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16.04.18

FOR GOD AND COUNTRY

No. 3,042

MONDAY

MONDAY

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Ghana To Pay $100m Gas Debt Owed Nigeria BY CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos

The West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCO) has disclosed that the government of Ghana has a standing arrangement with N-Gas of Nigeria to clear an outstanding debt of about $100 million. The assurances followed

media reports revealing that the government of Ghana owes N-Gas some $160 million. In times past, the debt owed N-Gas resulted in a cut in supply of gas to that country, which affected power generation.

The general manager, corporate affairs of WAGPCO, Harriet Wereko Brobbey, is quoted as saying that the current government had instituted an arrangement for paying the debt, which has largely been followed.

She explained that the agreement was reached when the NPP government came into office. She said, “There is an arrangement in place now which is that the debt will be paid in

Minimum Wage: Labour Moves Against Defaulting Govs ➔Pg. 6

tranches and we are happy…We know that this arrangement is actually for the money to be paid to N-Gas. “There was a promise to pay, which was arrived at by this government. There is an arrangement in place for the debt ➔ CONTINUED ON PAGE 6

PMB Strategises Ahead Of 2019, Meets Tinubu, Others In London 5

We Have Continued To Create Innovative Solutions – Jim Ovia BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja

Chairman of Zenith Group, owners of Nigeria’s leading financial institution, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia has said the bank has continued to be in the forefront of creating innovative

solutions for raising benchmarks and setting the pace in financial technology. He restated the commitment of the bank to continue to deliver higher returns on investment to its investors despite the prevailing

economic challenges. Speaking at the 27th annual general meeting of Zenith Bank in Abuja at the weekend, Ovia reiterated the bank’s commitment to continually delight its customers as part of its central

focus in business operation. “As a leader in the digital space, with an unwavering determination for raising benchmarks and setting the pace in financial technology, we have invested immensely in new technologies

and digital solutions... the goal for us particularly as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) beckons in Africa is to continually create innovative solutions that ensure convenience, speed and ➔ CONTINUED ON PAGE 5

R-L: Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia; Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Peter Amangbo and Deputy Managing Director, Adaora Umeoji, during the Bank’s 27th annual general meeting in Abuja, at the weekend.


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LEADERSHIP

our stand

Monday, April 16, 2018

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Nigeria’s Worrisome Rising Debt Profile

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here has been much concerns about rising debt profile of the federal and state governments in Nigeria with institutions and experts within and outside the country warning the country to be mindful of consequences of such appetite which they said could lead to another debt trap for the country. The Debt Management Office (DMO) statistics put the debt portfolio of the nation at N21.73 trillion as at December, last year. About N1.6 trillion of the debt, according to the DMO, was spent on debt servicing and that the debt stock rose by N1.327 trillion between September and December 2017. According to the DirectorGeneral, DMO, Ms. Patience Oniha, the Federal Government’s domestic debt at the end of last year, stood at N12.589 trillion. The 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had a domestic debt overhang of N3.348 trillion. The combined external debt of the federal and the state governments stood at N5.787 trillion. While analysts have described the debt profile of the nation as worrisome, the Federal Government has assured all that there is no cause for alarm. Finance Minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said the government was embarking on a borrowing spree to provide national assets to aid the growth of the economy. But, what is more worrisome is the precarious fiscal health of Nigeria’s component states. Recently, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission revealed debt burdens of the states was far in excess of their revenues with no fewer than 18 of the 36 states borrowing over 200 per cent of their earnings, salaries of public sector workers unpaid in 23 states, the need for a radical overhaul of our

governance structure is all the more urgent. According to the 2016 Annual Report of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) showed that debt exposure of three states comprising Lagos, Osun and Cross River States were between 480 and 670 per cent of their gross revenue. The report which was released in Abuja by the FRC, noted that

the debt levels of the states were contrary to the guidelines of the Debt Management Office (DMO) on debt sustainability. The DMO guideline stipulates that the debt to income ratio of states should not exceed 50 per cent of their statutory revenue for the preceding 12 months, but the FRC report indicated that most states have gone past this threshold.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Dele Fanimo

POLITICAL DIRECTOR/ STATE HOUSE Jonathan Nda-Isaiah EDITOR Muazu Elazeh

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Christian Ochiama

DEPUTY EDITOR Raliat Ahmed-Yusuf

ASS. MANAGING EDITOR George Agba COORDINATOR, EDITORIAL BOARD Suleiman Abdullahi

GENERAL EDITOR Silas Ezeugwu

GROUP LTD CHAIRMAN Sam Nda-Isaiah GMD, LEADERSHIP GROUP Abdul Gombe GMD, LEADERSHIP HOLDINGS David Chinda GROUP EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS Dele Fanimo Felicia Ogbonlaiye Geoffrey Essien HR DIRECTOR Solomon Nda-Isaiah CHIEF PROCUREMENT & ASSETS OFFICER Mrs Zipporah Tanko DIRECTOR, HAUSA PUBLICATIONS Mubarak Umar GENERAL MANAGERS Ibrahim Halilu Femi Adekunle Ebriku John

LEADERSHIP is a national paper symbolically embedded in the nation’s capital. We shall stand up for good governance. We shall defend the interest of Nigerian people even against their rulers, and we shall raise our pen at all times in defence of what is right. These are the values by which we intend to be assessed. We shall never, ever for any reason forget the noble reason of our coming into being:

For God

and

Country!

