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Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl education advocate, who was shot by the Taliban three years ago for campaigning for mass education, was on a three-day visit to Nigeria last week.

During that visit she met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

She was in the country to support girls’ education and advocate for the release of the girls abducted from their school, Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14, this year.

July 14 is Malala Day, her birthday actually, and now a day set aside by the United Nations for the world to focus on putting all girls in school.

Having herself survived assassination attempt from the Taliban Islamic terror group in her country over her campaign for girl child education, it is understandable her passion to see the girls freed from the dungeon of death where they are held captive by the Boko Haram sect.

Her personal encounters with some of the girls that managed to escape from the stronghold of the sect and a handful of parents made her to extract two important vows from President Jonathan.

Malala was given full diplomatic treatment at the Presidential Villa, during her visit to see the president. On her delegation was her father, a director of communication in her foundation and a UN representative. She had five vehicles in her convoy, including top security personnel, escorts and international journalists in tow.

She got full presidential reception including photo ops, audience away from the prying eyes of newsmen. The only thing missing was that the president did not come down and receive her on arrival like he would do for his colleagues from other countries and see her off to her car before departure. She also did not address the press side-by-side the president.
During her meeting with President Jonathan, Malala shared the pains, fears and frustration the escaped girls and some of the parents told her. They gave her a message for Mr. President, “tell him we will like to see him personally and give him first-hand information about what has happened since April 14.

“We want our president to reassure us that we will see our daughters/friends/sisters again; we want him to assure us that our future will not be bleak as far as educating our children is concerned.”

At a press conference after her meeting with President Jonathan, it was clear Malala is very passionate about her cause of education for girls. She expressed her view that the federal government is not doing enough in education including reeling out wrong statistics on the percentage of public funding. But presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, was able to correct the figure before it went viral especially with international press present at the conference.

Why I am here

She said, “I am here in Nigeria on my 17th birthday for a price which is to see that every child goes to school. This year, my objective is to speak up for my Nigerian sisters about 200 of them who are under the abduction of Boko Haram and I met the President, Goodluck Jonathan for this purpose. I conveyed the voice of my sisters who are out of school or who are still under the abduction of Boko Haram, and for those girls who escaped from the abduction but still do not have education. And in the meeting, I highlighted the same issues which the girls and their parents told me in the past two days.

Chibok parents and Jonathan
The parents said they really want to meet with the president to share their stories with him. And I asked the president if he wants to meet with the parents of the girls, and he assured me that he would meet with them.

I spoke to the president about the girls who complained that they cannot go to school despite the fact that they want to become experts. But the government is not providing them any facility. They also need health facility, security, and the government is not doing much. These are the issues I presented to the president today. But fortunately, he promised me that he will do something for these girls and he promised me that the girls under the abduction of Boko Haram will be released as soon as possible. This is the promise the president made and I am hopeful that his promise will come through and we will soon see those girls return.

I am hopeful that these two promises – the return of the girls from Boko Haram and meeting with their parents will be fulfilled and we will see it soon. Even though the promises have been made, it does not mean I am going to stop talking. I will be counting days and I will be watching when those girls are going to return home. I can’t stop this campaign until I see those girls return back to their families and continue the agitation. This is the position of the Malala Foundation. My father and I and the entire family want to speak out for those 10.5 milliom children who are out of school. They have no access to education because of many problems. And I am hopeful that the international community will take serious action because if we think this country is in Africa and is not going to affect other countries, we are really wrong. If we leave 10.5 million children illiterate, these children can become terrorists, they can be violated and they can be deprived of their basic human rights, at the end they will not be able to help their country in developing.

So if we want the whole world to be successful, it is important that every child should go to school. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, only 1.5 percent of the budget is spent on education which is a small amount compared to Pakistan which has increased its budgetary allocation on education to 4 percent. Money spent on education should definitely be increased. This is how this country is going to be developed and I believe in the power of education. If Nigeria must have a bright future, every child must have an opportunity to go to school.”

Efforts on the girls

Asked if the president spoke on progress made so far to rescue the girls, Malala said: “He has made promises. The president said these girls are his daughters and he is pained by their sufferings and that he has his own daughters and he can feel what they are feeling. He has expressed his solidarity with those girls and his sadness. He has assured that they will come back home safely. He has several options but he will choose the best to ensure the girls are released safely.

Speaking on the funds raised to support education, she said, “We have set up the Malala Fund and through the fund, we have raised $200,000 that we want to contribute to those children’s education. We have started working with two organisations here in Nigeria to help these girls continue their education.”

President Jonathan was going to honour at least one of his vows to Malala, to see the escaped Chibok girls and some parents of the abducted girls.

According to the Director of Communications, Malala Foundation, Eason Jordan, President Jonathan told Malala that “he will be willing to meet ‎with the parents of the Chibok girls today, that is Monday, July 14.

Parents want help

The families are eager to meet with anyone that can help them. The President said to Malala that he can guarantee that all the girls that have been kidnapped including the ones that escaped will be given scholarships to go to school in other parts of the country. These were the things that he said and we hope that he will be able to bring them to pass.”

Failed meeting drama

Parents and some of the escaped girls that had been ferried to Abuja by the efforts of #BringBackOurGirls#, to meet Malala were already back in Chibok, despite a meeting with the president that had been scheduled for 4 pm Tuesday, July 15.

A furious Jonathan accused the campaigners and opposition of “playing politics.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe said the parents and the girls actually “shunned” the president.

He said, “Those who would manipulate the victims of terrorism for their own benefit, are engaging in a similar kind of evil: psychological terrorism.

“I want to make it clear that this government stands in complete solidarity with the girls and their parents. We are doing everything in our power to bring back our girls. Despite the shameful and disgusting games being played by the Nigerian chapter of Bring Back Our Girls, as a father of girls, I stand ready to meet with the parents of our abducted children and the truly brave girls that have escaped this nightmare through the grace of God.”

Distraught president

Jonathan, who least expected the action of the parents said: “It now appears that our fight to get the girls of Chibok back is not only a fight against a terrorist insurgency, but also against political opposition.

“My priority is not politics. My priority is the return of these girls,” he said. He accused the Nigerian chapter of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign of “psychological terrorism … playing politics with the situation and the grief of the parents and the girls. They should be ashamed of their actions.”

Speaking later to State House correspondents on the president’s directives to formally invite the parents and the girls to a meeting this week, Okupe ‎said, The meeting was scheduled for 4pm today (Tuesday July 15) at the instance of the request that was made by Malala and the president graciously agreed within 24 hours to meet with them but unfortunately the BringBackOur Girls leadership prevailed on the parents of the girls, stopped them from coming.

They actually shunned the meeting with Mr. President because the foreign media and everybody was waiting for this meeting and since they were no longer coming and they made it expressly clear that they were no longer coming, in fact that the girls were just few minutes away from Chibok, the meeting was aborted.

“It was aborted by the failure of the girls and the parents to show up, they actually shunned the meeting, the president was waiting, the NSA was waiting, top government officials were waiting to receive them for private consultation with the president as promised.”

Winning the president?

