Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Bill To Compel N’East States To Forfeit 15% Of Allocation For Development Underway

The proposed Northeast Development Commission (NDC) that is currently being legislated by the Nigerian
Senate, if passed into law, will get its funding from 15 per cent deductions from the monthly allocations of the six states in the region.

The six non-oil producing states, which are rated amongst the poorest in Nigeria, will have to part with 15 per cent of their income from the Federation Account to enable the new commission help them fix their states which had been destroyed by Boko Haram.

This is coming exactly two months after Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo disclosed in Maiduguri, Borno State, during a multi-sectoral stakeholders’ roundtable on North East that the Presidential Initiative for Northeast-Nigeria (PINE) will be spending the sums of N97 billion and N116 billion on the short term and long term basis respectively in the rebuilding and development of the Boko Haram-ravaged region within five years’ time frame.

The Nigerian Senate said it was determined to help in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the North East region after years of devastation by the Boko Haram insurgency.

It hopes that if the bill seeking the establishment of the NDC fully comes on board anytime in 2016, the commission would have to rely on the 15 per cent per cent of the six states’ grants as well as three per cent of the total annual budget of any solid minerals extraction mining company operating in the troubled North East states, including agricultural processing companies, as a source of the commission’ funding.

The bill also wants a chunk of the 50 per cent of the funds due to member states of the commission from the Ecological Fund to be channelled into the coffers of the new commission.

The 18 senators from the six North East states sponsored the bill as representatives of theirs states: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe Taraba and Yobe.

We learnt the Bill has gone through second reading and is awaiting a public hearing before the final clause-by-clause consideration and eventual passage into law.

The senators said the new proposed law is expected to give the people of the zone a sense of belonging through deliberate legal efforts to rebuild the region.

The bill says the commission, if established, will have such monies granted or lent to, or deposited with the commission by the federal government or a state government, any other body or institution whether local or foreign.

The bill also provides that the commission, when established, “shall in every year submit to the National Assembly, through the president of the country, an estimate of the expenditure and income of the commission during the next succeeding year for approval not later than September 30.”

When fully activated, the commission will be charged with the responsibilities “to receive and manage fund from allocation of the Federation Account and international donors for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency as well as tackling the menace of poverty, literacy level, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the region.”

One of the co-sponsors of the Bill, Senator Danjumma Goje, told LEADERSHIP in an interview that the Bill was inspired by their collective concern about the development of their region.
“Like I said earlier, we need to rebuild that part of the country and give the people a true sense of belonging. It is not a fault of theirs that the activities of insurgents have destroyed their sources of livelihood, crippled the economy, lives lost, properties destroyed,” said Goje.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Letter to President Buhari

A guide to PMB’s New Year Resolutions
Dear PMB,
This time last year when we witnessed the last Sunday of the year 2014, things were still somewhat fluid about who would lead our dear country, Nigeria. To the discerning few though, it was clear the then President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, would not return because of his abysmal failure to lead the country aright, as well as his government’s unholy romance with corruption. Some of us said so directly; some others did indirectly. Some others were too blind to see the handwriting on the wall. One thing was clear though; many of those who felt the former president would find his way back did not credit him with much by way of performance. Rather, they hinged their optimism mainly on what they termed the ‘power of incumbency’. Some of us felt well, if incumbency was that powerful such that we would not be able to remove a non-performing leader, then there was no point holding elections. We jolly well would have told the former president to carry on.
Then came the 2015 elections in which you roundly defeated your predecessor and he had to concede defeat in March. But President Jonathan did not lose the election the day he conceded defeat; he lost it the day you were successfully chosen as the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential candidate on December 23, last year. Some of us told the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) then to begin to pack its bag and baggage in readiness to vacate Aso Rock while the then president should join the unemployment queue. Former President Jonathan has since returned to his home town, Otuoke, in Bayelsa State, while your humble self has since May 29 taken his former position.
Since then, there have been a few things you did which Nigerians felt you should have done otherwise, or you should not have done at all. Mr President, some of your comments have not particularly gone down well with many Nigerians. One was your statement to the effect that even without you doing anything, there has been noticeable changes in the country. In other words, your ‘body language’ has been working wonders. This was true to a large extent, at least initially. But, whether in terms of power supply which dramatically improved on your assumption of office, or fuel supply which similarly witnessed relative stability after the initial hiccups then, things have nosedived in both sectors as I write. Electricity supply has returned to its epileptic past even as fuel queues have not only returned but have done so with an uncommon obstinacy.  What these tell us is that ‘body language’ cannot last forever. It seems to have lost its potency  and it can only continually get eroded as more and more people notice this weakness.

Although you have apologised to Nigerians for the fuel scarcity and they have accepted your apology (I guess I am speaking the minds of many of them), but beyond the apology is what happens next. How do we get out of the fuel scarcity conundrum? That is the main issue now as we prepare to usher in a new year.
Aside the temporal efficacy of your ‘body language’, the import of your statement, Mr. President, is that the country is on auto-pilot and this did not go down well with many people. Even if it was true that a few things knocked themselves into shape when you assumed office, one would have expected such statement to come from the people themselves. I am not even sure it is something to celebrate by your top aides. I may be wrong here, though. But certainly the statement ought not to have come from you directly.

Mr. President, we are beginning to see what your policy thrusts are. Your maiden budget of N6trillion appears ambitious, given the downturn in oil prices. Your government’s intention to downplay oil in the government’s revenue profile is good, at least on paper. Whether it is realistic is a different matter entirely; but it is worth giving a trial because that is where we should be going. There are some salient aspects of the budget which appear good on the surface; again, whether they are attainable is the issue. For instance, the proposed creation of about 500,000 jobs for teachers is good, just as the social safety net of N5,000 monthly proposed for the indigent elderly. One can only hope that these have been well thought-out so they do not end the way of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) of the PDP which was alleviating poverty in reverse by pumping hefty sums of money into the pockets of the party’s wealthy chieftains.

Many Nigerians are also not happy that your government’s major policies are announced abroad. It was in Iran that you first announced that some past public officials who stole public funds have started returning part of the loot.  You were also outside of the country when you said that Nigeria was broke and also that the Federal Government was considering negotiating with Boko Haram insurgents. The same thing applied to your announcement that you would appoint your ministers in September, 2015.

