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GTB Shareholders Approve N50bn Dividend Payout

The shareholders of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) have given their approval to the company’s Board of Directors to pay a total of N50.033 billion as dividend for the 2013 financial year. This translates into a payout of N1.70 per share; made up of an interim dividend of N0.25 per share and a final dividend of N1.45 per share.

The shareholders also commended the company for declaring good returns despite the harsh operating environment for businesses in the country. The national coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Sunny Nwosu, said that the company usually came up with policies that were customer friendly, adding that this had attracted more businesses to the company.

He noted that various investment decisions taken by the company in the year under consideration had paid off considering the amount of N1.70 it gave to shareholders, adding that the company should not rest on its oars.

In its results, the company’s gross earnings for the year grew by 8.8 per cent from the N223.06 billion recorded in 2012 to N242.67 billion, while it posted a profit before tax of N107.09 billion, 3.94 per cent higher than the N103.03 billion reported for the previous year.

The managing director of the bank, Mr Segun Agbaje said that the bank considered its shareholders as one of its greatest assets, adding that the bank was doing all it could to build on its achievements in the last few years.

He added that the company intended to consolidate its position in 2014 by pioneering service innovations, developing value-adding products in the market, promoting excellence and creating role models for society through a myriad of social and other initiatives.

Agbaje said, “The year 2013, was a successful operating period for our bank as despite the various challenges we faced and the uncertainties that prevailed in the domestic and global business environment, we still overcame and retained our position as one of the foremost and most profitable financial institutions in Nigeria today”.

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« Previous Article Stanbic IBTC Enjoins SMEs To Tap Into Power Sector Reforms

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Stanbic IBTC Enjoins SMEs To Tap Into Power Sector Reforms

The chief executive officer of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, a member of Standard Bank Group, Sola David-Borha, has called on small and medium scale enterprises in the country to tap into the power sector reforms for business growth. She made the call at the 7th Lagos State Economic Summit where she was a panelist at one of the sessions on power sector funding.

According to David-Borha, the power sector reforms have presented a huge opportunity for start-ups and small and medium scale enterprises to explore for growth.

“There is a supply and infrastructure gap in the power sector that small business owners can plug to their benefit. For instance, the distribution and generation companies would need metres, cables, electricity poles, payment cards, among others, which can be readily handled by small businesses” she said.

She stressed government’s determination to ensure the success of the privatisation process in the power sector and the local content policy, which ensures that local businesses are not overlooked. She said, these are positive pointers to encourage investment in the sector.

David-Borha said the reforms and the enormous growth opportunity in the sector make it easier for financial institutions, including Stanbic IBTC, to finance SMEs involved in the power sector.

“I am hopeful that even when there are challenges in the power sector, the government will step in to address whatever needs to be done because there is so much at stake that could allow the sector to fail,” she said.

According to David-Borha, Stanbic IBTC will continue to leverage on the rich heritage and know-how of the Standard Bank Group to support the reforms and the sector by providing both debt and equity in the right balance and by attracting foreign investors into the country.

In demonstration of its commitment to the power sector, Stanbic IBTC, early this year, organised its annual Standard Bank West African Investors’ Conference with power sector reforms as its central theme.

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« Previous Article Kogi Governor Flags Off N2bn Otokiti-Ganaja By Pass Road

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Good kitchen storage is important. Not only does it boost an efficient kitchen, cooking and storage become fun. To create a more functional kitchen without breaking the bank, these are steps to consider

1. Upper cabinets

The upper cabinet in a kitchen is important for more storage and it helps with the flow of the kitchen design. The storage available in the upper cabinet is to store most of the items needed in the kitchen—plates, glasses, food spices and a lot more. It also adds beauty to the design.

2. Drawers

Importantly, all your drawers should have dividers separating like items from unlike items. This way, everything is easily seen and retrieved. An average kitchen needs about 10 drawers.

3. Base and deep pantry cabinets

The use of paper-grocery bags (with the sides folded to the inside to adjust the height and make them stronger, and a label on the side) makes no-cost pull-out containers for deep cabinets. This type of storage is ideal for seasonal Christmas candles, picnic supplies, and table decorations. When you store items at the back of deep cupboards, put a label on the cabinet door identifying what is at the rear.

 NOTE

-It is not advisable to store items on open shelves (no doors) unless you use the items almost every day or are prepared to wash, all the items and the shelf surfaces regularly. This holds true for using pot racks hung from the ceiling and open utensil containers on the counter. - Restaurants use open shelves because there is the daily use of everything on the shelf or rack and everything gets washed constantly. Probably this is not so in your home. Though it is extremely convenient to reach for items without opening doors, it is not ideal for home.

 Installing cabinets

Cabinets are the focal point of the kitchen and whether you are choosing brand new cabinets or are refinishing older ones for a fresh look, there is a need to choose a colour that mixes and matches well with the existing style. Here are some classic kitchen cabinet colours that are sure to warm up any kitchen:

Antique white: It is a classic colour that never goes out of style and will blend well in a casual or traditional setting.

 Washed blue: It turns any kitchen into a cozy retreat that exudes a soft, country charm.

 Vibrant red: Vibrant red cabinets warm up a kitchen while adding a definite pop of colour.

 Buttery yellow: It has such a soft, fresh look that you may never want to leave your kitchen again.

 Brushed sage: For a calm, peaceful setting in your busy kitchen, brushed sage cabinets are a good choice.

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Kogi Governor Flags Off N2bn Otokiti-Ganaja By Pass Road

The flagging off of the construction work on the 16-kilometre Otokiti-Ganaja by pass road was no doubt a joyous moment for the people of Kogi State as residents expressed happiness over the development.

The state governor, Capt. Idris Wada, who flagged off the road project said that it was in fulfillment of his campaign promises to the people.  For Governor Wada, his administration’s decision to construct roads linking villages, local government and other major towns in the state is geared towards opening up the state to economic opportunities.

The commencement of work on the Otokiti-Ganaja road bye pass which will gulp over N2 billion, Wada said will not only open up the state capital to the eastern flank but will certainly open up the town to more opportunities and development.

The governor’s road development policy is a deliberate and strategic one because good road network is an important complement to improved transport system.  It is also indispensable for the transportation of goods and services from the rural areas to the major markets and to also enhance social interaction between the citizens and people from other parts of the country.

For Captain Wada, the practical reality of constructing new roads only calls for the rehabilitation of old ones. This has necessitated the establishment of the State Road Maintenance Agency.  This has equally added value to the governor’s determination to ensure that all state roads are comfortably accessible throughout the year.

From the beginning of this year, the present administration has not hidden its desire to provide quality roads across the state.  With the inauguration of equipment for the Kogi State Road Maintenance Agency at the  cost of over N300 million, everyone knew that the Governor was only matching words with action in his road revolution programme.

The governor has also flagged off the construction of Egbe township road to ease the stress being faced by the people on the state roads. Other roads that are being rehabilitated by the Wada’s administration include Kabba, Iyara, Mopa and Lokoja roads. Thus, making the Kogi west senatorial district having all of its roads under reconstruction simultaneously.

Other roads executed in the last two years Include Ganaja junction – Ganaja village diversion road, Ajaka – Ibachi road, Ogaminana township road; the dualisation of Idah township road, the dualisation of Ankpa township road, three and four span bridges on Shintaku Odugbo Mozun road, Okura township road; Ankpa – Oloku – Okaba road. Similarly, works on the following roads are on-going; Abejukolo township road, Ageva – Ogori road, Lokoja township road, Lokoja –  Mount Patti Road, Rehabilitation of Koton-karfe township road, Ofugo – Ika – Iloni.   Icheke road, among several others.