Asked if he was insinuating that the campaigners had upper hand over the president, Okupe said, “It is not a matter of upper hand, it was the leadership of BringBackOurGirls that brought them to Abuja and that gives them some leverage, they accommodated them. It is obvious now that the BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria is interested in showmanship not genuinely concerned with the plight of the children and that of their parents. That is what has become clinically clear by this action because if the parents of the girls travelled so much from Chibok to get to Abuja, why will it be impossible for them to meet with the president who has graciously agreed to give an appointment within less than 24 hours to meet with them.

“We are just coming from the president and he has authorized that an official letter be written to the parents inviting them to formally to come and meet him and it is going to be sometime next week.”

Malala/Jonathan debalcle

Malala’s good intention became Jonathan albatross as Nigerians took to the social media to lampoon him for waiting for Malala before thinking of meeting with the parents of the girls.

But the most shocking of all is the fact that according to government officials, there had been two previous attempts to meet the girls and their parents that failed but they claimed they were avoiding publicity so as not to be put in harm’s way once they are recognised by the terrorist sect.

But this information, the media was not aware. The only one that was made public was that of the presidential fact-finding committee set up by the president when its members visited Chibok. The committee while submitting its report did say they couldn’t meet with the parents and some of the escaped girls for fear of being attacked.

But the same girls and some of their parents have been seen granting interviews to international media organisations like CNN, Aljazeera and recently to Mo Abudu of the EbonyLife TV. Their faces were not covered.

This development has made harder the work of Levick, the US PR firm purportedly hired‎ for $1.2 million dollar by the government to revamp the president’s image in the wake of President Jonathan’s bashing in the international media.

Malala, as an acknowledged international symbol for women’s rights, sadly, her visit only added salt to injury.

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Law courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are daily inundated with cases of land fraud. Some persons dared to sell properties of original owners to others and later disappeared with the booty, leaving litigants in court cases to deal with the consequences of such criminality.

While some might be “fortunate” to disappear with their ill-gotten wealth, those that the long arm of the law have caught up with have either blown the money and might get the light punishment of being put in prison while the owners of such properties have been left to lick their wounds.

Time has come for the anti-corruption agencies and the FCT Minister to live what they have always preached, that is fighting land fraud, as another innocent citizen, who acquired Plot 45 Katempe Extension Cadastral Zone B19 since 2003 and was issued a certificate of occupancy in October, 2005 by the Minister of FCT, is on the verge of losing his property after spend N100 million in developing it.

The intriguing history of this case started in April 2008, when the Department of Land Administration in FCTA, issued him a Right of Occupancy Bill of N7.628 million of which N3.92 million was promptly paid, as demanded by FCTA.

After constructing six duplexes up to roofing stage with over N100 million, as construction cost, and after approval by the Department of Development Control, Amalu and Sons Enterprises Ltd. was served with “a stop work and quit notice” by the same Department of Development Control on the excuse that the title over the land had been voided.
Amalu & Sons said it duly conducted a legal search after paying the required search fee of N20,000 on July 13, 2010. The report, which was duly signed and stamped by the company secretary/legal adviser IGIs/Deed Registry IGIs was positive and clearly showed “no encumbrances” over the property.

The developers showed Abuja Metro their building plan approval by FCT authorities. It was processed and issued a bill of N758,557.95 on March 14, 2011, which was promptly paid with a FCTA official receipt dated May 19, 2011. Subsequently, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, Department of Development Control issued Amalu & Sons, Conveyance of Building Plan Approval dated on April 20, 2011, just about a month after the building plan issuance.

It was upon this approval that the developers said they applied for setting out approval and received an approval dated February 7, 2012. Consequently, they commenced building and quickly got to roofing stage.

Department of Development Control had given approval for setting out and commencement of construction in a letter dated February 7, 2012 to Amalu and Sons Enterprises Ltd and signed by Ali O. A, deputy director in the Department.

But on November 26, 2013, another letter titled “Withdrawal of Building Plan Approval in Respect of Plot No. 45 Cadastral Zone B19, Katampe (Extension) District and signed by Yahaya A. Yusuf, Director, Development Control for Coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), to Amalu and Sons Enterprises Ltd., said: “Information available to the department from the Department of Land Administration, FCTA, indicates that your title over above mentioned Plot has been voided since April 3, 2012 on account of forgery.
“In the light of the foregoing, the Department hereby notifies you with regret that it has been withdrawn forthwith its earlier approval of building plan conveyed to you in respect of above mentioned plot with Ref: FCDA/DC/BP/CID/9098 dated April 20, 2011. Please, note that the Department shall henceforth not recognise the earlier building plan and setting out approvals granted to you.”

The new directive also demanded that the developer was “required to remove within 21 days of receipt of this letter the existing structure, which you would recall had no relevant stages approval, as required by Law. The Department will have no option but to remove the structure at your own expense if you are not able to do so with the time allowed. We look forward to your understanding and compliance, please.”
This ugly twist no doubt alarmed the developer and was forced to get court order, restraining the FCT Minister, the FCDA, the Department of Development Control, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council on June 24 from carrying out the threat of demolition of the property. While the case has been adjourned to October 10, for hearing, the Department of Development Control served the developer yet a demolition notice on June 10, commanding it to vacate site immediately but it however noted that the plot was under litigation.

According to Ray Nnadi, the Managing Director of Selphy Properties and Investment Company Ltd., representing Amalu and Sons, “we were constrained to go to court to challenge the purported voiding of our title over the property based on forgery and the High Court of the FCT on behalf of Amalu and Sons through a writ of summons challenged the purported revocation of her title over the property.”

If Amalu and Sons, thought it was dealing with a demon, a bigger one was on the way. Out of the blues came one Universal Resources and Investment Company Limited, purportedly owned by one retired Brigadier General Imam, claiming to own the same land and the new allottee to the plot in question, producing a Right of Occupancy (R of O) dated May 22, 2014.

The litigant developer firm said the retired army officer not only holds the claims to the land but has gone a step further to lock up the gate to the property despite the fact that the matter is in court which has ordered for the status quo to remain. This has denied the genuine owners access to the property.

In a letter dated June 16, Amalu and Sons through its legal consultants, Ivory Chambers, wrote to the Minister of the FCT to intimate him of wrong and illegal revocation of Plot 45 Katampe Extension B19 District Abuja and request for reversal of that it described as “administrative recklessness and lawlessness”, by the Department of Land Administration.

In another letter dated July 9, the company again through its legal consultants, wrote the Divisional Police Officer of Gwarinpa Police Division to intimate him of “criminal trespass/mischief by a retired general “over the said plot and appeal for protection, following his locking up of the property.

Amalu and Sons informed the DPO Gwarinpa that beside the fact that the ex-army officer whose company has been served the restraining order of the court took orders into his hands by forcefully entering the premises, he was said to have in a military fashion forcefully entered the premises threatening to deal with the owner of the structure on the property and later brought two padlocks to lock the gates of the premises thereby denying the original owners from entering the property.

In a letter to the Minister made available to Abuja Metro, the legal consultants to Amalu and Sons, said, the purported withdrawal of the building plan approval on the grounds of forgery was done in total disregard to the fair hearing provided for in the Nigerian Constitution as its client was neither invited by the committee set up by the office of the minister to investigate forgery and falsification of land documents in the FCT nor by the development control department before the purported withdrawal of the building plan approval.

