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Road to 2023: Adopt Jonathan as consensus candidate or lose presidency, Pastor Prize Aluko warns APC
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A senior pastor and convener of Abuja Ministers Prayer Outreach(AMPO), Pastor Prize Aluko, has declared that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will lose the 2023 presidency if it fails to adopt former President Goodluck Jonathan as its consensus candidate.
Pastor Aluko of The Resurrected Assembly(GROM), Abuja, maintained that since God has “engraced” Jonathan to be president of the country on the platform of the APC, come May 29, 2023, other aspirants for the presidency should step down for him.
Speaking on Thursday in Abuja, the cleric warned that whoever desires to pick his nomination and expression of interest form for the presidency or has already purchased it, in other to contest against Jonathan “is wasting his time, resources and energy as they will be disgraced at the party primary”.
While calling on the former president to publicly announced his decamping to the APC, the cleric said ” Jonathan should not be afraid of any man because, it is a mandate that God has already set for Nigeria. Once he takes the bold steps every other person in the APC with presidential ambition will step down for him”.
“God has engraced Jonathan to become the president of this country come May 29, 2023 under the platform of the APC. So, whoever desires to pick his nomination and expression of interest form or has already purchased it is wasting his time resources and energy, because God cannot lie.
“On his part, Jonathan must as a matter of urgency make his defection to the APC public so that all his supporters will be aware of of his position.
There have been overwhelming request by a cross-section of Nigerians and interest groups for Jonathan to make himself available for the 2023 presidential election.
Only few days ago, a Fulani group, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers bought his nomination and expression of interest form at N100 million.
On the religious front, Pastor Aluko has since 2020, prophesied that God will return Goodluck Jonathan to Aso Rock as president on the platform of the APC.
Since then, he has persistently called on the former president not to trade off his divine mandate of ruling the country once again.
Only recently, Aluko declared that Jonathan will never be president again if he declined God’s divine mandate to contest the 2023 presidential election under the APC.
According to him, this is the only opportunity left for him. After this one, he should forget about ever becoming the president of this country.
He urged Jonathan not to allow confusion or doubts to becloud his state of mind on the clear message of God, but to muster the bravery and step into the presidential ring under the platform of the APC.
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From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has concluded a review of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) for University education in Nigeria.
NUC said the BMAS was revised to Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) with the programme experts and industry stakeholders.
The Commission said that CCMAS provides 70 per cent of what should be taught along with the expected outcomes, while the universities will make contributions based on their individual contextual peculiarities and characteristics.
Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, disclosed the information in Abuja, on Thursday, during the presentation of provisional operational certificate to proprietors 12 newly licensed private universities.
The newly licensed private universities are Pen Resource University, Gombe, Gombe State; Al-Ansar University Maiduguri, Borno State; Margaret Lawrence University, Galilee, Delta State; Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu University, Kano, Kano State; Sports University, Idumuje, Ugboko, Delta State; Baba Ahmed University, Kano, Kano State.
Others are Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto, Sokoto State; Nigerian British University, Asa, Abia State; Peter University, Achina/Onneh, Anambra State; Newgate University, Minna, Niger State; European University of Nigeria, Duboyi, Abuja, FCT; and Northwest University, Sokoto, Sokoto State.
The NUC boss, in his remarks, disclosed that the number of private universities in Nigeria has risen to 111 and 215 universities in Nigeria, stressing that the number is insignificant when compared to growing population and increasing quest for university education.
He confessed that private universities have brought certain uniqueness to the Nigerian university landscape, disclosing that Federal Ministry of Education, through NUC has embarked on the radical re-engineering of curricula in Nigerian Universities to meet global standards and international best practices towards preparing Nigerian graduates for relevance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) world economy with the skills needed for the future.
He said the establishment of more private universities, under the strict supervision of the NUC, is also an important antidote to the proliferation of illegal universities or degree mills across the country, which has become a major source of worry and embarrassment to the nation, and a menace to quality university education delivery.
He, thus enjoined the newly licensed universities to acquaint themselves with the code of governance for private universities in Nigeria which aims to enhance the successful running and sustainability of institutions.
Prof. Rasheed confirmed that the code of governance has been reviewed to give some latitude to the Proprietors on the issue of appointment of Principal Officers, while the document outlined the approved governance structure within a private university.
He added: “It also contains penalty for breach of the code, hence we continue to re-emphasise and stress that the venture of establishing private universities is not for profit but journey of passion.”
He, consequently, encouraged the Proprietors to ensure that quality is not compromised for profit motives, as any operation outside the provisions of NUC guidelines will attract appropriate sanctions, and if found out during the probationary period, a withdrawal of the provisional license may apply.
