Monday, December 21, 2015

Wrong contestant crowned at Miss Universe 2015

Beauty pageants are places where grace and poise are meant to rule, but a decidedly awkward moment stole the show Sunday. Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey wrongfully declared Miss Colombia the winner when she was the first runner-up. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, the contestant from the Philippines, had won.
A contrite Harvey was forced to fix his mistake. "OK folks ... I have to apologize," he told a confused crowd in Las Vegas.
"Let me just take control of this. This is exactly what's on the card. I will take responsibility for this.

It was my mistake. It was on the card." Moments before, he'd announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner, and she was crowned. Waving a Colombian flag and smiling broadly, she blew kisses at the audience.

 When Harvey returned to the stage, Wurtzbach appeared at a loss of what to do. Stunned, she walked to the front of the stage, where the coveted crown was taken off the head of Miss Colombia and put on hers.

 Harvey later took to Twitter to apologize, but he made another misstep when he misspelled both Colombia and the Philippines in an initial tweet.

That message was deleted. "I don't want to take away from this amazing night and pageant. As well as the wonderful contestants. They were all amazing," Harvey wrote.

NIGERIA MUST DRAFT A VERY STRONG NATIONAL POLICY IN THE USE OF DRONE WITHIN THE COUNTRY

A Brief History of Drones

Image result for general policies on the use of droneWith the invention of drones, we crossed into a new frontier: killing that’s risk-free, remote, and detached from human cues. It was ten years ago this month, on February 4, 2002, that the CIA first used an unmanned Predator drone in a targeted killing.

The strike was in Paktia province in Afghanistan, near the city of Khost.

The intended target was Osama bin Laden, or at least someone in the CIA had thought so. Donald Rumsfeld later explained, using the passive voice of government: “A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile.

It was fired.” The incident occurred during a brief period when the military,
which assisted the CIA’s drone program by providing active service personnel as operators,
still acknowledged the program’s existence.

Within days of the strike, journalists on the ground were collecting accounts from local Afghans that the dead men were civilians gathering scrap metal. The Pentagon media pool began asking questions, and so the long decade of the drone began. The CIA had been flying unarmed drones over Afghanistan since 2000.

It began to fly armed drones after the September 11 attacks. Some were used during the air war against the Taliban in late 2001. But by February 2002 the CIA hadn’t yet used a drone for a strike outside military support. The February 2002 attack was a pure CIA kill operation, undertaken separately from any ongoing military operation.
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The drone operators were reported to have come across three people at a former mujahedeen base called Zhawar Kili—later, officials would never claim they were armed—including a “tall man” to whom the other men were “acting with reverence.” (On one previous occasion, a year before the September 11 attacks, CIA observers thought they’d seen bin Laden: a tall man with long robes near Tarnak Farm, bin Laden’s erstwhile home near Kandahar.

This sighting by an unarmed drone was what had led to the first arguments among the White House and CIA about arming drones with missiles, a debate that simmered until it was snuffed out by the September 11 attacks.)

After the February 2002 strike, military officials quickly acknowledged that the “tall man” was not bin Laden. But they insisted the targets were “legitimate,” although they struggled to explain why, using vague and even coy language to cover up what appeared to be uncertainty. Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clark said, “We’re convinced that it was an appropriate target.” But she added, “We do not know yet exactly who it was.

” Gen. Tommy Franks told ABC News that he expected the identities of the three to prove “interesting.” Pentagon spokesman John Stufflebeem spoke of the government’s being in the “comfort zone” of determining that the targets were “not innocent,” noting there were “no initial indications that these were innocent locals,” a curious phrase reflecting a presumption of guilt.

Image result for general policies on the use of drone“Indicators were there that there was something untoward that we needed to make go away…. Initial indications would seem to say that these are not peasant people up there farming.” Rumsfeld later chimed in, offering his signature pseudo-philosophical analysis to address the allegations that the dead were civilians. “We’ll just have to find out.


There’s not much more anyone could add, except that there’s that one version, and there’s the other version.” The government’s evasion was helped by the fact that Zhawar Kili, the site of the strike, was an infamous mujahedeen complex built with CIA and Saudi support by Jalaluddin Haqqani, the mujahedeen scion allied with the Taliban, then and now.

In the 1980s CIA officers and journalists used to visit the base. It was the site of two major battles against Soviet forces in the mid-’80s. President Bill Clinton ordered a strike on the area with Tomahawk cruise missiles in 1998 after the two Africa embassy bombings, and the US military pummeled it with airstrikes beginning in late 2001.

For a time the military thought that bin Laden and his Al Qaeda forces might have fled to Zhawar Kili after the battle of Tora Bora (a puzzling hypothesis because the area had already been hit by withering fire and was more exposed than Tora Bora).

In January 2002 the military sent several search and demolition units there to gather leftover material with potential intelligence value and to blow up the caves.
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By February 2002 the place had been deserted by militants for months.

Several journalists headed to Zhawar Kili after the strike and spoke with local leaders and the families of the dead, who confirmed the identities of the men killed: Daraz Khan, the tall man, about 31, from the village of Lalazha, and two others, Jehangir Khan, about 28, and Mir Ahmed, about 30, from the village of Patalan. The New York Times’s John Burns was among those who spoke with the families, saw the men’s graves and confirmed their extreme poverty.