With regard to the anti-corruption war though, we are beginning to see some action, especially with the arraignment of some of the big suspects involved. It has been fascinating as it is revealing so far; but when we realise that the shared arms fund that has given us so much shock was only a fraction of what was stolen in the oil sector where Diezani Alison-Madueke held sway, then we can only see how callous some of our so-called leaders can be, given the millions that go hungry daily and the countless others that were dying and being displaced because some people had stolen the money that was supposed to be used to buy arms.

We are also hearing a lot of speculations about plea bargain. I guess with time, some people would start talking of state pardon, even as the case proper is yet to begin. For me, though, what is most important is the recovery of our common patrimony that was stolen. But that should not be a reason to start giving the impression that things have to be done differently only because those involved are big thieves. Will a poor man who stole a goat or cow have the opportunity of plea bargain if he returns that goat or cow? Although plea bargain is used in some parts of the world as a way to resolve disputes and save valuable time and money on litigation, it is not done the way we do it in Nigeria. So, the president has to be wary of the kind of plea bargain he would allow for the unconscionable looters. Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to have been done.

Dear Mr. President, it is not that you are not aware of some, if not all of these issues; but it is important to put them together in a way that they would attract your attention and enable you decide which of them you may want to rethink in the coming year. You may also be compiling a list of your New Year resolutions. This may as well serve as a guide.
Happy New Year in advance, sir.

The Nation

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Buhari mourns Nnewi gas victims

President Muham­madu Buhari has expressed deep regret over the loss of lives following Thursday’s gas explosion at an industrial complex in Nnewi, Anambra.

A statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, Friday by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the president was greatly shaken and shocked by such large-scale loss of human lives in a single industrial accident.

According to the state­ment, Buhari sympathised with the families of the vic­tims “who were looking forward to a joyous Christ­mas celebration’’.

The president extended his condolences to the families of the victims, the people and the government of Anambra over what he described as “this unfortu­nate tragedy on Christmas eve’’.
“My heart and prayers go to these grieving fami­lies at this difficult and painful moment,’’ the state­ment quoted the president as saying.

The statement revealed that President Buhari also commiserated with the Lamido of Adamawa, Alh­aji Barkindo Musdafa, over the death of his mother, Hajiya Adda Gombeji, who passed on at the age of 87.
“He has placed a call to condole with the Gov­ernor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, who has equally lost his own mother.

“The President person­ally made the phone calls to the Lamido of Adamawa and Emefiele to express his sympathy to the monarch and the CBN governor over the death of their mothers,’’ the statement added.
Buhari described a moth­er as, “an invaluable com­ponent of family life, and the pillar and comforter of the children’’.

He prayed to Allah to bless the souls of the de­ceased, and grant the Lamido, Godwin Emefiele and other members of their families the fortitude to overcome the losses.

Sun News

Governorship Election: Kogi Elders Urge Faleke To Accept The Will Of God

Kogi West Elders Committee has called on the Deputy Governor-Elect, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke to accept the outcome of the Kogi governorship election as God’s way of answering the prayers of the Kogi West people for power rotation.

Rising from an extra-ordinary meeting at Obajana, the committee said it was prepared to prevail on Faleke to work harmoniously with the Governor-Elect, Alh. Yahaya Bello to effect the desired change in Kogi State.

The Committee called on political stakeholders from both Central and West to accept and abide by the decision of the APC leadership which favours the age-long agitation for power rotation in the state.

“That the West and Central senatorial districts have agreed to stand on the path of unity and hold on the two positions of governor and deputy governor bestowed on us by God.

“That we declare our solemn and total support for the governor-elect, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and ensure his success; otherwise his failure is ours and not his,” the committee said.

Kogi West is made up of Lokoja, Kogi/Koto, Kabba/Bunu, Ijumu, Mopamuro, Yagba East and Yagba West Local Government Areas.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Bayelsa: Gov Dickson Warns Against Minimum Wage Reduction

Bayelsa State governor Seriake Dickson has reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the welfare of civil servants, saying that he will not subscribe to any move for the downward review of the present minimum wage of N18,000, in spite of financial hardship facing the state.

Speaking with journalists in Yenagoa yesterday, Dickson maintained that rather than reduce the minimum wage, as being advocated in some quarters, his administration would do everything within its reach to create a more enabling environment to discharge its duties effectively.

He restated his commitment to the training and re-training of public servants in 2016 to promote human capacity building, which is one of the cardinal points of his administration.

On the delay over the payment of December salary, Dickson empathized with workers on the development, explaining that up till the time of the press briefing, the state was yet to receive its monthly allocation from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).

He, however, said the government was working round the clock to ensure the payment on or before next week by exploring other means, adding that, he has directed the state financial team to liaise with financial institutions to effect payment of workers and pensioners.


Why Petrol should Be Sold at N50 per litre – TUC

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC)) yesterday, Thursday 24th December, 2015 faulted government’s retention of fuel subsidy, saying petrol should be sold at N50 per litre with adequate local refining capacity in the country.
President of the Congress, Comrade Bobboi KaiĆ½gama, said in a statement: “The price of crude oil in the international market has dropped drastically. This should have a direct effect on domestic consumption of the product”.
He advocated the need for a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the subsidy and why it has become impossible to refine and purchase fuel at N50 per litre.
He further said the proposed deficit financing  at ₦2.22 trillion is certainly high, saying this could be reduced by the recovery of stolen funds . The union also faulted government’s decision to borrow N1.8trillion to fund the 2016 budget.
“We charge the federal government to as a matter of urgency warn the governors who want to sabotage the administration by saying they cannot pay ordinary N18,000 minimum wage. We dare them to try it”, he said. 
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), yesterday charged Christians and Muslims in the country to share whatever they have with their neighbours which is the very essence of humanity.
TUC also yesterday said the birth of Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed should bring tidings of good hope to Nigeria and the world, adding that since the two leaders symbolise peace, their followers should follow suit.
Daily Trust

Amaechi As train conductor

Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi turned a train conductor in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital last week.

This was hours after he had been welcomed by a huge crowd during his first official engagement in Rivers state which he ruled for about eight years.

Amaechi, a former Rivers Governor and ex-Speaker of the State' House of Assembly, was in Port Harcourt for the inauguration of Port Harcourt-Aba (in Abia State) Mass Transit Train Service at the Port Harcourt Station of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

Policemen, especially of the traffic department, had it so tough on Wednesday, December 16, sweating profusely in the scorching sun, in their attempts to control the traffic, which was at a standstill for some hours.

Most of the teeming associates of Amaechi, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and an ex-Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of Nigerian Houses of Assembly, as well as reporters had to alight and parked their cars in safe places and trekked long distances to the railway terminus at the old Port Harcourt Township, popularly called Town.

