Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Headliners (1800)

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday responded to allegations that the Igbo were under-represented in his government, saying that the South East region was not marginalised in appointments into his cabinet.

Receiving some leaders from the region who visited him at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, President Buhari said there are “four substantive ministers” from the South East region while seven states in the North only got appointments as ministers of state.

Buhari said: “I gave the South-East four substantive ministers in the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology and Labour.

“Seven states in the North got ministers of state. And of the two ministries headed by your sons, I cannot take any decision on foreign policy and investments without their input.”

President Buhari also assured stakeholders from the South East, who were led by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, that the region would benefit more from roads and coastal rail projects, which he said are of critical importance to the economy.

The President, according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, declared that the 2nd Niger Bridge, the East-West Road and the Coastal rail project were receiving utmost attention from his administration.

He said that counterpart funding from the Chinese government would substantially fund the projects, which when completed would improve the welfare, well-being and economy of the people in the region.

The President said: “I know the Chinese are very competent in handling such projects and we will ensure that we get the money for the projects to take off.

“I thank you for articulating your demands, and I want to assure that we are doing our best for the country.

“If we can stop people from stealing, then there will be more resources to put into projects that will create employment for Nigerians.”

The President also promised the leaders, comprising governors and ministers from the region, the President of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and representatives from the National Assembly, that he will visit the states in the zone soon.

“I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience,’’ he said.

Earlier, the President of Ohanaeze, while articulating the demands of the zone to the President, highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the South East, namely Enugu-Onitsha Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Road, among others.

Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas pipelines in the South East and the standard gauge plan for railway construction.

Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo said: “We are ready to work with you. We are determined to work with you. We know you are a decisive leader and we know God will continue to give you the wisdom to govern Nigeria.’’

Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the President on critical issues and topics affecting the region.

“You have no hatred for any state. You have treated all states with equality. What one state gets in the north, the other gets in the south,’’ the governor said, referring to budget support facility and stabilisation fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 01:22 Written by

The Commissioner of Police in Abia, Mr Anthony Ogbizi, has said that lethal weapons, including petrol bombs and one double-barrel gun, were recovered during last Sunday’s raid on the residence of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Ogbizi said this on Thursday during an interaction with newsmen in Umuahia, adding that the items were recovered during a joint operation by security personnel in the state.

He said that the petrol bombs were found in buckets and incriminating documents and letters, concerning IPOB’s activities and plans, were also recovered during the raid.

He said that the raid was carried out based on an intelligence report, regarding the continued activities of some members of the group.

Ogbizi said: “We recovered many of Biafra’s insignia, staff of office and some of those items are being analysed.”

The police boss said that the operation also led to the arrest of one suspected member of IPOB.

He said that the team also discovered the telephone numbers of the group’s zonal coordinators adding that all the communications between the leadership of the group and their collaborators would be thoroughly analysed.

Ogbizi said that a Biafran flag was also found hanging on a telecommunications mast in the area.

According to him, the police will ask the Nigeria Communications Commission to sanction any telecommunication company that allowed its mast to be used to hoist Biafran flags.

He said that the activities of IPOB in the Southeast were “stirring insurrection” and that security agencies would not fold their arms and watch the group foment violence in the country.

He said that members of the group allegedly set a police station and van ablaze in Aba, and also attacked a military patrol team in Umuahia.

The police chief said that similar joint operations would be carried out intermittently in Kanu’s residence, anytime they received intelligence report that offensive weapons were brought to the place.

He said that it was wrong to say that the military was taking over the duties of the police rather the action should be seen as a synergy between the two organisations to check security challenges.

Ogbizi said that he would not hesitate to invite the army anytime the security situation in the state grew beyond the capacity of the police.

Posted On Thursday, 12 October 2017 19:52 Written by

The war of integrity between Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director (GMD) Dr. Maikanti Baru got more intense yesterday.

The oil giant faulted the Minister’s claim that he was not consulted on $10billion Crude Term Contracts.

The NNPC said Kachikwu made an input into the shortlisting of 40 off-takers for the Crude Term Contracts by recommending seven companies, which were engaged.

Also, the minister was said to have nominated two companies for the alleged Direct Sales, Direct Purchase (DSDP) transactions, which Kachikwu claimed were worth $5billion.