The men had climbed to the mountainous area to forage for leftover metal from the US airstrikes, bits of shrapnel and bomb tail fins—scavengers could fetch about 50 cents per camel load. Although Daraz Khan was admittedly tall by Afghan standards—5 feet 11 inches—he was six inches shorter than bin Laden.

Reading about the strike later, I felt a slight connection with Daraz Khan. I am also 5 feet 11, and at around the same period I spent time foraging for bomb fragments in remote locations in Afghanistan. As a researcher for Human Rights Watch, working on an assessment of the US air war in the winter and spring of 2002, I had visited locations like Zhawar Kili.

With colleagues I had climbed into craters, poked at the twisted tail fins of bombs, and interviewed witnesses and families of the dead. And I was the tallest among my colleagues. Perhaps I could have been mistaken for bin Laden too.

 Air warfare has been with us for a hundred years, since the Italian invasion of Libya in 1911, and the development of drones was in the works from the start. The reason is simple: even with all the advantages offered by air power, humans still needed to strap themselves into the devices and fly them. There were limits to the risks that could be taken. Whatever an airplane was used for, it ultimately had to return to base with its pilot.

Image result for general policies on the use of droneNot surprisingly, from the start of the development of airplanes for use in war, engineers labored to circumvent this limitation. During World War I, the Navy hired Elmer Ambrose Sperry, the inventor of the gyroscope, to develop a fleet of “air torpedoes,” unmanned Curtis biplanes designed to be launched by catapult and fly over enemy positions.

A secret program was run out of a small outfield in central Long Island, New York.

A New York Times report from 1926, when the secret was revealed, said that the planes were “automatically guided with a high degree of precision” and after a predetermined distance were supposed to suddenly turn and fly vertically downward, carrying enough TNT to “blow a small town inside out.” The program ran out of steam because the war ended in 1918.

In reality, according to a Navy history, the planes rarely worked: they typically crashed after takeoff or flew away over the ocean, never to be seen again. In World War II a different approach was taken: the Navy launched a new program, called Operation Anvil, to target deep German bunkers using refitted B-24 bombers filled to double capacity with explosives and guided by remote control devices to crash at selected targets in Germany and Nazi-controlled France.

Remote control technology was still limited—involving crude radio-controlled devices linked to motors—so actual pilots were used for takeoff: they were supposed to guide the plane to a cruising altitude and then parachute to safety in England, after which a “mothership” would guide the plane to its target.

In practice, the program was a disaster. Many planes crashed, or worse. John F. Kennedy’s older brother, Joseph, was one of the program’s first pilots: he was killed in August 1944 when a drone-to-be that he was piloting exploded prematurely over Suffolk, England. And here lies a small irony in history.

The target of that particular mission of Kennedy’s was a Nazi site where scientists were working on technology in the same vein, the remote delivery of explosives: the world’s first military rocket program. Indeed, German engineers had switched to rocketry, given the difficulties in building full-scale pilotless airplanes.

They worked extensively on rockets during the war, and after the war US and Russian governments carried on their work.

(In the late 1940s and ’50s, hundreds of former German rocket engineers and other Nazi scientists were brought to the United States and granted citizenship in exchange for their help on rocket engineering efforts—some despite clear ties to Holocaust-related atrocities. Stanley Kubrick’s character Dr. Strangelove was a caricature of an expatriate Nazi scientist.)

The development of drones stagnated for decades because there was little need for them, thanks to developments in rocketry. By the late 1950s, the US military had developed, in addition to many rockets, a slew of slower but more guidable “cruise missiles”—which, in their own way, were like little airplanes.

Cruise missiles maintain airplanelike “lift” on stubby little wings, unlike ballistic missiles, which move through a long curve of flight comprising a launch and rise followed by a guided fall. Cruise missiles were, in a sense, proto-drones, miniature versions of what the military had attempted as far back as 1917.

They could be dispatched and guided in flight; some had cameras; and, in some incarnations, could even change target midflight. But cruise missiles could not linger over a battlefield in the manner of a holding pattern, nor could they return to base. And their weapons delivery was blunt and inflexible; the delivery was the missile itself, its single warhead.

So in the 1960s and ’70s, Air Force engineers continued to tinker with unmanned aircraft—in particular for use in surveillance flights, which don’t engage in complex flight maneuvers and require less sophisticated piloting. Only with major improvements in computing and electronic controlling systems in the 1980s and ’90s were modern-day drones made possible. And it wasn’t until the late ’90s that the Air Force began working on the technical aspects of arming unmanned aircraft with missiles.

The CIA, which had been using the drones for surveillance, became involved with the military effort to arm them after September 11. Although the agency had been authorized to support military operations even before the attacks, the legal parameters governing its involvement in military or paramilitary operations were murky, then as now.
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There were questions about who was allowed to “pull the trigger” and in what settings. Outright assassinations were illegal under a presidential executive order in the wake of CIA scandals from the Nixon period, and the laws of armed conflict contained complicated provisions on the circumstances in which civilian personnel—CIA officers not in uniform—could use lethal force. So government attorneys worried back in 2001.