The former Director-General of Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation also had a hectic time, before getting to the NRC’s office.

The kick-off was fixed for 10 a.m., but the minister of transportation and members of his entourage could not get to the venue until 11:55 a.m.

Immediately after inaugurating the fully-air-conditioned train, with executive seats, the ex-chairman of NGF decided to ride it to Aba, with the other coaches occupied by his associates, admirers and top government officials.

By the time the event was rounded off, it became a Herculean task to control the surging crowd, making the transportation minister to become emergency conductor, as he stood by the door checking in some persons and had to apologise to many others, for not being able to make the historic journey.

Amaechi, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also played the role of an official of NRC, by holding a flag and standing by the side of the train, to direct passersby and motorists on the railway.

Most people who saw Amaechi with the flag were eager that the mass transit train service should quickly commence, thereby putting an end to the horrible traffic on the deplorable Port Harcourt-Aba-Enugu expressway, which now has craters at the middle of the federal road.

The historic inauguration was also attended by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa; Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation; Alhaji Sabiyu Zakari, and the Managing Director of NRC, Adeseyi Sijuwade.

Also in attendance were retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte; a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Prof. Nimi Briggs; eminent monarchs from Rivers and Abia states; ex-Rivers commissioners and Wike’s former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Opunabo Inko-Tariah, who recently resigned, among others.

Amaechi, in his address, assured that the Federal Government would take a position on the Port Harcourt International Airport, ranked as the worst in the world, as soon as possible.

He also gave an assurance that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s would revive the railway sub-sector.

Amaechi said: “I want to say to the Governor of Abia State that there is no political party in development. Just like we say, naira has no colour. So, there is no PDP, no APC. If your governor is ready to contribute to mass transit in Aba and Abia, we are ready to work with him.

“It is with great delight and humility that myself and the Minister of State for Aviation welcome you to this landmark event of formal flag-off of the Port Harcourt -Aba Mass Transit Train Service by the NRC, which marks another milestone in the development of railway system in Nigeria.

“I am delighted to note that as part of the ongoing efforts and commitment of the Federal Government to provide safe and affordable means of mass transportation in the country, the NRC has completed the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Aba rail line, being segment of the narrow guage Eastern rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, and the line is ready for commissioning and commence operations.

“This administration’s plan is to revive the railway sub-sector and achieve a Nigerian railway system that is modern, safe and affordable, and could serve as a vehicle for the delivery of sustainable economic growth, social harmony and political stability. The trains will run between Port Harcourt and Aba, with stops at key locations along this important corridors. Without doubt, the services will enhance significantly, commercial activities and foster integration among the people of Rivers and Abia States.

“I have the pleasure to inform you that the Federal Government, through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative, is planning the remodelling and the redevelopment of our major railway stations within the country. Under the rail modernisation programme, government will open new railway lines to achieve an efficient rail network.”

In an interview with reporters in Port Harcourt, Amaechi expressed optimism that Nigerians would continue to experience change, especially in the transportation sector.

On the number of jobs the project would create for people in the Southsouth and Southeast zones of Nigeria, the minister of transportation stated that it was not the direct jobs that were important.

He said as soon as the train commenced operation, the indirect jobs were by far more important, stressing that people would start getting services and there would be activities, as the train would be stopping in every station, with many people hawking one thing or another.

Amaechi assured that the informal economic activities would blossom the economy of the country, especially the economy between Port Harcourt and Aba.

The transportation minister disclosed that there would be a new rail line that would pass through Port Harcourt, noting that the Nigerian government was going to do basically two and the seven would be done with private investors.

The permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, in his remarks, noted that the Port Harcourt-Aba mass transit train service was part of the remarkable success stories of the Buhari’s administration.

The king and paramount ruler of Port Harcourt, His Majesty Eze Victor Woluchem, Eze Epara Rebisi XII, stated that the railway and trains that were moribund had now come back to life, just a few weeks after the inauguration of Amaechi as transportation minister.

The managing director of the NRC stated that since the inception of Port Harcourt railway station in 1912, so many passenger and cargo trains had traversed the rail network.

He reiterated that sequel to the substantial progress on the rehabilitation of the existing narrow-gauge network of Eastern Rail Line, traversing Port Harcourt to Gombe, the NRC, earlier this year, commenced inter-city train service from Port Harcourt to Kano and Port Harcourt to Gombe.

Sijuwade noted that the kick-off was the first time of establishing a mass transit train service between Port Harcourt and Aba, reiterating that Rivers state is the home of oil and gas, as well as a commercial nerve centre.

NRC’s managing director disclosed that the train has 68-seater air-conditioned modern passenger coaches, together with standard class coaches, stressing that the train would always run four trips daily from Monday to Saturday and would depart Aba at 5 a.m. and get to Port Harcourt at 7:15 a.m. and return, while the second train would leave Aba at 3 p.m.

Sijuwade said: “Movement relating to business transaction within the Ariaria International Market in Aba and other markets like Oil Mills, Mile One, School Road and Diobu Markets in Port Harcourt are done mostly by road.

“In both cities (Port Harcourt and Aba), booming shopping centres and new markets, where fabric materials, plastics and motor parts are sold, are not fully patronised, due to bad roads between Aba and Port Harcourt.

“Port Harcourt is renowned for being the homestead of petroleum and gas industries and a commercial nerve centre of the Southsouth, showcasing full-scale inter-modal trades, with the presence of an international airport, inland container depots, seaports and petroleum produce facility bases. The associated business activities undoubtedly require the mass movement of people by rail.”

Sijuwade added that the train service would surely reduce congestion on Port Harcourt-Aba expressway, while business activities would be enhanced, assuring that production capacity in all facets of the economy would operate at optimal levels.

The Nation

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Akwa Ibom: Gov. Emmanuel inaugurates Akwa Ibom Chief Judge

Governor Udom Emmanuel has sworn into office, the Chief Judge of the state: Justice Stephen Okon.

Administering the Oath of Office at the Executive Council Chambers, Government House, Uyo, His Excellency charged Justice Okon to demonstrate a high sense of professionalism as he leads the state’s judiciary.

The Governor described the state’s Chief Judge as a committed public servant who has grown in rank in the legal profession to the present status and wished him well in his endeavours.

The Governor noted with delight the harmonious relationship existing between the executive and other arms of government.