“My advice to you therefore is, if or when in doubt, seek counsel from NUC. The appendix attached to the letter of approval of provisional licence lists the academic programmes with which you are to commence academic activities.
“You are expected to mount only those programmes at take-off and invite NUC for resource verification. Any deviation from those without the approval of NUC will attract sanctions which may include withdrawal of the provisional license.
“Mentoring institutions have been approved for the newly approved private universities with clear terms of reference to both the mentor and the mentee. NUC will moderate the mentoring relationship to ensure that the mentor-mentee relationship is as it should be,” he promised.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, in his remarks, congratulated the new universities for successfully passing through the crucible of the 14 step process to earn the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He reiterates the Federal Government’s commitment to the strengthening of NUC’s quality assurance operations to ensure that, while they are improving access to University education by way of increased enrolment, quality and relevance to national needs are not compromised.
“I continue to follow with keen interest the activities of the NUC at sanitising the system, and the boldness with which the Commission has approached its mandate of quality assurance, as the sole regulatory agency of University education in the country, by law.
“Being critical stakeholders in the education sector, we should be united in seeking ways of improving quality service delivery of University education in Nigeria, devise strategies for quality improvement and elimination of social vices, as well as maintaining industrial peace and harmony for sustainable growth,” he said.
The Chancellor of British-American University, Professor Muhammad Ayinla Omolaja has declared his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential poll under the platform of the Action Peoples Party (AAP).
The management and administrative expert pledged to offer Nigerians a value-based leadership anchored on National Ethics as outlined in the nation’s Constitution if elected. He said his presidency will promote discipline, integrity, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance, and patriotism.
While announcing a 14-cardinal point programme, Omolaja said his government will restructure Nigeria. “We shall restructure Nigeria and our restructuring shall be to ensure an inclusive political, social and economic platform for all Nigerians” to “see things changed for better and for progress.”
His said his 14-cardinal point programme will focus on: national security, lean and efficient government, restoring human dignity, safeguarding the family, social challenges, economic performance and human resource and global competitiveness.
Others are: excellence in education, infrastructural development, free and fair trade, agricultural development, youths and women empowerment, health care delivery/guarantying life and international relations and diplomacy.
Omolaja lamented that for about 24 years now, Nigeria has been under bondage in the hands of the two main political parties – the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). “From about 24 years now; that is, the 16 years of PDP administration and close to 8 years of the ongoing APC administration, Nigeria has been under bondage facing a lot of hardships emanating from insecurity, hunger, corruption of the highest order, poor power supply, economic mismanagement and a host of others.”
He wants Nigerians to be mindful of the consequences of allowing either APC or PDP to win the 2023 presidential poll. “An elongation of the present administration; and the twenty-four years of hardship including, but not limited to, corruption, killing, poverty, unemployment, economic failure, inflation, and so on, will continue for the next four or probably another eight years!”
He said his confidence in restructuring the country is informed by principles of leadership his party represents. “We in the great Action Peoples Party (APP), are championing nationalism, oneness and indivisibility of our great Nigeria nation, and we affirm that as patriotic Nigeria citizens, we are called upon to build a society based on social justice and fundamental human rights, with a view to correcting the ongoing injustice of the highest order almost everywhere and every time in the country.
“Banditry, corruption, poverty, unemployment, inept leadership cum mismanagement of the economy, inadequate fiscal and monetary policies, and so on, are some of the darkest phenomena in the history of the present day Nigeria and they are crimes of unparalleled barbarity. Only the Action Peoples Party government can reverse the trend. Our incoming APP government shall therefore promote the adoption of special measures and reforms including affirmative action programmes and targeted financial assistance as restitution to our Nigerian people upon taking up the mantle of leadership of our darling nation by the special grace of the Almighty God. We shall further support all measures to be undertaken to address the historic and contemporary discriminations in various categories against the great people of Nigeria in governance especially the youths and women. This includes increasing representation of youths and women in politics and corporate governance in appointment and elective positions of leadership in the public sector of the Nigerian society. As we strive to correct the wrongs of the past, we shall also combat the sexism and ethnic chauvinism of the present. We shall pursue this objective with all sens
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From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
Gombe State Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya on Thursday called on the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) to develop implementable strategies to solve developmental challenges in the country.
The governor said that Nigeria has no reason to be left behind in midst of developed countries such as China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil, he argued that the country was left behind due to its lack of visionary and purposeful leadership that would prioritise development as done by leaders in China and others.
Governor Yahaya stated this during a visit to his office by a team of the Executive Course 44 of the NIPSS. He told the team which was in Gombe to access local governance and performance in the state that the local system in Nigeria was rotten and needed an honest approach to be addressed.
He said: “You have come to study our local governments principally and I believe you have seen the rots, but I know you will do justice to what you have seen, but all I will ask you to do is to, when you make up your report, please take them on side of implementation.
