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Daily Archives: February 18, 2018

APC Kaduna boils: El-Rufai suspended for six months

A faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna state has suspended Nasir el-Rufai, governor of the state, for six months.

El-Rufai’s suspension is coming three days after the faction, known as Kaduna Restoration Group, issued him a query and suspended three of his aides.

The faction led by Suleiman Hunkuyi, senator representing Kaduna north central, had accused el-Rufai of  “anti- party activities and anti-human activities”.

Hukunyi had said if the governor did not respond to the query within 48 hours, “the state working committee will sit down and deliberate”.

In a statement on Sunday, the faction said el-Refai refused to honour the invitation to defend himself over the allegations levelled against him.

It subsequently concluded to suspend him for six months with immediate effect.

“Sequel to the 48 hours ultimatum issued to the Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir Ahmad Elrufa’i by the Kaduna state working committee of the APC to give explanations and defence on the allegations labelled against him, the SWC under chairmanship of S.I. Danladi Wada on Saturday 17th February 2018 convened, resolved and do consider and ratified the findings and recommendations of the Disciplinary and Fact Finding Committee put before it in accordance with Article 21 (B) (iii) of the APC Constitution, to the effect that having the governor failed to respond accordingly, he stands suspended for a period of 6 months from the APC with immediate effect,” the statement read.

The meeting had in attendance members of the state caucus, members of the national assembly, chairman and members of the state executive and working committees, stakeholders and other prominent members of the APC in attendance.

Our efforts being sabotaged — Cleaner Lagos Initiative claims

Efforts by the Lagos government to sanitise the state is reportedly being frustrated by some unknown individuals.

There have been complaints of dirt taking over places in the cosmopolitan city, making residents to underrate the efficiency of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).

The administration of Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of the state, introduced CLI in July.

Ambode said the initiative was conceived to address challenges and as well revolutionise waste management in line with international best practices.

Idiat Oluranti Adebule, deputy governor (middle), Adeniji Kazeem,commissioner for justice, (far left), Samuel Adejare, commissioner for the environment (2nd left), Akintola Oke, commissioner for the establishment, training and pensions (3rd left), and Saka Fafunmi, chairman, house of assembly committee on the environment, during the inauguration of CLI

Some officials of CLI, who preferred not to be named, described as worrisome, the rate at which some people go in sabotaging the efforts to rid the state of filth.

A senior official of the CLI said it was unfortunate that those who felt the new arrangement would affect them adversely were working hard to sabotage it by all means, including deliberate dumping of large waste in public places.

“Take for instance, the picture of heaps of refuse under the Idumagbo pedestrian bridge that was published today in a national daily. The refuse at that spot was evacuated just overnight and the team finished by 3am today (Sunday) and by 3am, the heap of refuse was back there, including a fully-loaded Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) big refuse container that was not there previously,” he said.

Officials clearing the dirt under Idumagbo pedestrian bridge around 3am

“As I am talking to you, our officials have returned to the same spot to clear everything. The commissioner of the environment was also there to see things for himself and he has asked the private sector participant (PSP) operator that dropped the container belonging to the LAWMA on the spot to remove it immediately.

“That has been the challenge. When our officials clear the heaps of refuse from a spot before one could say Jack Robinson, the heaps were back on the same spot cleared by our officials and this really has to stop because a cleaner Lagos is in our collective interest.”

A source said the permutation of those behind the sabotage was that if they kept dumping tonnes of refuse in public places, they would achieve the twin objective of distracting CLI officials from paying adequate attention to other places while projecting the initiative, which is targeted at a comprehensive turn around of Lagos to become one of the cleanest cities in the world, as a failure.

Another reliable source said the situation had also been compounded by members of the public who indiscriminately dump their waste in public places and not the designated spots.

In a video that went viral on social media recently, John Olawale, an official of Visionscape Sanitation Solutions, lamented how people were dumping refuse on the same spots in public places, thus frustrating the efforts to rid the state of filth.

Joseph, who is Visionscape’s area manager for Lagos Island West, alleged that heaps of refuse sometimes appear overnight in places already cleared by environmental officials, saying that the deliberate sabotage of the project called for concern.

Speaking at the Obalende area of the state, Joseph said he could not understand why anyone would deliberately dump waste in large quantity just few minutes after the spot had been cleared.

In the video, a man wearing LAWMA uniform was seen fleeing from arrest after illegally dumping waste on the same spot.