The developers said: “What is expected is that the FCT minister should personally intervene in this matter. What is surprising is that while the matter is pending in court since October, 2013, before which the FCTA has refused to appear, the department of Land Administration in what is considered unbelievable went ahead to issue an R of O dated May 22, to Universal Resources and Investment Ltd where Imam is the chairman.

The developers are asking officials of FCTA critical questions including: “At what point did FCTA realize that the title was forged for a property with an R of O dated April 2003, C of O dated October 2005 had been issued many years earlier?

Was Amalu and Sons Ltd invited by the forgery & falsification committee of FCTA, at least, to give them fair hearing as provided by the constitution?

It is absolutely wrong for Land Administration of FCTA or the Minister to issue a fresh R of O to a third party when the case is pending in court. If at all the retired general is tight in his claims to the land, should he not be reallocated another land since the property in question has been fully developed in line with FCTA approvals and payments received?

They urge that the third party, Universal Resources Ltd owned by the retired General should not take laws into his hand by locking up the property of another (a genuine owner with documented evidence) for whatever reason when there is a subsisting court order to maintain status quo. This is an outright disobedience of court order and not good for our legal system and judiciary in general.”

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Shortly before the Senate embarked on its annual summer recess, the chamber considered the report of its Committee on Finance, which investigated an alleged unremitted $49.8 billion into the Federation Account.

Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria  (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had alleged in a private but leaked letter to President Goodluck Jonathan that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was yet to remit the money realised from crude oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013.
The nation was astounded that such huge fund was outside the federal purse and Senate waded in; mandated its Finance Committee chaired by former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi to investigate the allegation.

At the first meeting with the committee, with the Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala present, together with the former CBN boss, the alleged unremitted fund first reduced to $12 billion and later rose to $20.6 billion.

With so much heat generated over the money, a stakeholders’ meeting was convened in the third week of December 2013 to reconcile accounts. At the meeting reportedly attended by officials of the NNPC, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Ministry of Finance, a new figure emerged after it was alleged that the Reserve Department of the CBN muddled the figures.

At a point, the usually reticent Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Andrew Yakubu addressed a press conference where he accused Sanusi of “playing politics” over the alleged unremitted funds.

It then appeared that the work of the committee was not cut out so easily because there were allegations and counter-allegations from both sides. Eventually, it was decided that a forensic audit of NNPC’s accounts should be carried out to ascertain the exact amount that was outstanding.

And so, the ding-dong continued until the second quarter of this year when the Makarfi committee submitted its report on the investigation to the Senate for consideration. It was another waiting game in the chamber as the report kept appearing and disappearing on the Order Paper until finally, Senate’s July 10 resolutions on the matter
However a little drama played out before the consideration of the report. Senators Sadiq Yar’Adua and Gbenga Kaka tried to convince the chamber to postpone debate on the report. Senator Yar’Adua raised three motions through the Senate Standing Orders 14 (A) 15 and 16. He opposed debate of the report, and said senators were only served the report not more than two hours earlier.

He urged his colleagues to suspend the 73-page report to allow them more time to critically study the report in order to make relevant contributions but Senate President David Mark ruled him out of order. Next was Senator Kaka who only alluded to the lack of quorum in the chamber but did not raise any order to sustain his argument.
First off the block, Senate rejected the committee’s recommendation that the Presidency withdraw subsidy on petroleum products. In the report, the committee noted that all the agencies, which made presentations to it, agreed, after reconciliation, that $47 billion out of the $67 billion had been credited to the Federation Account, leaving only $20 billion yet to be accounted for.

The report also stated that part of the outstanding $20 billion was the $5.254bn spent on subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, which was covered by the Appropriation Acts of 2012 and 2013.

The report equally noted that the $3.512bn spent for kerosene subsidy as certified by PPPRA for the period January 2012 to July 2013 was still part of the $20 billion.
The chamber, however, adopted the committee’s recommendation that NNPC should be made to refund $262million, being expenses it could not satisfactorily defend in respect of Holding Strategic Stock Reserve; Pipeline Maintenance and ManagementCost; and Capital Expenditure during the public hearing convened on the matter.

In rejecting the recommendation for subsidy removal, Senate resolved that “all stakeholders should be consulted and carried along  as much as possible before abolishing the subsidy.”

Other recommendations adopted by the chamber are as follows: “That the Senate do accept the subsidy deducted by NNPC in the sum of $1.2billion for the fourth quarter of 2011 since it was certified by PPPRA and appropriated by the National Assembly. This is without prejudice to the outcome of forensic audit conducted by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and PWC;

“And that the Senate do accept the subsidy deducted by NNPC from January 2012 to July 2013 of $5.254billion (N813,803) billion since it was certified by PPPRA and appropriated by the National Assembly.”

The red chamber also adopted recommendation that  President Jonathan prepares and presents to the National Assembly, supplementary budget to cover the over expenditure of N90.693b for PMS subsidy for 2012 and N685.919b for kerosene subsidy expended without appropriation by the National Assembly in 2012 and 2013.

During eventual debate on the report, lawmakers kicked against removal of oil subsidy on the ground that such move will bring hardship on the masses.

Senator Smart Adeyemi noted that the $49.8b allegation was raised “to score some political points. It is also clear that the synergy needed in various departments of NNPC is lacking. There is need for this to be corrected for transparency and accountability.

“This report is good and quite a number of recommendations are good. It is equally clear that there have been some abuses in the manner funds were managed. This report will not die, it will outlive this administration. Reports like this demand us to make our point clear. We have seen a lot of exposures of some transactions that were not in conformity with our constitution.

“One other issue that has generated controversy is whether oil subsidy should be removed or not. I am against removal of subsidy. Those who abused the implementation should be punished. We should appeal to the judiciary to ensure that those under prosecution are not allowed to leave the country”, he said.

Chairman of the Works Committee, Senator Ayogu Eze supported the withdrawal of subsidy but commended the committee for the professionalism in preparing the report. He said they “went the extra mile to get information as well as hired consultants to assist them in their investigation. We owe a duty to commend the committee for a work well done. It is amazing that people in authority will make statements that are inciting. We will recommend to the executive that we should do away with subsidy.”

Chairman of the Water Resources Committee, Senator Heineken Lokpobri slammed Sanusi for making spurious allegations. “There are offices that no matter who you put, it will be difficult to completely defeat corruption because of the nature of the office. The only way out is to do away with corruption.

“The other issue is for Nigerians to wake up in the morning to make porous allegations. From the report, it is now clear that no $49 billion is missing. I don’t think the damage is as bad as some people have portrayed the issue. Henceforth, people should not, without fact go to the public, because they want to play to the gallery, begin to make porous allegations.”

The Senate President declared that both the legislative and executive arms of the federal government were guilty in the failure to fight the inefficiency in the petroleum industry.

Senate equally endorsed the committee’s recommendation that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be given accelerated passage as a way of curbing the corruption in the industry.

The major thrust of the report was its submission that “there was never any unremitted $49.8 billion” as it stated that “the committee could not see how the figure of $49.8bn was arrived at by the former CBN governor in the first instance.”

