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South Africa grants Ghana visa-free entry, excludes Nigeria

 

The Department of Home Affairs says the country’s new eVisa system will launch in November 2019, and it has added new nations to the list of countries that can enter South Africa visa-free.

According to a report by Business Tech and tweeted via the unverified Twitter handle of Home Affairs @HomeAffairsSA on Wednesday, seven new countries can now visit South Africa visa-free.

The report quoted the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, as having announced that seven new countries will be added to the list of nations that are able to come to South Africa without a visa.

“Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that tourism is very important for job creation,” he said.

“Out of the 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, the Department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. Of these, 16 are in our continent and are SADC (Southern African Development Community) members and 59 are from all over the world.”

The department announced that the following countries will now be able to enter the country, visa-free:

Qatar, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Cuba,

Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe

The minister said his office will immediately enter into discussions with the countries about how a visa-free regime will work, with “homework” still needing to be done for countries like China, India and Nigeria.

“While we are busy tackling the matter of the three countries, we shall, this financial year, increase two and a half times the number of people who work for Home Affairs to process visas in both China and India.

“We shall double the number of people who process visas to our country in Nigeria,” he said.

A department spokesperson said that the countries announced by the minister only apply to inbound visas (citizens from the listed countries visiting South Africa), and that outbound visas (South Africans visiting the countries listed) need to be negotiated on a country-by-country basis.

The department noted that some countries, such as Qatar and Ghana, already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa.

According to the latest Henley Passport Index, South Africans can visit 99 countries around the globe visa-free.

Also speaking at the department’s budget vote, deputy minister of Home Affairs, Njabulo Nzuza said that the department is moving forward with the implementation of the country’s e-Visa regime.

“This regime will place technology at the centre of our operations by making it easy, yet secure, to enter South Africa,” he told Business Tech.

The e-Visa system will allow tourists and visitors to South African apply for their visas online. These applications will then be sent to a central adjudication and approval office, while the prospective visitors “sit at the comfort of their own home.”

The new system will also open South Africa as a desirable destination through the ease of its visa systems, the deputy minister said, adding that it will have huge tourism growth implications for the country.

Document shows INEC directed RECs to upload voter data to server

A leaked internal circular of the Independent National Electoral Commission indicates that the electoral body transmitted voter accreditation data during the 2019 presidential elections from smart card readers to a central server.

The memo, dated March 25, 2019, was posted on Twitter on Wednesday by Reno Omokri, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

The document showed that the secretary to the commission, Mrs Rose Oriaran-Anthony, directed INEC resident electoral commissioners to provide feedback on challenges experiences during the elections, including failure to transmit voter accreditation data to a server.

It stated, “The commission has observed, with deep concerns, the number of smart card readers that do not have data of accredited voters in the just concluded presidential/NASS elections nationwide.

“The total number of SCRs without accreditation data is 4,786 nationwide, which stands at about 4 per cent of the total SCRs deployed for that election. Attached is the chart, showing the PUs not uploaded to the SCR accreditation backend, for each of the states.”

Oriaran-Anthony further instructed the RECs to direct their respective heads of department (ICT) to download the list of the polling units without accreditation data for their states from a provided web link.

She added, “You are please requested to liaise with your HOD election operations and the electoral officers to provide comments beside each PU, stating why there are no accreditation data. The comments should reflect what happened to the SCR or the results of the PU: covering cases where election did not hold, cancellation of PU result, stolen or destroyed SCRs, etc. This should be submitted in both soft and hard copies, latest by Thursday, 28th May, 2019.”

When contacted, the INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi said, “Anything to do with server is before the tribunal. I cannot comment on anything, sorry.”

The commission had said during the ongoing presidential election tribunal that it did not have a central server during the 2019 elections, adding that the operation of a server would go against the Electoral Act.

Again, Shi’ites clash with police in Abuja

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) better known as Shi’ites clashed with the police at the federal secretariat, Abuja, on Thursday.

The IMN members who clashed with policemen during a protest at the national assembly on Tuesday, returned to the streets of Abuja on Thursday.

Wielding placards and chanting anti-government songs, the protesters demanded the immediate release of Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, their leader.

They had converged on the federal secretariat and were marching towards Eagle Square when they were intercepted by armed anti-riot policemen.

A witness said that trouble started when the police demanded to speak with leaders of the protesters and two men: Nura Marafa and Mujaid Mohammed, who came forward were arrested.

In annoyance, the Shi’ites were said to have attacked the policemen who opened fire and also used teargas on them.

Workers at the secretariat reportedly fled in different directions in order to avoid being caught in the incident.

While debating on the action of the Shiites at the house of reps on Wednesday, some lawmakers called on the federal government to release Zakzaky in order to prevent the sect from degenerating into another Boko Haram.

Different courts have ordered the release of the Shi’ite leader but the federal government has not complied with the orders.

Onofiok Luke, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rep from Akwa Ibom state, said it is unfortunate that the federal government has continued to disobey the orders to release the IMN leader.

“If the court has given an order for the release of the man, we should cal on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the national assembly alone,” he had said.

 

Take over Edo if you can, Obaseki dares ‘Abuja politicians’

Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, has dared those he described as “Abuja politicians” to take over the state if they can.

Speaking on Thursday at a rally held to show solidarity for his administration, Obaseki said those who are intent on splitting the state house of assembly cannot stop him.