Ten years later, the CIA works side by side with the military, launching kinetic strikes from Pakistan to Somalia. Few concerns are raised anymore, except by a handful of academics and activists who worry that the CIA is less accountable than the military for its targetting (and, as we saw in Zhawar Kili, for its mistakes).

Still, many people seem to be leery of drones in the abstract—whether they are used in armed conflict or in targeted killings.

What, in the final analysis, is troubling about the CIA’s use of drones? Drones are only one weapon system among many, and the CIA’s role, while disturbing, is not the primary cause for alarm. Certainly the legal identity of drone operators, CIA or military, matters little to the victims of a Hellfire strike.

So what is it about the drone, really, that draws the attention of victims, insurgent propagandists, lawyers and journalists, more than other forms of kinetic violent force? Why do drones interest us, fascinate us or disturb us? Perhaps one clue comes from the linguistics. The weapons’ names suggest ruthless and inhumane characteristics.

The first drone aircraft deployed by the CIA and Air Force after 2001 was the Predator, a rather coarse name even for a weapons system, suggestive that the enemy was not human but merely prey, that military operations were not combat subject to the laws of war but a hunt. (Some of the computer software used by the military and the CIA to calculate expected civilian casualties during airstrikes is known in government circles as Bug Splat.)

The Predator’s manufacturer, General Atomics, later developed the larger Reaper, a moniker implying that the United States was fate itself, cutting down enemies who were destined to die. That the drones’ payloads were called Hellfire missiles, invoking the punishment of the afterlife, added to a sense of righteousness.

 But the real issue is the context of how drones kill. The curious characteristic of drones—and the names reinforce this—is that they are used primarily to target individual humans, not places or military forces as such. Yet they simultaneously obscure the human role in perpetrating the violence.

Unlike a missile strike, in which a physical or geographic target is chosen beforehand, drones linger, looking precisely for a target—a human target. And yet, at the same time, the perpetrator of the violence is not physically present.

Observers are drawn toward thinking that it is the Predator that kills Anwar al-Awlaki, or its Hellfire missiles, not the CIA officers who order the weapons’ engagement. On the one hand, we have the most intimate form of violence—the targeted killing of a specific person, which in some contexts is called assassination—while on the other hand, the least intimate of weapons.

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This characteristic, the distance between targets and CIA executive officers at Langley, is the defining characteristic of drones. They are the zenith of the technological quest that runs back to the invention of slings and arrows thousands of years ago, efforts of the earliest perpetrators of violence to get away from their victims.

That process, which brought catapults and later artillery, reached its first peak with the development of intercontinental nuclear missiles; but those are weapons of limited tactical use and have never been used. Drones allow all the alienation of long-range missions but with much more flexibility and capacity for everyday use. The net result is everyday violence with all the distance and alienation of ICBMs. This is disturbing perhaps because alienation is disturbing.

 The work of animal behaviorists like Konrad Lorenz sheds some light on why. Lorenz—a onetime member of the Nazi party who later renounced his politics and won the Nobel Prize in the 1970s—spent much of his life studying violence in animals. His book On Aggression posited a theory whereby many animals, male and female, have a natural “drive” to be aggressive against opponents, including members of their own species.

 The aggression drive, Lorenz posited, was often limited within species by a “submission” phenomenon, whereby potential victims turn off the aggressive drive in others by displaying signs of submission. In this way, most animal violence is checked before it occurs. Lorenz suggested that in humans, the submission safety valve was blunted by the technological creation of weapons, which emotionally “distanced” the killer from his victim.

When a spear or sling is used to kill, victims lose the opportunity to engage in submission and trigger the aggression “off switch.” The drone represents an extreme extension of that process. Drones crossed into a new frontier in military affairs: an area of entirely risk-free, remote and even potentially automated killing detached from human behavioral cues.

 Military research seems to back this up. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a psychologist and former professor at West Point, has written extensively on the natural human aversion to killing. His 1995 book On Killing contains a collection of accounts from his research and from military history demonstrating soldiers’ revulsion with killing—in particular, killing at close range.

He tells the story of a Green Beret in Vietnam describing the killing of a young Vietnamese soldier: “I just opened up, fired the whole twenty rounds right at the kid, and he just laid there. I dropped my weapon and cried.” The most telling accounts are with the “close” kills of hand-to-hand combat.

Grossman tells of a Special Forces sergeant from the Vietnam War describing a close kill: “‘When you get up close and personal,’ he drawled with a cud of chewing tobacco in his cheek, ‘where you can hear ‘em scream and see ‘em die,’ and here he spit tobacco for emphasis, ‘it’s a bitch.’” 

Obviously the primary advantage of the drone is that it insulates its operators from risk. Yet one can’t help wondering whether aversion to the unpleasantness of violence is another factor making drones popular with the military and CIA.

Image result for general policies on the use of droneDrones make the nasty business of killing a little easier. Or do they? There are reports of military drone operators suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and studies showing that those who conduct strikes or watch videos of strikes suffer from “operational stress,” which officials believe is the result of operators’ long hours and extended viewing of video feeds showing the results of military operations after they have occurred—i.e., dead bodies. Still, these reports pale in comparison with those of PTSD among combat veterans.