It is worthy of note that one of the major implications of the nation’s rising debt profile is the increasing burden of interest payment. This is especially true as the country has been making less money than before as a result of falling crude oil price in the international market. In fact, the country’s debt sustainability has become an issue of debate as some experts have argued that Nigeria’s indebtedness is no longer sustainable. The argument is that with reduced capacity to earn money, the country’s ability to service debt and repay the principal has been impacted. This, the arguments goes, has rendered the nation’s debt unsustainable even though the total debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio is still low. Recognising the huge service payment on domestic debt, the Federal Government has yielded to the advice to borrow more from the foreign debt market and has plans to borrow $3bn from foreign sources in order to refinance some local debts. Oniha said the new strategy would involve reducing the country’s domestic debt to 60 per cent, while raising the external component to 40 per cent. We believe most Nigerian component states need to develop other creative ways of increasing their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). And if they must borrow, it must be for developmental purposes. The trend of different administrations embarking on borrowing without a clear cut plan on what to do with the loans would only impoverish the states the more. What is paramount is that the federal government and the states should reflect on the implications of the debt burden on the future of our country. Today, many of the states can hardly meet their routine obligations after servicing their monthly debts. Unfortunately, most of the loans were not deployed to tangible projects. Already, regulators have described the debt situation in the state as one that portends a gloomy prospect for the economy of the states. The states need to reduce the cost of governance and cut their coats according to their clothes.


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Monday, April 16, 2018

Group News Editor: Ekele Peter Agbo Adeosun, Emefiele Join Economic Experts To Discuss Global Issues At IMF/World Bank Meeting BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja

Chairman LEDERSHIP Group Ltd, Sam NdaIsaiah (right), receiving an Award from the former Vice Chancellor, ABU Zaria, Prof. Iya Abubakar, during the ABU Alumni Association’s 2018 lecture, dinner and recognition award in Abuja at weekend. PHOTO BY REMI AKUNLEYAN.

Rescue Of Remaining Chibok Girls, Leah Sharibu, A Must – Saraki President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called for concerted efforts to rescue the remaining 112 Chibok Girls and the Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, from Boko Haram’s captivity. Saraki said that this would require the collaboration of by governments, security agencies, religious and community leaders. He spoke through his special adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, yesterday. The senate president said though

four years had elapsed since the sad incident of the Chibok girls’ kidnap, “it must not dampen efforts being made to see the girls rescued and reunited with their families and loved ones’’. Saraki noted with sadness the plights of the Chibok girls’ parents, whose daughters were not yet back and the anxiety they have had to endure all these while. He called on the parents to remain steadfast as government would never relent in its efforts to see their

daughters back home safely. “As a parent, I feel the pains of these unfortunate young girls from Chibok and the latest one – Leah Sharibu – from Dapchi, their parents and the people and Governments of Borno and Yobe States over these harrowing experiences. “However, all hope is not lost. We are all involved in this. Their return will give us joy while their continued stay in captivity will inflict us with perpetual torment of failure. “This is no time for blame game or

passing the buck. “We must all gear up and work together to see these girls rescued within the shortest possible time. “I believe that the last four years have given us ample time to reflect on the calamity, review our modus operandi – politically and militarily and resolve to ensure that all Nigerians are adequately protected. “Let’s fine tune the strategies that have won us successes and discard those that have failed us,’’ Saraki said.

Bitcoin Rebounds To $8,000 As Cryptocurrency Market Surpasses $320bn BY CHIMA AKWAJA, Lagos

The crypto market momentum remained bullish, closing the market on Friday at $8,000 per coin just as the cryptocurrency market surpassed $320 billion. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies made sharp reversal from their lows a day earlier. According to the data on CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin trading at $8028.12 levels as

at the press time. The gains resulted in the overall market sentiment turning positive with other altcoins like Ethereum and Ripple making significant movements in the northward direction. Ethereum has gained more than 17.5 per cent and is currently trading at $507.95 while Ripple with over 20 per cent gains currently making $0.62. During the same time, a cryptocurrency named

Mithril has literally tripled its valuations gaining over 200 per cent being currently traded at $0.68. All in all, there is an overall rise of more than 20 per cent in the cryptocurrency market valuations, which now constitutes more than $320 billion. Usually, Bitcoin price movements, if in comparison to other altcoins, don’t take place simultaneously, as investors are often considered to be shuffling

funds between the two. However, this was not the case yesterday, as the euphoric movement had caused the overall market to make an upside move. Well, it’s nearly impossible to point out one single factor that contributed to the price rise, but it is being said that institutional investors took the charge of the markets yesterday by pouring billions of dollars in, which resulted in such a sharp price increase.

Jigawa Gov, Abubakar Badaru, Chairs APC Convention C’ttee BY ANDREW ESSIEN, Abuja

Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru, will chair the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention Committee. The party displayed the list of the committee members on its new social media handle. According to the list as signed

by the organising secretary, Osita Izumaso, the 68-member committee has the Governors of Imo, Borno, Katsina, Oyo, Yobe, Kaduna, Plateau, Adamawa, Kogi and Edo states. The list which also include serving and former senators and members of the House of Representatives as well as notable party chieftains,

has the governor of Ondo state, Rotimi Akeredolu and Senator Ben Uwajumogu as deputy chairman and secretary respectively. LEADERSHIP gathered that Governor Badaru was eventually agreed upon after many negotiations between the different power blocs within the party as part of the fallout

of the tenure extension palaver. It was further learnt that governors were said to have have finally settled with the Jigawa governor because he is one of them and can best protect their interests, being a member of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, the Tinubu bloc see him as a bastion of its ideals.

The minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, left Nigeria for Washington DC on Sunday to join other economic experts from around the world to discuss issues affecting global economy. Discussions would take place under the auspices of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank will bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and the academia. The experts will discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness. There will also be seminars, regional briefings, press conferences and many other events with focus on global economy, international development and the world’s financial system. The meetings will hold between April 16 and April 22, 2018. Nigeria attends the meeting each year because of the quantum of investments and assistance it receives from both the IMF and the World Bank. Although Nigeria currently has zero loans with the IMF, it enjoys technical support from the organisation. The World Bank Group on the other hand is helping to fight poverty and improve living standards in the country through 33 Core Knowledge Product Reports and 29 ongoing National and Regional projects.

UNICEF Facilitates N70m Loan To Households To Build Toilets BY OMONU NELSON, Abuja

The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it has facilitated N70 million loan to 3,000 households to construct improved toilets in four states of the country through some Micro Finance Institutions (MFI’s) under the fund’s Sanitation Marketing programme. The information is contained in a statement signed by Mr Amir Hamza Syed, UNICEF International Consultant on Sanitation Marketing on Sunday in Katsina. Syed stated that the programme, in collaboration with Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies (RUWASSA) of the affected states, namely Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi and Benue, would assist the country to attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) status by 2025. According to him, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed between UNICEF and the MFI’s. He noted that the MFI’s disbursed the loan under their Self-Reliance Economic Advancement Programme (SEAP). The consultant added that the programme had, however, been extended to Zamfara, noting that 18 local government areas in Nigeria were currently participating in the programmme. Syed stated that Toilets Business Owners (TBO’s) who were trained on toilet technologies were engaged to construct the improved toilets for the households. He revealed that the loan would be repaid within 10 months, and in single installment. He stated that “households can purchase such toilets from TBO’s either through their own monies or loans from MFIs. “UNICEF facilitates the process of loan disbursement through finance institutions.”


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NEWS 5

PMB Strategises Ahead Of 2019, Meets Tinubu, Others In London BY JONATHAN NDA–ISAIAH, Abuja And SAM EGWU, Lokoja

Exactly one week after throwing his hat in the ring to run for a second term in office, President Muhammadu Buhari has begun strategic moves ahead of the 2019 presidential election. LEADERSHIP gathered that the president who is currently in London for an official working visit ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting has been consulting widely and holding talks with interest groups and powerful individuals. The idea, it was learnt, is to enable him gain how much ground he needs to cover politically in garnering support for his re-election bid, both locally and internationally. Buhari had last Wednesday met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who visited him in the Abuja House in London. During the meeting, the president explained why he declared his intention to run for another term in office, saying he bowed to pressure from Nigerians who had over flogged the issue of his re-election bid. Yesterday, President Buhari also met behind closed doors with leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in London. Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, it was learnt that the meeting may not be unconnected with the party’s chances in the forthcoming general election. Confirming Buhari’s meeting with Tinubu, the president’s personal assistant on Social Media, Alhaji Bashir Ahmad, tweeted on his tweeter handle, @ BashirAhmad: “President Muhammadu Buhari receives National leader of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (Jagaba) today in London.’’ According to political analysts, the president, in recent weeks, had unleashed a full-scale charm offensive in wooing key political actors, including Tinubu who they believe Buhari needs to win Southwest votes in 2019. They also averred that Buhari’s stance on the recent tenure extension of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) was seen as a strategy to placate Tinubu who has never concealed the

Buhari

fact that he wants Oyegun out as national chairman of the party. Also, President Buhari yesterday in London met with the Buhari Diaspora Support Organization led by Mr Charles Efe Sylvester. At the meeting, the president assured Nigerians that his administration will do its best to justify the trust in him, just as he stated categorically that the confidence reposed in him by Nigerians will not be abused. “I am happy that people like you are here, on your own, defending the country. You have shown courage and sacrifice. I assure you that your confidence in us won’t be abused, we will do our best to justify it,” Buhari said. He told the support group that, while the damage done to the Nigerian economy in the years of plunder was massive and his government was doing its best to recover some of the loot, it is impossible to identify and recover all. He noted that Nigeria is gifted with tremendous human and natural resources, even as he regretted that failure of some of the country’s leaders in the past who were unable to capitalise on resources to improve the lot of the people.

Tinubu

Buhari declared that his administration has not done too badly considering the condition in which the administration met the country. Noting that wicked people plundered the country, “and kept Nigerians poor,” the president added that looking at the condition in which the current administration met the country, without savings and the economy badly vandalized, “we have not done too badly”. President Buhari said the damage done to the Nigerian economy in the years of plunder was massive and that government was doing its best to recover some of the loot, even as he noted however that it was impossible to identify and recover all. A statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying: “If they (past leaders) had used 50% of the money we made when oil prices went as high as $143 dollars per barrel and stabilised at $100 dollars with production at 2.1 million barrels per day for many years, Nigerians would have minded their businesses. “You could almost grow food on our roads, as they were abandoned. The stealing was so much, and they were so inept that they could not even cover the stealing

properly. I wonder how all those things could have happened to our country.” He commended the Buhari Diaspora Support Organization for deciding to identify with the country when they could have stayed very comfortably abroad. On his part, the coordinator of the organisation, Sylvester, said the group is happy with the achievements of the Buhari administration so far. He said, “You met a difficult situation, but you have overcome most of them. We are happy with the agriculture revolution, the ease of doing business, the anti-corruption war, the employment of youths through the N-Power programme, and the blockage of leakages in the public sector through the Treasury Single Account (TSA). “We are proud of the speed with which you recovered the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls. It shows you as a worthy general. We are happy that you have declared for 2019. Majority of Nigerians are happy, but agents of corruption and darkness are unhappy. The same God, who healed you when you were ill, will grant you victory in the 2019 elections. “You are a General who does not ➔ CONTINUED ON PAGE 6

