Monday, 25 September 2017

South Africa's first black President Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas in hospital, a government statement has said.

Mr Mandela, 94, was admitted to hospital two weeks ago and has been treated for a lung infection and gallstones.

There is growing concern in South Africa about his health.

Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for leading the struggle against white-minority rule.

He is regarded by most South Africans as the father of the nation, having inspired them to fight for democracy.

Public anxiety

"Former President Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in hospital, his doctors have confirmed," a government statement said.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Johannesburg reports that with every passing day there is growing public anxiety about Mr Mandela's health.

There was hope that he would be allowed to spend Christmas at home, but his doctors are still not comfortable about discharging him, she says.

Although President Jacob Zuma has described Mr Mandela's condition as "serious", he has tempered this by saying that he has been "responding" to treatment, our correspondent adds.

The government says he is being treated for a recurring lung infection at a hospital in the capital, Pretoria.

He has also had an operation to remove gallstones.

Mr Mandela first contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while detained on windswept Robben Island prison.

He has been admitted to hospital on three occasions in the past two years.

In January 2011, he was treated for a serious chest infection in Johannesburg.

In February this year, he was again admitted to a Johannesburg hospital because of abdominal pains. He was released the following day after tests revealed nothing serious.

Mr Mandela lives in Qunu, a small rural village in Eastern Cape province, where he says he spent the happiest days of his childhood.

He retired from public life in 2004 and has been rarely seen in public since, though he still receives high-profile visitors.

Former US President Bill Clinton visited Mr Mandela in July.

Mr Zuma has urged South Africans to pray for him.

Mr Mandela served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999.



Zaria (Kaduna), Dec. 22, 2012 (NAN) The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) in Zaria, Kaduna State, has developed and released improved varieties of crops to farmers across the country.

The Executive Secretary of the institute, Dr Ahmed Falaki, disclosed this when Mr Alex Abutu, Project Coordinator (Nigeria), Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA), led some journalists to the institute. He listed the improved varieties of crops as cowpea, cotton, groundnut, maize and sorghum. Falaki, who was represented by Prof. Ezra Amans, a Deputy Director at the institute, explained that IAR had over the years introduced, bred and tested select crops.
According to him, the institute has also formally released numerous improved crop varieties to farmers for planting. Falaki said the institute had added appropriate production packages which included pest, disease and weed control, harvesting, processing and storage techniques.
"For cowpea, we have released nine varieties for different ecologies, with yield potential of 2.5 tonnes per hectare. The new 13 cotton varieties are long staple and resistant to leaf spots and bacterial light.’’ He said that the institute had been supplying a variety of cotton to the numerous textile industries and oil mills across the country. Falaki also said that the most popular of the new 23 groundnut varieties were the rosette and drought-resistant varieties. He added that the new 14 maize varieties had higher levels of lysine and tryptophan, the two limiting essential amino acids in maize. "The 45 sorghum varieties are suitable for Sahel, Sudan and Guniea Savanna ecologies,’’ he said, adding that Nigerian Breweries had been using the varieties as substitute for barley.
He said that the release of the crops would go a long way in conserving the foreign exchange needed to import barley.
According to him, the development of new crop varieties is an important aspect of research aimed at improving production. He said that significant progress had been made in the development and release of high-yielding disease and pest-resistant varieties with acceptability to consumers.
"For rapid agricultural development to take place, local inputs such as technology generated on continuous basis through research and development activities must be ensured.’’
Earlier, Abutu said that the essence of the visit was to acquaint journalists with some of the remarkable achievements of the institute. He said journalists found it difficult to report researches because most researchers conceal some of their findings.
The B4FA, a six-month fellowship programme for Journalists, was launched this year.
Abutu said the programme is aimed at bridging the gap between science and the public by promoting better understanding and dialogue on developments in agriculture and biosciences throughout Africa. It is also aimed at encouraging dialogue and promoting better understanding of the available options for improving agricultural productivity in Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Uganda.
He said that the intention was also to enhance reportage of science and agriculture-related issues, especially food production challenges.

Lagos, Sept. 19, 2012 (NAN) The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is not in haste to introduce a single currency to avoid running into trouble, according to its Vice President, Dr Toga Mcintosh. He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday that the regional body was learning from the mistakes of the European Union on single currency.