On the remaining $20b, the committee findings are as follows: “That the amount expended by NNPC on fuel subsidy between January 2012 and July 2013 was $5.524b. The amount expended on subsidy on kerosene between January and July 2013 was $3.512b.

“That the subsidy deduction of $1.2b by the NNPC in 2012 but relating to the fourth quarter of 2011 was certified by PPPRA.

“That there was also appropriation for fuel subsidy in 2011 of N245.96b.

“That PPPRA verification alluded to on the NNPC subsidy claims are in practice book keeping verification rather than physical verification of products and claims”.

On the Third Party Financing listings by NNPC which CBN put at $2b and called for more explanations, the committee findings are as follows: “That the actual value of Third Party Financing Lifting was $2.430b. That the amount confirmed by the Accountant General of the Federation as having been remitted into the Federation Account between January 2012 and July 2013 was $1.370 b.

“That the share belonging to Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited in the Third Party Financing arrangement with NNPC confirmed by them orally and in writing was $848.687m.”
After all said and done, it was agreed that the report of the Finance Committee is not conclusive on the alleged unremitted funds because the forensic audit of NNPC’s accounts is still outstanding and the findings not included in the report considered by the chamber.
Left to the NNPC, it has resolved to dialogue with the National Assembly over its directive that the corporation should refund $262m to the Federation Account.

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The Nigerian Army has dissociated itself from a recent claim by a consultancy firm that carried out the recruitment for the Nigerian Immigration Service that claimed the lives of about 19 young job applicants that it has recruitment affinity with the service.

The Army said it had value for human lives and “we have never been known to have caused the death of innocent Nigerians during our recruitment.”

The army said it had nothing to do with the consulting firm, which claimed to be carrying out recruitment for the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

Chief of Administration of the Army, Major General Garba Wahab, while noting that the recruitment was done online, said the Nigerian Army had value for human life and would not engage such organisation to handle its recruitment.

He said the organisation wanted to be relevant by making such claims to attract attention.

“The organisation that handled the recruitment for the Nigerian Immigration Service is not the one handling that of the army, the company is not correct in its claims that it is the one handling our recruitment; our recruitment is online but not by the same organisation.”

Wahab who said the Army has been recruiting over the years, pointed out that it has never recorded such tragedy in the history of its exercises as it put in place adequate security measures to avoid such crisis.

He said while the recruitment was going on, the authority took time to monitor the number of applicants from each state of the federation and took note of the states with huge number of applicants.

This according to him, enabled the authority to place special emphasis and priority on such states to avoid over crowding.

Gen. Wahab, said states with high number of applicants are usually provided with extra examination centers which are properly monitored to avoid any crisis.

The COA, who said the army also contracted the recruitment to a consulting firm, Blue Curve, however, noted that it was strictly monitoring the process as it cannot leave it to the firm alone to handle.

He said “at every stage, we look at the number of applicants from each state so we don’t have overcrowding. We have a breakdown of candidates per state and centres where they want to have the examination to avoid congestion and we create two or three centres in states with huge number of applicants and monitor the exercise.

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They came from within and outside the community. The young and the old, male and female; they all came spoiling for fun. The crowd of over 10, 000 people converged on the Egbo Square, Ameluegu-Okposi, to witness the grand finale of the Ekwu Day, 2014. Ekwu is one of the traditional months in Okposi, Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. It is the month preceding the Onwa ji (New Yam festival). For the people of Okposi, Ekwu Day is probably the most important event on their social calendar. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The Ekwu is characterized by the Mgba Okposi, a traditional wrestling competition. A contest in which the young and the old gather to show their physical prowess in wrestling bouts. Mgba Okposi is not new. It is actually as old as the community. And in those days, just like in many other Igbo communities, men have won wives for themselves at the popular Egbo playground. So, the community gathered to mark the 2014 Ekwu Day, there was pomp and ceremony as the entire community relocated to the venue. The event attracted both the high and mighty. The event started with the arrival of the traditional ruler of Okposi, Eze Cosmas Agwu, in company with the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Ebonyi State, Mr. Ben Igwenyi; the Co-ordinator, Okposi Development Centre, Nze Magus Eze; the Director-General, Centre for the Promotion of Okposi Culture and former Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Ebonyi State, Chief Benson Igboke; among other dignitaries. Then members of the Dimgba Union, association of elderly men from the community, who in their prime had been active in the traditional wrestling, but had now retired, filed out in a procession around Egbo Square, with the flutist at the forefront. Their arrival signaled the commencement of the grand finale of the traditional wrestling for 2014. First, two members of the Dimgba Union, took to the arena to perform a mock wrestling, after which the main action started. Thereafter, traditional wrestlers drawn from different age grades in the community filed out to compete for honour; with some as young as six years old.   Usually, a wrestler would appear on the wrestling ground with a raised fist; seeking a contender. Anyone who feels confident enough to the challenge would then step out and bring down the raised fist; thus indicating his readiness to take on the challenge. From there, the wrestling ensues. The first to bring the other down on his back is adjudged the winner. As the contest got underway, it started to rain. The rain elicited so much joy from the elders, with many of them recalling that Ekwu Day can never be complete without a rain. Incidentally, it had not rained in the community one month prior to that day. At the end of a very keen contest that lasted for about three hours, Mr. Eze Nwagwu from Mgbom N’Achara emerged the overall winner, after throwing his challenger from Umuakuma. Ironically, Umuakuma was the defending champion. When encountered, the leader of the Dimgba Union, Mazi  Johnson Okorie Evo, who is now in his 80s told Daily Sun that the wrestling competition dates back to history. He notes that the wrestling normally holds in the month of June starting on an Eke Market day at a place called Ugwu-Mebi in the community and climaxing on the Oye Market day at Egbo Square: “That is how it has always been done since the times of our forebears. It is done every June and is called the Ekwu. It is announced three traditional weeks ahead. Everyone participates –old and young. It starts from Ugwu-Mebi on Eke market day, then on Oye , the finals is done in Egbo. Egbo is where our ancestors discover that it can be done without problem.” Although traditional wrestling dates back in history, this year’s edition was marked with much pomp and pageantry, with the Ebonyi State Sports Council participating for the first time. The Director of Sports, Ebonyi State, Dr. Utobo, who witnessed the event said they have spotted some talents who were trained in wrestling and takwado ahead of the next National Sports Festival. The traditional ruler of Okposi Autonomous Community, Eze Cosmas Agwu, Enechi Akuma IV, confirmed that Mgba Okposi 2014 was outstanding: “It was a fantastic one. We feel there is much improvement from what we have had in past few years. This wrestling has united all the whole of Okposi Ezinasato. “It is known as Ekwu Day. After Ekwu Day, after this wrestling, you can now be talking of new yam festival.  It is one of the months in our year. It is as old as the people in Okposi community. We refined it some five years ago.  This year we came with the cabinet. We are going to make it a tourist attraction. It is going to be a carnival.” Mgba Okposi, despite being an old cultural fiesta at a point stopped until some seven years ago, when the Centre for Promotion of Okposi Culture revived it. Rationalizing the resuscitation of the festival, Igboke admitted: “The advent of Christianity to a very large extent dampened our cultural heritage over time. “But there is a new realization that it is not supposed to be that way. So, Okposi elite have risen to say no. No foreign culture should dominate our own culture. We are all Christians. As long as any aspect of culture does not in any way go contrary to biblical principles, we will keep the culture.” He said since seven years ago, when Okposi elite formed the Centre for the Promotion of Okposi Culture, the Mgba Okposi has since bounced back to life; with each year an improvement on the former. Eze believed the presence of Ebonyi Sports Council added beauty to the contest. It was the first time the council was attending Mgba Okposi: “What it means is that beyond the cultural aspect of the celebration, there is the aspect of sports. Just like the director of sports told us, they have found some good talents here and these people will be trained in such a way that they can represent the state in future festivals, when it involves wrestling. “What we are doing today, the significance is that why people from different parts of Nigeria are involved in one form of restiveness or the other, where terrorism, kidnapping and many of vices are reigning in some quarters, our youths still find time to indulge in such past time like this that cand build the mind and build the person. As such, the issue of restiveness, hooliganism has been brought to a stop because everybody converges here.” President General, Okposi Town Union, Dr. Eze Anoke, who hailed the impressive organization of this year’s edition of the wrestling fiesta called on indigenes of the town who have not been participating to start doing so: “Culture is an identity of a society. Some people say because of Christianity they cannot participate. There is nothing fetish about it. It is more of a traditional wrestling; a game that was done by our forefathers, which we abandoned for modernity until recently.” On what the community was doing to make the fiesta bigger and better, Igboke explained that they intend to make it a tourist attraction. However, he called on the media to partner with the community in that regard. The former commissioner expressed optimism that soon there will be sponsorship for the event. And the council boss agreed. He said the current challenge is to make the wrestling festival bigger: “I may not be able to tell you how old the mgba thing is, but it has existed for over 150 years, that is in recent history. We have the strong conviction that we can take it to the next level. Every year, the scope is expanding. “The focus is to get this Mgba charted in national cultural calendar. The direction we are going is such that I can assure you that soon, it will be charted in the national culture calendar. Just like you talked about Argungu fishing festival, new yam festival in Arochukwu and the rest, this is something that must be charted.”
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Over the months, with the approach of the conduct of Party Primaries slated for October, this year by the Independent National Electoral Commission, there seems, unfortunately, concerted efforts by surrogates falling over themselves to please the Enugu State Government, by mounting ceaseless campaigns of calumny, against the person of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, through fictitious Advertorials.Churning out falsehood, these groups and their collaborators are carrying it to a dizzying height, which bewilders. There must be truce now and all those fanning the embers of chauvinism and trying to heat up the polity of a hitherto peaceful Enugu State, must be called to order.