He particularly charged the judiciary not to compromise justice and fairness in the discharge of it duties, pledging to make the welfare of Akwa Ibom State citizens the focus of his administration.

Justice Okon, in his interaction with Government House correspondents shortly after his swearing-in to office, said he would harness his wealth of experience in the dispensation of justice in the state and solicited for proper funding to enable the judiciary live up to its responsibilities.

Justice Okon is the sixth State Chief Judge since the creation of the state.

He was born in 1952.

A native of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, the legal luminary attended St. Peter’s Primary School, Mbierebe Obio and later attended Exams Success Correspondence College, Yaba and the University of Lagos before proceeding to the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island in 1979.

Okon has been engaged in private legal practice until 1998 when he was appointed High Court Judge.

He was the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Uyo branch from 1994 to 1996 and has held key positions as a reputable legal practitioner until his appointment as Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State.

The Eagles

Education: SSANU protests sack of 45 FUTA staff school teachers

Staff of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State yesterday protested over the alleged dismissal of 45 teachers of the University Staff Primary School by the federal government.

The protesters under the auspices of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities said affected teachers have been served their dismissal letters.

They however vowed that they would resist the development.

The workers of the institution displayed placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Buhari this not the change we voted for. Save our jobs’, ‘Daramola Don’t privatize FUTA Staff Primary School’, ‘Teachers are not 2nd class citizens’, ‘Stop maltreating us in FUTA staff primary School’ etc.

Addressing newsmen, the chairman of the association in the institution, Mr Benedict Chukwudi said that members of SSANU nationwide would begin an indefinite strike from today if the federal government failed to withdraw its circulars that sacked the 2000 members.


National transportation master plan coming, says Amaechi

Federal Government is developing a national transportation master plan  to diversify the economy and improve on non-oil sector revenues, the Minister of Transportation,  Chibuike Amaechi, said yesterday, Wednesday.

Amaechi, who spoke yesterday at a briefing after a tour of facilities at the Lagos airport, said the master plan would reduce unemployment and develop the rural economy.

He added that the government was determined to fully exploit the potentials of the transport sector by opening it up for new investment.

The minister said if properly repositioned, the sector holds the key to unlocking the country’s economic potentials.

Amaechi identified the sector’s problems as including bad roads, inadequate fleet, airplane services and congested ports .
He said: “The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is in the process of developing a national transportation master plan that will be implemented as a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to diversify the national economy while improving non-oil revenues.

“While reducing dependence on oil revenues, it will also develop the rural economy, reduce unemployment and urban drift.

“The problems of Nigerian transport system include bad roads, inadequate fleet of buses and trucks; irregular and inadequate trains and airplanes services and congested ports.”

The minister also mentioned dearth of suitably trained transport managers and planners, capital restructuring bottlenecks, serious issues of institutional reforms and ineffective traffic regulations.

“The Buhari administration is determined to fully exploit the potentials in the transportation sector. As a first step, the government will pursue the enactment of legislation that will open up the sector to new investments that will lead to economic prosperity,” he said.

Amaechi also revealed plans to re-introduce rail lines that would assist in the movement of petroleum products by next year.

He said investment in rail transportation could generate over 250,000 direct jobs .

The minister said: “The movement of petroleum products by rail will be re-introduced in 2016. As you are aware, we have commenced and almost completed the narrow gauge rehabilitation which will be retained for the movement of cargoes.

“At the same time, massive investment into the standard gauge to link most parts of the country with faster trains for passenger movements has begun. In 2016, we hope to complete work on the Abuja-Kaduna railway line as Mr. President is highly committed to it. Work will start in earnest on the standard gauge on many routes .”

On aviation, Amaechi said safety would not be negotiable, as he identified the challenges of the sector to including weak airlines and decaying infrastructure .

He said: “The ministry of transportation in collaboration with relevant parastatals and agencies has drawn up short term plans that are currently being implemented, of which the travelling public will take notice of the improvements in the not distant future.

“These plans include the expeditious completion of ongoing airports remodeling projects at Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt and the decongestion of airports access roads among several others. The new terminal in Lagos will generate additional 15 million passengers annually, making a total of 30 million passengers yearly nationwide.

“The medium and long term plans will require significant investments to upgrade and expand infrastructure to meet current and future requirements.

“As a result of limited resources for capital projects development, government is exploring the possibility of private sector participation to towards the realisation of the industries’ potentials.

“The Ministerial Committee on the National Airline has submitted its report to the President, which the government is studying carefully and will announce its decision in due course.

“In June of this year, Nigeria scored 96.44 per cent during the International Civil Aviation Security Audit. 

Despite this feat, the nation can ill afford to let its guards down considering recent events in the international scene, where passenger airplanes have been blown out of the skies.

“Subsequently in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP) and International Aviation Organisation (ICAO) annex 17, the Federal Government is looking to overhaul and streamline the security apparatus at the nation’s airports for a seamless and more effective security surveillance and enforcement. This will also improve facilitation and passengers’ experience.”

The Nation

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

FAAC Meeting: N369 Billion Distributed For November

The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has distributed the sum of  N369 billion to the Federal, State and Local Governments for the month of November.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said that gross statutory revenue for the month which stood at N297 billion declined by over N102 billion compared with what was received in October.

She, however, promised that government is looking at ways of increasing revenues from the non-oil sector.


Senate begins another process of amending 1999 Constitution

Nigerian Senate has  begun another process of amending the 1999 Constitution, just as Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu retains his position as Chairman of the new committee.

Announcing the composition of the committee, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, said Ekweremadu will lead 37 other senators to carry out the exercise.

Ekweremadu was the chairman of the committee set up by former Senate President, David Mark, in the Seventh Senate.

Saraki, who noted that the eighth Senate had made the amendments of the constitution, its major deliverable, said: “With the composition of the committee, the Senate had set the stage for the activities leading to the delivery to our people. The work already carried out by the Seventh Senate had made the jobs of the new committee, easier”

Saraki urged the committee to do away with traveling across the country for facts gathering, just as he asked them to  concentrate on the issues that would de-emphasise recurrent expenditure that had been substantially agreed upon by the last committee


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Our plan to increase mining’s N400b revenue, by Fayemi

Minister pledges one million jobs, revival of Ajaokuta Steel Complex
Minister of Solid Minerals Kayode Fayemi yesterday said the mining sector’s N400 billion contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will soon go up.

Nigeria has 44 mineral assets, including precious minerals, which, Fayemi said, could make the sector a key source of economic growth and diversified revenue base for Nigeria.