The government banned cart pushers from operating in Lagos as part of the measures taken to ensure the success of CLI.

Buhari couldn’t read two pages of book in a year – Junaid Mohammed

Junaid Mohammed, a second republic lawmaker, says President Muhammadu Buhari has a dangerous attitude of not reading.

The former lawmaker, who is Buhari’s ally, said the president was unable to finish two pages of a book he recommended to him in 2015.

He said he recommended the book to the president because it had to do with economic matters.

But that the president took the book, wrote GMB (short for General Muhammadu Buhari) “and that was all”.

“I suggested the idea of a think tank to Buhari and he agreed and he put together a think tank with quite a number of formidable brains and started meeting in 2015 until I stopped coming,” he said in an interview with Vanguard.

“I suggested a number of books for all of us to read and those books were procured.

“One of the books I recommended to Buhari personally, because it has to do with economic matters especially in dealing with the World Bank and the IMF group, was a book written by a Nobel prize laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz.

“Buhari took the book and opened it, just wrote GMB on it and that was all. Over a year later when I came I found that Buhari had not read two pages out of that book.”

Mohammed described this as a “very dangerous leadership position”.

He said unlike Buhari, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida read and listen, and also “go out of their way to get people to come and advise them”.

“Both of them read. I am scared of a leader who does not read and who does not look for experts and I don’t believe any leader no matter how distinguished, who claims and believes that only his own people have all the knowledge in every subject matter in the world; this is a very dangerous attribute Buhari has,” he said.

‘THE CURRENT ANTI-GRAFT WAR IS A FRAUD’

The former lawmaker alleged that the current administration is not sincere about its fight against corruption.

According to him, “the so-called anti-graft war is a fraud meant to persecute only those in opposition who stole money.”

He said the war is being carried out in a way “to protect and defend some others to loot the treasury and go free.”

“You can see that while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is pursuing those in the opposition who looted the treasury before the 2015 election, some top officials in the present government who have stolen money are either not arrested and detained or at best investigated,” he said.

Killer herdsmen: Police, Afenifere back Soyinka on use of hunters

Yoruba socio political organisation, Afenifere, has thrown its weight behind Prof. Wole Soyinka’s call for the use of hunters and vigilante groups to tackle the menace of herdsmen in Ogun State, in collaboration with the other security outfits.

The Secretary-General of Afenifere, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, on Saturday, said all states in the South-West should embrace the idea.

He said the use of hunters and vigilante groups became imperative in view of the fact that the government had failed to protect the people.

He said, “Although the formation of groups for the purpose of policing may not be good enough, our government has failed to provide adequate security and the people have to defend themselves against the killer herdsmen.

“There is nothing wrong in what the local hunters and vigilante groups are doing in Ogun State. Afenifere welcomes the formation of such groups here in Ondo and other South-West states because our people have to protect themselves.”

The Ondo State Police Command has also described the idea as a welcome development.

The spokesperson for the police in the state, Mr. Femi Joseph, said, “If we can have this type of collaboration in Ondo State, it will be a good development.

“We need organised groups who can assist us. We cannot be everywhere at the same time, so we need people to work with us.”

The Commissioner for Information in Osun State, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa, however, said the state did not need to mobilise hunters and vigilante groups to secure its people and farms from the destructive activities of the herdsmen.

The commissioner said  Governor Rauf Aregbesola had set up a committee comprising Yoruba and the Fulani elders about two years ago to ensure that the herdsmen did not destroy farms in the state.

Baderinwa said, “We do not need to gather hunters and vigilante groups to protect the state from herdsmen. We are proactive in Osun State and that is why there is no crisis here.”

One in three Nigerian households consume contaminated water – Survey

About one in three households in Nigeria consume contaminated water, a survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed.

The survey was carried out in 2016/2017 by the NBS in collaboration with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) as part of the global Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) programme.

The survey, which is the fifth round of the MICS series, shows that Escherichia coli, also known as E.coli, is a major substance found in water consumed by Nigerians without access to safely-managed drinking water.

E. coli is the name of a type of bacteria that lives in intestines. Most types of E. coli are harmless. However, some types can make people sick and cause diarrhoea. One type causes travellers’ diarrhoea. The worst type causes bloody diarrhoea, and can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death.