“Don’t just go and file them and stock them somewhere else. We know our problems better than anybody, but we need to relate, tell us the truth so that we will rectify, but be on the side of justice, make sure you recommend proper implementation,” the governor said.
He further explained that the lack of implementation of recommendations has been a major challenge in addressing issues in the country. He said: “That has been the bane and part of the problems of this country. The reports are there, but the results are really not showing and are taking us backwards.
“At this point in time we need to prioritise, compare to China, Nigeria is about one over ten of China size equally in population we are about one 10th of China, in terms of resource both human and natural we are in a better place than China but where is China today, China has been on the part of progress because they are prioritising, they are pursuing and they are working day and night to actualise.
But here are we in Nigeria, instead of prioritising productivity we are more on the consumption side, we can’t consume what we don’t produce and still stay afloat without going to the negative side of the balance,” Governor Yahya while urging NIPSS to help the government in developing true means challenges in Nigeria.
He said: “Think inward and think outward too, produce the result but make sure we get the people that can do the work as we do the talking and thinking.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the visiting NIPSS team in Gombe, Dr Emmanuel Sambo Mamman, assured the institute was working on developing a document with strong implementation strategies for the federal government to use in pulling the local governments out of the woods and perform better.
He explained that the federal government had identified a critical problem in the local government system and tasks his group to go and access the situation with a view to strengthening local governance in Nigeria. “With the emphasis on the challenges, the options and the opportunities,” Mamman told newsmen shortly after meeting with the Gombe State governor.
He said: “Now we have in Gombe, we have been in four local government areas and we have seen what is happening there, some local governments are not doing bad while some are not actually good at all and we are going to report exactly what we have seen and make our recommendations to the president.
“We shall do our best to ensure that we bring out strong recommendations and very strong implementation strategies that will help not only Gombe State but the local governments to come out of the woods and perform better,” the team leader said while assuring that the report dumped in shelf and not implemented.
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From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has been asked to set aside the judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which convicted an Abuja trader in Utako Market, Nelson Onwuemeodo, over the alleged offence of conspiracy and assault.
Nine Igbo traders who are executive members of Utako Market Shop Owners and Traders Association were rounded up and charged before the High Court of the FCT, Maitama, by the police, over alleged conspiracy and assault on Chief Denis Nweke and Nasiru Adamu, at the premises of a High Court.
Specifically, it is the case of the appellant that he was in court on the day of the alleged offence for a case involving Utako Market Association and the Minister of the FCT, from where he proceeded the National Assembly with other executive members of the association.
They were arrested and arraigned before the trial court on a fallacious three count charge of conspiracy to commit culpable homicide and assault.
At the end of the trial, six out of the nine traders, Nelson Onwuemeodo, Ezeliora Joseph, Emeka Okah, Zainab Nwaorgwu, Igwerna Ale and Ichia Michael Ndu were sentenced and convicted by Justice Peter Kekemeke in his judgment that was delivered on December 9, 2021.
In a 15- grounds of appeal, the appellant through his counsel, Chukwuma Ma-Chukwu (SAN), faulted the judgment of trial court was pervasive.
Ume formulated the following questions: “Whether the trial court was right in convicting and sentencing the appellant despite the fact that the totality of evidence of the prosecution witnesses graphically contracdicted each other and non was worthy of belief?
The prosecution having not fielded any of the right, proper and credible witnesses etc, whether the trial court was right to have still proceeded to convict and sentence the appellant.
The trial court having found as a fact that the police failed and refused to investigate the appellant’s defence of alibi, whether the conviction of the appellant was not wrong in law.
Whether the trial court’s finding: “…. in my humble view, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that 1st defendants conspired together ” and its holding: “conspiracy is a matter of inference from the acts of the parties” were founded as to vitiate the reasonable doubt required for the conviction of the appellant.
Ume submitted that unfortunately, the prosecution rather than proving its case beyond reasonable doubt, it ended up with testimonies full of contradictions and unreliable witnesses.
On this point, the appellant counsel referred the court to the testimonies of Prosecution Witness (PW1, PW2 and PW3), which he submitted were manifestly contradictory in nature.
He added that the statement the PW1 made to the police was substantially different from what he stated in court.
He further submitted that in the face of the material contradictions, there is nowhere the respondent offered explanations to reconcile the incongruities in the evidence of PW1, PW2 and PW3.
Ume submitted that the trial court was in grave error to have believed, acted and relied on the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, in convicting and sentencing the appellant for the offences despite the material contradictions that bedeviled same.
He insisted that the trial court was wrong to have convicted the appellant on the uncorroborated evidence of the victm of the offence.
Ume equally added that the trial court was in complete error to have convicted the defendants based on tainted witnesses as there has been a growing and standing animosity between PW1 and PW2 against the nine defendants.