And there is no public information about stress among those ordering the strikes—the CIA strike operators or the decision-makers at Langley. A little-noticed 2011 British Defense Ministry study of unmanned drones discusses some of these points: from concerns about drone operators’ potential alienation from violence to the propaganda opportunities for enemies (noting that drones’ use “enables the insurgent to cast himself in the role of underdog and the West as a cowardly bully—that is unwilling to risk his own troops, but is happy to kill remotely”).

The paper also discusses concerns raised by military analyst Peter Singer, who has written on “robot warfare” and the risk that drones might acquire the capacity to engage enemies autonomously. The report envisions a scenario where a drone fires on a target “based solely on its own sensors, or shared information, and without recourse to higher, human authority.

” The authors note that in warfare, the risks of the battlefield and the horror that comes from carrying out violence can act as controls on brutality. Citing the oft-quoted adage of Gen. Robert E. Lee, reportedly uttered after the battle of Fredericksburg, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow too fond of it,” the authors then ask: If we remove the risk of loss from the decision-makers’ calculations when considering crisis management options, do we make the use of armed force more attractive?

Will decision-makers resort to war as a policy option far sooner than previously? The issue is not that armed drones are more terrible or deadly than other weapons systems. On the contrary, the violence of drones today is more selective than many forms of military violence, and human rights groups recognize that drones, in comparison with less precise weapons, have the potential to minimize civilian casualties during legitimate military strikes.

 Nor is the issue the remote delivery of weapons: alienation from the effects of violence reached a high-water mark in World War I. What makes drones disturbing is an unusual combination of characteristics: the distance between killer and killed, the asymmetry, the prospect of automation and, most of all, the minimization of pilot risk and political risk.

It is the merging of these characteristics that draws the attention of journalists, military analysts, human rights researchers and Al Qaeda propagandists, suggesting something disturbing about what human violence may become.

The unique technology allows the mundane and regular violence of military force to be separated further from human emotion. Drones foreshadow the idea that brutality could become detached from humanity—and yield violence that is, as it were, unconscious. In this sense, drones foretell a future that is very dark indeed.

There is an urgent need for a national policy frame work on the use of drone in Nigeria for security reasons, because such avenue can be deployed by the insurgence to destroy  lives and property, so government should rise and create a policy that will guard the use of this machine before it go rampant.

FIFA: SEPP BLATTER, MICHEL PLATINI BANNED FOR 8 YEARS

According to CCN, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been banned from all football-related activities for eight years by FIFA's Ethics Committee.

December 21 2015: FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini are banned by FIFA's Ethics Committee for eight years. The ban relates to all football-related activity and is effective immediately.
Football's world governing body's Ethics Committee ruled Monday that both FIFA president, Blatter and his UEFA (European football's governing body)
counterpart Platini had broken FIFA Code of Ethics relating to conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and gifts.



The pair were cleared of bribery and corruption allegations. "The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee chaired by Mr Hans‑Joachim Eckert has banned Mr Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA, for eight years and Mr Michel Platini, Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of FIFA and President of UEFA, for eight years from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) on a national and international level," the FIFA statement read.

"The bans come into force immediately." The pair had disciplinary hearings before FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert in Zurich Thursday and Friday over a $2 million payment made to Platini in 2011 by world football's governing body and signed off by Blatter.

Both men denied any wrongdoing. Blatter and Platini, who faced charges including corruption, conflict of interest and non-cooperation, had said the payment was honoring an agreement made in 1998 for work carried out between 1998 and 2002, when Platini worked as a technical adviser for the FIFA president.

Blatter and Platini were provisionally suspended by FIFA for 90 days in October -- alongside FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke -- with both immediately appealing the decision. Platini, who refused to attend his hearing in protest, took a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) earlier this month, but saw his suspension upheld.

Platini, who enjoyed a successful career as a player for Juventus and France, was hoping to replace Blatter as the head of FIFA at the February 26 election, however, the ban looks likely to have killed off his chances.

The pair could decide to challenge the decision at the FIFA Appeal Committee and then at CAS. FIFA has been besieged by crisis ever since seven of its members were arrested and 14 senior executives charged in May shortly before Blatter won a fifth term in office.

Extraditions and criminal charges followed as federal prosecutors in the United States continued its investigations while Swiss authorities quizzed Blatter on suspicion of "criminal mismanagement.

Friday, December 18, 2015

ECOWAS URGE WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO BAN USE OF FULL-FACE VEILS

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders have been urged to ban the wearing of full-face veils by Muslim women as part of an effort to limit the growing number of Boko Haram female suicide bombings.

veilECOWAS President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told reporters at the close of a two-day summit in Abuja that countries should enforce the ban “in line with their national realities.”

The move would forbid dress that prevents security personnel from being able to identify women. Boko Haram jihadists have since July been using young women and girls as suicide bombers by hiding explosives in their loose-fitting clothes.


Congo Republic, Senegal and Cameroon have all banned the wearing of full-face veils in public. According to Osman Mohammed a professor of political science at Kaduna State University in Nigeria who spoke on the issue, the ban may be met with resistance, particularly from conservative Muslim groups, at the same time, the right to exercise one’s religion must go hand in hand with security concerns for the public.

 “It will have some social, political dimensions. Socially and culturally and religiously, predominantly Muslims wear the veil as a compulsory. So I think that [the ban] would have little bit of resistance with the conservatives such as the ones we witnessed in Kaduna that had clash with authorities. They will never accept such order.