Any keen follower of the political events in the Coal City, ought to have deduced that the out-going Governor Sullivan Chime is believed to be eyeing the Enugu West Senatorial seat being occupied at present by Senator Ekweremadu, who has performed creditably well not only as Senator representing the area, but has with candour, simplicity, courage and non pugnacious stance , steered honourably the Senate sessions of the 7th National Assembly, as Deputy Senate President.

His colleagues are wont to marvel at his proper grasp of legislative duties, his articulate views and how he marshals his points with such ease not incurring the wrath of any Senator even those holding alternate views. It is to his credit that he continues to pilot the affairs of the Red Chamber with such dexterity each time he is presiding that hardly had there been any rancourous situation.

His warmth is infectious hence having friends that cut across party affiliations and he is at home with all his colleague Senators at first name basis.

The pride of any nation and state, is to treasure and hold dearly their best ‘first eleven’ so to say. He remains a phenomenon in the Senate and National Assembly as a whole and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) Parliamentary Body, to therefore contemplate asking Senator Ekweremadu not to rerun, come February 2015 General Elections, is a disservice to Enugu State and indeed Nigerians.

To coerce and torpedo this achiever despite his phenomenal legislative  accomplishments in both fashioning good laws for the nation and attracting several developmental projects to his Constituency and empowering lots of people across board, no doubt goes against the grains of continuity and institutionalising functional senatorial duties as a bedrock of sound democratic tenets.

No one throws away a baby and the bathwater. There is no wisdom in changing a winning team. One matures with time and experience cannot be bought with money. United Sates of America, where we adopted the Presidential System of Government, never risked removing or uprooting a deserving and performing Senator. As a matter of fact, a peep into the history of serving American Senators, there are long list of revered longest serving senators, who are still serving.

The list runs thus: Senators Robert C.Byrd (Democrat Western Virginia)-  was in the Senate for 51 years from January 3, 1959- January 28, 2010; Dan K. Inouye from January 3, 1963 to present day over 50 years; Storm Thurmond, Republican South Carolina, spent 47 years from November 7 1956- January 2002; Edward M. Kennedy Democrat Massachusetts ,had 47 years of meritorious service November 7, 1962 – August 25, 2009. As champion of higher education, direct loans to students and a lifelong crusader of equal rights, Senator Kennedy perhaps would have still been in the Senate, but for his unfortunate demise as a result of brain tumour.

Carl T.Hayden Democrat Arizona spent about 42 years March 4, 1927- January 3, 1969; John Stemis Democrat Mississippi, did 42 years November 5, 1947- January 1989; Ted Steven Republican Arkansas, was at the senate for 44 years Dec 24, 1965- January 2009; Ernest F Hollings Democrat spent 39 years Nov 9, 1966- January 3, 2005; Richard D. Russel Democrat  was at that distinguished American senate for 38 years January 3, 1933- January 21, 1971. Bringing to a close the list of 10 longest serving American senators is Russel Long Democrat Los Angeles, was in the senate for 38 years December 31, 1948- January 3, 1987.

The issue of who represents the Constituents in the American system, is not based on sentiments or emotions but the system works for perfection. They hold on tenaciously to their men of honour and valour as they go into elections.

It is becoming a past time for most Governors leaving governance to go headlong in pursuit of uprooting whoever is in the senate so that they may replace them. It shouldn’t really be a dumping ground for past Governors, especially when the incumbent senators are remarkably doing well in all ramifications. There could be other areas these former Governors could participate instead of upturning the apple cart.

The scenario in Enugu makes a good case for study. Although the Governor has not publicly declared he would be contesting the seat occupied by Senator Ekweremadu, but even in my village in Enugu State, it is no longer a news hidden in a bushel. Objectively, both sons of Enugu have done well and are equally qualified to run. The Governor has laid solid foundation for development in the state with the construction of major roads within the capital city and also at the rural areas. He had restored a serene and peaceful atmosphere for business and social life to thrive.

On his part, Senator Ekweremadu’s status has soared with local and an international clout. He is a consummate legislator whose master of legislative process to the advantage of the nation we cannot afford to toy with and miss. He has postulated and sponsored several bills that impact the common man, promoting legislation that would provide support systems for small and medium scale enterprises, especially reviewing laws that could encourage local technology, local management skills and access to cheap and long term loans.