 Mcintosh spoke on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop on protocols, conventions and activities of the commission’s integration process, organised in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He said that for a single currency to work well in the region, each country must have solid reserves to back up its currency.
"Currency has roots. You must have the reserves to back up your currency. "Now if the individual country has its own reserves, and that reserve is strong enough to back up your currency when you transfer to national business, then you are in good shape.’’ The ECOWAS vice president said that member states would need to begin to learn from the European Union, to avoid pitfalls. He said that it was good to talk about a single currency but that there was need to spend more time to study the lesson coming out of Europe.
"You don’t have in reserve, country x, to be able to sustain its share of that common currency. Then how do you use that currency to buy from Japan? "You are putting other people at risk, so currency is international tender in exchange for goods and services.  "If it a currency amongst ourselves, even that may create difficulty, unless we are producing everything within our sub region.
"So when people talk about those things, that is the first thing; how much money should Gambia have in its reserve to hook on to this currency, how much money should Liberia have and will you be able to keep that? "That is a problem in Europe. So whether Germany or may be one more country, they are carrying the burden and by carrying that burden, they weaken their own positions.’’
He said that the region must learn lesson from EU, and on the basis of that lesson, ``come back and look at our own structure and plan a programme. "This is because we do not want to make the kind of mistake that is now surfacing in the European zone.’’
Mcintosh also stressed the need to put in place certain infrastructure to enable citizens of the sub-region move freely within the member countries. "The region is looking from within to see how we can put on the table those critical infrastructural programmes that will make our people move freely amongst country and better their own lives.
"So that is a critical challenge I see, moving forward. But it appears it’s a challenge that can be dealt with.’’He, however, noted that single currency was necessary ``because we wanted an ECOWAS where economic activities, social activities, production would be vibrant.
"If we can still meet the same objectives, depending on what comes out of the lessons and analysis from Europe. "We also need to give ourselves ample time to do this thing right and I think we will be on the right track. "It means keeping our eyes on the real objective of regional economic integration.’’
Tuesday, 25 December 2012 02:41

Nigeria spends N24.3 billion on railway

Kano, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN) The Federal Government has spent more than N24.3 billion on the rehabilitation of railway track from Lagos to Kano.

The Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, made this known in Kano on Sunday. He said that 488 km Lagos-Kano was rehabilitated at N12.1billion, while the 638 km Jebba-Kano cost N12.2 billion. He said that the projects were completed within the 2012 budget and commended President Goodluck Jonathan, for approving the request of the corporation.
Sijuwade told newsmen that the corporation was planning to introduce air-conditioned train system in 2013. "By 2013 plan, there will be modern air-conditioned coaches on the track.
"There will be no cause for alarm security wise because the corporation will ensure the safety of lives and property of the passengers. "We have just completed 30-hours journey from Lagos by rail down to Kano, passing all the major cities and state capitals between Lagos and Kano,’’ he said.
He called on Nigerians to patronise the rail system to move their goods from Apapa to others parts of the country. NAN recalled that on Dec 21, the NRC commenced the inter-city train service from Lagos-Kano. The train service, which started on weekly basis, from Lagos to Kano, would depart Iddo Terminal from 9 am every Friday, and Kano station from 9 am every Monday.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012 02:26

Fire razes NAFDAC Lagos office

Lagos, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN)  A fire on Friday evening destroyed counterfeit products in the warehouse of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Lagos.

Mr Abubakar Jimoh, the Deputy Director, Public Relations, confirmed the incident in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He said that the fire started around 7p.m. at the warehouse where fake and counterfeit products are kept.
 "It happened in the warehouse where we keep fake and counterfeit products,’’ Jimoh said.
He said the fire might have been caused by an electrical fault as was the case in an earlier incident. "As I speak with you we are trying to overhaul the entire electrical system in the office,’’ Jimoh said.




Lagos, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN) Alhaji Yahaya Ndu, the Chairman of the de-listed African Renaissance Party (ARP), on Sunday welcomed the decision of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register his political party.

Ndu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that INEC was right in de-listing the party for operating with no verifiable headquarters and not winning a seat in the National and State assemblies. He also admitted that composition of National Executive Committee (NEC) of his party did not meet the requirements of Section 223 (1) and (2) of the amended 1999 Constitution. 
"It’s true that we no longer have a functional national headquarters, if I say it’s not true I am a liar. "I don't play politics of lies, I will prefer to fall on the side of truth than to stand on the side of lie,’’ he said.
Ndu said that his party would reapply for registration and had begun the process of setting up a new and functional national secretariat. He advised other de-registered parties to accept INEC’s decision, arguing that the commission acted within the provisions of the law.
"As far as my own party is concerned, the conditions that INEC set, we are no longer fulfilling them and that is why it is deregistering us.  "INEC would not have de-registered the political parties if they have not done something wrong. "The law which INEC acted on was made more than one year ago and political parties did nothing to change some of the issues which they have been indicted.’’ He recalled that INEC reached out to political parties in July during a meeting in Tinapa Calabar to discuss some issues with the new law.