So you will have stiff resistance on one side, and also you will have some acceptance on the other side,” he said. Mohammed said the ban has worked in Cameroon and Chad, it can also work in other West African countries if the governments of those countries educate their people about the ban. 

“Except of course, public enlightenment would have to come in there, both international and domestic media have to help in public enlightenment as to why that has to happen and for how long. It has to also happen in a way that it would be a temporary measure. How temporary, I don’t know and it might not be certain,” Mohammed said.

 To those who say the ban would infringe on the religious rights of the women wearing them, Mohammed said in the wake of Boko Haram’s deadly violence, national security should outweigh personal religious freedom.

“I believe that the freedom to exercise your religion should be done with total concern about security as well. I think where there is no security, religious practices will not take place as well,” Mohammed said.

LAFIAGI SUGAR FACTORY BOUNCE BACK SOON

The new owner of Lafiagi Sugar supposed to have over 400 hectares of planted sugar cane in the site. It is supposed to have brought in its machineries by now. That is, by March 2015, it is supposed to have imported it’s machineries but nothing like that has happened.

Lafiagi-Sugar-factory
Inspite of having both comparative and competitive advantage to produce sufficient quantity of sugar for domestic consumption and for export,
Nigeria only produce two per cent of her sugar needs while we import the remaining 98 percent of raw and cube sugar. If you compare this to other West African countries, that two per cent is the lowest.


For instance, Benin Republic produces 25.6 per cent of their sugar requirement; Burkina Faso, 47 per cent; Cote d’Ivoire, 54 per cent; Senegal, 48 per cent and Mali, 28 per cent. Indeed, according to the former minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, Nigeria does not feature in the top 10 producers and exporters in the world but we are number four in terms of top 10 importers in the world. That is not where we want to be.

 Therefore, in order to raise the country’s local sugar production to a self-sufficiency level; stem the tide of high importation of the commodity, the Federal Government through the National Sugar Master Plan, NSMP, put in place policies and incentives to support existing and new investors in the industry.

These include zero per cent on machinery and spare parts for local sugar manufacturing industries; outright ban on the importation of refined sugar in retail packs and 30 per cent tax credit on the cost of provision of critical infrastructure by sugar cane to sugar project investors.

 In the NSMP projection, if all the privatised sugar mills in the country are fully operational, they will save the economy $416 million (about N69 billion) in foreign exchange, contribute to the production of ethanol/ generation of about 411MW of electricity; 1.6 million tonnes of animal feeds, 37,378 permanent jobs and 79,803 seasonal jobs by year 2015.

 In view of this, Vanguard investigated what is happening to these mills that were privatized by the Federal Government through the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE. These mills include Savannah Sugar Company at Numan in Adamawa State which was bought over by Dangote Group.

Then there is Lafiagi Sugar Company, Bacita Sugar Company all in Edu Local Government, Kwara State. We sought to find if they are partially or fully back to production, what are their economic impacts on the economy, the community; what challenges are they facing and things like that.

Our first investigation took us to Lafiagi Sugar which is two and a half hours drive from Ilorin by car.
Background 

Lafiagi Sugar Company was established as a joint venture between the Federal Government and Mehta Group of India. The Indian firm eventually pulled out of the technical agreement in 1985 leaving the Nigerian government as the 100 percent owner of the company.

Over time, however, production declined in the factory due to the poor technical and financial performance of the company, leading to the federal government’s decision to privatise the company. 

The privatisation exercise was carried out by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) through a guided liquidation strategy to ensure its assets were sold en-bloc and to a single buyer who would continue the business of sugar refining and BUA group emerged as the preferred private company to take over the company.

Newsplanetb learned that production stopped in 2000, that is 15 years ago, after it was sold out by the federal government to the new buyer at the cost of N135 million. It was further learned that during its thriving days the company was doing 500 bags of sugar per day with staff strength of 200-250 directly and 400 indirectly. The reality on ground are that only a few (security, drivers and administrative) staff are remaining at the factory.

Newsplanetb gathered that the new owners have brought in tractors and have cultivated five hectares out of 15,000 hectares of land which the host community released for the projects. It was also gathered that a new plant will be constructed by the new owner; the machine have not arrive and it will take three years to install them.

This implies that full production may not commence until sometimes in 2018 or 2020. The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), NSDC, Dr. Abdullatif Demola Busari, noted: “By now, the new owner of Lafiagi Sugar supposed to have over 400 hectares of planted sugar cane in the site. It is supposed to have brought in its machineries by now.

That is, by March 2015, it is supposed to have imported it’s machineries but nothing like that has happened.” Mr. Isiaku Samuel the General Manager of the company in Lafiagi, stated that despite the challenges faced in taking full ownership of the site after BUA purchased the company through a privatization exercise, BUA has gone ahead to mobilise manpower and equipment to kick-start the once-moribund facility in addition to acquiring an additional 50,000hectares in Bassa Local Government of Kogi State for sugarcane farming.

 Speaking during the visit of inter-ministerial National Sugar Roadmap Implementation Committee (SURMIC) of the Federal Government to the Lafiagi plantation specifically on Monday, December 7, 2015, he said: “We are happy with this visit by the National Sugar Roadmap Implementation Committee to verify ongoing work at our facility.

