-based industrialisation. He also stated that Alison-Madueke, besides the PIB, also backed the execution of local content in the oil sector and pushed for the adoption of the Nigerian Content Development Bill into law as a major priority. According to Aguiyi, when Diezani was a minister, “Nigerians, for the first time, also made critical infrastructure investments such as marine vessels, petroleum jetties and depots to the extent that over 50 % of vessels operating in Nigeria are owned by Nigerian indigenes.” “The nation cannot simply wish away the fact that as oil minister, Alison-Madueke made giant strides, as she laid down solid foundations and made achievements that can be built upon by the current and future administration,” the statement concluded. Alison-Madueke was arrested in London on suspicion of bribery and money laundering earlier in October.

Ambode implores military to comply with state’s traffic laws

Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Friday appealed to the military to comply with the state traffic and environmental laws. Ambode, represented by his deputy, Dr Idiat Adebule, made the appeal at the Lagos House, Alausa during a courtesy visit by participants of Course 24 National Defence College, Abuja led by Brig.-Gen. Mahe Bashir. Ambode sought the cooperation of the military in moving the state forward. “Over the years, the military has cooperated with us but I once again seek for more cooperation in ensuring that these laws are adhered to seriously. “We have always been partners in progress; we have always been supportive of one another. “It is not in our character to embarrass one another; we want the partnership to continue,” he said. The governor commended the military for its tremendous contributions and efforts in securing the state. ’’The issue of security is very important and we want you to please continue in that trend so that together we can make Lagos the Lagos of our dreams,” he said. Earlier, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, said that the officers were on a five- day strategic study tour to understudy the internal revenue service of the state. Bashir said that one of the objectives of the tour was to expose participants to the socio-political economic realities of the state. He said that the participants were expected to carry out a research on selected topical issues, with a view to proffering solutions and identifying challenges.