He gave all mining licensees till March 1 deadline to use their licences or lose them.

He said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to the revival of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex (ASC).
Fayemi, who reeled out his plans at the ministry’s inaugural media conference in Abuja, said he was projecting about one million direct jobs from solid minerals.

He said: “Today, we have at least 44 known mineral assets that include precious minerals, base metals, bulk minerals and what are known as rare earth minerals.

“We have reasons to believe that available data of our reserves understates what the almighty God has blessed our country with many cases. We have barely updated some of the geosciences data collected 50 years ago or earlier. So, we are cautiously optimistic that our mining endowments actually exceed what is currently stated.

“That said, based on current data, Nigeria’s solid minerals sector makes up about 0.34 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That means based on current official exchange rates, the mining sector contributes N400 billion in value to the economy.

“While that is a significant role, it is smaller than its true potential as the vast majority of our mining assets are yet to be exploited. In fact, what has been happening is that the sector has more or less been operating sharply below capacity, with many mining operations manned by small-scale artisanal miners, as opposed to the large-scale players.”

He pledged to sanitise the solid minerals sector.

“We will work with stakeholders to review existing licences and bring them up to date where there are issues. Our goal is to get licensees, who are sitting on  the fence to have sufficient confidence to start investing real capital.

“That said, starting March 1, 2016, we will start enforcing the “use it or lose it” doctrine enshrined in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007. The period from today to March 1, 2016, should be considered an amnesty period to allow regularisation of papers,” he said.

Responding to a question, Fayemi said all things being equal, the solid minerals sector could create about one million jobs.

He explained: “I can tell you that the solid minerals sector is one that can provide at least a million direct jobs and much more than that in indirect jobs with people working in the mines and associated sectors like construction. We know that we can do it, but we need to formalise the jobs and we need to ensure that we bring them into the economy so that it can serve our nation better.

“We have commenced discussions with the World Bank once again and the bank is desirous of supporting the sector. We need to be ready, we ought to show commitment ourselves as a government and that way, it will be easier for us to receive support from a whole range of players.

“If we deliver on this vision, then we can build a mining sector that Nigerians can be proud of in 30 years or more from now. This sector should deliver double digit growth over the next decade, with important direct and indirect economic impacts on households.

“We will focus on supporting and growing Nigeria’s position in mineral assets with commercially proven reserves. Our assets will then be used to serve two key markets: a domestic industrialisation market that is more beneficiation focused and an export market that is more focused initially on the export of ores and raw materials.

“The mix of investors that will target Nigeria will reflect that preference of serving both the domestic and export markets. We anticipate that as we expand our geosciences databases and insights, we will also expand what minerals we compete in.”

Fayemi said the Ajaokuta Steel Complex was not privatised, but was put under concession in 2005 for a decade.

Fayemi added that it was revoked in 2008 and that led to the lingering legal issue facing the steel complex.

“But I can assure you that this is a matter that Mr. President insists on and I am reasonably confident that before the end of the first quarter of 2016, we would have a direction as to whether we are taking it over and running it ourselves or resolving the legal issues involved and allowing this to determine who gets to run Ajaokuta.

“I was in Ajaokuta last week and we were so distraught by the time we left, that how could a nation do this to itself? Ajaokuta in itself is a city; it has an airport, seaport and 60 kilometres of internal rail. It has a rail from Ajaokuta almost to Warri and another linking it to Itakpe 60 kilometres. How do you invest this amount of resources and then you walk away from it?

“It is unacceptable to any sane human being and that is why for us, we just have to fix Ajaokuta.

Unfortunately, the figures being quoted for fixing it is not a figure that the Nigerian state can come by easily.

“We have to figure out a creative and innovative way of ensuring that we partner with people who can make it happen so that we begin to deliver liquid steel and its products to our country,” he said.

“Fixing Ajaokuta is not just the plant alone, it is also a matter of the infrastructure, that will make Ajaokuta perform better, you cannot bring in cooking coal, which is what is needed in the manufacture of steel, except you do so in deep seaport and even when you produce the steel, the central rail line that we have now only stops in Abuja, you need the central rail line to also move from Abuja to Lokoja and then develop spur lines that will join existing standard gauge rail that exist.

“So, even if I were to give you a figure for putting Ajaokuta in shape to run, that does not mean it will start to run.

“For example, Ajaokuta has 110 megawatt power plant in it that could supply the whole of Kogi, possibly Ekiti and still have enough for its operation internally; but it is dead mostly. So, we need to do a total costing on it to determine what exactly it needs.”

The Nation

Behold The New Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has elected a new Speaker after its former Speaker, Honourable Aniekan Uko was sacked by the Appeal Court.
Honorable (Bar.) Onofiok Luke is the new Speaker.

The former Speaker, Mr Aniekan Uko’s election, from Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, was challenged and thereafter nullified by the Court of Appeal in Abuja last Tuesday for non-compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act.

The appellate court panel of three judges presided over by Justice Moshood Oredola-Abdulrahman, ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in the state constituency – Ibesikpo-Asutan.

The court, which upheld the earlier decision of the election petitions tribunal for Akwa Ibom, said Uko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not validly elected in the April 11 election.

It also ruled that the election tribunal which sat in Abuja was right in nullifying the election of Uko on the basis of electoral violence and malpractices.

After the Appeal Court judgment, the former speaker said that he accepted the decision of the court in good faith and said he would go back to the field to prepare for the re-run election.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Why Enugu is in the hands of God —Gov Ugwuanyi

Governor of Enugu State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has lamented the poor economic situation in the country following dwindling oil revenue, saying that the sustenance of the state was in the hands of God.

Ugwuanyi lamented that it was now difficult to pay workers’ salaries, let alone embark on development projects.

He spoke, yesterday, Sunday the 20th of December, 2015 during the thanksgiving mass/reception held in honour of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Edward Ubosi, by the people of Nkanu at the Catholic Assumption Church, Nkwo Nike.

Ugwuanyi  pointed out that in the recent past, states enjoyed money from excess crude account, adding that the situation was now the opposite as the states were asking for bail- out from the Federal Government to pay salaries.

He expressed optimism that despite the murky economic fortunes, Enugu State would prosper.
Ugwuanyi said that his optimism was based on the prayers for the success of his administration by the people of the state even as he promised to rule with the fear of God.

“We must work in Enugu State with the fear of God.  Always put us in your prayers.  Put us in your prayers and we shall succeed,” he said.