We Have Continued To Create Innovative Solutions – Jim Ovia FROM COVER

safety of transactions”, he stated. Noting that Zenith Bank remains committed to delivering superior returns to its valued shareholders, Ovia said the huge profit posted by the Bank in its 2017 financial year is not just a proof that Zenith Bank is the leading financial institution in the country, but also a clear indication of its resilience and reliability, even in the most challenging times as the Nigerian economy experienced in 2017. At the annual general meeting, Zenith Bank Plc declared the sum of N174billion as gross Profit-Before-Tax for the year ended 2017. The figure is higher than the N140billion recorded as Profit-Before-Tax in 2016, which shows that its profit rose by 24 per cent in the year under review. Similarly, the bank’s Profit-After-Tax in the turbulent 2017 financial year for all sectors of the nation’s economy rose by 32 per cent, from N119 billion in 2016 to N157 billion in 2017. The bank’s total deposits received within

the year-ended December 31, 2017 stood at N2.74trillion, representing an eight per cent increase over the previous year’s figure of N2.55trillion. Ovia acknowledged the fact that it was a remarkable year marked by significant global and local financial and economic developments, which he said impacted on the bank’s business in both negative and positive ways. “We were however, able to leverage the resilience of our brand to successfully weather the social-economic headwinds and utilize inherent opportunities”, he disclosed. He informed the thousands of shareholders who filled the coveted Shehu Yar’Adua centre in Abuja that despite the stagflation that held all sectors of the nation’s economy to ransom in 2017, Zenith Bank was able to still coast home to growth in shareholders’ Gross earnings, which grew by 48 per cent from N455billion in 2016 to N674billion in 2017, showing strength over its folks. “Zenith Bank was able to fully exploit the opportunities within the environment,”

he said, adding that “this translated into an excellent performance that stands as a testament to the durability and resilience of the brand.” The results, he added, “are, once again, a reflection of the exceptional financial health of the Bank and the Group.” Ovia said he was also proud to announce to the crowd that during the same period, total assets of the bank grew from N4.28trillion to N4.83trillion, representing 13 per cent. On the other hand, Zenith Bank’s shareholders’ fund also rose by 15 per cent, representing an increase from N616billion in 2016 to N708billion in 2017. The business mogul noted that the Bank has made tremendous progress in its vision to entrench sustainability principles into its business operations, including product offerings, credit and loan administration, vendors’ relations and employee management. “In clear demonstration of our commitment to the ideals and tenets of corporate sustainability and responsibility principles hinged on the triple bottom

line of people, planet and profit, the Bank, in the course of the year, made donations towards the setting up of ICT centres in several educational institutions across the country”, he stated, while highlighting the key initiatives of the Bank in the year under review. The shareholders expressed delight over the resilience and innovative capacity of the management of Zenith Bank to come out with outstanding results in 2017 when Nigeria’s economy was neck deep in recession. On his part, the bank’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Peter Amangbo, attributed the bank’s achievements to its customers, partners and staff. “Our customers, partners and staff have been a rare heritage and a major fillip in achieving the creative system and practices necessary to do things right and do the right things at the operational, business and corporate levels. We shall continue to draw on these cultural resources and myriad assets to stay ahead”, Amangbo noted.


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New Minimum Wage: Labour Moves Against Defaulting Govs BY MICHAEL OCHE, ABUJA

The organised labour has proposed stiff penalties for state governors who are not willing to pay the current minimum wage of N18,000. This is contained in new memorandum submitted to the tripartite committee negotiating the new

minimum wage of N65,000. While some states currently owe workers backlog of salaries and pension, Labour, in the memorandum obtained by our correspondent, recalled that the Justice Belgore-led tripartite committee which negotiated the current N18,000 minimum wage

in 2011 had recommended a comprehensive review of the prescribed penalties for non-compliance to serve as effective deterrents. It said it is unfortunate that, in amending the Act in 2011, these recommendations were not taken on board. "It is our recommendation that these penalties be

comprehensively reviewed upwards and the legal framework for their enforcement strengthened," the memo stated. The organised labour had in a joint memorandum proposed a new package of N66,500 as new minimum wage, citing rising cost of living in the country as reason

for the new package. Other issues being proposed for review include the number of employees an employer needs to employ before he can pay the minimum wage. The memorandum reads in part: "In the present Act as amended in 2011, minimum wage coverage is applicable

to employers who employ at least 50 workers. This provision is problematic and allows undue exploitation of workers. "Best international practice is that the minimum wage law should apply to all workers. Our recommendation is, therefore that this limitation be expunged from the law. "