He had worked tirelessly in getting through legislation that would make for funding for a limited free health care system especially for expectant mothers, children and all those unable to benefit in the health insurance scheme, amongst others. His horizon is people-oriented, hence the infrastructural provision for his Enugu West Constituents so staggering in new school blocks, desks, books, equipping libraries, transformers, rural electrification, water boreholes, roads , building of town halls and places of recreation, adult literacy and micro finance.

He has a Football Championship on-going being competed for by Local Governments that make up his Senatorial Zone. Perhaps it is in the area of philanthropic gestures that Senator Ekweramadu has written his name in Platinum. As at the last count, his Ikeoha Foundation Scholarship Bursary Award is sponsoring the education of over 300 students including bursary awards in higher institutions including universities both at home and overseas.

No tinkering of the Constitution would be complete without mentioning his name since as Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee in the National Assembly, he has brought to bear on the exercise, respectability and a high sense of purpose.

Given his pedigree and purposeful leadership as Deputy Senate President and for the magnificent upliftment  and empowerment of people from his area, one can say without any fear of contradiction that his name placed on the Ritchard’s Scale, it would weigh down the gold bars. Is it therefore desirable that he should return, Yes. Would he add more values and strengthen the Senate in the forthcoming 8th National Assembly, the answers are in the positive. Will the people of Enugu West be better of with his coming back, Yes and Yes!

We must grow this democracy and appreciate excellence and performance. We must not abort a dream so sweet still in the honey comb. All men and women of decent upbringing in Enugu, must intervene to checkmate the unnecessary flexing of muscles. The party in Enugu is One Big Family. We must shut the door to muckrakers and mischief makers cum sycophants. Howbeit Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Governor Sullivan locking themselves up in one room, no interference and as brothers sort out what ordinarily should be a simple family affair.

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The invaders scaled the fence of his house while the man of God was busy in his church along Bank Road, Umuahia, Abia, preaching the good news to the congregation.The evil ones had broken the window glasses, sprinkled fuel and other inflammable liquids on each of the rooms and set his house on fire.

But for an eagle-eyed neighbour who saw thick smoke bellowing from the roof of the house on Sunday, June 29, 2014, the private residence of Pastor Ugochukwu Nwosu of Unique Grace Ministries (aka Unique Worship Center) would have become history.

Before the ugly incident, the man of God had on several occasions been robbed by people, some of who were apprehended and handed over to the police. The bewildered Pastor Nwosu told Daily Sun that this was one out of the several attempts by daredevils to steal, kill and destroy his house:

“I am surprised at what I am seeing here. I traveled on Friday to preach at the church of a friend in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, after which I stopped over in our church in Aba. I came back this morning. I was just driving into the church when one of my neighbours ran and called me that my house was on fire and I went and saw that the house was on fire truly.

“But, by the time I came the situation had been brought under control by people. I opened the door and discovered that my own room was still on fire. I could not trace where the fire was coming from; my suits were burning, documents etc. Part of the cotton was burning.

“I discovered that one of the windows which I was sure was locked before I traveled was damaged, which I believe is the source through which the arsonists sprinkled inflammable liquid into the house before putting it on fire.ww

“I started looking round and discovered that there was sprinkling of fuel and kerosene on the chairs, floors and other items of property. The three rooms which we are occupying presently were all on fire, but there was no fire on the corridors and other places. Somebody must have attempted it.

“Going round, we also found that the hose of the generator was cut and fuel must have been scooped from there to perform this dastard act. This is not an accident. “Three months back, some people came to steal here and they were caught. The matter was reported to the police. Three weeks ago, on a Sunday, thieves gained entry into the house and stole some items after which they broke the screen of my television set.

Today, it is just three Sundays and here is their handiwork. I believe somebody must have sent them, but I don’t know their reasons. For now, I am not suspecting anybody and I don’t know what to do. What have been damaged here could be estimated to be over N5 million. I am only telling those after me to leave me alone. My life is in Christ and what they have done is the worst they can do.”

A neighbor, Mr Bright Lawrence, who witnessed the incident said: “At about 10:30a.m, I was in my apartment watching television, when my younger sister from her own room started shouting, brother fire, fire, fire! She told me that our neighbour’s house was on fire. I rushed out and saw the smoke of the fire.

And being Sunday, everybody must have gone to church. I started hitting on my neighbour’s apartment and people started coming out. We rushed to the compound and shouted if there was anyone around and nobody answered and we shook the gate and it opened.

“We started going round to see the room where the fire was coming from, but the whole place was locked. Then we used stone to break the glass windows and poured water into the place. Some people brought fire extinguishers from their cars and we battled to put off the fire.

“As we were battling, the fire was ragging. I rushed to my house and drove to the church and told the pastor that his house was on fire. On getting back to the house, men of fire service were already on ground. We informed them that the wood on the roof had been affected and that they should concentrate their equipment up there, because smoke was still oozing out from the roof.

“The whole thing looks funny because the rooms that were burnt were not in anyway connected to each other for one to suspect that the fire must have gone from one room to the other. We could not link the fire passing from one room to the other. So, one can easily conclude that it is the handiwork of some evil people.

“One begins to wonder why a person would want to burn down some one’s building. There was no link between the first room that was burning and the third room. It is obvious that it is the handiwork of evil men. We thank God that people were able to come out otherwise, the whole house would have gone down in one big swoop of fire. We thank God that all is not lost.”

Mr Chukwuemeka Okezie, the Public Relations Officer of Abia State Fire Service said: “The cause of the fire is arson. As you go round, you can see fuel, kerosene and other inflammable materials sprinkled around this building. Immediately we got the call, I dispatched my men from the Government House and Umuahia Fire Station and we were able to rescue the house from further damage.

“When we came in here, we noticed large smoke, with ragging fire and people making efforts to attend to the fire problem. The advice I can give to the owner of the house is that he should be more careful with the people they do not know and even people they know. Nobody can tell who is who and to install fire-fighting equipment here. The extent of damage here runs into millions.”

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Burna-BoyHip hop singer, Burna Boy, has parted ways with the record label, Aristokrat Records that brought him to limelight.

According to reports, the ‘Yawa Dey Oh’ crooner is no longer with AR, and his new video ‘Don Gorgon’ does not have AR imprint on it.

The record label has removed everything about Burna on its social media.

The cause for the friction between the talented star and his formal record label could not be ascertained but sources say the friction may have stemmed from Burna Boy’s lifestyle and his mother’s deep involvement in his career.

Burna Boy, who came into the music scene with ‘Like To Party’ hit, is said to have fired his mum as manager.

Little known Burna signed with Aristokrat in July 2011, released two mixtapes ‘Burn Notice’ and ‘Burn Identity’ in April and November 2011 respectively.

He then went on to drop the mid-tempo hit record ‘Like to Party’ in mid-2012. With two other successful singles ‘Tonight’ and ‘Run my race’, Burna rose to fame, making a name for himself.

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Last Friday, July 18, 2014, the funeral for Mrs. Ethel Nmezi, former Deputy Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited, was held in her native town of Ufuma in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

A legion of the villagers, The Sun staff and others had gathered in the family house of Nmezi to help give her a befitting farewell. It was a moment of agony and wailings as those in her community and others she had helped while she was alive expressed sadness with some of them weeping.