The corporation said while the Minister was its GMD, he sent a memo to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) seeking clarification on the status of the NNPC Tenders Board.

NNPC’s position is contained in a fact-sheet apparently prepared against the backdrop of the six posers raised by loyalists of Kachikwu for GMD Baru. The Nation published the posers exclusively yesterday.

Besides the posers, the minister had in an August 30 memo to President Muhammadu Buhari alleged that he was being sidelined by the GMD.

He said: “As in many cases of things that happen in NNPC these days, I learn of transactions only through publications in the media. The question is, why is it that other parastatals which I supervise as Minister of State or Chair of their Boards are able to go through these contractual and mandatory governance processes and yet NNPC is exempt from these?”

Sources, who spoke with our correspondent, with a fact-sheet said the “posers amounted to mere academic exercise and sheer deceit by the minister”.

They claimed that the minister was consulted on most of the transactions he listed in his memo to the President, including Crude Oil Term transactions, Direct Sales, Direct Purchase (DSDP) contracts and Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline contract.

The fact-sheet said: “For record purposes, Nigerians should be aware that Kachikwu single-handedly superintended and approved the off-takers of Nigerian Crude Oil and gas for 2016/ 2017. There were no issues then.

“As for the off-takers for 2017/2018, the minister was consulted by the GMD. Out of a list of 40 off-takers, Kachikwu recommended seven firms, which were accepted by NNPC management without any issue. He initially nominated three and later added four. His judgment was respected, accepted and approved by NNPC management alongside 33 others.

“The seven off-takers he recommended are as follows: North-West Petroleum; Setana Energy; Emo Oil; Litasco Supply and Trading Company;   Voyage Oil and Gas; Levene International  and Cespa Trading. Since the Minister strongly recommended all these companies, we concurred with his recommendation which was based on a professional judgment. We also did not find any of the companies wanting and they met the criteria for crude lifting.

“On DSDP, the Minister also nominated two companies, Messrs Falcon Bay Energy Limited and Rain Oil Limited. The NNPC avoided all these details in its statement on Monday in order to protect the interest of these companies doing legitimate business. But Nigerians can appreciate that Kachikwu’s input was sought.

“Regarding AKK Pipeline contract, NNPC has explained that it is still in the works; it has not been awarded by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“There was this $9.2billion Escravos Gas Pipeline Project which the GMD did not touch  in his memo to the President. Apart from discussing and reviewing it with the Board of NNPC, the GMD wrote a June 29, 2017 memo to the Presidency and after official process and consultations with the Minister, it was approved. In fact, the Minister gave the final approval in a memo of August 22, 2017, although with some reservations.

“Concerning sections 130(2) and 148(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the Minister only alluded to the powers of the President. The NNPC GMD made it clear that he obtained the approval of the President on these transactions. If the President, as the senior Minister of Petroleum Resources, has exercised his constitutional powers, what else is the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources after?

“It should be noted that NNPC and its GMD are only following the standards put in place by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources on Crude Oil Term Contracts and other transactions. NNPC is following the same rules which the Minister put in place. But the Minister is now criticising the same rules. The only thing that has changed is that Kachikwu is not the substantive GMD of NNPC again.’

“Nigerians need to know that the Minister (while he was the GMD of NNPC) wrote a memo to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to seek clarifications on the financial limit of NNPC Tenders Board. And the BPP put the limit at $20million. This is what the NNPC management has been adhering to.”

When contacted, a top source in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, who is in the position to know, said NNPC was lying.

The source said: “All of the above are lies. No official documentation backing this. This and possibly more to come are vain efforts to discredit Kachikwu and cover up the damning allegations he made.”

Posted On Thursday, 12 October 2017 01:42 Written by

Nigerian pop artist Davido has been invited again by the Lagos State command of the Nigerian police in connection with the death of his friend Tagbo Umeike.

The autopsy that was done on the deceased revealed that he died of suffocation.

The Acting Lagos Police Commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, stated at a briefing that Davido has been reinvited for questioning.

According to Edgal, the information Davido gave them was different from what was found after their investigation.

Apart from the autopsy report revealing that Tagbo died of asphyxia or suffocation, investigations also revealed that he was abandoned in his car at the hospital by Davido’s driver and two of his friends: Agbeje Olaoye and Idris Busari.