PMB Strategises Ahead Of 2019, Meets Tinubu, Others In London FROM PAGE 5

fear combat, either with Generals or nonGenerals. We declare our love and support for you. You are fixing the faulty foundations of our country and second term is when you will build the enduring structure.” President’s Track Record Will Guarantee His Re-election- Kogi Gov Meanwhile, Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has expressed confidence that the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari will guarantee his re-election in 2019, saying the “real voters are behind the

President”. Bello who stated this in a statement issued by his Director General of Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo in Lokoja yesterday said the president remains the most popular political figure among the masses of Nigeria. He noted: “Two classes determine the electoral success of any candidate in Nigeria- the powerful elites and the masses. In 2015, the masses took over by trooping to the polling units massively to elect Africa’s most popular and most trusted political figure, President Muhammadu Buhari. “Many of us who supported him actually supported his incorruptible

and disciplined personality. I founded the Kogi Youth Arise Group with like minds to ensure the victory of the President in Kogi State. President Buhari is a phenomenal leader who truly loves Nigeria. “Almost three years into his first tenure, the President has proven why we elected him in the first place. He has destroyed the roots of corruption, which was our number one problem as a nation. He has taken steps to unite the nation by ensuring his style of leadership brings people of diverse cultures and faiths together. “It is not out of place to expect corrupt individuals and protectors of corruption to antagonize

the fighters of corruption. Those who could not steal from the national pot anymore are coming out with all sorts of ideas and strategies to stop the man who is determined to continue to move Nigeria forward. “2019 is not about PMB, but about the determination of Nigerians to finally own Nigeria by re-electing a President that has done so much to fight corruption, fight insurgency and develop the nation. Nigerians will surely re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari”. Bello further observed that when President Buhari rolled out his achievements, the opponents of his good governance scampered

for cover because he has surpassed all expectations. He continued: “In Kogi State, I told my Media Office to give updates on what we have done so far and where we have to be in the next one year. Now the song has changed. There is a deliberate choice of the opposition to promote falsehood and generate misinformation to rail their ways into power in 2019. “Nigerians know better. As Mr President stopped them on the national stage, we also stopped them in Kogi State. Former Governors of the state who didn’t remember to put good roads and electricity anywhere, including their villages now go home to find out a Governor is doing

that already. “The people are with us. The people are with the APC and by the grace of God and the powers of the electorate to choose light over darkness the party shall triumph again in 2019”. Bello added that the All Progressives Congress is united ahead of 2019, saying there is no division in the party. “APC is a big family. We are united and prepared to continue to serve Nigeria beyond 2019. PDP helped us to sell Buhari in 2015 and they have started again now. The people know the truth about Buhari and will continue to follow his leadership which protects the poor masses”, he noted.

Looters List: We Will Not Be Pressured, Intimidated – FG BY TUNDE OGUNTOLA, ABUJA

The federal government said yesterday that no amount of pressure, including the antics of hack writers and threats of litigation, will prevent it from releasing more names of alleged looters of the public treasury. The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated federal government’s position said since the release of the first two lists of the alleged looters, there had been overt

and covert attempts to intimidate and blackmail the federal government into discontinuing the release of more looters’ names. He said, ‘’Hack writers have inundated the social and traditional media with articles casting aspersions on the lists, while some newspapers have even resorted to writing editorials against the federal government over the release of the lists. “Most of the write-ups have accused the government of politicising the anti-graft

Ghana To Pay $100m Gas Debt Owed Nigeria FROM COVER

to be paid in tranches. We are happy that the payment of the first tranche has been largely made. We are expecting the remainder to be paid within the next week. The second tranche is around a $100 million, and we are expecting that it will be paid”. N-Gas Limited, a company owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Chevron and Shell, buys gas from oil companies

in Nigeria and transports to Ghana through the $1 billion WAGP. The pipeline, which is operated by the West Africa Pipeline Company Limited, was built to supply natural gas from Nigeria to customers in Benin, Togo and Ghana. N-Gas has an off-take agreement with Ghana to supply 120 million standard cubic feet of gas per day to the VRA, but supply to the country has fallen short of the contractual volume in recent years.

war by releasing the lists. We strongly disagree with them. ‘’We do not have the power to try or convict anyone. That is the exclusive preserve of the courts. But we have the power to let Nigerians know those who turned the public treasury into their personal piggy banks, on the basis of very concrete evidence, and that is what we are doing.” According to Mohammed, the government has always

known that corruption will fight back, fast and furious, hence it is not surprised at the hiring of hack writers to attack the very idea of naming and shaming the looters, or the hysterical threats of litigation. ‘’All the fuss about politicising the anticorruption fight is aimed at preventing the government from releasing more looters’ names and at the same time

muddling the waters. But 1,000 negative write-ups or editorials will not deter us from releasing the third and subsequent lists. For those who have chosen to give succour to looters, we wish them the best of luck with their new pastime,’’ he said. The minister noted that the pressure being mounted on the government over its decision to expose looters is not unexpected, even as he

said, ‘’We know where the pressure is coming from. However, the die is cast. We will not stop until we have released the names of all those who have looted our commonwealth. Those who have not looted our treasury have nothing to be afraid of”. He challenged those who feel wrongly accused to seek redress in court, rather than engaging in exhibitionist sophistry.


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NEWS EXTRA 13 FG Begins Start-up Programme To Build Entrepreneurial Skills In Youths

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) and National Leader of All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in London, yesterday. PHOTO BY STATE HOUSE.