The survey estimated the population using safely managed drinking water sources as 58.5 per cent in 2011, 57.8 per cent in 2012, 62.2 per cent in 2014 and 69.6 percent in 2015.

However, between 2016 and 2017, about 64.1 per cent of Nigerians had access to improved drinking water, indicating a decline from 2015 among Nigerians that had access to safely managed drinking water.

According to the survey, North-East states lag behind with 52.4 per cent, while South-West states top the chart with 87.3 per cent of its residents having access to improved water sources.

In her reaction to the report, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with the United Nation’s Children Emergency Funds, UNICEF, expressed worries over water and sanitation situation in the country.

She said it was a known fact that water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea are some of the major causes of hospital admissions, especially in under-five children.

She however, called for more advocacy to government to make policies that would increase access to improved water sources and sanitation, which will also help to reduce preventable diseases.

MICS is a globally recognised and definitive source of information for assessing the situation of children and women in the areas of health, nutrition; water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH), education, protection, and HIV & AIDS, amongst others.

The findings of the survey are used for planning, monitoring and decision making on programmes and policies to address issues related to the well-being of children and women.

Atiba University set to take off in March

ATIBA University, Oyo, one of the new private universities licensed by the Federal Government in December 2017 is set to take off on March 8 with its first set of students for the 2017/2018 academic session.

The University, which promises to provide world-class standard of teaching, learning and research as well as entrepreneurial training and character development, is situated at the ancient town of Oyo in Oyo State.

According to the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Shola Ehindero, all is set for a smooth take-off as academic activities commence March 8.

According to the School’s authorities however, admission of students will continue till 14th of April when the University will conduct the matriculation ceremony for all students. During this period, prospective students who meet the institution’s admission requirements can still register for this academic session.

The university is taking off with Four (4) Faculties namely; Faculty of Arts, Social and Management Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences as well as Allied Health Sciences Faculty and Faculty of Law.

Degree courses offered by the Faculty of Arts, Social and Management Sciences include English and Literary Studies; Theater, Films and Media Studies; Economics; Accounting and Forensic Sciences; Business Administration; Political Science and International Studies; Sociology and Intelligence Studies as well as Entrepreneurial Studies.

The Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences offers degree courses in Computer Science; Industrial Mathematics; Physics and Energy Studies; Biological and Biotechnology; Microbiology as well as Industrial Chemistry while the Faculty of Law offers Degree in Public and Common Law. The Faulty of Allied Health Sciences will offer Nursing and Medical Laboratory Sciences.

It will be recalled that the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the University, Alhaji Abdulrahman Idris, said, shortly after the Institution received its operating license from the National Universities Commission (NUC) last December, that its founders had made careful preparations over the past fifteen years to ensure the smooth and effective take-off adding that the institution will hit the ground running.

Complimenting this assertion, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ehindero said all the necessary infrastructure for a standard academic environment are in place on the campus. These include standard lecture theaters, laboratories, technical equipment and state of the art library with regular books, e-books and WIFI facilities. There is also an Information Communication Technology (ICT) Unit in the library with access to data based research.

Other infrastructure already in place include standard office accommodation for both academic and non-academic staff as well as conducive hostel accommodation on the campus for students.

The university also has a modern sports arena for recreation and sports development as well as a well-equipped Medical Centre with bed facilities for students and staff.

Passenger drops farts so putrid pilot is forced to make emergency landing

A pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after a row caused by a passenger who refused to stop farting.

The passenger apparently kept breaking wind on board a Transavia Airlines flight from Dubai to Amsterdam Schiphol last weekend.

 

The two Dutchmen sitting next to him didn’t take very well to his flatulence, but the unashamed man was apparently not put off and refused to hold back.

Members of the crew on the Dutch low-cost airline were apparently less than sympathetic and refused to do anything about it.

Despite a warning from the pilot, a fight between the men then broke out, causing the flight to be diverted to Vienna Airport .

Police boarded the plane with dogs and removed two sisters and the two men after the pilot made a report about ‘passengers on the rampage’.

 

The women are now taking the Dutch budget airline to court after being removed from the flight, and claim they have done nothing wrong.

Nora Lacchab, 25, a law student from Rotterdam, and her unnamed sister, say being removed was ‘humiliating’ are now seeking to legal action.

The two women, who are of Dutch and Moroccan descent, were returning to Amsterdam after a week holidaying in Dubai.