While flagging off the road construction at Egbe, the governor urged the contractors handling road projects in the state to justify government’s huge investment, warning that the government would not accept shoddy jobs from anyone.

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« Previous Article 200 Kwara Teachers Undergo Science, Mathematics Training

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Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed Looking Serious

200 Kwara Teachers Undergo Science, Mathematics Training

About two hundred teachers in Kwara State are currently undergoing training to enhance their proficiency in Mathematics and other Science subjects.

The chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Barr. Lanre Daibu made this disclosure at a 13-day strengthening of Mathematics and Science Education (SMASE) training holding in Ilorin, the state capital.

He said that the participants were selected from the 16 local government areas of the state, explaining that the training would soon be expanded to accommodate more teachers in the state.

Daibu, who was represented by the permanent member III of board, Alh. Sulaiman Dadi, said “the Kwara state government through the board released funds to train 12 state trainers and a desk officer in 2013. These strainers have been mandated to train 200 core teachers who will cascade the training at the local level until it gets down to the schools.”

He further explained that the training programme was part of capacity building of the teaching workforce, with focus on Science and Mathematics.

“The SMASE programme is aimed at equipping Science and Mathematics teachers with the correct methodology that will help in demystifying the subjects.

“The state government is not oblivious of the fact that relevant instructional materials are essential tool for good instructional delivery and have ensured that schools in the state are supplied with science equipment in order to facilitate teaching and learning.”

Daibu however, advised participants to ensure that they utilize the opportunity of the training to transform themselves into better and more resourceful Science and Mathematics teachers.

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« Previous Article Corruption: Justice Salami Slams Nigerian Judges, Lawyers

Next Article » Kogi Governor Flags Off N2bn Otokiti-Ganaja By Pass Road

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The former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami has stunned the dignitaries that gathered in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital at the opening ceremony of the Biennial Law Week of the Nigerin Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch when he declared, without mincing words that the problem of corruption in the nation’s judiciary is real and has eaten deep into the system.

The fearless jurist went a step further as he accused some Nigerian judges of aiding corruption.

“The problem of corruption in the judiciary is real and has eaten deep into the system. It must however be noted that it is not every judicial officer that is corrupted and dishonourable. There are some who are clearly identifiable as corrupt but they are protected by the system. There are those who lack courage and their timidity is exploited to pervert the course of justice.

“We hear constantly that the lack of courage of these ones are exploited by either their colleagues or retired senior judges who practice as consultants in fixing judgments. These consultants take money from litigants to give judges or intimidate judges to pervert justice. It is my respectful view that appeal should be made to these retired senior justices to leave the despicable role of bribing or intimidating judges. They should engage themselves in other respectable vocations.

“The judges who lend themselves to this dishonourable practice of receiving money or lending themselves to perverting the course of justice under any guise of not receiving reward, monetary or otherwise, should note that there are other means of checking their excesses”, he said.

He lamented that many judges live in opulence in Nigeria, owning as much as 16 vintage cars in addition to having “houses which are talk of the town in their community furnished with exotic furniture”.

Salami also came high on the practicing lawyers in the country  noting that the nobility of the legal profession is fast waning.

“I am emboldened in this affirmation by the recent happenings in Nigeria. In constituting the national conference, a body to fashion a constitution for Nigeria, only one seat was allocated to the Nigerian Bar Association.

“The Nigerian Bar Association did not protest this shabby treatment until well into the conference and it was properly ignored.The body’s leadership has meekly submitted to political leadership in return for patronage”.

For sanity to prevail in the NBA, Salami recommended that, “In selecting next leadership of the Bar, serious thought and consideration should be given to candidates whose interest and those of the preponderance of the members are not parallel.

“One of the reasons for engaging jobbers is the electoral system of the Nigerian Bar Association. Leadership that emerges through electoral college which was abandoned as far back as 1959 in Nigeria cannot be democratic.

“The Nigerian Bar Association should refashion its voting system to enable every lawyer who is qualified and willing to vote to cast his vote for the candidate of his choice. This is possible in this age of electronic and computer devices”.

At another forum, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, also expressed concern that ‘all kinds of people’ now find themselves on the bench as judges and called for retrospection to save the judiciary from corrupt practices.

He spoke in Ilorin at a public lecture and journal launch in honour of Judge Bola Ajibola formerly of the International Court of Justice, The Hague.

Musdapher, who was chairman of the event, said unlike in the past, particularly during the military era, prospective justices now openly show interest in their appointment.

He described the revelation by former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami that some retired judges serve as ‘consultants’ to compromise judgments as scandalous.

He said: “Quite honestly that is very scandalous if it is true. Before people do not even ask to be made judges. In those days people do not even ask to be appointed judges. The mere fact that you asked to be appointed a judge, you have disqualified yourself. That was the situation that was what was going on and that was even the military regime at that time.

“But things have changed so bad. All kinds of people find their ways into becoming judges. Just as I said, the legal practice itself either on the bench or outside must be done with the sense of decency and sense of justice.  That is what is done everywhere. It doesn’t mean that a lawyer must win a case. You were not there when the methods were taking place; when A or B did this or that.

“All you have to do is put in the method before the judge and put the judge to do it honestly and properly so that anybody who is sitting in the court will know that justice is being done. But things are different now.  Let us start making progress in this matter. Let us start thinking of what is decent and good about us and promote it all the time. Let us not always think of what is obtained in Europe; let us start thinking inwards.”

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Confab in session


By Chuks Okocha 
       
Ripples have continued to trail the  composition of the National Conference Working Committees, as members of the Civil Society groups attending the conference have ºaccused the Principal Officers of arbitrariness and working against the desires of members to participate in specific committees.

Specifically, four of the civil society groups indicated interest in the committees of choice where they wanted to participate in the committees work. For instance, Mr. Festus Okoye, Ezenwa Nwagwo and Shetu Alfa wanted to participate in the Political parties and electoral matters committee, while Stephen Aluko preferred to participate in the Committee for the Devolution of powers.

In a statement jointly signed by  Femi Falana,  (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Hauwa Shekerau, Festus Okoye, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Jaye Gasikiya, Steve Aluko, Ezinwa Nwangwu Dudu Manuga, Nasser Kura, Awal Musa Rsfajani, and YZ Yau, they complained of being schemed out of the committees.

Others protesting the placements include Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, Wale Okunniyi Chief Bisi Olateru Olagbegi, Dr Isaac Osuoka, Kyauta Giwa, Shetu Alfa Abubakar Sadiq Ibrahim, Dr Femi Obayori, Mahmud Abdul Aminu, Nimmo Bassey Ibuchukwu Ezeike and Prof Olabisi Aina.

The statement said, “it is equally untenable that civil society is not represented on the committees on political parties and electoral process; politics and forms of government; National Security; Devolution of powers among others, even though civil society delegates with requisite competence and years of experience on these and related issues had indicated interest in serving on these committees”.

According to  them, “Whereas we have carefully reviewed the membership of the Committee as released by the Conference Secretariat and wish to register our strong objection to the way and manner the secretariat composed the said committees.

“Whereas before the composition of the Committees, the leadership of the Conference circulated papers wherein delegates were asked to indicate in order of preference the Committees they wish to serve in.

“We are therefore alarmed that the Conference Secretariat arbitrarily and in total disregard to the choice and preferences of most delegates and in particular civil society delegates drafted them to Committees where they do not have expertise and will not be relevant.

“We believe that if the Committees of first, second and third choices are not available, the honourable thing to do is to inform the Delegates and give the option of choosing a fresh Committee", they protested.