A disagreement between him and Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had split the assembly into two.

On June 17, nine lawmakers loyal to the governor took 15 loyalists of Oshiomhole unaware by organising a secret inauguration.

Before then, Oshiomhole was accused of plotting to install his loyalists as principal officials of the assembly after which Obaseki, whom he influenced his emergence, would be removed.

Addressing his supporters on Thursday, the governor said some “Abuja politicians” are already heating up the polity in the state and trying to pull him out”.

“You know what is happening. I want to assure you that what has been happening in Edo state for the past several months will not distract us. We will continue to be focused,” he said.

“I did not change cars; I did not buy an official car for myself until after 18 months because we did not have the money and the little money I had, I felt should be used for the people and not the governor.

“We are tired of our children being short-changed. After 20 years of democracy, we cannot continue to behave as if we do not have democracy.

“We have not started politics, they want to pull us out early. INEC has not announced time-table for Edo election, they have only come out with timetable for Kogi and Bayelsa and even in those states, they (politicians) have not started heating up the polity as much as they are doing in Edo.

“I want to leave you with these words that those people who are parading themselves, who are speaking on the internet for themselves and their pocket, we are watching you. For those people who have gone outside, Abuja politicians, to tell people from outside to come and invade Edo, split our house of assembly, we are waiting for you.

“We have no fear at all, we are resolved that we will continue to do what is best for our state and country. We have no doubt that we are on the right path; we know that God is with us, we know that people are with us. So, if all these people are with us, who can stop us? Anybody that can stop us should come, we dare you.

“So, those Abuja politicians whom we refuse to send back and for those who got there by mistake, they can’t disrupt the peace of Edo. We will not let them. Nobody can stop the progress in Edo state.”

FG cancels all foreign printing contracts for Nigerian passports

President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled all e-passport printing contracts abroad, saying that it will now be the sole responsibility of the Nigerian Security Printing & Minting Company (NSPMC).

Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, made this known in a statement released on Thursday.

This new directive means all existing contracts concerning printing passports and other documents will not be renewed.

The Nigerian Security Printing & Minting Company (NSPMC), popularly known as The Mint, was established in 1963 and was saddled with the responsibility of printing the nation’s currency and security documents for ministries, departments and agencies of government, banks and other blue-chip companies.

At inception, the Mint was the largest banknote and security documents specialist printing company in West Africa until its performance dwindled.

After his appointment as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele set new targets for the company including zero importation of currency which has been achieved since 2014.

Speaking on the company, Abbas Umar Masanawa, the managing director, said: “The Mint has returned to profitability. From a moribund organization with heavy losses, the company grew from a loss position of N14.6 million in 2014 to a profit of N14.3 billion in 2018. Turnover also grew from N17.8 billion in 2014 to N61.4 billion in 2018.

“Other achievements include enhanced production capacity, revenue diversification, reduced cost of production, the institutionalization of corporate governance, improved staff welfare and industrial harmony, among others.

“We will conserve scarce foreign exchange, improve revenue generation, create job opportunities, and boost acquisition/transfer of technology.”

No plan to increase pump price, says NNPC

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has dismissed reports that it is planning to increase the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) better known as petrol.

In a statement, Ndu Ughamadu, group general manager, group public affairs division of NNPC, said mischief makers are behind the reports.

During a visit to Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday, Mele Kyari, group managing director of the NNPC, had said it is very difficult to make fuel available at N145.

After this, reports of plans to increase pump price started circulating on social media.

Ughamadu said it was improper for people to conclude that the corporation had made plans to hike the price of the product.

He said NNPC is “not even in a position to regulate the price of petroleum products.”

Ughamadu said what Kyari meant was that “the price of petrol was abysmally low in Nigeria compared to what obtained in neighbouring West African countries.”

“Mallam Kyari had observed at the event that the huge disparity in the pump price of petrol between Nigeria on the one hand and her neighbouring country on the other hand tended to encourage cross-border leakages, as he sought the support of the leadership of the National Assembly to curb the malaise of smuggling,” the statement read.

NNPC cautioned petroleum products marketers not to sell petrol above N145 per litre.

Ughamadu urged Nigerians to report cases of increased fuel price to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in order to take disciplinary measures against defaulters.

Dangote, Otedola promise $75k for every goal Eagles score

Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, Nigerian billionaires, have promised the Super Eagles $75,000 for every goal scored in their remaining games at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

Dangote has promised $50,000 per goal, while Otedola pledged the sum of $25,000 for each goal scored by the Eagles.

Earlier in the group stage of the 2019 AFCON, Aiteo group, one of the official sponsor of the senior men national team gave the Eagles $75,000 for the three goals scored in their 3-2 victory over Cameroon in the Round of 16.

Hosea Wells Okunbo, a businessman, also pledged the sum of $20,000 per player, while Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos state governor, rewarded the team with $5,000 per player.

The Gernot Rohr’s men defeated Bafana Bafana of South Africa 2-1 to qualify for the semifinals on Wednesday night at the Cairo International stadium.

The Super Eagles will take on the winner between Algeria and Cote D’Ivoire in the semi final game.

Femi Otedola recently donated $50,000 to Christian Chukwu, former Super Eagles coach in need of medical attention.

AFCON 2019: Algeria beat Ivory Coast 4-3, reach semi-final

Algeria beat Ivory Coast 4-3 during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final football match at the Suez stadium