Nora told De Telegraaf: ‘We had nothing to do with the whole disturbance. We distance ourselves from that.

Do they sometimes think that all Moroccans cause problems? That’s why we do not let it sit

‘We had no idea who these boys were, we just had the bad luck to be in the same row and we didn’t do anything. All I will say is that the crew were really provocative and stirred things up.’

All four passengers have since been released, and were not arrested as they had not broken an Austrian laws.

However, they have all been banned from Transavia Airlines, who say that the two girls were also involved in the fight.

In a statement they said: ‘Our crew must ensure a safe flight. When passengers pose risks, they immediately intervene. Our people are trained for that.

‘They know very well where the boundaries are. Transavia is therefore square behind the cabin crew and the pilots.’

Ban governors of crisis states from Aso Villa, Senator tells Buhari

Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, has condemned the habit of state governors visiting President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Villa while their states are in crisis.

The lawmaker wants President Buhari to ban the governors from embarking on such visits.

Mr. Sani made this known in a statement on Saturday.

His comments came as some state governors are being criticised for visiting Aso Villa even in the midst of violent crisis rocking their states.

Governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari, is currently facing such criticism for his response to the recent killings in his state. He stayed back in Abuja days after the attacks.

Mr. Sani said the new ‘political culture’ of governors visiting the villa, while their states are in crisis, is political and should be banned.

“The new sycophantic political culture of Governors leaving their duty posts, in their respective states, almost on a daily basis to climb the Rock of Aso in order to pledge loyalty, leave their citizens in the hands of moribund and powerless deputy governors and at the mercy of well-armed killers.

“President Buhari must ban state Governors from the daily ritual of visiting the villa while their homes burn,” he said.

Mr. Sani also lashed at northern leaders for their ‘cowardice’ in the face of the crisis.

“The silence and cowardice of the Northern political elites to the mass killings going on in the North is out of fear that they can be labelled or blackmailed as being anti Government,” he said.

He bemoaned the current security situation in the country, ”where lives are no longer cherished.”

“We have become a nation in perpetual mourning and ceaseless funeral mass. In Nigeria today, blood is becoming cheaper than water and petrol. The most tragic of all tragedies is when tragedy becomes a routine in our daily lives.”

Saraki invites seven-year old comedienne, Emmanuella to Senate

President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, has invited popular Nigerian comedienne, Emmanuella Samuel, to the upper legislative chamber, describing her story as an inspiration.

Mr. Saraki made the invitation in posts on his official Twitter and Facebook accounts on Sunday, asking the seven-year to come to the Senate to discuss how to develop young talents in the Nigerian creative industry.

His invitation is sequel to an announcement Miss Samuel made that she was set to feature in a Disney Hollywood film.

Miss Samuel had written, “Thanks @disneystudios God bless everyone whose support has added to bringing us here. I never dreamed of being here so soon. I miss Success. I love you all,” on her official Instagram page.

“Congratulations Emmanuella! Make sure you make them laugh over there.

“Your story is an inspiration. Come by the Nigerian Senate sometime, let’s discuss how we can develop the potential of our young talents in the creative industry,” Mr. Saraki said.

How my husband died — Playwright Ishola’s widow

Adebola Ishola, wife of the late renowned playwright, prof Akinwunmi Ishola has said her husband gave no sign that he was going to die anytime soon.

She told journalists in Ibadan on Saturday evening that Mr. Ishola took a spoonful of custard on Saturday at 9 a.m and repeatedly said: ‘Thank you my wife’, before he gave up the ghost moments after.

Mr. Ishola died at exactly 9.30am in his Akobo residence in Ibadan on Saturday.

His said Mr. Ishola had on Friday night taken “amala (food from yam powder) and bean soup” dished for him.

“He finished everything. My husband did not give any sign that he would die.

“We give glory to God. The children said we should call the doctor anytime we feel that what he could do, he could not do it again. I have been keeping watch on him.

“Early this morning, we had a nurse who came and gave him his bath. I prepared custard for him. I put milo in it. As I was trying to feed him, he was just saying ‘Thank you my wife’ repeatedly.

“He has always been saying that anyway; even when his friends were around, he would ask them to thank me that I am the reason he was not dead yet,” she said.

The widow said she was worried when he took just a spoonful of custard because he used to eat very well, saying that prompted her to immediately call the doctor.