“We note that majority of the members of the CSOs did not get placed in any of their preferred committee and we feel this is deliberate and an attempt to exclude the civil society delegation from contributing across the board to the important issues up for discussion in the various committees.
“We argue that the leadership of the conference erred by not getting back to the delegates in relation to their preferred committees choices before placing [and in some cases lumping] them into committees they had not indicated any interest in”, the statement stated.

They further submitted that, “we argue that even if the committee lists are exhausted for particular committees and placement becomes difficult, the best and honourable thing to do is to collapse those Committees without membership completely or merge them with some other Committees rather than allocating delegates into the said committees by force or without consultation”.

“We were also shocked that without discussions and validation of the list by delegates in plenary; the secretariat had caused to be published the full list of committees, an attempt to force a fait accompli on the delegates.

“We hereby demand that the list should be completely reviewed in line with the national outlook of the conference. We wish to place on record that this conference is a National Conference of Nigeria people from all walks of life and that it is neither a conference of ethnic nationalities nor a conference of regions or states.

“We totally reject the list of committees’ leaders that have been released. We find it very disturbing and unacceptable that civil society is not represented at all on the committee leadership, including even on the committee on labour and civil society; nor on the committees on social sector or Environment where civil society competence is not in doubt”.

The civil society group therefore called on all the leadership to henceforth conduct the activities of the conference in an open, transparent, fair and equitable manner.

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President Goodluck Jonathan

By Amby Uneze                 


Pro Jonathan Groups under the aegis of the South East Amalgamation of Jonathan/Sambo for presidency in 2015 has called on Igbos to ensure the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 polls.

Briefing Journalists in Owerri after her extra-ordinary meeting in Owerri, weekend, where the groups agreed to collapse into one, its National Coordinator, Chief Elvis Agukwe said that since the different groups had the same agenda of delivering Jonathan for 2015, they had to merge so as to speak with one voice.
He observed that the South east geo-political zone had before now been marginalised and starved of infrastructure and federal presence, until Jonathan came in as president.

Agukwe also pointed out that he had used his position to cement the relationship between the South East and their South South brothers, insisting that under Jonathan’s first term South east zone was not left behind in the scheme of things.

According to him, for over 40 years, successive governments had pursued the unwritten policy to continue to rip off the South East economically, despite the fact that they are the most travelled people in the country, their rights were denied, “no international airport, no sea port, no plum appointments, etc. but we are happy that Jonathan came in and restored back all those rights to the people, so we are happy with him and want him to go for a second term, which is his constitutional right”.

He also added that for the respect President Jonathan has for the Igbos by according befitting burial to Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu and Prof. Chinua Achebe as well as completing the mausoleum for late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in Onitsha, including the flagging off of the second Niger Bridge and elevation of Akanu Ibiam Airport to an International status, Jonathan deserved the support of the Igbos to go for a second term.

“Promises that were not kept by successive governments have been kept under Jonathan. It has become a promise kept, that second Niger Bridge was not just a bridge, it is a statement that Igbos have now returned to the mainstream of Nigerian affairs", he stated.

The Aba/Port Harcourt expressway is receiving attention, Onitsha/Enugu highway is being built and several others”, he said.

Agukwe emphasised that the South east people were grateful whenever somebody show love on them, adding, “We are saying that if other zones have done second tenure during their regime, South South also should have the constitutional right to do a second term.

“If President Jonathan has done well for the country, he deserves the right to go for second term. We then see that Jonathan has shown love for the South east, therefore we decided to unite and support him. That is what gave birth to the South east Amalgamation for Jonathan/Sambo support for 2015”.

He therefore, promised that if Jonathan got 80 percent in 2011 election in the south east, he was sure that with their support, he would get 95 percent as every effort have been pointed towards his direction

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Ex-Police Officers Are Subjected To Hardship

Retired officers under the aegis of the Elders Club of Nigeria,  have commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the recent creation of the Department of Pension Transitional Arrangement (RTAD) designed to take care of retired Police officers, Immigration, Customs Services and Prisons officials.

The retired police officers have  described the establishment of the department as most timely and appropriate and  denounced a situation whereby a serving police officer on a monthly salary of N200,000 only receive a paltry monthly pension of N20,000 upon retirement, lamenting that retired police officers across the country had been subjected to untold hardship as a result of the pension administration, just  as it admitted that the President might not have been aware of the the unhealthy situation.

This is contained in a communiqué made available to newsmen after a one day crucial meeting in Owerri which was attended by the executive of the club from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as the chairman of BOT – Superintendent Batholomew Njezi (rtd).

The communiqué expressed concern that no retired police officer in the country currently receives more than N70, 000 monthly as pension and described this as a grand ply to send them to their early graves.

The national president of the club – Dr. Moses Ajeka who read the communiqué commiserated with the president and families of the recent bomb blast at Nyanyaa Abuja and implored the president to fortify his security networks to contain the reigning insurgency in the country.

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« Previous Article UN, Bill Gates Foundation Boost Family Planning In Developing Countries

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UN, Bill Gates Foundation Boost Family Planning In Developing Countries

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a memorandum of understanding to help increase access to family planning information, contraceptives and services in developing countries, particularly for young people.

The agreement which was signed in New York yesterday will draw on both organizations’ strengths and expertise in support of the global goal of expanding access to high-quality, voluntary family planning supplies and services for an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s 69 poorest countries by 2020.

The Gates Foundation brings a global network of partners and expertise in technology and innovation, while UNFPA contributes country-level reach, experience working with governments and expertise in family planning and reproductive health.

UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, who participated in the signing ceremony in Seattle said that his agency,  and the Gates Foundation were working together to advance the goals and principles of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning to enable women and adolescent girls to decide  freely and for themselves, whether and when to have children and how many they want to have.

Osotimehia  noted that the partnership would help expand access to a range of contraceptive technologies, especially new and underused methods, stressing that the focus would be on long-acting, reversible contraceptives, such as injectables and implants.

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« Previous Article Nyanya Bomb Blast: Clarion Call To Safety Consciousness

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Vice President, Namadi Sambo 

By Yinka Kolawole    

             
The All Progressives Congress in  Osun State,  has said it rejected the war intention of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, who declared in Abuja Wednesday, that the July 21 and August 9 elections in Ekiti and Osun States will be 'a war', that the Peoples Democratic Party will 'fight' to regain the two states at all cost.

According to the APC, "this is a sadistic declaration of war by a government, on its own people and it is also patent evidence that the PDP is the actual cause of the war Nigeria have been having in recent time, including that of Boko Haram".

In a statement released in Osogbo yesterday by the Party's Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, APC warned that PDP should think twice before it imports war to the Western part of the country that has been the most peaceful area since the return of democracy.

“We reject this war proposal of the VP because it will spell disaster for the country”, APC said.

The party further cautioned that already, the Federal Government had  series of wars on its hands which it has failed to win; and to start a new war on a peaceful people in the West would be biting more than the government can chew.

“It will be inviting anarchy”, the party said.  APC reminded Sambo that he had enough troubles in his home state, Kaduna, which he struggled to win in an allegedly rigged victory against the defunct CPC in 2011.

"His chances of winning that state in 2015 are slim, if not impossible.

"Namadi Sambo should bother more about Kaduna than scheming for a war in the West. It will be a very unpleasant experience for him and his party", APC said.

On the arrow head the PDP wants to use for its war in Osun, Mr. Iyiola Omisore, the APC described the ex-senator as 'a politician who lacks electoral value in the State'.

"For instance, Omisore was comprehensively defeated in 2011 by the youngest Senator in Nigerian Senate today, Babajide Omoworare.

"In that election, Omisore got 25 votes in his polling booth and he lost his ward and the election to the young senator", they said.

Besides, the APC said, Omisore is not the kind of political personality that can lead any serious political party to electoral victory in the State of Osun.