Earlier in his sermon on the occasion, the officiating priest, Monsignor Patrick Ugwu had commended Ugwuanyi for his care for the poor and the needy and urged him to continue with his good works.


Sunday, December 20, 2015


NIGERIA international Footballer, Obafemi Martins will no longer count as a foreigner for Seattle Sounders as he has been listed as an American following the issuance of a Green Card to the ex-Inter Milan forward.

Nigeria allows for dual citizenship and this is also good news for Seattle Sounders, who could now sign another foreign player in place of Martins.

Obafemi Martins obtained the Green Card at some point this year and this was confirmed when the Major League Soccer (MLS) released the roster update for all the 20 MLS teams and listed Martins as a home player.

Sounders may benefit more in cases like that of ‘Oba’ as Jamaicans, Oniel Fisher and Damion Lowe, who have spent several years as students and professionals in the US could obtain Green Cards soon.


Education: SSANU shuts down 30 varsities December 24

Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, has directed its members to embark on indefinite strike from December 24, following Federal Government’s directive to Vice-Chancellors of universities to remove the names of staff of their secondary schools from their pay-roll.

The National Executive Council of SSANU took the decision to paralyse academic activities in the nation’s universities after its meeting in Abuja.

Addressing journalists on the outcome of its meeting, the National President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke, said the action of government to retrench over 2,000 staff was contrary to the Federal Government and SSANU agreement of 2009.

Ugwoke said that SSANU had written the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, urging him to order the immediate withdrawal of all letters from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, National Universities Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education directing Vice-Chancellors to remove personnel of the University Staff Primary Schools from the pay-roll.



Acts 4 : 15 – 31

We’re not the people who started speaking the word of GOD. As long as there is GOD, people will continue to preach. Please, don’t allow it to end in your time.

Why must people be preaching the gospel of silver and gold when people are suffering?

Through the speaking of the word of GOD, the Apostles gave the man older than 40 years Jesus and he stood up.

Fear is a weapon in the hands of the enemy.

But shall we fear them and defy GOD?

If anything has made you afraid, I command that you be liberated now.

From today, be bold and tell people that Jesus is LORD.

Merry Christmas and Happy Sunday.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Army Reviews Death Sentence For 66 Soldiers To Jail Terms

The Nigerian Army has commuted judgement in the case of 66 soldiers sentenced to death by firing squad in January and March this year by separate General Court Martials.

The soldiers will each now serve 10 years in prison and the sentence is to run concurrently.

According to the Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman this decision followed an order by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, to examine the merit of each case.

The soldiers were part of seventy-one soldiers arraigned on several count charges including criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mutiny, insubordinate behaviour and false accusation.

They were tried and discharged on some charges but found guilty and convicted on other charges including mutiny.

Five others were discharged and acquitted while one was sentenced to 28 days in prison with hard labour.
The case of the other soldiers are still being reviewed and the Army says it will be made public once the appropriate reviews are completed.

The governors’ forum of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) of being “bent on foisting a one-party state in Nigeria”. The forum said through its “puppet master in Lagos”, the APC has entered an alliance with the judiciary to manipulate election results. PDP was reacting to the nullification of the election of Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom by the appeal court. The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election in the state within 90 days. “The nullification of the election of His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel by the court of appeal on Friday in Abuja should worry all those who truly desire good for this country,” read a statement issued by Osaro Onaiwu, coordinator of the forum. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the APC is bent on foisting a one-party state in Nigeria and to do so, it is ready to compromise the judiciary, destroy every fibre of integrity and sanctity of the judicial process through state compromise of the judiciary. “For 16 years that the PDP governed, it respected the right to opposition and did not balkanise the judiciary as we have witnessed in the past seven months of the APC regime. “Let Nigerians realise that the judiciary is being tele-guided by a puppet master in Lagos and state apparatus and this charade like in all things unholy will soon collapse because a peoples will to choose their leaders can never be negotiated or mortgaged out of desperation.” He expressed confidence that “the people of Akwa Ibom state and Nigerians of goodwill will resist the obnoxious decline into fascism as was demonstrated recently in Bayelsa state where the people stood firm against state terror and attempted imposition by the APC”. Onaiwu alleged that that Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto state governor, had canvassed that it was a national security risk for the oil-rich states to be controlled by the opposition.

Read more at: https://www.thecable.ng/pdp-govs-its-clear-apc-wants-a-one-

Friday, December 18, 2015

Why It’s too early to judge Buhari — Mudiaga-Odje

Warri based constitutional lawyer, Dr Akpo Mudiaga-Odje in this interview bares his mind on the APC led government insisting that it may be too early to assess the Buhari administration. Excerpts:

By Festus Ahon

What is your assessment of the President Buhari’s led administration?
Even though, it may be too early for a holistic appraisal, nevertheless it points towards a government that would be responsible to the people’s yearnings and aspirations.
Indeed, we are passing through very difficult times in terms of insecurity, economic challenges, including scarcity of petroleum products. It will surely take time to heal these wounds inflicted on our dear nation by previous administrations.

What is your take on Buhari’s appointment of himself as petroleum minister?
In retrospect, we challenged the erstwhile President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR when he appointed himself as the Minister of Petroleum. We challenged it up to the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Interestingly, whilst we were at the Court of Appeal, and due to the pressure brought upon him by the case and the people, Chief Obasanjo promptly appointed Prof. Edmund Daukoru now a Royal Majesty in Bayelsa State, as a Minister of State for Petroleum. That case has now been reported as Austin Ayowe & Ors. Vs. The President & Ors. (2006) All FWLR (PT. 334) 1967
Dr Akpo Mudiaga-Odje
Dr Akpo Mudiaga-Odje

Though we lost on grounds of locus standi, the pressure arising from the legal action prevailed on OBJ to do the needful.

On the President Buhari scenario, he has appointed a Minister for Petroleum, be it a Minister of State or not, because he is recognised under the Petroleum Act and Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN (as amended).

Under Section 5 of the Constitution, General Buhari has a right and duty to supervise his Ministries and by extension control and manage the Ministry, provided however, that he has a Minister duly appointed at all material times relating thereto.

Looking at the crop of Ministers he has appointed, do you see any good prospect for Nigeria under Buhari’s government?
Relatively speaking, I do believe that from the background of some of the ministers, its very apparent and real that they will impact positively in the administration of the Nation.
It has a blend of old hands and new technocrats which is good for us. However, it may be too early to give an informed assessment of them since, they just started work.