"All the parties that came for that meeting walked out on INEC, I was the only party chairman that remained,’’ he said. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012 02:06

HIV, a big problem in FCT

Abuja, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN) Mr Mohammed Labaran, the Coordinator of HIV and AIDS in Gwagwalada Area Council, FCT, says the council has concluded plans to sensitise no fewer than 129 communities on HIV prevention.

Labaran told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday that the council had already reached out to 63 communities in order to ensure zero-HIV infection in the council by 2015.
He said that the council intended to create awareness, free HIV services and provide HIV kits for Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) for pregnant women during antenatal.
"There are a lot of procedures and strategies adopted during coordinators’ training, which we are going to apply in order to achieve strategy objectives,” he said.
According to him, this will ensure zero HIV infection in the council in particular and free HIV society at large. Labaran also said that the council was working to ensure effective HIV and AIDS prevention, supports and management of the scourge.
He said that the council had mapped out programmes on how to mobilise people to educate them, especially the pregnant women, on ways to effectively prevent mother-to-child transmission.
He also said that the council would establish Ward Development Committee in each of the wards, to give them basic facts and myths of HIV and AIDS. "These are people that are basically living in the community; we are going to call them from each ward because we have 10 political wards in the council. "Also if any wife was found to be positive, we encourage the husband to accept the result with good faith and to attend clinic for HIV testing and counseling as well.
"We have over 892 people living with HIV and AIDS who accessed HIV services such as drugs, medication among others, and we normally have monthly meeting with them.’’
The coordinator said that its challenges were paucity of funds to implement some of its programmes. Labaran said that the team needed operational vehicles to enable it work effectively in the council in order to achieve some of its objectives.

He, therefore, called on the FCT administration to provide logistics to the HIV and AIDS teams in the council for it to implement the program.



The arbitrary port charges emanating from  bureaucracy, terminal operators and the multinational shipping companies have been a source of concern to shippers (importers and exporters), investigations have showed.

As a result of the arbitrary port charges, Nigerian ports were tagged the most expensive in the world.
Available records show that Nigerian shippers are losing N65.4 billion annually to arbitrary port charges, thereby causing Nigeria to lose the bulk of its shipping businesses to neighbouring countries.
It would be recalled that in 2010, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) took up the fight to stem the tide of arbitrary charges by publishing a list of 40 unapproved port charges.
These include terminal handling charges, container deposit, container clearing, shipping company charges, demurrage charges, and cost-on-turnover.
Others are: transfer documentation charges, transfer charges, rent charges, equipment charges, manifest amendment charges and tally clerk charges.
The discovery prompted the former Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman to issue an order for the cancellation of about 12 of the unofficial charges. The Senate Committee on Marine Transport recently visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos on an oversight function and it also made the same complaint.
Mrs Zainab Kure, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport said during the visit that the committee had been inundated with complaints of arbitrary charges in Nigerian ports.
She said that the reports the committee got were disturbing, adding that ``there is no doubt that a commercial regulator is needed in the Maritime industry’’.
However, Mr Zebulon Ikokide, the President, Institute of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (IFFN) said the private terminal operators were not imposing arbitrary charges. He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that allegations of arbitrary charges being made by some port operators were not true.``There is nothing like arbitrary port charges as the terminal operators are not charging beyond what has been approved by government,” he said.
Ikokide said that the NPA had reduced all port charges by over 30 per cent at the start of the concession agenda. The maritime expert said that concessionaires were, however, allowed to increase the charges after two years with the permission of the Federal government.
``The concessionaires wrote to the Federal Government which approved 20 per cent increase in port charges. ``This is not arbitrary or exorbitant, but within the provisions of the concession agreement with the government,’’ the IFFN president said. Ikokide said that there was need for a commercial regulator in the industry to handle complaints in respect of the port charges.
Mr John Ofobike, Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Apapa Chapter, however, insisted that the concessionaires were imposing arbitrary charges.
Ofobike alleged that the operators were not offering quality services, but wanted to recoup their investments in two to three years without waiting for the 15 to 20 years given them by government.
``The concession agreement says that on no account should you unilaterally jerk up your rates without due process and notifying all stakeholders. ``I have been the Chairman of ANLCA since 2003, long before the private operators came and I am talking authoritatively, we need a commercial regulator,’’ Ofobike said. ``Before the concessionaires came, the Nigerian Ports Authority was charging N750 for a 20 ft. container to stay at the ports and N1, 500 for a 40 ft. container.
``The concessionaires started by charging the same rate as the NPA for the initial period, but later started charging N2,500 per 20 ft. container in a day and N6,000 for a 40 ft. container.
``They came again and charged N6, 000 for a 20 ft. container and N10, 000 for a 40 ft. container per day, now they have jerked it up again. ``As we speak, a 20 ft. container attracts a charge of N8,000 and a 40 ft. container attracts N12,000 per day as demurrage with other port charges inclusive. ``Is that not exorbitant port charges? ‘’Ofobike asked.
At a one-day forum organised by Emeka Akabogu and Associates, in collaboration with the NSC in Lagos during the year, maritime stakeholders expressed their anger over the arbitrary charges levied by port concessionaires and shipping companies.
The stakeholders explained that port concession had not reduced the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports.
A maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabogu, said that due to the high charges incurred by importer and exporters, most of them preferred taking their cargoes through the neighbouring ports to reduce cost.
Mr Olayiwola Shittu, the President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) suggested that the e-payment mode should be adopted as another way of eradicating illegal and duplicated charges.
Industry experts explained that the situation was aggravated by the absence of a commercial regulator; the failure to pass the Port and Harbour bill; and the inability to pass the National Transport Commission Bill.
Industry observers suggested that there should be a legal backing for the port reform programme and the appointment of a commercial regulator to regulate port charges.