According to the party, this is the reason why the PDP has chosen undemocratic option of going to war to win.

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 Governor Chibuike Amaechi

By Ernest Chinwo 

        
Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State has stressed the need for the governorship of the state to be rotated among its ethnic groups in.

This is as the umbrella body of Rivers socio-political organisations, Pan Rivers Alliance, has dismissed the statement credited to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, endorsing the Supervising Minister of Education Nyesom Wike as the next governor of Rivers State as attempting and impossibility.

He explained that apart from the Ikwerre ethnic nationality, any other ethnic group in the state could contest next year’s governorship election.

Having himself ruled the state as governor from Ikwerre ethnic group; Amaechi said it would be unfair for yet another Ikwerre son or daughter to aspire to become governor of the state next year.

He spoke yesterday when the chiefs and elders of Ogu/Bolo paid him a solidarity visit in Government House, Port Harcourt.
He described those from Ikwerre ethnic nationality warming up for next year’s governorship election in the state as desperate politicians.

He said, "Let me thank all of you for coming and I will for the first time give you a little bit of insight into the Rivers State governorship. For those who want to be governor, I will not by law be allowed to be governor again, I have served my two terms; so from next month we just have twelve months to hand over.  “Now what to tell you is what I am now fighting for, to give the Okirika man, the Ogu/Bolo man a voice after we leave office and I can tell you why I say so.

"If PDP is bringing an Ikwerre man to run for governorship when an Ikwerre man has run for eight years, it means that what PDP is trying to do because Ikwerre has about 1.1 million votes in the four Local Government Areas, then Ikwerre would dominate the governorship of the state. It means that you will never have a chance of being governor again, that’s what it means because the reason for doing that is 'oh they are claiming we have xyz number of votes in Obio/Akpor, xyz number of votes in Port Harcourt, xyz number of votes in Ikwerre and Emohua, so only Ikwerre people', if they sit together they can be electing themselves always for governorship and I have told Ikwerre people that that young man whose ambition is blinding him must be thrown out, all Ikwerre people must rise against him and vote for a candidate from another ethnic group."

“If you people allow him and he succeeds, then forget your children, they will never be governor again because all it will take is when he finishes, another Ikwerre man will say I will run o and go and tell Ikwerre people I’m your son, don’t allow these people take it from me and Ikwerre people will back him, so we must show justice and ensure that it is equitably distributed even if you are one ethnic group of 20,000 persons, you have a right to the governorship of the state."

“So Ikwerre people have had their turn and I’m an Ikwerre son, my mother is Ikwerre, my father is Ikwerre, I’ve no blood from any other relationship, so Ikwerre people can't say I am not Ikwerre”.

He said the Ikwerre people and other ethnic nationalities should work together to vote out the supposed Peoples’ Democratic Party governorship aspirant from Ikwerre ethnic nationality for next year’s election."

Amaechi said even the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state would toe the line of justice and fair play not to field any APC governorship candidate from Ikwerre ethnic nationality for the 2015 governorship poll.

“I will not support governorship to go to Ikwerre in APC but as the governor of Rivers State and a frontline member of APC, if I help to ensure that we don’t allow an Ikwerre candidate in APC to allow others to take it, it means that the way to protect yourselves and your children is to vote for that candidate and not for the candidate they are bringing in PDP because Ikwerre cannot govern for another eight years," he said.

He gave assurance that the access road to Ogu/Bolo would be completed soonest as he promised to mobilise local contractors next week to complete the project and other ongoing projects in the state.

He also pledged to build a new model secondary school in Ogu/Bolo to advance education.
 
Earlier, Chief Jonah Tamuno, on behalf of Ogu/Bolo Chiefs and elders, thanked Amaechi for his inspirational and courageous leadership.

He expressed appreciation that the governor has demonstrated high level of liberality in providing democratic dividends for all Rivers people.

He said, “We quite appreciate your dogged implementation of your administration’s blueprint for the overall development of the state and the well-being of the present generation and the next to come.

“We want to seize this medium to express our profound gratitude to you for your kindness and altruistic gesture even as we register our admiration in your uncommon leadership qualities that make your supporters believe that you are indeed a true born leader with vision, mission and the raw courage to bring it to pass on planet earth. We therefore pledge our unflinching loyalty and support to your purpose-driven administration."

The group said it would be respecting equity and fairness if riverine people were allowed to produce the governor of Rivers State after the upland has held it for so long, adding that Wike being from upland was not eligible to contest.
 
“All Rivers people will collectively resist any attempt to impose Wike on the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State. It is insulting to our collective intelligence to say Rivers People are not thinking Riverine now after 16 years of upland rule and eight years of Ikwerre rule specifically,” the statement said.

The group added that for fairness, the next governor must be from the riverine area, because that is the only part of the state that has not been given the chance to lead the state in the last sixteen years.

The statement reads: “The Pan Rivers Alliance insists that the ongoing debate about which ethnic group should produce the next Rivers State governor in 2015, is a testimony to the fact that most Rivers people accept the need for equitable rotation of political offices in the state.

“We want to remind the political watchers that quite a number of communities in Rives State have over the years adopted zoning as a method of selecting their people for elective and appointive positions. This has helped to maintain fairness and cordial co-existence.

“The Pan Rivers Alliance recalls that in keeping with the spirit of zoning and fairness, Rivers people with the overwhelming support of the ‘Riverine’ massively voted for Dr Peter Odili from a minority ‘upland’ community of Ndoni in 1999 and 2003. The governorship shifted to Ikwerre ethnic group of ‘Upland’ in 2007 due to the insistence of former Governor Peter  Odili and the massive support of Rivers people. A position the Ikwerre has occupied to date.

“Consequent upon the 2007-2015 (eighty years) occupation of the governorship  position by the Ikwerre, the generality of Rivers people including Ikwerres know that the next governor of Rivers  State should in fairness come from another ethnic group in the state that has not produced a governor so far.

“The popular desire of Rivers people that another ethnic group (Kalabari, Andoni, Bonny, Opobo, Nkoro, Abua, Odual, Okrika etc) should produce the next governor of Rivers State should not warrant any person or group of persons to blackmail the First Lady who is a proud Rivers daughter from the ‘Riverine’.

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Nyanya Abuja bomb blast

Nyanya Bomb Blast: Clarion Call To Safety Consciousness

By Moshood Isah

Just before I picked my pen to drop a piece about the recent blast in Abuja, I was greeted with the news about the 100 or 200 schoolgirls abducted in a village in Borno State. It’s quite unfortunate that Nigeria’s situation has got to crescendo level where virtually all aspects of life are calling for urgent attention. Nonetheless, the issue of insecurity is the most important as you can only seek employment, good roads, electricity and other basic amenities of life, only if you are alive and well. In this vein, my heart goes out to all the victims of the insurgency and their families, and I pray that God should bring an end to these inhuman activities.

Although the average Nigerian believes that activities of insurgents are restricted to the north-east of the country, the reality is that virtually every part of the country is not safe. It is no more news that, northwestern states like Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina have not been spared of the maiming that has become the talk of the day in the nation. This is not forgetting the rampaging marauders in the north-central states like Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau. This is a simple sign that insurgency is going viral and needs drastic action.

The latest development in the spate of attacks is most unexpected and unpredictable because government appeared to have taken vital security measures around the Federal Capital Territory to avert any form of invasion. The explosion that rocked the densely populated Nyanya motor park left dozens dead and scores critically injured. A palpable level of frenzy, anxiety and hysteria enveloped the nation’s capital city as business activities were immediately brought to a halt. Fear of what would happen next and where became the immediate issue of discourse among both private workers and public servants in Abuja. Bereaved families are still moaning loudly as innocent promising lives of loved ones have been cut short by terrorists. The rate at which innocent Nigerians die as a result of bomb blasts by alleged members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has become a source of concern to many Nigerians.