The Lagos police chief said a CCTV footage from the General Hospital where Tagbo was dumped revealed that Davido’s escort Hilux vehicle driver, Tunde Usutu, and his two friends took him to the hospital and abandoned him there.

Davido, according to Edagal, had stated earlier, during a pre-investigation meeting with the police, the deceased’s family, friends and Caroline Danjuma, that he had left Shisha bar where he had been drinking with the deceased for DNA nightclub in Victoria Island and was only informed by mutual friends of his demise.

Before his demise, Tagbo was said to have consumed a huge amount of alcohol. The bartender and CCTV footage confirmed that Tagbo had drunk as much as 40 shots of Tequila and exhibited signs of drunkenness.

Two of Davido’s other friends, DJ Olu and Chime, were found dead in a BMW Saloon car in an underground garage days after Tagbo’s demise. The autopsy done on them to confirm the cause of death is yet to be concluded.

Posted On Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:00 Written by

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe kachikwu, on Tuesday met the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.

Baru and kachikwu 1 Baru with Kachikwu Baru-Kachikwu-shake-hands2 Baru-Kachikwu-shake-hands3

Posted On Tuesday, 10 October 2017 21:44 Written by

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew Tuesday from a re-run of the presidential election, saying electoral officials had failed to make necessary reforms.

“After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election… we believe that all will be best served by (the party) vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017,” Odinga said.

Kenya’s Supreme Court last month annulled the August presidential poll, won by President Uhuru Kenyatta, due to widespread irregularities in the counting process.

Since then Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) have vowed not to take part in the re-run unless a series of reforms were made to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel… All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one,” said Odinga.

Posted On Tuesday, 10 October 2017 16:43 Written by

My earliest recollection of Liberia was the 1990 capture, torture and execution of its first native president Samuel Doe by rebel leader Prince Yormie Johnson. The grotesque episode; which was captured on video, showed Johnson presiding over the torture of Doe as he was maimed one extremity at a time. Prince Johnson later fled to Nigeria where he lived in exile until after the second civil war. Charles Taylor who led the rebel forces against Doe and succeeded him as president was also granted asylum in Nigeria following his resignation in 2003. Beyond accepting their exiled warlords as part of negotiated armistice, Nigeria has been a close ally and played a significant role in bringing peace and stability to Liberia and the greater Mano River Basin when the international community was slow to respond.

As Liberians head to the polls today to decide who will succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, there is tremendous excitement and hope for renewed energy and new possibilities. There is also understandably some concern among Liberians and the global community given the violent history of Liberia, so it is incumbent on all stakeholders, particularly those who have invested blood and treasure to pay close attention to these elections and see to it that the elections and the transition go as smoothly as possible.

The Contenders
After a decade as Africa’s first elected female head of state, President Sirleaf, who shepherded the country through post-conflict recovery and the devastating Ebola crisis is termed-out and will relinquish the presidency. Liberians are spoilt for choice, and with 20 candidates running to replace her; the elections are likely to go to a runoff like the two before it.

The frontrunner is the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai (UP), who is saddled with the task of defending the current administration’s record, which President Sirleaf concedes, didn’t do enough to combat corruption or address reconciliation. He is up against some perennial heavy hitters as well as some fresh faces. His primary challenger is former FIFA World Footballer of the year and sitting Liberian Senator George Weah (CDC) who narrowly lost in a run-off with Sirleaf in 2005 after securing the most votes in the first round of voting. He ran as vice president in 2011 and stayed active in the political arena, eventually winning one of the most coveted senate seats in the country in a 2014 by-election, representing the most populous county in the country – Montserrado. He is certainly better prepared, and more experienced, and is expected to mount a formidable opposition.

Complicating things is his choice for running mate – Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of incarcerated former president Charles Taylor. This has fueled concerns that Taylor who is serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes, is influencing the campaign. Oh, there’s also reformed warlord turned Senator Prince Yormie Johnson (MDR); who is hoping to expand his support base beyond his home county and improve on his 2011 showing where he placed an impressive third.

The sleeper candidate is Liberty Party’s Counsellor Charles Brumskine, who is running as the anti-corruption candidate, and is hoping that like President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria the fourth time is the charm. The 66-year-old former leader of the Senate fondly known as the “integrity general” is running on a platform he has dubbed the 4 Rs: Reconciliation, Reform, Recovery, and Rebuilding. Once the frontrunner in the 2005 elections, he is hoping his name recognition will propel him into the run off, where it is widely assumed the opposition will unite against the incumbent.