Niger Commissioner for Information Alhaji Danladi Abdulhamid on Tuesday said the state government has spent over N1billion on disaster related issue from 2007, among  which was the 2011 December Madalla  bomb blast.

Abdulhamid made this known while addressing news men on the one day
National Emergency Management Agency Stakeholders training and
workshop held in Minna. According to the Commissioner, “the government has always been very
proactive in responding to disaster issues, offered assistance and
support to the victims of such disasters”.``We have always support and cooperate with security agencies, so that  they can carry out their job in the highest possible standard without
any hindrance or interference.
``This pledge for support is what prompted the approval for the
release of N440m to purchase equipment and vehicles for security
agencies in the state``, he said. Abdulhamid appealed to the Federal government to give ‘Executive support’ to Niger to help the government tackle problems faced by the
over populated Suleja local government in the state.
The problems which he said resulted from the relocation of the
nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja.


Mr Victor Eyaru, President, National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA) has called on the Federal Government to declare national emergency on aviation communication facilities in the Nigeria airspace.

Eyaru, who made the disclosure in a statement on Monday in Lagos, said that the reason for the declaration was in the interest of Nigerians and to forestall any mid air collusion in the airspace that would cause tragedy.

He noted that radio communication in the Nigerian airspace has not improved despite spirited efforts by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to fix the problem.

 “If all operational Air Traffic Controllers, who are members of NATCA, through their daily loggings, are saying the communication equipment available to them should be improved upon to avert impending air disaster are termed as alarmists and saboteurs, then, the system needs a curative measure fast.

 “All the claims of NATCA on the issue on the precarious state of VHF radios used by the two Area Control Centres in Kano and Lagos are verifiable facts. “And NAMA management attested to this by saying that it has challenges in solving the radio problem,’’ he said.
Eyaru noted that the communication problem with the radio has existed for three decades, saying that the solution to the problem has overwhelmed the agency overtime. He expressed sadness that the NAMA management expended over N400 million for the total VHF coverage project.  “The problem with communication facilities is not new to this management because Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) reports this to the NAMA management on daily basis through the ATC Watch Log Books. “Aviation is a global phenomenon and not Nigeria's and no lie told in the sector can stand the test of time. The issue of bad radios within Nigerian airspace has been a thing of concern to aviation international bodies,” he said.
Reacting to the allegation, the NAMA management said it finds it difficult to understand the motive behind the combative posture of the air traffic controllers over the communication status of the agency. In a statement signed by the agency’s management, it noted that the picture being painted by NATCA does not exist as the daily statistics show more traffic across the nation's airports.

“Apart from this, daily foreign flights into the country have been on the increase just as the nation is being inundated with more requests by the foreign airlines aspiring to explore Nigerian market.

“What else do you need to measure a safer sky? If there are no communication as being alleged by the controllers, one may then ask of their magic wand in handling these flights in question,” it said.

The statement noted that over 300 controllers had so far been trained this year alone to enhance productivity and was on record that NATCA enjoys upmost priority in the scheme of things. “We confirm again the ongoing effort to the Lagos Area Control Centre by deploying 120.9MGH and what we demand from the controllers is co-operation. “To achieve this drive as a recent test run of the frequency by both controllers and engineers proved successful. It said that the Federal Government had expended more than N15 billion on various capital projects at NAMA covering TRACON and VHF radio coverage among other safety critical projects to boost air safety in Nigeria.