This should be a major source of concern to residents of the nation’s capital and the country at large. This is despite the seeming believe about the impregnable nature of Abuja city due to the level of security presence in and around the Federal Capital Territory. And barely 24 hours after the Nyanya bomb blast, pandemonium broke out at the premises of the National Assembly as staffers hurriedly abandoned their duty-posts as early as 1.30pm, following rumours of a bomb planted somewhere within the premises. As expected, everyone had fled for their lives within a twinkle of an eye. This goes more than many miles in subjugating the fact that, there is need for intensive security consciousness.

For sometime now, the federal capital has been relatively peaceful. As a matter of fact, the last of any form of insurgent activity happened towards the end of 2011 when there was an improvised explosive device explosion at the Mogadishu Barracks (formerly Sani Abacha Barracks). Afterwards, security agents have been on their toes to checkmate any form of attack in and around the seat of power. During this period, an attempted jailbreak by suspected Boko Haram insurgents was foiled at the Department of State Security headquarters.

The Nyanya attack serves as a clarion call to the federal government in concomitance with all the security agencies that there is much to be done to safeguard the citizens of this nation within the FCT and other areas affected by terrorism. We sure never can tell where the next attack would come from, if the nation’s capital is not really safe. Commentators have suggested that there is an urgent need for security agencies to step up their act and involve the use of intelligence in the fight against these terrorists, since a stitch in time saves nine.

Finally, there is need for critical safety measures in densely populated areas, like popular markets, motor parks and other public places. Everybody should always remain alert and security-conscious. Security agents can only identify and track flash-points. It is the responsibility of citizens to be conscious of strange movements and wary of inane objects for security and safety purposes.

— Isah wrote in from Abuja

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By Hassan B. Nagado

When Katsina State was created out of the then Kaduna State, there was only one semi-urban centre in the entire width and length of the new state. The challenge to modernise it and make it viable as a stable socio-economic entity became a herculean task. The emergence of the state during a military era did neither help nor assuage to urge the people for a greater state to emerge.

Efforts after efforts, successive governments after the other worked hard to, from the scratch, ensure a working system that would make a semblance of a state in terms of infrastructures and social facilities. By the beginning of the Fourth Republic, soon after the emergence of the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua, efforts for genuine transformation started. Eight years after, Katsina State was beginning to resemble a state capital with all the required facilities, infrastructures and systems in place. The emergence of Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema became a turning point for the emergence of a credible, sustainable and workable state. Katsina State became a darling of tourists, investors and those looking for a peaceful atmosphere to live in.

Infrastructural development initiated by the government since it emergence in 2007 was to move the entire state to a workable, sustainable and realistic entity with mass road networks, drainages, hospitals, schools, and other integrated mechanisms to fast tract the socio-economic development of the state. Today, no town, city or rural area is left behind in the provision of social amenities and infrastructures in the entire state. This inclusiveness is achieved through carrying the whole community in the decision making process as far as project allocation is concerned through the community development committees.

Governor Shema over the years identified and eased the execution of relevant development in the state through community participations, where unique demands of the communities are identified and provided as part of the administration’s bottom-top governance. So far, this concept has worked so well that each and every community today in the state is a beneficiary of one infrastructure or the other.

In the last six years, over 200 road networks have been constructed, rehabilitated or dualised in the state. This is apart from the huge sums committed in the upgrading and internalisation of the Katsina airport to compliment the infrastructural development of the state. In the last 360 days alone, over 30 different road networks with drainages were completed and others are in the offing.

No economy and community will boast of any infrastructural growth without electricity, and this has also received commendable attention from the administration that so far over 200 communities have been joined with the national grid in the state; this is apart from the massive rural electricity projects across the state. Katsina State could today be described as a hub of infrastructures in the country. As at today, not so many local governments in the country could boast of dualised road networks as seen in Katsina State, where all roads at the major local government councils have been dualised with fully working streetlights.

Over 30 town-roads have been dualised in the last five years, and several others will be dualised before next year.

In the last six years also, over 4,000 housing units were constructed across all the local government councils of the state to improve shelter to the ordinary man in the state. Many more houses are today under construction, and by the end of this year, several other thousand houses would be constructed in the state, as part of the housing for all project of the state government. In the area of transportation, the state government has acquired over 200 vehicles, including over 20 Marc Polo luxury buses as part of efforts to improve the transportation sector and reduce the menace of road accidents occasioned by the poor transport system in the state.

Water provision is another area that has seen massive investment in the last five years, and especially in the last one year with over 1,000 communities having access to potable water through the massive bore-hole construction in all the nooks and crannies of the state; over 300 solar-powered water works, several urban water works, semi-urban water works and over 1,000 rural water supply programmes all through the millennium development goals initiative.

One of the biggest infrastructural achievement so far recorded is in the area of education, where several billions of naira were injected to ensure the provision of one of the biggest infrastructure in the education sector of anywhere in the country. The effect of this massive investment is in the school enrolment, whereby the year 2004 only 142,729 students were in secondary schools in the state. Today, over 3, 568,000 students are attending secondary schools in the state. The state has also introduced free education up to secondary school level with free WAEC/NECO payment and hundreds of buses provided to support and encourage punctuality of students in the state. Of recent, the state government has investment over N2bn million in ensuring a solid foundation for the takeoff of the federal university cited in Dutisnma local government area by the federal government.

The same massive infrastructural investments are done in the health, agriculture, solid minerals, human resources and youth empowerment sectors, as well as in women development. All these are factors responsible for the realisation by many groups, organisations and governments of the vision, dedication and commitment of Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema since his assumption of office a little over six years ago.

Katsina State is today a model worthy of emulation in the areas of good governance, transparency, infrastructure development, welfare and well-being of citizens and workers, prudent utilisation of resources, and above all, peace, unity and tranquility. With Governor Shema, Katsina State is now one of the most reliable, sustainable, peaceful and workable state in the federation.

— Nagado wrote in from Katsina

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This is the day to tie gele. Whether to the church or any social event during this festive season, no native outfit is complete without a headgear. Popularly referred to as gele, it is an indispensable fashion accessory. It is crispy, colourful and long enough to form any shape on a woman’s head. For those who cannot tie the gele, get a quick know-how:

1: Get a headgear of your choice: For starters, it is wise that you fold it into two equal halves (the gele could be too large to knot)

2: Place it on the head. Tying is all about knotting it well and in making a good shape. You can start from either the front or back.

3. Tie a part tightly on your head, take the second part too and make a knot where the two meet. You can start bringing out the folds carefully without tampering with the knots. The edges are what make either a sky-scrapper of the gele.

4. Carefully remove the edges from the knots and spread. Keep trying till you get the desired look.

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Mount-Everest

Mount Everest Tragedy: Death Toll Rises To 13

Rescuers recovered the body of one mountain guide yesterday after an ice avalanche swept the lower slopes of Mount Everest, bringing the death toll to at least 13 in the deadliest accident on the world’s highest mountain.

Reuters reported that the avalanche struck a perilous passage called the Khumbu Icefall, which is riddled with crevasses and piled with serac – or huge chunks of ice – that can break free without warning.

“We were tied on a rope and carrying gas to camp when there was a sudden hrrrr sound,” said Ang Kami Sherpa, 25, one of at least three survivors flown by helicopter to Kathmandu. “We knew it was an avalanche but we couldn’t run away or do anything. “There was a big chunk of snow that fell over us and swept us away. It looked like clouds, all white,” he said in a hospital intensive care unit where he was being treated for a blood clot on his leg and facial injuries.