Debate Over PMB’s Re-election Bid Unnecessary – Olanipekun BY ALO ABIOLA , Ado Ekiti

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanoipekun (SAN) has said the raging debate over President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection bid was unnecessary, saying the president has the constitutional right to seek reelection. The legal luminary stated this at the weekend after the foundation laying ceremony of the new St. Peter’s Anglican Church building, in Oke’kere, Ikere-Ekiti. Harping on the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek reelection in 2019, he contended that

running for the presidency is the constitutional right of Buhari and other Nigerians interested in that position and any other elective office. “Frankly speaking, he has a right, but in contesting others should be able to say ‘I am better than him’ and he should prove that he is better than them and Nigerians should make their choice. “But we should not disallow others from expressing their own views. Contesting elections is one’s constitutional right. Did Obasanjo not contest for second term? Did Jonathan not contest for second term? “Why should his (Buhari’s) be

different? Others also have a right to contest and if he (Buhari) is contesting on the platform of his political party, he does not have superior right over other candidates. “So, it is left to Nigerians to make a choice; don’t let anyone bully you that h create jobs for the unemployed Nigerians, saying poverty can be stopped in Nigeria politically when ballot box is respected by all. The eminent lawyer who expressed disappointment over politicians’ penchant for vote buying at elections in the country said the practice has aggravated poverty in the land.

“To me, it is worse than crime against humanity when you defraud the ballot box. The ballot box, to me, is holy, the ballot box represents the collective conscience of all of us and nobody must defraud it. Let us respect the sanctity of the ballot box. “Don’t buy voters to vote for you and stop distributing money on the day of election. You stay there and say to voters ‘go and vote, show me this, then come and take your money. “Then there cannot be poverty alleviation because when you get there, you are not going to respect voters, you are not going to respect their children.

. . . Bid Fairness, Equity To North – APC Chieftain BY TOPE FAYEHUN, Akure

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Ondo, Ade Adeogun, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 reelection bid must be supported by all Nigerians in the interest of fairness and equity to the North. Adeogun dropped the hint while speaking on Akure based radio programme tagged: ‘Face to Face’, monitored by our correspondent in Akure, the Ondo State capital . He said it was only fair that Bu-

hari is allowed to complete the two terms rotational agreement between the North and South. “When president Goodluck Jonathan inherited the government of Yar’adua, the first thing he promised was to complete the term of Yar’adua because he knew there was an existing agreement on rotation between the north and south regions. “Now with president Buhari running for a second term, he will be able to complete the eight years of the north then you will know that naturally the presidency will come to the south, prob-

ably the south east. “If he does not you are going to get another northern who is going to use eight years. The same crisis that President Goodluck Jonathan faced in the second term in which the people of the north lost confidence in him will happen, so why don’t we prevent this future problem by allowing President Mohammadu Buhari to run for a second term.” Adeogun, a Chief Security Officer to former Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili , said President Buhari has creditably delivered on his three promises of security,

job creation and war against corruption which is why he should be allowed to run for another term in office “He made three promises, he’s going to deal with corruption and I think he’s done well there. At least, what he has done is to ensure that people don’t put their hands into the treasury anymore. “He said he is going to deal with insecurity and we can acknowledge that there’s been improvement in the north east, even though we have challenges with the herdsmen, but it’s being tackled.

positive impact in government was supported by the prayers of men of God in this country. “We want you to sit down and pray for the future of this country because what we leave behind is what is important for the people. Osinbanjo commended the resilence of Sen Binta Masi Garba despite family challenges and neglect at tender age. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha reminded the celebrants

that her age signifies deliverance from debt and inheritance as mentioned in the Holy Bible. Mustapha urged the lawmaker to continue to do more to the people of Nigeria, through prudent representations at the National Assembly. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi lauded the testimonies of the senator, adding that is not easy for one to convert to Christianity at a tender age without challenges.

Osinbanjo Tasks Christians To Pray For Nigeria BY HUSSAINI HAMMANGABDO, Yola

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said many erudite Christians are holding various positions in the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Osinbajo stated this in Yola,at a thanksgiving service at Supernatural God Ministry organized to celebrate the 50th birthday of Sen Binta Masi Garba representing Adamawa central in the Na-

tional Assembly. He appreciated God for the appointment of good Christians into the APC-led administration in the country. He admitted that only prayers of men of God that can make those in government achieve success in piloting the affairs of the nation. “We are in the period of history, where God wants to do something for us,that is why we are in government. “Every appointee who made