The dark-horse candidate is Alternative National Congress’ (ANC) candidate Alexander Cummings, who despite only recently moving back to the country has worked his way into the conversation thanks to his “talk and do” reputation and an appetite for change. The ex-Coca Cola Executive who has no political experience is relying heavily on his business bonafides, and his own funds to propel him to the coveted spot in the run off, although most polls deem that rather ambitious.

In a field of very impressive candidates, notable is Liberia Restoration Party’s (LRP) Macdella Cooper, who is the only hope of following Africa’s first female president with another, and is running as the hope and reform candidate. However, things shake out, the second round of voting will be critical, as coalitions are likely to determine the ultimate outcome.

The Stakes
Today’s elections will mark the first time in 73 years that political power will be handed over peacefully, and democratically, from one elected leader to another. As President Sirleaf said in her final speech to the UN General Assembly last month, at stake in these elections is the “irreversible course that Liberia has embarked upon to consolidate its young, post-conflict democracy”. It all comes against the backdrop of her two terms in office, which have been punctuated, by peace and stability, initial economic growth which reached 8.7% in 2013, then the corruption and nepotism allegations, persistent unemployment, the poor handling of the Ebola crisis and the ensuing economic decline, the Liberian resilience and the continued recovery.

While Vice President Boakai has tried to make the elections about building on the foundation his predecessor laid, the opposition has made it a referendum on what they characterize as her failed policies. Using her own admission of areas where her administration fell short as an indictment on him and a reason to change course.

Counsellor Brumskine is more generous in his assessment of what these elections are about. He asserts that today’s elections are both about the future of Liberia and the transition from vicious conflict to stability and development. He gives President Sirleaf some credit for repositioning Liberia within the community of nations given the fact that she inherited a pariah state. But highlights the fact that despite Liberia being a resource rich, youthful dynamic and vibrant country, 8 out of 10 of its citizens still live in poverty (on less than $1.25 per day). He blames these problems on successive generations of leaders who have failed to transform the country’s endowments into a peaceful and prosperous life for most of its people. After an election season marked by candidates jostling for moral purity, asserting authority on the economy, and promising everything but the kitchen sink, todays elections comes down to the need for continued peace and stability and the economy. A victory for VP Boakai would mean the country’s appetite for peace and stability weighed more heavily while a strong showing or surprise win for Mr. Cummings would send a strong message of frustration with the status quo.


Why Nigeria should care
Although it seems like an eternity ago, Liberia is only one administration removed from the most recent civil war that decimated its population and infrastructure. Today’s elections will be the first true test of its fragile democracy — one the World community led by Nigeria spent blood and treasure to secure. As the de-facto leader of the ECOWAS region, it is incumbent upon Nigerians to pay close attention and help ensure that the elections and the transition are free and fair because as history has shown, instability in Liberia has the potential to exacerbate the regional and global refugee problem and contribute to instability in neighboring countries.

Posted On Tuesday, 10 October 2017 04:18 Written by

A former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Victor Malu, is dead.

Malu, who was Army chief  during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s  administration died on Sunday in a Cairo hospital in Egypt.
A relation of the deceased, Ben Adoor, who confirmed the development, said on the phone  “Yes, General  passed away  yesterday at the age of 70 in a Cairo hospital.”
Posted On Monday, 09 October 2017 16:36 Written by

Super Eagles of Nigeria on Saturday qualified for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The three-time African champions defeated hard fighting Chipolopolo of Zambia 1-0 inside the magnificent Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.

Arsenal youngster, Alex Iwobi, was the hero for Nigeria, scoring the decisive goal in the 73rd minute of the encounter.

Russia 2018 will be Nigeria’s sixth appearance in FIFA’s premier soccer tournament.

Posted On Saturday, 07 October 2017 23:09 Written by

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday met briefly with the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Baru did not speak with journalists after the meeting.

From the Vice President’s office, he went to the State House mosque for his Juma’at prayers.

President Muhammadu Buhari also observed the prayer at the mosque.

Posted On Friday, 06 October 2017 22:57 Written by
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