Climbers declared a four-day halt to efforts to scale the 8,848-metre (29,029-ft) summit and, while some decided to abandon their mission, others said they would go ahead after talking to their guides. All of the victims were sherpa mountain guides. “Everyone is shaken here at Base Camp. Some climbers are packing up and calling it quits, they want nothing to do with this,” Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks Expeditions wrote in a blog.

Shocked relatives wondered how they would cope without the men who take huge risks to earn up to $5,000 for a two-month expedition – around 10 times average annual pay in Nepal. “He was the only breadwinner in the family,” said 17-year-old Phinjum Sherpa, as she waited for the body of her uncle, Tenji Sherpa, at a Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu. “We have no one to take care of us.”

Officials said that one body had been recovered in Saturday’s rescue effort, leaving three sherpas still missing.

The fatal incident was the result, some climbers said, of a so-called ice release and not a more typical snow avalanche.

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Dizeani Alison Madueke, Petroleum Minister


By Festus Akanbi 

Still basking in the euphoria of the rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which placed it at the forefront of the economies on the African continent, there are indications that the Nigerian economy is in for a big haul in the second quarter of the year.

This is because a combination of fresh developments in the international oil market, coupled with the favourable inflation rate and stabilised foreign exchange market has raised the prospect of prosperity in the Nigerian economy in the new quarter of the year.

At the weekend, price of Bonny Light, a high grade of Nigerian crude oil, hit the $109.7 mark, a development which economic analysts described as a good omen for the economy considering the fact that the approved budget oil benchmark for the 2014 budget is $77.5.

With a maximum crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day, Nigeria ranks as Africa’s largest producer of oil and the sixth largest oil producing country in the world. Nigeria appears to have a greater potential for gas than oil.

Other grades of Nigerian crude oil are Qua Iboe crude oil, Brass River crude oil, and Forcados crude oil. The Bonny Light is in high demand specifically by American and European refineries. It is therefore a major source of income generation.

International analysts who believe Nigeria is set to build its economy in the midst of the ongoing tension in Ukraine said, “The tensions in Ukraine are the main driver for oil prices at the moment.” “Oil prices have been quick to dismiss macroeconomics lately,” Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management in Middelfart, Denmark, said. “The tensions in Ukraine are the main driver for oil prices at the moment.

Analysts also believe the recent stabilisation of the foreign reserves which has picked up will continue to make the Nigerian economy irresistible to both institutional and portfolio investors. The foreign reserves at the weekend were put at $37. 9 billion.

Another indication of the financial stability is the current moderation of the foreign exchange market. A random analysis of the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria in the month of April showed moderation in the amount of dollars supplied to the market.

For instance, total amount of dollars sold at the twice weekly Retail Dutch Auction System in April 16 was $250.85 million. On April 14, the figure was slightly higher at $375.8 million. Earlier before then, the apex bank sold $278.9 million on April 9. For the April 7 trading, total amount sold was $322 million and on April 2, $268.2 million was the amount sold.
It is believed that the moderation in the quantity of dollars demanded was one of the factors that led to the gradual accretion of foreign exchange reserves in recent times.

The development is also coming on the heels of the favourable inflation figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics last week which stood at 7.8 per cent for the month of March.
In support of the improvement in the nation’s economy is last week’s report of Moody’s, a rating agency which endorsed the Nigeria’s rebased GDP of $510 billion, with the belief that it would surge to $4.5 trillion by 2050.

Moody’s which has a Ba3 stable rating on Nigeria said that the rebasing exercise was supportive of assessing the nation’s sovereign credit profile, although it does not change the government’s nominal stock of outstanding debt, nor its revenue generation capacity to service that debt.
“With a population of 170 million and oil reserves estimated at around 37.2 trillion barrels (or roughly 28 per cent of total African reserves), Nigeria is likely to number among the world’s 15 largest economies by 2050 when GDP is projected to exceed $4.5 trillion in purchasing power parity terms,” said Aurelien Mali, VP-Senior Analyst, Moody’s.

“From a credit standpoint, the revised GDP estimates allow a better understanding of the Nigerian economy and its underlying resilience.”

The rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP follows similar rebasing exercises by more than a dozen other African countries over the past decade, resulting in a range of revisions of national output, from an 11 per cent reduction in the case of Botswana (A2 stable) to a 66 per cent increase in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (B3 stable).

Moody’s notes that in Nigeria’s case, the GDP revision is more spectacular as it means the country has now overtaken South Africa to become the largest economy in Africa, with its ranking among global economies jumping from 36th to 28th, with an economy almost as large as that of the Netherlands.

Another rating agency, Fitch Ratings had assigned a stable outlook to Nigeria’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR).
The positive ratings, according to market watchers are a fair reflection of improvement in the nation’s economic fundamentals.
Global rating agency, Fitch had, in a statement a fortnight ago, affirmed Nigeria’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) at ‘BB-’ and ‘BB’, respectively. The agency also maintained that Nigeria’s outlook remains stable.

Fitch in a statement also affirmed the issue ratings on the country’s senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds at ‘BB-’ and ‘BB’, respectively.
In addition, the agency also placed Nigeria’s short-term foreign currency IDR at ‘B’ and Country Ceiling at ‘BB-’.

The ratings, according to economic analysts represent the current position of the Nigerian economy, which they said had improved tremendously.

Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, had said, “One will agree with Fitch Rating that the economic outlook look stable pre-election. There is no reason to downgrade the outlook. The reserve depletion has slowed down and in fact there were some accretion although it has started to deplete again; oil prices are held up and the fundamental economic variables are good especially if the policy continues to move in the right direction.”
According to Rewane, “There is every justification for the stable outlook. What Nigeria should be looking for is an improvement in the outlook from stable to favourable.”

He believes Nigeria has strong potentials which could be tapped for the improvement of the economy.
“Our potentials remain strong. There is no doubt about that but people don’t live on potentials, people live on actuals. To actualise these potentials, government needs to remove the constraints,” he said.

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THE Presidency has described a memo written by Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State to the Northern Governors’ Forum as a sad betrayal of trust by a major beneficiary of the Nigerian nation.

Reacting yesterday to the memo which highlighted Governor Nyako’s fears that the Presidency may intentionally not be doing enough to solve the many problems of insecurity in the north, the Presidency said the Governor’s positions smacks of “an unmitigated leadership disaster.”

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, in a statement said the content of the governor’s letter betrays his lack of a sense of history. According to Okupe, the memo portrayed the governor as incapable of rising above parochial sentiments as a result of his deep rooted disdain for facts and truth in public discourse.

The SSA, who said the memo is extremely divisive, added that it was intentionally meant to incite one section of the country against the other.

“Governor Nyako claims that President Goodluck Jonathan is from the Eastern region which according to him was responsible for the killing of Northern political elites on the 15th of January 1966. This is a very disgraceful remark by the governor and a pathetic embarrassment to the Nigerian Military from where Nyako derives his career antecedents. It is certainly a reflection of the Governor’s ignorance and unpatriotic inclinations.”

Similarly, the Adamawa State governor referred to the Boko Haram terrorist group as a ‘phantom organization’ which he believes does not exist! How hypocritical? In his unwise and desperate attempt to demonise the Federal Government, Governor Nyako likened the military operations against insurgents to the activities of German dictator, Adolf

Hitler. In his befuddled mind and apparent hallucination, the Federal Government should be held responsible for the activities of insurgents in the North East and the sad killings, wanton destruction, murder and kidnapping of school children as well as other horrendous activities of Boko Haram should be hung on the neck of the Federal Government!