According to her: “I called the doctor. I also called the children, who are all living in Lagos, that their father was just praying and not taking his breakfast.

“He sat on the chair in his room upstairs. He did not say more than ‘Thank you my wife’. The nurse and I laid him on the bed. He immediately gave up the ghost.

“That was around 9:30 a.m. Even, the doctor I called and the children were yet to arrive when he gave up. Two of the children are around now. .”

Among the children of the deceased, Akinjide Ishola, a Lagos-based lawyer and Oluwatoyin Shomefun, arrived Ibadan on Saturday.

Among the early callers at the deceased residence were Toye Arulogun, Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ibadan, Ayo Bamgbose, and a businessman, Lekan Are.

The remains of the deceased was taken to the Anatomy Department, University of Ibadan.

(NAN)

NAF explains controversy over drones built under Jonathan, Buhari govts

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has weighed in on the debates about the first Nigerian-built unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

President Muhammadu Buhari sparked the debates when he claimed on Twitter Thursday night that he had just commissioned the ‘first-ever’ UAV (or drone) built by the NAF engineers.

“Today in Kaduna I attended the induction of @NigAirForce’s ‘TSAIGUMI’, Nigeria’s first indigenously-developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It is most gratifying that the Air Force has gone a step further than simply acquiring UAVs, to locally developing them,” Mr. Buhari wrote.

But controversies soon followed the tweet when the president’s critics exhumed news reports from 2013 which showed that former President Goodluck Jonathan had commissioned a drone built by the Nigerian Air Force at the same facility.

About three hours after Mr. Buhari’s claim was debunked with excoriating comments from Twitter users, the presidency used some of its numerous Twitter accounts to offer clarification.

“Tsaigumi, the UAV inducted into service today is the first OPERATIONAL indigenous UAV developed by @NigAirForce. The earlier-produced Amebo and Gulma were UAV prototypes that did not go into operation. Details here:,” one of such tweets, which was posted using @NGRPresident, said. Other presidency handles were also deployed to explain the president’s claim without necessarily acknowledging error.

On Friday night, Olatunko Adesanya, a spokesperson for the NAF, corroborated the presidency’s clarification that the drone launched by Mr. Buhari was the first to be ‘operational’, but added that it was not the first to be built by its engineers.

“To set the records straight, while Gulma UAV is indeed the first indigenous UAV, the newly inducted Tsaigumi UAV is the first indigenous ‘operational’ UAV,” Mr. Adesanya, an air vice-marshal, said. “Both UAV types are the outcomes of research and development efforts of a team of NAF Aerospace engineers.”

“NAF’s foray into UAV development commenced in 2008, when its students officers who were undergoing postgraduates studies in aerospace engineering programmes at Cranfield University, UK, chose UAV development as their research project,” he added.

It had neither autopilot nor intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, he said.

The spokesperson said that Gulma that Mr. Jonathan commissioned was an experimental UAV developed in 2013 as a technological demonstrator used to gather performance data on drones systems. It was the first Nigerian-built drone with ISR capabilities, but it was not deployed for operations due to some limitations.

But the Tsaigumi that Mr. Buhari commissioned on Thursday was developed by the NAF’s research and development team under the supervision of the current Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar. It would be used in the war against insurgency in the Northeast and other areas where the military is currently carrying out security efforts.

When the Gulma was launched, Alex Badeh, then Chief of Air Staff, said that the drone was designed to meet vast expectations and needs. Mr. Badeh said that the Gulma could be employed by the armed forces and security agencies for the protection of the country.

Mr. Adesanya said the Gulma was limited to flying 5,000 feet in a 20-kilometre radius while the Tsaigumi could fly up to 15,000 feet in a 100-kilometre radius. The Gulma flew for about 300 hours and some of the data collected were used to develop Tsaigumi, which also has a more advanced camera for better surveillance and reconnaissance results.

Mr. Adesanya also disclosed that the NAF is currently working on another UAV named “Ichoku” which would be the first indigenous unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). The drone would be equipped with missile-firing capabilities

2018 UTME: JAMB fixes date for mock examination

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on Sunday said the much anticipated conduct of the 2018 Mock Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) would now hold on February 26.

The board’s Head, Media and Information, Fabian Benjamin, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to him, a total of 245,753 of the 1,652,795 candidates that registered for this year’s  UTME are expected to write the test.

“We are happy to announce to the public that the board has concluded arrangement for the conduct of the mock UTME, slated for Monday, February 26.