Whilst we have made considerable efforts in developing a sugarcane nursery and land development activities for the next planting season, we have also deployed additional manpower and equipment to fast-track the development of the plantation,” he said.

Impacts on host community 

However, a cross section of residents of the host community who spoke to Vanguard, said that since the new owner took over, the company is yet to operate and impact significantly and positively in their lives.

They appealed to the Federal Government to enforce BUA to commence its operations with immediate effect. A retiree of Edu local government and a native of the community, Mr. Saliu Musa recalled: “When the company was operational, older and younger ones no fewer than 500 were employed. The company was working very well then but since the take-over by the new management, they have sent the staff away and most of them have resorted to doing any menial jobs available.

 Similarly, Kayode Buraimah, a youth leader in the area expressed utter disappointment that the new owner had not done anything to revive the company since it bought it over. “We were happy when the company was sold to BUA thinking it will be brought back to life.

We all submitted our Curriculum Vitae, even recently to the emir as instructed so that we can be employed but since then, it has been one story or the other,” he said. He, therefore, urged the management to do everything within its means to ensure that Lafiagi Sugar Company is returned back to its glorious days so that it could offer employment opportunities to the teaming youths of the area and thereby enhance the nation’s economic development.

NIGERIA SHOULD KEEP A CLOSE WATCH TO THE SHIITE GROUP


This video was released immediately after the Shiite clash with the military authority of Nigeria at Zaria Kaduna State.



That video clip is showing a telephone conversation between the Shiite group leader Ibrahim Zak Zaki and some foreign partners or sponsors, telling him to update them on every issue concerning the clash between them and Nigerian Military.

Many Muslims did not support this Shiite movement in Nigeria, they are threat to the government of Nigeria because of their IRAN link, Nigerians are afraid of this sect becoming or forming the next BOKO-HARAM version.

Nigerians are yet to understand the interest and benefit of IRAN towards this issue of Shiite and Nigerian Military, their links and contributions to Shiite group in Nigeria.

The way and manners in which the Shiite group are confronting the government of the day indirectly with much confidence, is becoming questionable, as if they are sponsored to do so. Nigerian government should rise and scatter this group on-time, to avoid any other sect spring up as terrorist.

For Shiite group to challenge the authority of Nigerian Military, this is a clear indication and dangerous signal showing signs of sponsorship by some foreign authorities yet to be identified.

The Shiite group leader Ibrahim Zak Zaki, is indirectly portraying the same attitude like the BOKO-HARAM leader Mohammed Yusuf, it started just like this and ended as a massive terrorist group in Nigeria.

The same Zak Zaki was jailed by Gen. Sani Abacha for three good years, and three of his sons where killed last year, this is to show how dangerous Zak Zaki would be to Nigeria as a nation if not stopped and monitored from now.

Newsplanetb gathered

NULLIFICATION OF MY ELECTION A TEMPORARY SETBACK SAYS - GOVERNOR WIKE

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has described the nullification of his election as a temporary setback, saying that God's will and the mandate of the people will prevail at the end of the day.

 Addressing thousands of Rivers State people who thronged the Port Harcourt International Airport to receive him on Thursday, Governor Wike urged the people to remain peaceful as the state remains PDP despite the contrived situation at present.



He assured the people that his lawyers have already started the process of Appeal to the Supreme Court, noting that after the Supreme Court, the PDP will work with whatever judgment emanates from the apex court.

The governor said the PDP is ready for the National Assembly elections as ordered by the Appeal Court, but warned that the people will resist any attempt by the Federal Government to use soldiers and policemen to manipulate the elections.

He said : "I want to warn, let nobody attempt to do what happened in Bayelsa State here. Since they said they have annulled the elections, let them come and conduct fresh elections. Let nobody think that they can use soldiers and policemen to intimidate us. We will resist any such attempt. We have maintained our cool for a long time.

Our calmness should not be mistaken as a sign of weakness ". The governor stated that Rivers people are peace loving, but they hate injustice and intimidation. He advised all PDP members in the state to commence unit to unit and ward to ward campaigns for the National Assembly elections.

"We shall return all our National Assembly members as a way to disgrace those who think they will snatch the mandate of the people", he said.

He said that the administration will continue to work for the people of the state and deliver good governance and projects to the people. Governor Wike was welcomed by the speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, members of the State Executive Council, former National Assembly members, PDP leaders, Local Government Caretaker Chairmen, women and youth groups.

Simeon Nwakaudu, 
Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

High Court Decides Kanu's Bail

Image result for Radio Biafra, Nnamdi KanuThe Federal High Court in Abuja today, December 17, has ordered immediate and unconditional release of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, bail. Presiding over a bail application filed by Egechukwu Obetta, Kanu’s counsel, Justice Ademola Adeniyi ordered that the Biafra agitator be released. Adeniyi’s order came after Obetta challenged the continuous detention of his client by the State Security Services (SSS) following an order obtained from the Federal High Court to detain Kanu for 90 days.






But Obetta in his submissions said the SSS had fraudulently approached the court to obtain the order even while the case was before a chief magistrate, Shuaibu Usman of the magistrate court in Abuja. Obetta asked the court to revoke its order which alleged that Kanu was being investigated for terrorism and terrorism funding by the SSS. Also speaking on today’s court ruling, Obetta said this order is a victory for justice and democracy.