Again, the Urhobos have no minister in the Federal Government?
It’s very sad if not frightening that the Urhobo Nation which produces economic wealth no matter how small to the Federation Account, cannot have a Minister to partake in the Federal Executive Council as to how the commonwealth of the Nation is shared.

In terms of population, we are the fifth largest in Nigeria, we host oil and gas flow stations including the Otorogun Gas Plant.

We have a reservoir of eminent, cerebral and proficient professionals, politicians and      scholars per excellence both here and in the Diaspora.

Accordingly, I urge Mr. President to do the needful timeously by appointing a Minister from any of our eminent sons and daugthers of Urhobo Nation.

It is in the light of the above, that I commend the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, for his wisdom and magnanimity in appointing many qualified persons of Urhobo extraction into his Administration. It is very commendable and encouraging.

Don’t you see it as a ploy to undermine the Urhobo Nation which is the 6th if not 5th largest ethnic group in the country?
Yes indeed if an ethnic Nationality that is qualified to have a slot as a Minister in Nigeria and its not given that slot, surely it will undermine that ethnic group. A point of reference is Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides that:

“The business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba…”
This section does not recongise my Urhobo language, yet my village, Evwrein in Ughelli North hosts a flow Station which produces over eleven thousand barrels of crude oil to the Nigeria State.

My oil and gas resources are a blessing to Nigeria, whilst my language is an abomination in the National Assembly.

The National Assembly was built from our resources. The Constitution was also printed with our resources. Yet my language cannot be spoken in the National Assembly.

Be that as it may, we the Urhobo people must now come together in our collective history to unite and speak with one voice! A house divided against itself cannot stand!

As long as we remain disunited, our fighting and staying power becomes weaker and weaker by the day.
So in as much as we are justifiably agitating for representation at the federal level, we must close ranks
\because when Mr. President decides to give us a ministerial slot, we must be prepared to speak and choose one person with one voice!

It is on this note, that I advise the Urhobo Nation to start to reach out to our brothers from other minority ethnic groups, such as the Itsekiris, Ijaws, Ibibios, Aniomas, Isokos, and others, to forge a common front with us as we agitate for both political and economic relevance.

What is your reaction to the emergence of a new Olu of Warri?
Firstly, we share in the mourning with the Itsekiri nation of the departed Ogiame Atuwatse II; whilst at the same time we congratulate them on the nomination through overwhelming proclamation and acclamation of the entire Itsekiri nation of the new Olu of Warri.

The unity, swiftness and reverence with which the Itsekiri people selected their new king is worthy of commendation and it is shining example to all other tribes, especially the ethnic minorities, that once a tribe speaks with one voice, nothing, I say nothing can ever stop their progress and development.

Do you have faith in Buhari’s corruption crusade?
Faith in Mr. President’s corruption crusade? I think faith is too strong for me at this point in time, I think whether I have confidence in President Buhari’s corruption crusade? Yes!

For now, his body language is encouraging towards the fight against corruption, however let it not be selective.

We must commend him for his patriotic stand before and now on the fight against corruption and urge all Nigerians to support this fight for a better Nigeria.

The appointment of the proficient and well respected international scholar, teacher and lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay SAN as the chair of the presidential Advisory Committee on corruption is a big plus for President Buhari and the fight against the incubus of corruption in Nigeria.

However, for Government to fight corruption frontally the institutions responsible for investigation, arrest and prosecution of corrupt persons must be urgently reformed, funded and made more potent in that respect.


Alison-Madueke, Ex-Minister is NOT dead, family confirms

Immediate past Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke is dead, Vanguard reported authoritatively.

Multiple media platforms, especially online news portals, had reported that the ex-minister, who is battling cancer, is dead.

Citing a reliable source privy to the Diezani household, Vanguard confirmed that Diezani is alive and recovering from the deadly cancer disease.

A BBC Africa journalist, who claimed to have spoken to Diezani's lawyer said she is alive.
“Diezani lawyer Oscar Onwudiwe says he has spoken to her husband and #diezani is indeed alive,” he posted on Twitter.

Amid allegations of embezzlement while she served as minister of petroleum, Diezani has been fighting for her life in a London hospital, as reports said she was not responding to cancer treatment.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Amaechi Orders 48 Hours Cargo Clearance

The Minister of Transport and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, on Tuesday urged maritime agencies in Nigeria to ensure their operations are in line with the 48 hours international cargo clearance policy.
Mr Amaechi made the statement in Lagos State while on an assessment tour of facilities in some parastatals attached to the Transport Ministry.

The Minister also called for the implementation of reforms in all units of maritime agencies.

At the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Resource Centre Mr Amaechi made an on-the-spot assessment of facilities and expressed displeasure with the state of disrepair of Equipment at NIMASA office.

“If NIMASA has the responsibility for security, protection, including search and rescue, then we are yet to begin.

“With the kind of money I hear they have spent, they should have at least gotten equipment for search and rescue,” the Minister said, decrying the state of the equipment he saw.

The Minister said that he had asked the Director of Finance to provide him with information about all the contracts awarded from the inception of NIMASA.

“Who are the contractors and how much has been paid and what is the level of completion of the contracts?” the former Rivers State Governor questioned.

He, however, said that his request should not be seen as a probe.

It was his first visit to Lagos since he became the Minister of Transport in October.


Why Court sacked PDP Acting Chair Secondus

Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Territory (FCT), Maitama, Abuja yesterday sacked the Acting Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus.

The judge, in a judgment in a suit by Ahmed Gulak, a former political adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, held that Secondus was occupying the party’s chairmanship seat illegally.

Justice Baba-Yusuf noted that Secondus was from Rivers State and not Northeast geopolitical zone to which the PDP zoned the position.

He gave Secondus 14 days within which to vacate the office and directed that the plaintiff or any other party member worthy of that position should take Secondus’ place.Lawyer to the PDP and Secondus, Chuwan IsaiahPaul, said the party would appeal the judgment and seek a stay of its execution to allow the party’s  leadership prepare for its national convention slated for March, next year.
Justice Baba-Yusuf rejected argument by Secondus and PDP (listed as defendants in the suit) that Gulak lacked the locus standi to initiate the suit, having allegedly defaulted in the payment of party’s due.
The judge also rejected the defendants’ argument that Gulak failed to explore the party’s internal mechanism for dispute resolution before approaching the court.
The judge had, on November 30, reserved judgment in the case after entertaining argument from parties.
Gulak had argued that Secondus was occupying the position illegally.
He contended that by virtue of the provision of Article 47(6) of the party’s constitution, “the 2nd defendant (Secondus) from Rivers State, cannot replace the immediate past chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, who left office about seven months ago”.
He faulted the defendants’ claim that the party’s elders were working on a process to ensure a replacement for Muazu by next March.
Gulak argued that it was unlawful and a breach of the party’s constitutional provisions for Secondus to hold office for over seven months in acting capacity and refuse to allow a member from the geo-political zone, where the last chairman came from, to replace him.