“This is irrespective of the ongoing strike embarked upon by members of the non-academic  unions of federal universities nationwide.

“Candidates will soon be informed on when to print notifications for the examination and in addition, notifications will be sent through e-mails and text messages on the schedules of their examination,” Dr. Benjamin said.

He explained that the examination was expected to be hitch free because the board had successfully reduced incidences of malfunctioning of computers by electronically integrating the systems to see their functionality and effectiveness through link tests.

“What this means is that, at the end if the exercise, whatever system that is not seen will not be used for the mock examination.

“The 2018 exercise sold a total of 1, 966,918 candidate generating profiles.

“In previous examinations this number of candidates would have paid for the forms but through our efficient and effective system of ensuring that candidates do not waste resources, we decided to introduce the profile generating regime.

“By this method, candidates will first have to   generate personal  profiles before proceeding to obtain pins, in between which they are open to deciding whether to go ahead to pay for the registration documents or otherwise,” Mr. Benjamin explained.

The main UTME is expected to hold nationwide from March

Buhari is best for Nigeria — Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said with President Muhammadu Buhari piloting the affairs of Nigeria, the country is in very safe and competent hands, hence there is no cause for alarm.

The Minister said this at a mini town hall meeting with the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and a cross-section of Nigerians living in the European country on Saturday.

He said contrary to the fake news being peddled on the Social Media, Nigeria is making steady progress, especially in revamping the economy, tackling insecurity and fighting corruption – the three cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration.

”Don’t believe everything you read on the Social Media. Nigeria is neither at war nor in crisis,” Mr. Mohammed said, according to a statement by his special assistant, Segun Adeyemi.

”Contrary to what you may be reading on the Internet, the Buhari Administration is putting Nigeria on a solid footing, after the years that were eaten by the locust.”

He said naysayers are spending millions of Naira to distort the true situation of things in Nigeria and to make the administration look bad.

The Minister said the administration’s achievements should be evaluated against the background of the tough challenges that it has faced since coming into office on 29 May 2015.

”It is said that if you don’t know where you are coming from, you won’t know where you are going,” he said, listing the drastic fall in the price of crude oil, the low foreign reserves at $24 billion, the fact that the federal government was borrowing to pay workers’ salaries, and the fact that many states were unable to pay salaries as some of those challenges.

Mr. Mohammed also said when the Administration came into office, unpaid pensions had run into billions of Naira in many states, contractors had abandoned sites across the country because they were being heavily owed, infrastructure was in poor state, power generation was 2,690 megawatts, billions were being paid as ‘fuel subsidies’ to fat cats, corruption was the order of the day, while 20 of the 27 local governments in Borno were under the firm control of Boko Haram.

”Today, the trend is being reversed, and the results are showing: Foreign reserves is now $42.8b, the highest level in four years, inflation has fallen for 12 consecutive months to 15.13%, 108 billion Naira has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks
before Treasury Single Account (TSA), the nation is being saved 24.7 billion Naira monthly with the full implementation of the TSA and the elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation 120 billion Naira.

”With improved macro-economic conditions, capital inflow is on the upswing, reaching $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, which is almost double the $908 million in the first quarter, Nigeria’s stock market is one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent, Nigeria jumped 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world,” he said.

The Minister also told the meeting that the Administration’s agricultural revolution is moving Nigeria close to self-sufficiency in many staples, especially rice, that the home-grown school feeding programme has created jobs for 61,352 cooks, and it is providing 6.4 million school children in 33,981 schools across 20 states with one meal a day, that power generation has increased to 7,000 megawatts, that Boko Haram has been massively degraded and that the administration’s is embarking on a massive infrastructural renewal.

Mr. Mohammed, who urged the Nigerians to download the FGN-iAPP in order to get authentic news from Nigeria, later fielded questions from the Nigerians, with many of them seeking to know when Nigerians in the diaspora will be able to vote, how they can access the national identity card, how they can get authentic information from Nigeria and what the federal government is doing to end the herder-farmer clashes.

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Susan Aderonke Folarin, led the staff of the embassy to the town hall meeting, which was held at the embassy premises.

Drama as cows prevent aircraft from landing at Akure airport

Some cows invaded the premises of the Akure Airport, Ondo state, on Saturday, preventing an Air Peace flight from landing.