“He therefore invited his colleague northern governors to join him to sue the Federal Government. This definitely defies common sense and portrays Mr. Nyako as unfit for the hallowed position of a state governor. It is obvious that Governor Nyako’s opposition to the declaration of a State of Emergency in three affected states of the North East as well as his repeated calls for the withdrawal of the Military from troubled states without any credible alternative or security road map, is an open endorsement of the activities of the insurgents which is meant to provide them unrestricted opportunity to further unleash terror on innocent citizens in order to precipitate chaos, further instability, mayhem and anarchy ; a situation which they intend to exploit to undermine the administration and truncate our growing democracy. This, Nigerians will surely not allow to happen.”

Okupe restated the federal government’s “continuous determination to defeat terror and restore peace to every part of northern Nigeria so that every law abiding citizen can go about with his/her socio economic pursuit without let or hindrance.”

But reacting to the presidency’s statement same day, Governor Nyako said the response by the Presidency to his memo to Northern Governors has further proved that those running the Federal Government are too arrogant and confused in their handling of the affairs of the country.

Accusing the Presidency of telling lies and feeding the public with untruth in its response to his memo to fellow Governors of the northern states on the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram Islamic sect and other issues of insecurity, Nyako, in a statement by the Director, Press and Public Affairs in the Government House, Ahmad Sajoh, said it is now very clear that President Goodluck Jonathan is very complacent about the insecurity in the northern part of the country.

According to him, “They arrogate all knowledge and wisdom to themselves alone. We hold the statements we released as true and challenge those who claim to have a sense of history to cut-off the use of jaundiced semantics to address the issues raised in this and several other documents before it. By telling black lies about the attack on Governor Nyako which was never investigated nor ascertained, the Presidency is providing further proof that it knows more than it is willing to admit in the whole saga.”

The statement accused the federal government of misleading the populace on all fronts saying, “Feeding the public with untruth is becoming a new culture in Abuja. The statement on the supposed rescue of the abducted girls is enough to prove that. It is a pity that responsible and supposedly educated people could manufacture statements and attribute them to others just to create an escape route from their glaring failures. None of the statements attributed to Governor Nyako by the Presidency were ever made by him. They were all manufactured for lack of a sound counter argument.”

The Adamawa helmsman challenged the President to react directly to the issues raised in the memo instead of making up statements that were not part of the correspondence in question.

He continued “If indeed the Presidency is not complacent about the killings in the country how come the President went dancing a day after several citizens were killed in Abuja? If they claim that Nyako does not deserve to be Governor, are they fit to be where they are? When we say the Boko Haram phenomenon is phantom we are talking based on several testimonies by the President.

“At one point he said there are Boko Haram in his government, at another point he said they are ghosts he cannot dialogue with ghosts, yet recently he admitted that the young poverty stricken persons so far arrested cannot afford the guns they carry. And we say to them you have full command and control of the Armed Forces and security outfits with all the Intelligence units, investigate their activities, expose their patrons, sponsors and strategic commanders and arrest them.”

He challenged the Presidency to expose the source of the arms used by the insurgents. “We still repeat the earlier questions we raised. How come the insurgents move about unchallenged at night in our states under so called Emergency Rule when we have a night time curfew in place? How come the insurgents operate for many hours unchallenged when we have military units all over the place? How come the insurgents move with a large convoy of vehicles through routes that have 24 hours military check points? How come statements by the Presidency and other authorities in Abuja are always at variance with realities on ground at the theatres of conflict? We want answers not insults or empty rhetoric.”

On allegation against the Governor that he is creating divisions among the people with his utterances, the Adamawa State Government said President Jonathan is the chief culprit in this.

“On the issue of creating divisions among the people, no one does it better than the Presidency that urges its backers to direct its people to implicate innocent Northerners in bombings they know nothing of, or one whose known official uses online sources to implicate someone it chooses to hate for no just cause. This Presidency also encourages some of its spokespersons to speak ill of certain persons and religion without a reprimand.

He accused the Presidency of being the most divisive administration in the country to date, “This is the most divisive leadership in the history of this country and it also the most desperate to cling to power even at the cost of several lives of innocent citizens. Unfortunately it is also the most inept, confused, greedy, corrupt and incompetent regime ever. On the corruption mantra, while the Presidency is fond of asking Governors to account for allocations given, we challenge them to live by the same token, declare what you got and account for it.”

He accused the Presidency of not executing project that funds have been disbursed for. According to him, “After all we now have proof that certain projects which are not executed have been announced as completed such as the Hong to Mubi road in our state which the Minister of Information announced its execution at their Bauchi Rally. Meanwhile, someone should help us ask the President under what Budget sub-head did he get the money he allegedly gave Governor Kwankwaso to bribe delegates to vote for him which was allegedly diverted.

“We think rather than vent their venom in insulting people, presidential spokespersons and media managers should do better by re-focussing the man to be more open minded and competent in grappling with the myriads of challenges facing the nation,” Nyako said.

The governor had in the now controversial memo accused the administration of President Jonathan of carrying out genocide against northern states with impunity. The Governor said the adverse security situation in the North in particular and Nigeria in general is being felt by all genuine stakeholders but lamented that while every state government is doing everything possible using virtually all its resources to stem the tide of near disaster facing the North, the present federal administration has become a government of impunity run by an evil-minded leadership for the advancement of corruption.

Nyako regretted that the protection of life and property of innocent citizens in Northern Nigeria and recognising their human rights and voting right in the forthcoming general elections is no longer a cardinal principle of the administration.

“Clearly the victims of the Administration’s evil-mindedness are substantially Northern Nigerians. The administration is bent on bringing wars in the North between Muslim and Christians and within them and between one ethnic group and another or others in various communities in the region. No wonder, we in the Northern Nigeria are now facing an organised ethno-religious campaigns of hate fuelled by the federal administration to make communities which hitherto have remained peaceful for centuries to start killing the minorities in their midst and to facilitate mass killings of the innocent and the arbitrary arrests and torture of elders of minority ethnic groups in the various Northern communities.”

Listing occurrences of violence the governor wrote, “We, in Adamawa State, have been battling this heinous machination in the last three years. We also saw it as the Beginning of Genocide. Genocide kingpins are now on prowl in Northern Nigeria! Fulani communities in parts of the North who have been in their locations for over 100 years are now being raided and uprooted by paid killers within the Nigerian Army for the satisfaction of the Federal administration instead of being protected as citizens with their rights and dignity safe-guarded.”

He observed, “The Federal administration’s affront to frame Northerners is also an open secret. Senior Special Assistant to Mr. President tried to hoodwink us into believing that Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was kingpin of Boko-Haram. Mr. Henry Okah, the convicted leader of MEND also stated under oath that he was being put under pressure by the administration to implicate senior Northern elements such as Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari as financiers of Boko Haram terrorism. We are in deep trouble. We have begun to sleep with ‘both our eyes widely open.”

 

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Kenneth-Omeruo

Middlesbrough Eyes Omeruo Stay

English Championship outfit, Middlesbrough have hinted that they will move to secure another loan spell for Nigerian defender, Kenneth Omeruo.

Boro manager, Aitor Karanka dropped the hint during the week saying “I would like to have him here with me next season.”

Omeruo has impressed at the Riverside this term since joining Boro from Chelsea on loan in the January transfer window. The centre-back is expected to return to his parent club, Chelsea at the end of this season but Karanka is thinking otherwise and is keen to use his close relationship with the Blues boss, Jose Mourinho, to secure another loan spell for Omeruo at the Teeside next season.

“Kenneth (Omeruo) is back and he is an important player. We are without Dani and Ben Gibson, so it will be good to have him back. The most important thing is that he came to play, that was good for him, good for Chelsea and for us because we got a good player.

“Kenneth is happy to be playing here, Chelsea are happy because he is playing and I am happy because he is playing well. I would like to have him here with me next season,” The Northern Echo quoted Karanka as saying.