Nmezi, the second daughter in a family of eight died last month at the age of 48 years after a protracted illness.  Amid sobbing and heavy hearts, some of the Ufuma people and Nmezi’s relations spoke to Daily Sun. Her elder sister, Mrs Amuche Nwafor and their firstborn said: “Ethel was not just a sister, but a very close friend of mine. Even though she was my younger sister, she was like a mother to me. Every seconds of the day I miss her; I miss her encouragement; the laughter, the happiness. I was following her footsteps. In fact, she was my role model.

“There were things she couldn’t accomplish which we will take up. The pains Ethel’s death have caused us are not what anybody can advise us to do away with easily. The pains will always be there because the vacuum she has created, nobody; I say nobody, can fill it. It’s true she has gone, but the vacuum she left behind, nobody can fill it. But it’s just that we are taking comfort in the Lord. If it is possible to trade, I would have loved to die on her behalf because she started so well, she needed to continue.”

Her younger sister, Mrs Nneka Okugo: “I have fond, sweet memories for my late sister, Ethel. She wasn’t just my sister, she was my mother, and in my next world, I’ll want her to still be my sister. Even though she lived a good life, I regret that she didn’t live to fulfill her life’s ambitions; she was just starting life.

“She was widely loved by the Ufuma community such that they gave her the title: ‘Ada di ora nma’ in Ufuma. It’s a title given to people who have distinguished themselves in the society, and have contributed to the growth and development of Ufuma community. And Ethel was someone that would bend over for others to be happy.”

Mrs. Nkechi Ashara and Mrs. Stella Nkiru Dozie, the third and fourth daughters in the family, like their sisters, said they would miss Ethel greatly. Mrs. Ify Izuchukwu, the seven in the family:

“I’m yet to believe it even though I saw her lay down. It’s painful. She was one of a kind. In fact, it’s only God that can fill the vacuum she left behind. We lost her when we needed her most.

“We are like eight girls in the family and she was like the man in the house; do you understand? If there was anything happening, and she was around; you would be rest assured that everything would be taken care of. But then, the Bible says that in all things you should give glory to God.

“If you know my sister very well, you’ll understand what I’m saying. She was somebody that would make you laugh and be rolling on the ground. She would just be saying things that would leave you laughing all day.”

An Ufuma community leader, Mr Reuben Nwafor: “Truthfully, Ethel was a good woman. In fact, we lost a rare personality. It is a ‘book’ that has just died; she’s too brainy, and we were hopeful that this community would have secured many benefits through her. But unfortunately, she died prematurely. She helped the community very well.

“We don’t have the power to go to the land of the spirit for war. It is how God wants it. Many people from this community are under her scholarship scheme. She was sponsoring their education before her untimely death. She has equally helped many from this community to get jobs in different places.”

Prince Ikechukwu Ogukwe, Mr. Christian U. Nwankwo, who is the head of the kindred, and Mrs. Patricia Nwankwo, corroborated what Nwafor that the late Mrs. Nmezi “was a hardworking lady who died prematurely.”

Mr. Chidi Nnadi, assistant editor, South East Bureau who of The Sun to the burial ceremony said the Nmezi worked very hard when she was with the company, regretting that she died few weeks after she resigned her appointment with the company due to ill health. He prayed that the Almighty God give her family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Nnadi later joined the General Manager, Finance, Mr Obioma Ogukwe and General Manager, Sales and Operations, Mr Damola Lajumoke, who came in from Lagos to present the Nmezi family a cheque of N1 million. Other members of staff of The Sun from Lagos and across the country attended the funeral.

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emmanuel-uduaghan1The Delta State Government has disbursed funds and presented certificates to 138 cluster groups who are the beneficiaries of the Delta State Micro Credit Programme (DMCP).

Making the disbursement at Eku, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan stated that the Micro Credit Programme of his administration was designed to make Deltans economically buoyant and employers of labour.

According to him, the funds released to beneficiaries of the scheme was take-off capital which should yield profit if properly managed, adding that there was no discrimination in the choice of beneficiaries.

He disclosed that over 100,000 Deltans have benefitted from the micro credit scheme since its introduction in 2007 and they have become employers of labour.

The Delta State Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama, also emphasised the judicious use of the funds given to them, while the Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr Anthonia Ashiedu, disclosed that the programme has been sustained to empower Deltans, especially women.

Beneficiaries of the scheme who spoke at the occasion said that their businesses have grown and that they have become employers of labour instead of job seekers.

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The 24 hours curfew imposed on Kaduna metropolis following Wednesday’s explosions that rocked parts of the city has been lifted.

Details later…


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SSS-spokesman-Marilyn Ogar

Security Forces Not Overwhelmed – Ogar

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Ms Marilyn Ogar, Deputy Director, Public Relations, Department of State Services (DSS), said on Wednesday that security agencies were not overwhelmed by current security challenges in the country.

Fielding questions from newsmen at the National Information Centre in Abuja, Ogar assured that they were working to keep the nation united.

“We are not overwhelmed; be rest assured that Nigeria will not disintegrate; government security forces are doing everything to ensure we remain one.

“If security forces have given you a promise that they will ensure that no part of this country is ceded to the enemy, I think we should stand by it.

“We should collectively believe in ourselves and encourage security forces, I can’t do your job just as you can’t do mine,’’ she said.

She urged citizens to be their brother’s keeper, adding that they should endeavour to know who their neighbours were.

She said security forces could not be everywhere.

Earlier, Coordinator of the centre, Mr Mike Omeri, said that security agencies were intensifying efforts to stop the Boko Haram menace.

Omeri urged Nigerians to condemn acts of terrorism and unite to find a solution to it. (NAN)

« Previous Article Russia To Re-open Trade Mission In Nigeria

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1. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia x2013; $40 billion

Russia To Re-open Trade Mission In Nigeria

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The Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Nikolay Udovincheko, says Russian Trade Mission to Nigeria will be reopened to promote trade and economic ties between the two countries.

Udovincheko stated this during a courtesy visit by the Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Ima Niboro, to the Russian Embassy on Wednesday in Abuja.

The ambassador said the embassy was also working towards opening a cultural centre in Nigeria to promote cultural diplomacy between both countries.

He lauded the decision by NAN management to reopen its bureau in Moscow, and pledged to give “all the necessary and appropriate support’’ to help in achieving the Agency’s objective.

Udovincheko said Russia considered Nigeria to be a strategic partner in Africa because of
its numerous opportunities in human and natural resources.

“Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and it needs objective and balanced information that promotes cooperation and harmony between different groups in the country and the international community,’’ he said.

The ambassador noted the occurrence of “distorted facts’’ in the reportage of some issues in Nigeria by some international media.
He also noted that the mass media play a major role in defining world politics, adding that Russia was keen on sustaining its cooperation with Nigeria areas such as the media, culture and economy.

Udovincheko expressed the embassy’s willingness to facilitate renewal of the news exchange agreement between NAN and the Russian News Agency, Interfax, to promote issues of public and national interests.

He said that a crew from Russia Today, an international multilingual television network, would be in Nigeria soon to do a documentary on Nollywood, a key economic driver in the country.

On education, the Russian ambassador applauded the bilateral ties between the two countries in the sector which, he noted, had facilitated the training of hundreds of Nigerians in different fields in Russian universities.