Kanu, who is also the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra has been in the DSS custody since October when he was arraigned by the DSS operatives in Lagos and moved to Abuja. Arguing, the counsel to the DSS, Mr. Moses Idakwo, objected to Kanu’s bail application and asked the court not to admit the suspect on bail because he was allegedly involved in terrorism acts. A Magistrate Court sitting in Abuja on December 16 discharged the cases against Kanu. However, his lawyer Vuincent Obette said that Biafra leader is yet to be released from the custody.

42 S-East, S-South groups parley on rallies for true federalism

Image result for Igbo Youth Movement,A coalition of 42 South East and South-South groups, yesterday, met in Enugu State, to finalize plans for the mega rallies to sensitise Nigerians towards “restructuring the country along the lines of true federalism.

” According to the organisers, the rallies earlier planned to hold in 13 cities and towns in the South East, would now hold in 20 cities and towns within the two zones.


Speaking, the convener of the meeting and the founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, Evangelist Elliot Uko said, that the peaceful marches for true federalism had become important since the country had been run as unitary administration, imposed by the military since 1966.



He said: “For 49 years, Nigeria has been boiling consistently, sometimes silently seething with rage inside; sometimes the lava would hot up and the hot coke gushes out like a volcanic eruption. “Imposed peace of 1970 has worn out, everybody is on edge. June 12, 1993 election would not have been annulled if Nigeria was practising true federalism.

It was annulled because of the winner-takes-all altitude of any holder of central power in Nigeria, which keeps the stakes so high that the struggle for centre is usually fierce and victory usually vindictive.

“The Niger Delta militancy and Boko Haram, among others, would never have happened if Nigeria practised true federalism where regions are free to develop their zones, according to their culture, faith and style. We have been deceiving ourselves for too long.

 “With Boko Haram still on the rampage in the North East and Shiite Muslims wahala erupting now in the North West, added to the Biafra agitation in the East, you’ll wonder why any sensible person will want Nigeria to continue with this unacceptable 1999 Constitution.

The belief of the Federal Government that force will quench this tension is false and counter-productive. “Nigeria clearly needs a new constitution, one built on true federalism. This unitary structure is clearly not working.”

Senate approves MTEF as oil prices, Naira crash further and Dollar taking the lead

The Senate, yesterday, approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP, 2016-18 submitted by the Federal Government, basing the financial estimates on oil revenue at benchmark of $38 per barrel and exchange rate at N197/ $1.

PIC.23. SENATE CHAMBER DURING THE INAUGURATION OF THE 8TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY (9/6/15). 3023/9/6/2015/CH/BJO/NAN
MTEF and FSP are the three-year fiscal plan from where the annual budget is extracted. But the international oil prices and the domestic currency market at the parallel segment
have all moved against both benchmarks, yesterday.



 While the global oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude closed, yesterday, at $35.83 per barrel, down by 4.07 per cent and Brent Crude down by 3.25 per cent to $37.20 per barrel, the OPEC reference where Nigeria’s Bonny Light trades also closed lower at $32.6 per barrel, far below the Federal Government’s 2016 budget benchmark.

Similarly, while the official exchange rate has been retained by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at N197/ $1, the Naira crashed to N270 per dollar at the parallel market, yesterday. Market operators blamed the continued crash in Naira value at the parallel market on constrains in the supply of the foreign exchange resources coupled with speculations that official devaluation is becoming inevitable following steady decline in foreign reserves and dollar inflow from crude oil sales.

 The speculations appeared further fuelled by CBN’s reduction of quantity of foreign exchange supply to Bureaux de Change, BDCs, yesterday to $10,000, down by over 66 per cent from $30,000 per week. At the backdrop of these developments, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to present the 2016 budget estimates to the National Assembly on Tuesday for further deliberations and final approval of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

Single salary account for all employees 

 Meanwhile, the Senate also approved, yesterday, that the Federal Government should, in 2016, establish a data base and possibly a single salary account for all its employees to help streamline and reduce its personnel cost. The Senate also urged the government to sustain the implementation of Treasury Single Account, TSA, in 2016 with e- collection platform. President Buhari had, Wednesday, December 8, forwarded the MTEF and FSP to the National Assembly with far reaching economic proposals including scraping of oil sector subsidy.

President Buhari wrote the National Assembly yesterday, informing it of his readiness to present the 2016 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday. Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who read Buhari’s letter at plenary, said the President had requested to address the joint session of the federal parliament on the 2016 budget at exactly 10:00 am. The approval of the MTEF and FSP documents were sequel to a report by the Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriations; and National Planning and Economic Affairs by the Chairman, Senator John Owan Enoh.

Recommendations

In the approved MTEF report, the Senate also asked the Federal Government to sustain the current tempo towards increasing Federal Government internally generated revenue and diversification of the economy, as well as the projected increase in oil production from current 1.9 million barrels per day, mbpd, to 2.2 mbpd Other recommendations of the joint committee as approved by the Senate were: “that the relevant committees of the National Assembly should closely and constantly maintain oversight over the ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, responsible for implementing special intervention programmes to ensure that the targeted benefits are achieved while safeguarding against abuses.