The incident, which occurred around 12pm, took those at the airport by surprise.

Reports say it took the intervention of officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other security operatives to clear the runway for safe landing.

One of the witnesses, Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state, said he was waiting to board an aircraft to Lagos when the incident happened.

He said the cows overtook the airport runway and delayed the aircraft — said to belong to Air Peace Airline — from landing for about fifteen minutes.

Writing via his Twitter handle, Fayose said: “Today, while at the Akure Airport to board Air Peace commercial flight to Lagos, I witnessed cows taking over the airport runway and preventing aircraft No. 5NBQQ from landing for more than 15 minutes.

“Thanks to Capt Inyang for saving the lives of the passengers.”

Efforts made to reach FAAN for comments regarding the incident were unsuccessful as the agency did not answer calls or reply text message sent.

But Chris Iwarah, spokesman of the airline, confirmed the incident in a statement.

“We confirm that flight P4 7002 from Lagos had to delay landing into Akure Airport today (Saturday) when the pilot-in-command sighted cows on the runway at about 12.15pm,” he said.

“On being alerted by control tower, aviation security personnel of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN AVSEC) quickly intervened and cleared the runway.

“The flight was eventually cleared to land after about seven minutes. Our guests on board were all calm while the delay lasted. The aircraft departed for Lagos at about 1.06 with full escort from FAAN security personnel.”

APC will forget state police after election – IPOB

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of attempting to deceive Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general election.

In a statement on Sunday, IPOB described the party’s proposition of state police in the country as an “election gimmick”.

A restructuring committee set up by the APC had, among other things, recommended that Nigeria should employ the use of state police.

Although the federal government is yet to adopt the recommendation, IPOB said the party is only trying to buy time with such move.

In the statement sent to media outlets , Emma Powerful, IPOB spokesman, said the idea of state police would be forgotten after the election, just like the “APC did with (its promise of) restructuring”.

“Even the most unintelligent person knows that this state police proposal is a key component, if not the central plank, of the report on restructuring by the APC committee appointed by the presidency,” the statement read.

“It is a calculated fraud designed to buy time and confuse the gullible. It is merely an election gimmick calculated to deflect attention and convey the impression that this is a listening government which is a lie.

“This APC regime promised restructuring before they were elected into power, today they are ardent opponents of restructuring. With this state police gimmick, once you elect them back in 2019 they will become critics of state police. Only the gullible and unintelligent will be taken in by this charade.”

Powerful said had the current administration been sincere about its intentions, “it would have implemented the proposal (of restructuring) immediately rather than merely issuing it as a report to be debated upon”.

He, however, added that IPOB is not interested in “whatever structural reforms” the federal government wishes to undertake “because the key tenet of democracy which is public debate and vote on a crucial matter is conspicuously lacking in their approach and proposal for state police”.

“Our primary interest remains the full restoration of the full sovereignty of the nation of Biafra and nothing more,” he said, adding: “Anything short of a referendum to ascertain the wishes of the people is dead on arrival for us.

“We are democrats by genetic disposition, which means that our belief that power resides with the people is sacrosanct.”

Oil blocks are ‘ancestral properties’ of Niger Delta – Dickson

Governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson has insisted that oil blocks in the country are “ancestral properties” of the Niger Delta.

Dickson said this at the foundation laying ceremony of Aziken Petroleum Refinery project at Obunagha Gbarian, Yenagoa, the state capital.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo laid the foundation for the project which is expected to take off in 2019.

Calling on the federal government to consider the region while allocating oil blocks, Dickson said the demand by the Niger Delta to own more oil blocks is a “legitimate” one.

“We are waiting for the oil blocks, what the Nigerian government sits down and calls oil blocks are in fact and in truth the ancestral properties of the Niger Delta,” the governor said.

“They are pieces of our ancestral properties given away at our expenses. We are not saying others should not be included. But if we are not included, it will be wrong.

“We are yet to see the demands by the federal government that oil companies should relocate to the Niger Delta.

“I don’t know of any business which justifies pipelines crisis crossing several areas for building refineries while they haven’t built refineries from the source of crude oil.

“In all the all-producing areas around the world, the activities of those companies are located where the resources come from. We must examine our own conduct and what we do.”

Dickson also said such investments like the refinery project will “take off all the stress and pressures on us”.

“I’ve signed the certificate of occupancy for 99 years in line with the Land Use Act,” he said.