The Nation

Why Nine foreigners Are jailed For five years in Nigeria

For stealing 3,423.097 metric tonnes of crude oil from Nigeria, the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday, Tuesday sentenced nine foreigners to five years imprisonment each.

Justice Ibrahim Buba, however, gave each of them – five Filipinos and four Bangladeshi – an option of N20million fine.

He said it was the likes of the convicts, who were arrested by the Navy on March 27, that give Nigeria a bad name.

They are Axel Jabone, Zahirul Islam, Juanito Infantado, Suarin Alave, Gatila Gadayan, Islam Shahinul, Islam Rafiqul, Shaikh Nomany and Rolando Comendador.

They were tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on four counts of illegal dealing in petroleum products.
EFCC’a lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo said the foreigners violated Section 1(19) (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, an offence punishable under Section 17 of the same Act.

The prosecution said the convicts, caught while trying to export the stolen product on a vessel, MT Asteris, also flouted Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Justice Buba found them guilty on all the counts. He sentenced them to five years imprisonment. According to the judge, the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“The case of the prosecution is as clear as the daylight,” the judge held, adding that EFCC’s case was not controverted.

Justice Buba said the convicts’ inability to prove that they had lawful permit to deal in crude oil further strengthened the prosecution’s case.

He agreed with a prosecution witness who testified that the stolen product was illegally sourced in Nigeria as “the Department of Petroleum Resources confirmed to the EFCC that MT Asteris was not licensed to deal with crude oil in Nigeria.”

Justice Buba said: “It is the people like the convicts that have made Nigeria a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. The court must send a strong signal that Nigeria is a nation; not a nation of booty.

“It is not right for either Nigerians or foreign nationals to deny this country its God-given natural resources through illegal use. According this court hereby sentence each convict to five years term of imprisonment on count one with effect from March 27, 2015 with an option of N5m fine.”

The judge sentenced them to five years each on counts two, three and four or a fine of N5million for each count.

“All the sentences are to run concurrently but not the option of fine. In addition, the vessel, MT Asteris, and the cargo on board are forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“For purposes of clarity, each convict is to serve five years term of imprisonment with effect from 27 of March, 2015 or in a fine of N20million for all the four counts,” Justice Buba added.
The Nation

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

EFCC re-arrests Akpobolokemi over fresh N12.9bn fraud allegation

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, re-arrested the former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, over fresh allegations of fraud to the tune of N12, 905, 485.

The former DG was arrested shortly after his trial was adjourned by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, where, alongside five other individuals, he is facing criminal charges to the tune of N2.3 billion.

Akpobolokemi’s arrest was on the strength of fresh evidence that he allegedly converted N11, 737,854,485 and another N816,000,000, meant for the development of the temporary site of the proposed Nigeria Maritime University, Kurutie, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, for his personal use.

The suspect was said to have obtained a presidential approval of N13, 000,000,000 through the office of the then National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Colonel Sambo Dasuki( retd)  for the acquisition and development  of a temporary site for the Nigerian Maritime University.

Of the total approved amount, N11,737,854,485 was allegedly paid into a company suspected to be owned by Chief Government Oweize Ekpemupolo, a.k.a Tompolo.

A source in EFCC said that after the said money was paid, the DG caused the sum of N6, 000,000,000 to be moved into another account belonging to one of the associates of the indicted DG.

Also, the sum of N816, 000,000, allegedly obtained through a presidential approval for the Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Members State Audit (VIMSAS) implementation in Nigeria, was diverted to Akpobolokemi’s personal use.

From the courtroom, the operatives moved the former DG to their detention centre where he is being quizzed.


Monday, December 14, 2015

FG To Roll Out Cultural Festival Calendar – Minister

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday,  Sunday, said his ministry would soon roll out a cultural festival calendar for the country.

Mohammed announced this at a news conference at the Music Festival in Kaduna.

He said his ministry would collaborate with state governments to produce the calendar to guide Nigerians, particularly tourists on when and where festivals were holding.

“The truth of the matter is that today we have so many festivals in many parts of this country.

“One of the suggestions that I put on the table in my ministry is that we will liaise with every state government to give us ten cities in their states and these cities in each state will give us 360 cities.

“And with the five local governments in the Federal Capital Territory, we will have 365 festivals. Then, we can have a calendar of festivals in Nigeria which means at least one day in Nigeria there will be festival’’, he said.

According to him, this is going to help to attract tourists to Nigeria.

“The problem we have today is that nobody knows where and when the festival is holding. It is part of the things we are trying to do and we know that we can get ten cities that have different culture, craft and art.’’
The minister said his ministry would encourage states to have more than one festival owing to the nation’s diversity.

Mohammed, who described entertainment industry as a huge potential to boost the nation’s economy, said if properly harnessed, it would make up for the shortfall in oil price.

“I have seen the huge potential of the creative industry and what we need to do is to provide enabling environment for it.

“More importantly is the energy that youths are coming out with today and that energy must find outlet in the creative industry like music, movies, entertainment.

“When Nigeria rebased its economy, the increase you saw was largely due to this self-effort of the creative industry.

“And I believe that you could have seen much more if only we are able to help them by giving them long term loans to boost the industry.’’

According to him, the ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Information and Culture are collaborating to provide supports for the creative industry.

“You see the young musician, Dauda Rarara, that performed during the opening of the festival. The young man is not just a musician but a great mobiliser and influencer.’’

The minister recalled that when Nigeria was trying to change driving from the left side to the right side of the road in 1972, it made use of musicians like this.

“We also need young people like Rarara to assist us in our reorientation programme.

“It is a young man that has a huge followership and when that kind of person is enlisted into our campaign – Change Begins with Me, it will go a long way in changing peoples’ attitude positively.’’

Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State said the motive behind the Kaduna Music Festival was to create jobs, promote Nigerian culture and mobilize youths positively to channel their energies to productive endeavours.

The governor, who said the State Government used to hold Kaduna Cultural Festival annually, announced that it would be merged with the music festival in 2016 to enable the state extend its festival period from two to seven days.