That the defendants were convicted on the basis of alleged mere presence in the court, the alleged crime scene.
He submitted that having found as a fact that the plea of alibi raised by the appellant was not investigated the trial court was in grave error and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it went ahead to convict and sentenced the appellant.
That the prosecution did not lead any evidence at all, whether direct or circumstancial, to show that the appellant conspired to commit the offence.
In the light of the whole circumstances of the appeal, the arguments advanced, Ume urged above, the appellant has prayed the appellate court to allow his appeal and set aside the judgment of Justice Kekemeke delivered on December 9, 2021, more particularly his conviction and sentence for being perverse and having occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
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By Chinenye Anuforo, Lagos
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that it is ready to finance the fish sector to the next level. Mr Samson Alatise, from the Development Finance Department, said this at the ongoing Norwegian Seafood Council capacity training for fishery officers and stakeholders in Lagos.
He said that as far as the apex bank is concerned, it is keen on financing agriculture stating that fish is one of the focal activities that CBN concentrates on. “For now we have a ‘Fish Champion’, a committee, set up to finance fish farming in Nigeria.
“The problem we have with fish financing under our Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme is lack of a viable anchor to off-take the fish from the farmers.
“Lack of a viable anchor is limiting the CBN’s participation in terms of fish farming financing.
“We hope with this capacity building and training workshop, the issue of getting viable anchors will be addressed to boost the aquaculture sector,” Alatise said.
Also speaking at the training, the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Knut Leon, said the capacity building would boost the bilateral trade relations between Norway and Nigeria.
“Stockfish is an extremely important part of our bilateral relations, trade and history. For Nigerians, it is an important part of our food culture and a really important source of our culture.
“Today, we will move a step forward to bring capacity building and training to the Nigerian fish industry.
“We have brought a fantastic team from Norway to train fish farmers and stakeholders in the sector. We are confident that you will find their inputs valuable.
“Stockfish trade has created jobs in Nigeria. It is a win-win situation and we will continue to fight to remove the barriers on the path of this important trade.
“This cannot be a one-way thing, as we appeal to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to do their part in the equation.
“There must be cooperation between the two nations to benefit all sides,” Leon said.
Mr. Trond Kostweit, the Director-General, Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, said in order to grow the Nigerian fish sector, aquaculture must be a priority.
“I am very happy to be part of today’s capacity building and training, we have been talking about for a while and I am absolutely sure it will be valuable to the Nigerian fish industry.
“Norway is a seafood nation and we started exporting fish since 1800s, we have gathered a lot of experience from fishery and we are very proud of our production.
“In order to grow any fish industry, we must bank on fish farming to boost productivity. We want Nigeria to benefit from our experience and success in aquaculture.
“We have a lot of experience and technology to share at the training this week and we are sure it will benefit Nigeria as a country and the fish farming industry,” Trond said.
In his welcome address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mahmood Abubakar, commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for the initiative.
Abubakar, represented by Mr Imeh Umeh, the Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, said the training would help to harness the huge potential in fishery and aquaculture.
“Efforts at harnessing the huge potential in fisheries and aquaculture will no doubt give an added impetus to the realisation of our shared objective of wealth creation.
“The huge gap between potential and productivity and the underutilisation of resources and opportunities in Nigeria need to be addressed urgently.
“The Federal Government will continue to partner with the Norwegian Seafood Council for the development and growth of fisheries and aquaculture in Nigeria.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this training will help to develop our fisheries officers/stakeholders on the best management practice accepted internationally,” Abubakar said.
From Lateef Dada, Osogbo
Students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, on Thursday protested against the continuous strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The students who barricaded major roads in Ile-Ife carried placards with inscriptions such as “Fund Education Now,” and “Education is not a Scam,” among others.
Converging under the aegis of the Fund Education Coalition, the protesters vowed to continue the protest until the government accede to their demand and end the strike.
The angry youths blocked major roads and prevented the movement of vehicles for some hours, saying “we would continue like this until the government settled with our lecturers.”
They chanted anti-government songs and observed prayer on major highways, accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of neglecting education and focusing on who succeeded him come 2023.
One of the protesters, Olugbade Mojeed, said the strike has forced some students to engage in unholy vices with no end in sight.
He said, “we are protesting because the government has failed the education system. This government has been showing a nonchalant attitude to education and they focus on electoral activities. We say no to incessant strikes and we say no to lack of funding for the education system.”
Also, Abraham Omowumi, lamented the lingering strike, warning that the protest may continue.
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Forum of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Organising Secretaries (APC-FORS) has commended the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee for revitalising, overhauling and rejuvenating the party in the best interest of all members.