“I do this every week and one of the first things I did when I came to office was to liberalise land.”

Get Shekau dead or alive, Buratai orders troops

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen.Tukur Buratai, has again charged troops to capture Abubakar Shekau, the factional leader of the Boko Haram terrorists group, alive or dead.

Buratai, gave the charge at Camp Zairo, the former Command and Control Centre of the terrorists group in the Sambisa forest during an operational visit to troops.

In 2017, the army chief gave troops a 40-day ultimatum to capture Shekau and the army recently offered a N3 million reward for information on him.

Troops finally destroyed the camp in January in an operation tagged “Deep Punch II’’ and are now dominating the general area of the forest.

The military sacked Shekau from the camp in December, 2016 but the terrorists later re-grouped to launch pockets of attacks.

Other locations visited by Buratai are Bita and Tukumbere, all settlements within the forest but almost deserted due to the insurgency.

“Let me say congratulations. But, we must move across to wherever this criminal – Shekau is and catch him red handed. I want you to get him.

“Mr President, Command-In-Chief of the Armed Forces says congratulations to all of you for recovering the Sambisa Forest.

“As far as we are concern, we have come to the end of this operation (clearing the forest of remnants of terrorists).

“What is remaining now is the Lake Chad waters only and we hope to do that (clear terrorists from it) also very soon.

“Meanwhile, you all know these criminals are still on the run; these guys are on the run, you must make sure that you get them wherever they are around this area.

“You must not allow them to escape. Every day, you must go on patrol, lay ambush for them and you go on raids.

“This is the time we have to consolidate and ensure that this place – Sambisa forest, is safe and never for these criminals to come back to it,’’ Mr. Buratai charged the troops.

The chief of army staff said he was in Sambisa and Camp Zairo to confirm the capture, destruction and domination by the gallant troops.

“I am glad that the troops have done the country proud and they have done Mr President proud by not only capturing the Camp Zairo within the forest but also consolidating on this success.

“It is a thing of pride and I want to say that we are proud of the Nigerian troops. We are proud of members of the armed forces, the Air Force, Navy, Police, DSS and indeed Civilian JTF, who have provided the needed service,’’ he said.

Mr. Buratai described the Sambisa forest as strategic and assured that the military would secure it against terrorists.

“We are going to transform this place, apart from making it a training area.

“We are going to have a modern defence establishment in terms of the provision of basic requirements for your comfort and indeed for your operations.

“We already making sure that the first set of facilities are brought here,’’ the army chief said.

To the troops, who captured the camp, Buratai promised them special package to boost their morale.

“We are going to have some special packages for all of you that penetrated this forest.

“We will make sure that your morale is high by making the necessary provision for you to be comfortable,’’ he added.

On rotation of troops, he said plans were on to rotate those who had stayed long in the theatre of operation.

“This is in our plan. I know that some of you were inducted here right from the depot but we are doing something for you to be properly deployed and properly accommodated as well.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that 3,000 troops would be inducted into the Operation Lafiya Dole this week, to replace those who had stayed long.

In an interview with newsmen after the visit, Rogers Nicholas, the Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, said with the capture of camp Zairo ”the soul and mind of Boko Haram have been broken in Sambisa forest”.

“They don’t have a place to hide. We are still going round to make sure that some of them that are hiding in holes, we intend to fish them out,’’ Mr. Nicholas, a major-general, said.

He said on assumption of duty in 2017, the chief of army staff tasked him to capture Camp Zairo and clear Boko Haram from the Sambisa forest.

“Troops have finally cleared the forest of remnants and we are presently occupying camp Zairo as well as all the little settlements and camps within the forest.’’

Dauda Mohammed, a staff sgt., and one of the troops, who participated in the operations that finally destroyed camp Zairo and cleared the forest of remnants of terrorists, attributed their success to the Almighty God.

“The success is from God. God almighty is the one that gave us the success which all of us are happy to be here. The Sambisa is cleared,’’ Mr. Mohammed said.

During the visit, the army chief directed principal officers, who accompanied him to visit other locations and frontline.

Accordingly, the Chief of Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. David Ahmadu visited Bama, Borno South East to find out the needs of the troops and encourage them.

The Director, Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Abubakar Tarfa, visited Dikwa, Borno North East while Maj.-Gen. A.T. Hamman, the Provost Marshal, visited Gubio, Borno North West.

(NAN)