“In 2014, 70 Nigerian students were invited to study in Russia on scholarship, and we are optimistic that after their programme they will return to Nigeria to contribute to the development of the country,’’ he said.
The ambassador said the embassy was also planning an exchange visit for Nigerian youths to Moscow to learn more about Russia.

He explained that the quantum of trade between the two countries remained less than 250 million dollars annually in spite of the fact that they had enjoyed cordial relations for over 50 years.

Earlier, Niboro told the ambassador that a key mandate of NAN is “to report Nigeria to the world and the world to Nigeria’’.

He said the agency’s planned reopening of a bureau in Moscow would go a long way in promoting economic and trade ties between both countries.
The NAN managing director urged the ambassador to use his good office and make sure Aeroflot, the largest airline of the Russian Federation, resumes direct flight to Nigeria.

Niboro expressed the optimism that direct flights to Nigeria from Moscow or other major cities in Russia would boost economic and trade relations between both countries. (NAN)

« Previous Article AfDB Invests $1.9bn Infrastructure In Nigeria – Country Director

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AfDB Invests $1.9bn Infrastructure In Nigeria – Country Director

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has invested 1.9 billion dollars (N311.6 billion) in infrastructure development in Nigeria in the last 42 years, according to the Country Director, Dr Ousmane Dore.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, Dore said that the bank had committed a cumulative of 6.4 billion dollars (about N1.05 trillion) to different sectors of the country’s economy as at December 2013.

According to him, the current public sector portfolio of the bank stands at 921.2 million dollars (about N151 billion) of which 701.5 million (about N115 billion) is allocated to infrastructure projects.

Dore said that the bank had been supporting infrastructure development since it commenced lending operations in Nigeria in 1972.

The country director told NAN that over 70 per cent of the bank’s operations were directed at infrastructure development.

He said that some of the bank’s early support to infrastructure development included the reconstruction of Enugu and Calabar Airports, launched in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

Dore said the bank’s operations had expanded to include several other projects in water and sanitation; road and energy.

“Some of the flagship projects include rural water and sanitation project in Akwa Ibom and Taraba States, while in the transport sector we have the Cross River Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) and the Enugu-Bamenda Highway.

“This is the hard core infrastructure but on the private sector side, we have many; like our investment in Lekki Toll Road and some other private sector operations.”

He said the bank had also been involved in “soft infrastructure” in the form of improving knowledge on the state of infrastructure in the country.

Dore said the bank undertook a detailed assessment of infrastructure needs in Nigeria that culminated in the Nigerian Infrastructure Action Plan (NIAP).

He explained that the study recommended 350 billion dollars in Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) investment for the next 10 years, to bridge the existing infrastructure gap in the country.

Dore stated that the establishment of ‘Africa50 Fund’ aimed at accelerating infrastructure delivery in Africa, would work with Nigeria to reduce the country’s infrastructure finance gap.

According to him, `Africa50 `Fund’ will act as one-stop shop, combining early stage project development work with long-term debt financing, to ensure smooth and efficient path from project inception to realisation.

Dore said that some of the prospective projects that the fund was supporting in Nigeria included the 49.5 km Lekki toll road, the Lekki Port project and the 12 km Lagos Cable Transit project, among others. (NAN)

« Previous Article NFF Sacks Maigari

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The Nigeria Football Association (NFA) board on Thursday in Abuja passed a vote of no confidence on its Chairman, Aminu Maigari, and approved his immediate dismissal from the board.

The board, which said the action was on grounds of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration, mandated its First Vice-Chairman, Mike Umeh, to act as Chairman pending new elections.

It had taken the decision at a meeting at the NFA Glass House secretariat to review the situation, after last week’s vacation of an injunction by the Jos High Court.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the injunction had asked the board to step aside, leading to Sports Minister Tammy Danagogo sacking the NFA management team.

The injunction and Minister’s action had irked FIFA, which subsequently suspended Nigeria, before lifting it after the court order was vacated.

Ademola Olajire, NFA’s Head of Communications, said in a statement on Thursday in Abuja that the board took the decision after “thorough and exhaustive deliberations on the uncalled-for secrecy surrounding all financial dealings of the association.’’

The statement also quoted the meeting’s communiqué, signed by Muazu Suleyman, Chairman of its Drafting Committee, as citing as another reason the “failure to call a board meeting for the past eight months’’.

“During this period, so many weighty decisions on Nigerian football had been taken by a small cabal within the board,’’ the communiqué said.

It said further that Umeh, as Acting Chairman, is to preside over the board’s affairs pending the composition of the new NFA board after the elections of Tuesday, Aug. 26.

The meeting was attended by Maigari and Umeh, as well as other board members such as Emeka Inyama, Dilichukwu Onyedinma, Ahmad Muazu Kawu, Effiong Johnson, Chris Green and Shehu Adamu.

Other board members in attendance at the meeting are Suleyman, Ayodeji Tinubu, Yusuf Ahmed, Felix Anyansi-Agwu and Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, as well as Musa Amadu, the NFA Secretary-General.(NAN)

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The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Aminu Maigari, was on Thursday impeached by the Federation’s executive committee members.

The members took the decision during Thursday’s executive committee meeting in Abuja, kickOffNigeria.com reports.

Maigari was accused of “uncalled-for secrecy” surrounding all financial dealings of the Federation and failure to call meeting of the executive committee for the past eight months, during which so many weighty decisions on Nigeria football had been taken by a small cabal within the board.

Consequently, in a motion for impeachment moved by Shehu Adamu and seconded by Deji Tinubu, the committee passed a vote of no confidence on the NFF president.

A communiqué at the end of the meeting stated that “the committee approved the immediate dismissal of Alhaji Aminu Maigari, from the NFF Executive Committee on grounds of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration.”

The body’s First Vice President, Mike Umeh, was appointed Acting President, to preside over the affairs of the Federation, pending the composition of the new executive committee after the August 26 elections.


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maigari-aminuThe Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation have dismissed the President the Federation, Aminu Maigari.

Maigari was dismissed on grounds of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration.

1st Vice President, Mike Umeh, takes over as Acting President till the NFF Executive Committee election of August 26, 2014.

This comes barely a week after world football governing body, FIFA, lifted the ban it placed on Nigerian Football on grounds of Government interference.

Details to follow.

Hits: 17

maigari-aminuThe Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation have dismissed the President the Federation, Aminu Maigari.

Maigari was dismissed on grounds of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration.

1st Vice President, Mike Umeh, takes over as Acting President till the NFF Executive Committee election of August 26, 2014.

This comes barely a week after world football governing body, FIFA, lifted the ban it placed on Nigerian Football on grounds of Government interference.

Details to follow.

Hits: 7

maigari-aminuThe Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation have dismissed the President the Federation, Aminu Maigari.

Maigari was dismissed on grounds of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration.

1st Vice President, Mike Umeh, takes over as Acting President till the NFF Executive Committee election of August 26, 2014.

This comes barely a week after world football governing body, FIFA, lifted the ban it placed on Nigerian Football on grounds of Government interference.

Details to follow.

Hits: 6

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