The forum comprises all the Zonal, State, Local Government and Ward Organising Secretaries of the party.
In a statement released Thursday by its Chairman, Dr Blessing Agbomhere, in Abuja, the forum noted that: “the sleepless nights, hard work and selfless service of the current leadership of the party is yielding result and has rekindled hope, faith and commitment in the party membership, hence the interest of all Nigerians in the affairs of the party.”
“The level of interest in the party, where we have several presidential aspirants contesting freely, women and special persons getting nomination forms for free, and youths being encouraged to run, is not a manifestation of miracle, but the deliberate and concerted efforts of the new leadership of the party to develop the politics of our Nation.”
The Forum which has the National Organising Secretary of the party as Patron, further noted that; “it was birthed by the six Zonal Organising Secretaries of the party in an effort to bring together, all Organising Secretaries of the APC from the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, the States, Local Government Areas and Wards under the zones for the purpose of promoting and championing the course, interest, unity and activities of the Party at various levels.”
“The creation of the Forum was necessitated by the rising need to build formidable structures across the various levels of our party in the country by engaging the Nigerian voters with the achievements of the APC/Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“Forum is driven by the collective willpower to ensure that the Party never loses any election at the National, Zonal, State, Local Government Area and Ward levels.
“The offices of the Organising Secretaries of APC at various levels, like a river which receives rain from the sky, draw their strength from the Office of the National Organising Secretary headed by Suleiman Muhammad Argungu,” he noted in the statement.
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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the federal government to set up a special intervention fund to enable them access to foreign exchange, stressing that 90 percent of input materials for manufacturing in the country are imported.
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive Office Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Matthew Azoji, made the call on the sidelines of at the 19th National Productivity Day Celebration and Conferment of National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM), on 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors, for their high productivity, hardwork and excellence.
Azoji, while responding to a question on what challenges government should address, said: “The challenges we would like government to pay attention, we (Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc), are a local manufacturer of pharmaceutical products. And the foreign exchange is a major issue for us. We want to ask the government to support the pharmaceutical manufacturer, a group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to improve access to foreign exchange, because it has been a major problem, more than 90 percent of input materials for manufacturing in Nigeria are imported.
“If there is a special intervention that the government can do, for local manufacturers particularly, pharmaceutical manufacturers that are improving access to medicines for the ordinary Nigerians.
“So, if you have better access to foreign exchange, it will improve the availability of medicines and in a cost effective manner, because foreign exchange has become a major cost of increasing cost of pharmaceuticals in Nigeria.”
While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for the award, he said it will cause us to work harder and pursue excellence for the benefit of Nigerians.
On what he did to merit the ward, Azoji, “Well, in all the organizations I have worked, I have committed myself to excellence and improving the outcome that is achieved. Within the three years I have been a managing director/CEO, the company has gone from a period of loss to period of profitability. We have been able to achieve a situation where the company paid dividends, after 10 years of non-dividend payments.
“For the last two years we have paid dividends. And for the past four years there has been consistent growth in profitability, consistent growth in turnover, and service delivery to Nigerians.”
President of Erisco Foods Ltd, Eric Umeofia, on his part, regretted that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were not doing enough to encourage local production of goods and commodities.
He alleged that some agencies charged with the responsibilities of enforcing the ban on imported products were not doing the job effectively saying that their inefficiency was sabotaging government’s efforts to encourage local manufacturers.
While calling on the people to patronize locally manufactured products, the Erisco boss said not doing so would only create jobs for foreigners with consequent use of scarce foreign exchange for importation of products that are being manufactured locally.
He raised the fears that with the influx of imported goods, like tomato pastes banned several years ago, local manufacturers may be forced to close shops. This he said would lead to job loss.
He urged the people to encourage manufacturers by patronizing locally made goods which will in turn lead to enhanced job and wealth creation.
On the award, the Erisco boss, said he was happy with the recognition given to him by the government. He said such would spur him to do more.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on his part said the special Award for COVID-19 conferred on him was a moral burden to do more for the nation and government.
According to the SGF” Well, it puts an additional moral burden of doing more for the nation and the government. It comes with a lot of feelings.
“You know, my award is within the category of the Special Award for COVID-19. And most of you were active participants in the response.
“And I believe that this award is dedicated to all the people that were involved. And the national response to COVID-19. My colleagues on the COVID-19 production that was awesome of you in the media, who worked assiduously in very difficult, hard times and Dangerous in itself.
“Because we were dealing with a virus that was unknown to ensure that lives and livelihoods of Nigerians were protected. And the process, we were able to deal with the adverse effects of COVID-19 one that deals with the economy.
“The economic sustainability plan was able to cause us to exit the recession in a very, very, very quick time addressing the changes in governance because COVID-19 came with his difficult ways of oppression, we had to really do a switch to virtual meetings, virtual way of running government activities, with very little face to face contact.