The federal government has commenced Startup programme to build entrepreneurial spirit in youths, unemployment and prepare them toward self-sustaining activities rather than be job seekers. The Special Assistant to the VicePresident on Innovations and Entrepreneurship, Mr Ife Adebayo made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen in Abuja yesterday. He said the programme would involve training youths in the area of innovation and technology, starting from the North-Central and South-East region of the country. The Vice-President’s aide said the overall objective of the programme was government to galvanise social and economic activities to boost the economy. ``This is one of the cardinal objectives why the Federal Government engaged the private sector participants to support companies that would be able to boost the economy in their regions. ‘’One of the best ways we can accelerate our exit from recession is to support companies to do much more than they are currently doing,’’ Adebayo said. ‘’Startup Nigeria, as a programme, focuses on innovation, agriculture and technology, everybody involved in innovation, technology and agriculture within the two regions will be supported to achieve his or her objectives. ‘’Globally, it is known that people who work in start-up organisations ends up being employers of labour, and build their businesses from the ideas they got from such ventures. ‘’The start up programme fully supports the president’s goal and zeal, which stresses the need to have more employers than job seekers in the country. ‘’Beyond the direct impact in the collaborative company, there are a lot secondary and tertiary impact on the nation. ``This is because, as government reaches out to a lot of startups, they will in turn train more people on entrepreneurial skills and employ others,’’ he said. Adebayo said the startup would be funded from the N500 billion, Federal Government fund, earmarked for the implementation of social investment programmes. Adebayo assured that conscious effort was being made to effectively fund the programme for government to achieve its aims and objectives of putting Nigeria on the path of enhanced entrepreneurial, technological, innovative and agricultural development. According to him, government will also engage and pay experts that will teach participants and offer advice and guidance them on agriculture, technology, financing projects among others, free of charge. Adebayo, who revealed that over 400 youths from South-East and NorthCentral had so far applied to be engaged in the programme, said that Startup had the potential of changing their lives for the better. The Vice President’s aide advised youths to visit Startup website; www. startupnigeria.ng to register for the programme for acquisition of knowledge, skills and experience, free of charge. He said it would afford them the opportunity to contribute their quota to the social and economic development of Nigeria.


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EFCC Raids Former NSITF Boss, Ngozi Olejeme’s House WIMBIZ Urges Olejeme has been indicated that the ex-NSITF Females To Strive Saturday morning. He alleged that the EFCC having running battle with boss allegedly diverted $48, For Leadership The Economic and Financial operatives acted under the the EFCC over the alleged 485, 127. She allegedly used Crimes Commission, EFCC, inducement of one Chief embezzlement and diversion her account officer in First Bank Position of Nigeria (FBN) to collect the reportedly raided the home Arthur Eze on a civil dispute of the fund. BY EJIKE EJIKE, Abuja

of Dr. Ngozi Olejeme, former Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF and 2015 deputy chairman, finance committee of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign Organisation. A family source, who confirmed the story, said “It was reliably gathered that she is presently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital after horrifying experience from men of the EFCC who invaded her house at about 6am on

that is already before an Abuja high court, even though she is on administrative bail from the commission. “The operation lasted for about 12 hours where road leading to her residence was blocked and the officials refused to tender any invitation letter or warrant of arrest.” However, EFCC spokesperson could not confirm the story as calls to his lines were not connected as at press time.

Olejeme, who was declared wanted in 2017, was said to have turned herself in and made useful statement to the EFCC’s investigators. Probe report obtained indicated that some of the cash embezzled had been used for electioneering in the 2015 general election. “We have been investigating fraud of over N62.3 billion in NSITF during Olejeme’s tenure between 2009 and 2015. Out of the sum, preliminary findings

$48.4 million from some NSITF contractors through a BDC operator. “Olejeme had made useful statement to our team of investigators. We are probing clues that some of the looted cash had been diverted to the prosecution of the 2015 general election because Olejeme was the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee, of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation,” an EFCC source said.

NNPC To Support Investments In Oil, Gas Sector – Baru BY CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos

Group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru said the corporation will encourage initiatives targeted at enhancing Nigerian investors in the oil and gas sector. Baru, who made the pledge while speaking at the induction ceremony of the GMD of ARCO Group, Alfred Irabor Okoigun, who was honoured

with Honourary Fellowship of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE), said NNPC would support engineering development to ensure technological advancement of the nation’s oil and gas industry. “NNPC will continue to support ARCO Group and many other indigenous companies alike so that your story and the story of others will continue to be savoured by generations yet unborn,” Baru said in a

statement. Okoigun established ARCO Petrochemical Engineering Company Ltd in 1980 after a two-year stint as a Material Management Officer with NNPC’s Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC). “The company has since grown over the last three decades to become a conglomerate that not only deals in engineering and maintenance, but

has also diversified into marine logistics, maritime security, pipelines & facilities inspection, property development and consumer power generation. “Congratulating Alfred on his fellowship by the nation’s foremost engineering academy, Baru said he was a leading example in the development and promotion of engineering education in the country.

BY BUKOLA IDOWU, Lagos

Women in Business (WIMBIZ), a networking session for women in all sectors of the economy powered by Cloudcover Limited, an innovative company delivering constant internet connectivity to Nigerians, has held in Lagos with a call on women to always aim high and not be limited by their situations. The interactive session brought together women from diverse industries and organisations, and addressed issues concerning women in all areas of economic endeavour. Featuring women entrepreneurs, professionals, businesswomen and budding entrepreneurs, the event held in Victoria Island, Lagos and had the co-founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei as keynote speaker. Afua Osei, an entrepreneur, investor, and a seasoned public speaker, urged women not to be overwhelmed by the harsh economic environment that seeks to limit them from attaining greater heights. According to her, “It’s a tough society with series of odds stacked against women but we must never give up. We will find it hard going alone but our strength is in our unity. “When we collectively face challenges, we will achieve more. We should network more, share insights more and seek solutions together. We must not be overwhelmed by the institutional and cultural hurdles in our paths, we must refuse to be limited”, she said.