“The diversification of the economy should be accompanied with economic modernisation such that the economy can be more competitive and productive; arrears of 2015 fuel subsidy for domestic consumption as proposed in the MTEF be sustained;the funding of the infrastructural development stated in the MTEF should be clearly captured in the details of the 2016 Appropriation Bill; “The National Assembly in close collaboration with the executive should as a matter of urgency consider an accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) particularly those sections with implication on joint venture funding by the federal government (JV Cash Calls).

” In his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki who noted that the contents of the MTEF document had clearly indicated that Nigerians were going to a very challenging times in 2016 because the nation was still practicing a mono economy with a product that we do not control the price, stated: “We must continue to increase our independent revenue, we must make effort to increase our tax revenue and the committees should intensity efforts in their oversight activities.

“We must also work to reduce the level of borrowing and the executive should also comply with the senate recommendations on the MTEF particularly as regards to oil subsidy. The situations in the past where we submit MTEF and we then go to do something completely different I think should not be entertained again.”

Naira depreciates to N270/$ in parallel market 

Investigation revealed that from N260 per dollar at the close of business on Tuesday, the parallel market exchange rate rose sharply to N270 per dollar in Lagos, indicating N10 depreciation. But in Abuja, the parallel market exchange rate rose from N262 per dollar to close at N273 per dollar, indicating N11 depreciation. BDC operators, who confirmed this development to Vanguard, said the sharp depreciation was due to further reduction in the weekly dollar sales by the CBN.

President, Association of Bureaux de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, told Vanguard that though the CBN increased the number of BDCs it sold dollars to from 1,170 last week to 2,270 this week, it however reduced the amount of dollars sold to each BDC by 60 per cent from $30,000 to $10,000. According to Mr. Harrison Owoh, Chief Executive Officer, H.J Trust BDC, the decision of the CBN aggravated the demand situation in the market. He said: “There is huge volume of unsatisfied demand in the market.

We had to turn down lots of request for dollars because there is no dollars to sell to them,” he told Vanguard. An Abuja-based BDC operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vanguard: “The dollar is selling at N273 in Abuja this evening. It was N262 in the morning. We are surprised at the pace of depreciation, because we can’t explain why it just went up by such margin in one day.”

Speculative reaction 

On this development, Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ibrahim Mu’azu, said the reduction in dollar sales to BDCs is part of the demand management of the CBN in the foreign exchange market. He said the depreciation of the naira to N270 per dollar is a speculative reaction to the development. According to him, “the rate is not sustainable.

This is because there are still other windows for end users to buy dollars at lower rate. They can buy dollars at the official rate from the deposit money banks, and from Travelex inside the airport. So by the time people know about these alternatives, the reaction in the parallel market, and the exchange rate will calm down.” Further investigations reveal that the naira also depreciated heavily against the British pounds.

From N365 per pounds at the close of business last week, the parallel market exchange rate rose sharply to N385 per pounds at the close of business yesterday. In addition to the reduction in dollar sales by CBN, foreign exchange supply from autonomous sources is thinning due to hording. “People are hording their dollars in anticipation of further depreciation of the naira, while some are demanding higher exchange rate before they sell,” said the Abuja-based BDC operator.

Siasia: We can surpass Beijing’s feat

Fresh from winning the CAF Under-23 African Cup of Nations, Nigeria coach Samson Siasia believes his achievement at the Beijing 2008 Olympics can be surpassed. Siasia, a veteran of football tournaments of sorts, won a silver medal at the 2008 Games, and after earning the right to be at the 2016 Games in Brazil, the former Super Eagles striker stated that with hard work Nigeria can win the gold.
“I was coach of Nigeria during the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, when we reached the final, and in 2016 we will aim to do more than reaching the final by winning the
(gold) medal,” Siasia said. Nigeria won the men soccer gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta USA and came to repeating the feat in Beijing, China.



But Lionel Messi and Angel d Maria combined to score the only goal of the match and handed Argentina the gold. Nigeria U-23 players gave a good account of themselves in that match, much to the appreciation of Argentina legend Diego Maradona. Meanwhile the Dutch coach who led Nigeria to the gold in Atlanta’96 Johannes Bonfrere has backed Siasia to do well in Rio 2016.

“He has done well with the youth sides in the past and his experience will be vital for Nigeria in Brazil. “But there are a lot of things that will still come into play, like getting a good draw and preparing well for the competition. “If they are lucky and get things right, they can win it again.’’

CAN protests moves to listing Nigeria among Arab nations to fight ISIS

Image result for General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa AsakeThe umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, last night protested the attempt by the current All Progressives Congress, APC, government to subtly enlist Nigeria among Arab nations to fight ISIS. It was reported on foreign news last night that Saudi Arabia was building a coalition of 34 Muslim/Arab countries to fight ISIS and Nigeria was named among the 34.

A statement late last night by the General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake, said: “This singular gesture of the Buhari led government betrays so much, and tends to confirm our fears that underneath everything this government is doing, there is an agenda with strong Islamic undertones, aimed at undermining Nigeria’s pluralistic character and neutrality regarding government’s affiliation to any one religion.

“While joining hands with other countries to fight ISIS is something good, our country must not be tagged as a Muslim or Arab nation. Christians must make a public statement showing their discontent on this development which portends great danger to national unity and integration.”