“So I believe that this award will spur us was to greater achievements in the future, as the events of government and the world dynamics are for,” he added.
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The Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo has revealed that the Gulf of Guinea accounts for about 4.5 million barrels of oil produced daily in Africa.
Admiral Gambo who spoke at the 10th SECUREX West Africa 2022 International Exhibition which started on May 10 and would end on May 12 at Landmark Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos in Lagos said that Nigeria’s maritime environment constituted about 12 per cent of the Gulf of Guinea thus accounting for over 85 per cent of the total seaward trade with the rest of the world.
He explained that, “this is why the Nigerian Navy, which is the biggest protector of the Nigeria’s maritime environment ,focuses on tackling maritime crimes, protecting critical national infrastructure as well as protecting Nigeria’s ports.
“The economy has about 36 trillion barrels and 182 billion cubic feet of oil and gas reserves with the capacity to produce about 2.4 million barrels and 8 billion cubic feet of oil and gas respectively per day.
“Thus, the maritime industry with associated infrastructure occupies prominent position in the matrix of Nigeria’s vital economic interest as it encompasses activities ranging from shipping, fishing, resource exploration among others”.
Gambo said that there was frequent abuse of the maritime domain through illicit activities of local and foreign collaborators despite the numerous prospects of the maritime environment.
He noted that insecurity within the maritime domain stems largely from non-military causes such as socio-economic agitations, rising population, illeteracy, unemployment in the coastal communities.
“Obviously, the manifestations include: attacks on shipping, sabotage of hydrocarbon infrastructure and maritime resource, theft including diverse forms of illicit trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing among others.
“These threats constitute challenges to the socio-economic development and portray harmful dimensions for Nigeria’s coast at making its maritime environment a safe haven for local and foreign investors,” the CNS said.
Gambo said that the swift response of the Nigerian Navy to illegal activities at sea had reduced the rate of successful attacks of pirates in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
” The Nigerian Navy initiated the anti-piracy operation: ‘Op Tsare Taku’ and the anti-crude oil theft and illegal crude refining operation: ‘OP DAKATAR DA BARAWO’ to curb insecurity in the nation’s maritime environment.
“Subsequently, there has been a marked decline in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. For instance, 11 pirates incidence were recorded in 2021 compared to 44 in the year 2020.
“This decline was complimented by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reports which also shows that Nigeria has exited its piracy list,” he said.
The Navy Chief appreciated the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) ) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for their collaborative efforts, adding that they had shared vision on accomplishment of maritime security tasks and information sharing, leading to the successful arrest and prosecution of criminal cases.
Gambo commended the efforts of the Federal Government in renewing the fleet of the force, saying that the support of President Muhammadu Buhari had enabled the Nigerian Navy to renew her fleet with newly acquired ones in recent years.
He said that more ships are still needed to maintain the Nigerian Navy’s continuous presence as required and to enable the force dominate the maritime space.
He also that Seafarers visiting Nigeria’s seaports now feel more secure while at the ports as a result of the presence of the Nigerian Navy, adding that the navy’s efforts in keeping the maritime domain secure have recorded tremendous results including boosting the confidence of seafarers whose vessels call at the ports in Nigeria.
He said: “Presence of these NN ships also serves as deterrence to criminal elements. It is worthy to note that feelers from foreign ships transiting or berthed at these ports revealed that, seafarers feel more secure at these Ports with the presence of NN ships.”
He also said that the navy increased its patrols around port facilities as part of efforts to ensure safe and secure environment for seafarers, while they carry out their duties.
“Furthermore, NN bases regularly conduct boat patrols around port facilities within their jurisdiction as well as escort merchant vessels in and out of harbours.
“Notably, NN have been involved in the arrest of several stowaways especially in Apapa Ports and Harbour. All these efforts are geared towards providing safe and secure environment for seafarers in various port facilities across the nation.”
Admiral Gambo had earlier in his presentation noted that threats to ports(Including trafficking, arms and drugs smuggling as well as theft) were not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but everywhere else as a result of growth of shipping and globalisation of container business.
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From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said there is no going back on its decision to continue with its ongoing strike following Federal Government’s failure to honour the 2009 agreement.
This came as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) staged a protest at the national secretariat of APC, Abuja.
NANS, specifically appealed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to thoroughly probe every aspirant that picked the N100 million presidential nomination form towards unraveling their source of fund.
In Ibadan, Oyo State, aggrieved students also took to the streets to demanded an end to the strike, which began three months ago.
However, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osedeke, has insisted that the union took the ‘difficult decision’ after exhausting all avenues available to amicably settle the matter with the Federal Government.