The former Spanish international defender also believes that Omeruo will go places and become one of the future stars in the Barclays Premier League which underscores why he wants to keep the defender for another loan spell at the Riverside.

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NERC Chairman, Sam Amadi

Though electricity supply has dropped to an all-time low since the new private investors took over the assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Ejiofor Alike writes that consumers are increasingly paying more in tariffs, even without official increase by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)

Since the private investors took over the generation and distribution companies of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) on November 1, 2013, there is no doubt that there has been a downward slide in electricity generation and supply.
Power supply, which at a certain point during the process of privatisation of the electricity assets peaked at over 4,700 megawatts, has been hovering between 2,500 and 3,500 megawatts in recent months.

Both the new asset owners and their customers have acknowledged the drop in electricity supply, which is blamed largely on inadequate supply of gas to the gas-fired power stations.
The Federal Government has also acknowledged the situation, attributing it to vandalism of the gas supply pipelines by saboteurs.

The pipelines worst hit were the Escravos-Warri stretch of the Escravos Lagos Pipeline (ELPS) which account for 190 million standard cubic feet per day of gas (mmcf/d) and the Trans-Forcados crude pipeline which supply 230 mmcf/d.

In fact, over 30 per cent or 480 million standard cubic feet per day ( MMsf/d) of the installed gas supply capacity to the power stations was out of the system between June 25, 2013 when vandals used dynamite to rupture the ELPS and March 2014 when the line was repaired.
The lost gas was equivalent to the gas requirement to generate about 1,600 megawatts of electricity

Though the lines were said to have been repaired, electricity generation which hit an all-time high of over 4,700mw in 2012, averaged between 3,500 and 2,500 megawatts since the new owners of power assets took over.

The poor electricity supply situation has been worsened in recent months by the cyclic drop in the levels of water at the hydro power stations, which normally occurs in the months of February, March, April and part of May every year.

The hydro power stations at Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba witnessed a drop in water levels, which is referred to as “low deep”, which is a cyclic natural phenomenon that occur during the first quarter of every year as a result of drought.

Poor water management and lack of maintenance of the hydro stations have worsened the situation in recent years, with occasional flooding and excessive leakage of water in the dams.
Apart from the drop in power generation from the 760 megawatts capacity Kainji Electricity Hydro Power Station and Jebba Hydro Station, the 600 megawatts capacity Shiroro Station has remained completely shut down for the past few months.

Shiroro was shut down due to low water level at its reservoirs, which resulted from a drop in seasonal rainfall especially in the North as predicted by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet).
The situation has forced the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to embark on power rationing.

Drop in Supply to Discos
With the inadequate gas supply to the generating companies, the amount of power available to the 11 distribution companies for distribution to customers also dropped considerably.
Speaking at the just-concluded 7th Lagos Economic Summit tagged ‘EHINGBETI 2014,’ the Chairman of West Gas and Power, the new owner of Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Charles Momoh, stated that Eko Disco has a capacity to distribute 700 megawatts of electricity but is being allocated only 240 megawatts from the national grid.

Momoh said before his company acquired Eko Disco, they were promised an allocation of 450 megawatts from the national grid, but since they bought the asset, the maximum allocation delivered to Eko Disco was 240 megawatts.

“So, the people have to understand the difference between a distribution company, a transmission company and generating company. People say that since Eko Disco came, they do not have light. But we do not take people’s light. We also do not produce the light. People need to know that we have generation, transmission and distribution. We (distribution) are at the far end of it and it is what they give us that we give to the people. We do not keep anything behind. We give people everything we get. If we keep anything behind, it means we are just burning money,” he explained.

He said the major constraints against reliable power supply were ageing infrastructure and shortage of gas.
Corroborating Momoh’s position, the Managing Director of Sahara Power, the new owner of the 1,320 megawatt-capacity Egbin Power Station and the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Kola Adesina, stated that Ikeja disco has a capacity to distribute 950 megawatts of electricity but has received a maximum of only 407 megawatts since the investors took over in November 2013.

He said in the previous seven years before the investors came on board, the distribution company received a maximum of 650 megawatts but only for two days.
“People do not know that the man that distributes electricity will have nothing to distribute if there is no gas. So, the very first thing that requires urgent attention is for us to get the gas readily available for us to be able to transmit and distribute the capacity that is desirable,” he said.
“Since we took over, the highest capacity that has been deployed by the Transmission Company to Ikeja Disco was 407 megawatts. If you do not have power to distribute, you cannot distribute power. It is what is given to you that you take. At one point on a Sunday we were able to get only 118 megawatts from the system,” he added.

Paying More For Darkness
It is therefore surprising that even though all the distribution companies have acknowledged that power has dropped since the private investors took over, Nigerians are now paying more than when supply was relatively stable.
It appears the trend since the new owners took over is that the more the electricity supply to homes, offices and industries nosedive, the higher the bills customers are asked to pay by some of the 11 distribution companies across the country.
Some of the distribution companies have continued to manipulate exorbitant figures and pass them on as customers’ monthly bills, without reading the meters to determine actual consumption.

This development has continued unchecked since the private investors took over, even when there is no official increase in tariffs by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Today, there is widespread public discontent against what electricity consumers call “crazy bills”, which they have continued to pay without commensurate service delivery.
Some of the Discos have actually resorted to the indiscriminate allocation of outrageous estimated bills to their customers, instead of reading the meters to determine their actual monthly consumption, contrary to NERC’s guidelines on estimated billings.

NERC’s guidelines stipulate that the “distribution companies shall endeavour to obtain an actual reading of all meters recording electricity usage at all supply addresses within their areas of operations every month, or at such intervals as approved by the commission”.
The guidelines also stipulate that estimated billings shall apply only to customers, who do not have meters or whose meters are non-functional.

According to the guidelines “every DISCO shall endeavour to read the meter, at least, once in three months and the estimated bills issued shall not amount to a figure in excess of the cumulative average of the customer’s consumption.”

But except few customers, who have prepaid meters, majority of others are slammed with outrageous estimated billings monthly by some Discos without recourse to the customers’ actual consumptions as indicated on their meters.

Resident 2 (R2) customers, for example, who consume an average of 180 units monthly at N12.87 per unit when supply is fairly stable, are made to pay estimated bills of between N5,000 and N12,000 monthly by some of the Discos.
The exorbitant bills are far higher than the customers’ actual consumption, which average N3, 066.6, including a fixed charge of N750 monthly.

Critical Role of NERC
NERC, as the apex regulator of the electricity industry is supposed to check the excesses of the new investors, knowing full well that the private sector is always driven by profit motive.
In his remarks at recent Lagos Economic Summit, a former Minister for Power, Professor Bart Nnaji, stated that for the power reforms to be sustained, the regulator has to be strong to ensure continuity and protect the consumers and investors.

Nnaji said it was very critical for the country to have a very strong regulator that would not be beholden to anybody but the Nigerian public it was meant to serve.
He acknowledged the critical role of NERC, saying the agency has to be strong and with the will to deliver.

“One of the things you heard from the former President of Georgia is about institutions, so that when he left office, things continued to work. What we wanted to do in the power reforms was to create those institutions and environment, whereby if we leave, they will continue to function. These are the kind of structures created in the telecom, so that if somebody comes today and wants to take away your phone, you will fight because you do not want to go back to those days you have to pay to get a line to your house. You are now a free mobile entity – you and your phone and your phone company,” Nnaji explained.

Though NERC has promised to approve the enforcement of a regulation that stipulates financial fines against any electricity distribution company (Disco) that imposes outrageous bills on customers, Nigerians are still facing official extortion by some of the 11 discos.

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