“Let me give you an example, because this is where we are getting it wrong, when the airline operators said they were going to stop the flights, the Senate and House of Representatives quickly stepped in. This is because they are affected; they quickly rushed in and addressed the problem, why would they not resolve that of the education sector that is affecting the children of the poor and the ordinary people
“If the government is willing to resolve the issues affecting Nigerians, then there would be no need to go on strike. The problem is the will of government to resolve issues,” he said.
ASUU on Monday extended its roll-over strike which started on February 14 by another 12 weeks.
The striking lecturers’ demands include, funding of the revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears. Others are the renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
Osedeke said none of these demands have been met by the Federal Government.
“All the issues that made us to go on strike are still there; that is the revitalisation fund, that is putting more money into universities and revitalising the infrastructure in the universities. There is also the issue of our mode of payments in the universities. There is no university in the world where lecturers are paid salaries from the Accountant General’s Office. We have challenged them to provide one, if universities are universal body, why are they doing things differently. We talk of negotiation of agreement, proliferation of universities, among others, so there are lots of issues that they have not resolved,” he said.
The ASUU president said that government had also refused to accept UTAS which had been tested and passed with a scored 99.3 per cent.
He urged the Federal Government to do the needful in order for students to return to schools.
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has concluded configuration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to be deployed for the Ekiti State governorship election on June 18.
Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this, yesterday, also announced that arrangements had been finalised for the conduct of a mock voter accreditation.
Yakubu, who spoke at the second quarterly meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja, also announced the suspension of online registration in the next three weeks to enable online registrants complete their registration physically at the designated centres before the exercise is suspended on June 30, 2022.
“On election technology, we have reviewed the functionality of BVAS following the complaints received after the recent Area Council elections in the FCT held on February 12, 2022. Two weeks later, the commission conducted six bye-elections in four states across four geo-political zones of the country covering rural, sub-urban and urban areas. It was the most extensive geo-political deployment of the BVAS since it was pioneered in the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election in Delta State in June last year. In these bye-elections, the BVAS functioned optimally as attested to by the reports of your field observers accredited by the Commission.
“The lessons learnt from the most recent bye-elections have been taken into consideration as we prepare for the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections. The commission has just finished the configuration of the BVAS for the Ekiti State governorship election. We will also undertake a mock voter accreditation exercise in Ekiti State ahead of the main election on June 18, 2022, the details of which will be announced shortly,” he said.
On the cleaning up of the registration data, Yakubu said the commission presented a report on the CVR exercise covering the period from June to December 2021.
“For the first time, the commission deployed the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) which is a comprehensive and robust system involving not just the fingerprint identification but also the facial biometric recognition,” he said.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) yesterday said that Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the third quarter of 2021 grew by 4.03 per cent year-on-year, showing a steady improvement from the economic downturn in 2020.
According to a statement published by the bureau in its website, the growth, however, improved further in the fourth quarter of 2021 with positive GDP growth rate of 3.98 per cent. The statement recalled that the negative quarterly growths in Q2 and Q3 2020 resulted in a recession, which led to a negative annual growth rate of -1.92 per cent for 2020, compared to 2.27 per cent in 2019 on a year-on-year basis. “Annual growth of 2021 stood at 3.40 per cent, an improvement of 2020. Compared to the third and fourth quarters of 2020, the performance in 2021 indicated an increase of 7.65 per cent points and 3.87 per cent points higher, respectively,” NBS said.
Meanwhile, household consumption expenditure, in Q3 and Q4 2021 grew by 19.36 per cent and 7.30 per cent in real terms, year on year. For 2021, the annual growth rate in real household consumption expenditure stood at 25.65 per cent compared to -1.69 per cent in 2020. Similarly, Government Consumption Expenditure recorded growth rates of -39.51 per cent and -16.76 per cent in Q3 and Q4 2021 respectively, year on year, while annual growth rate stood at -34.03 per cent in 2021 compared to 61.58 per cent in 2020.
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has released list of categories of persons seeking to contest in the 2023 elections, that should resign immediately.
The latest directive, which is in line with the provisions of section 84(12) of the electoral act, expects all affected persons to resign from their offices on or before Monday.
The affected persons are all ministers, heads and members of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals of government, ambassadors, as well as other political appointees who desire to contest for elective offices.
The affected ministers are to hand over to ministers of state where they exist or to the permanent secretary, where there is no minister of state, for smooth running of the machinery of government and foreign missions.
This was contained in a circular with Ref.No.SGF/OP/I/S.3/XII/173, signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and dated May 11, 2022.
The circular read in part:
“Mr. President has observed and noted the expression of interest and intention by some members of the Federal Executive Council, heads of extra-ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals of government, ambassadors and other political office holders to contest the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies’ elections.”
The document reads further, “Consequently, Mr. President has directed that the affected office holders aspiring to run for various offices in the 2023 general election, should tender their resignation on or before Monday, the 16th of May, 2022.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this directive affects all ministers, heads and members of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals of government, ambassadors, as well as other political appointees who desire to contest for elective offices.
“For smooth running of the machinery of government and our foreign missions, affected ministers are to hand over to ministers of state where they exist or to the permanent secretary, where there is no minister of state.
“Ambassadors shall hand over to their deputy heads of mission or the most senior foreign service officer in line with established practices.
“Similarly, heads of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals are to hand over to the most senior director/officer as may be peculiar to the organisation, in line with the service wide Circular No. SGF.50/S. Il/C.2/268 of 4th December, 2017.
“The contents of this circular and the incidental directives take effect immediately.”
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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has finally sounded a death knell on zoning, throwing the contest for its presidential ticket open to all aspirants.
The opposition party also indicated preference for consensus in the choice of its candidates where possible.
In a communique released at the end of the party’s 96th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the PDP adopted the position of its zoning committee rejecting zoning, agreeing that “in the interest of justice and fair play, the party should take decision on zoning timeously so as to prevent complications to the process.”
The PDP also constituted the Presidential Primary and Special National Convention Committee, with former Senate President, David Mark, as Chairman, Enugu State Governor. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as Deputy Chairman and former Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, as Secretary.
The opposition party reaffirmed May 28 and 29 as dates for its presidential primary.
On the state of the nation, the PDP “strongly decried the worsening insecurity and continued killing of innocent Nigerians by terrorists who are emboldened by the exposed refusal of the APC-led government to confront the terrorists even when it knows their locations, listens to their phone conversations and even aware of their plans.”
It condemned what it called “the failure/refusal of the APC government to rescue our citizens still languishing in their abductors’ dens including a victims of last month’s terrorism attack on the Abuja/Kaduna train. NEC urged the Federal Government to live up to its Constitutional duty to secure life and property and ensure an unconditional release of all the abductees.”
The PDP expressed dismay that the country’s “security command and control coordination structure has collapsed under President Muhammadu Buhari as Mr. President remains ‘absent’ having abdicated his duties as Commander-in-Chief and surrendering sovereignty over a substantial part of our country to terrorists.”
It condemned the “humongous corruption and deliberate economic manipulations in the APC government which have crippled our productive sector and resulted in the unbearable high cost of food items and other essential goods and services with consequential excruciating economic hardship to our citizens.”
The opposition party rejected the “continuing closure of public universities in Nigeria due to the refusal/failure of the APC government to decisively address the lingering industrial action by lecturers in public universities despite the huge resources at its disposal. It cautioned the APC to stop playing with the emotions, destiny and future of our youths and take action to address the industrial action immediately so that our children can go back to their classes.”
The PDP condemned “mass looting of our national treasury and diversion of public funds through orchestrated purchase of APC Presidential Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms by all manner of persons at excessive N100 million to warehouse slush funds for APC to rig the 2023 general elections. We restate our demand to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate all APC Presidential aspirants in this regard.’
It called for the “immediate resignation, arrest and prosecution of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for alleged manipulations and financial impropriety in the CBN which contributed to the collapse of our national economy,” while vehemently rejecting “the continued stay of Mr. Emefiele as CBN Governor after being confirmed as a card-carrying member of the APC. The CBN is the custodian and keeper of all INEC sensitive materials used in all elections. Having been confirmed as a member of the APC, Mr. Emefiele, can no longer be trusted with INEC sensitive materials which are key to the guarantee of free, fair and credible elections.”
The assures Nigerians that the it was resolute in taking very firm legitimate series of action in the march to restore and protect the sanctity of the Central Bank and electoral process.
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From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Cross River State PDP Professionals (CROSPP) has warned the state chapter of the party against imposition of governorship candidates on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The group, in a statement by its leader,
Okon Edem-Ita explained any attempt by party leadership or an individual to impose a governorship candidate on the Cross River PDP would not augur well.
According to the group, all the governorship aspirants should be allowed to go the field to test their popularity.
“As professionals within the PDP, we are totally against the weakening of our party’s chances in the forthcoming governorship election in Cross River State. While, it is the constitutional right of every man and woman who have attended the universe suffrage age and status to run for elections, as a group, we will never yield the PDP for a defeat in the next governorship election.”
“We, therefore, call on the PDP State Chairman and its SWC to ensure a level playing field for all the candidates.
“We demand that all the governorship aspirants from Gershom Bassey, Daniel Asuquo, Nkoyo Toyo and Arthur Jarvis should be allowed to go to the field and show their strength. Anything otherwise will surely spell doom for PDP chances in Cross River State in the 2023 general election, not only on the governorship race, but in other polls as well.”
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