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16 NEWS NORTH-EAST, NORTH-WEST Taraba LG Boss Decries Influx Of IDPs

Monday, April 16, 2018

BY ANDREW OJIH, Jalingo

The chairman of Donga local government area of Taraba State, Mr Nashuku Ipeyen, has raised the alarm over 4,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in his council due to continuous attacks by herdsmen in the area. Ipeyen disclosed this while conducting newsmen round the IDP Camps across five primary schools in Donga, the headquarters of the local government area. The chairman explained that the attacks started one week ago in Muzi Utile villages when herdsmen returning from Takum opened fire on the inhabitants. He noted that the attacks had spread to other villages including Tormom, Shaakaa, Ovoh, Igo and Burukunu. Ipeyen noted that the influx of IDPs in the LGA headquarters had created humanitarian crisis in the council despite the state government prompt intervention in providing relief materials through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). “The IDPs’ situation we have is getting out of Control, at the last Count, they were over 4,000 and more are still coming due to continuous attacks. “As I am talking to you, more villages are being burnt down by herdsmen and people being killed. “From the time the crisis started to date in the local government, 20 people have been killed so far and thousands rendered homeless on their own land,” he said. Ipeyen called on the people to use traditional methods including Sticks and stones to defend their land from invaders.

Security Operatives Confiscate Exotic Cars In Sokoto BY ANKELI EMMANUEL Sokoto

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara Area Command alongside other security agencies have seized no fewer than 160 exotic vehicles hidden in a secured house within Sokoto metropolis, LEADERSHIP gathered The vehicles consisting mostly of brand new SUV Jeeps and Toyota Avensis were said to be stocked up by a prominent politician in the state ahead of 2019. Though, at the time of filing this report, no official statement was issued by any of the security agencies on the reasons for such seizure, however, a reliable source within the Customs said such operations was actually carried out alongside other security agencies. “As for the total number of cars seized, I cannot be very certain for now. But, they are all expensive cars, and should be more than 150” said the source The late hour raid was said to have being carried out on a house around the Ruggan Waru areas, within Aliyu Shinkafi Polythechnic, Sokoto State. Though, efforts to ascertain the owner of the seized vehicles proved abortive. It was however gathered that, the over 150 vehicles were kept by a prominent politician from the state ahead of 2019 general elections. The source who preferred anonymity said security agencies got wind of the development long ago, added that, they were patient till this time to enable them gather more vehicles before they strike. He added, “Nobody will ever believe that something of that nature is in that house because the fence is always closed and the perimeter wall of the house is secured. “We gathered intelligence on the development when they started bringing the vehicles bit by bit. The seizure however has nothing to do with persecution, we are only doing our job in accordance with the law.”

L-R: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Senator, representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, Binta Masi Garba during the Senator’s 50th Birthday thanksgiving service at the International Praise church in Yola, Adamawa State, yesterday.

IBB Pledges Support For Northern Stakeholders’ Assembly Former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, has lauded the Northern Leaders Stakeholders Assembly (NLSA) for ensuring the advancement of the country and pledged his support for the assembly. Babangida made the pledge yesterday when members of the group paid him a courtesy visit in Minna. The former leader described the assembly as “a forum that should be encouraged because of

its commitment to the unity of Nigeria and maintenance of its territorial integrity. “I want to commend you for your idea to ensure the advancement of the country. I believe that we should support peaceful coexistence in the country. “We will encourage what you are doing and support you to succeed.” The chairman of the Assembly, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, described the body as a non partisan polit-

ical group. He said people of Northern extraction were free to register as members of the group, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and political belief. He added that “as nonpartisan body, our mission is to create and nurture a culture of tolerance and togetherness by providing a platform for northerners to pursue a more civilised line of action in the field of politics.” Yakasai said NLSA was estab-

lished on Feb. 10 this year, and dedicated to the promotion of cultural and political unity and amity among northerners and Nigerians at large. The group then conferred former president Babangida with patron of the group. Some members of the Assembly were Alhaji Umar Gali Na’Abba, former Speaker, House of Representatives, and former governor of Niger, Dr Babangida Aliyu.

My People Pressured Me Into Kano Guber Race – Zaura BY ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI, Kano

One of the leading businessmen and politicians from Kano State, Alhaji Abdulsalami Abdulkarim Zaura, popularly known as A.A Zaura has finally accepted the yearnings of Kano State people to declare for governorship race in the state. Zaura confirmed that when speaking to newsmen recently in Abuja. He said that he is set to venture into the gubernatorial race under the auspices of Green Party of

Nigeria (GPN). He added that the decision for him to go for the number one seat in the state is a clarion call from mainly youths in the state. He said his main intention is to restore the state to its original status quo. According to him Kano State has suffered quite considerable set back overtime from the government in place, he said, it has become pertinent for him to come on board and rescue the state. “It is a pity to see a great state

like Kano facing challenges, ranging from the economic meltdown as a result, the government lack focus on so many things. Over 300 standard industries are now in comatose, redundancy and poverty is everywhere. The youths for example are left on their own fates, you only see those riding tri-circles all over the place, and wherever you go, communities resort to tri-circle as a major means of transportation. I want to assure the Kano people that my intention to run for the

governorship seat is to rescue the state from the hands of unprofessional team. He added that his party GPN is optimistic that when elected, Kano State will taste the true dividends of democracy. On whether he has prowess and knacks to defeat an incumbent governor, Zaura said it is on record that a businessman stands more reliable to champion an enabling environment for investments and manage it professionally than any other person.

Tambuwal Donates 1,000 Bags Of Grains To Widows, Needy In Sokoto BY ANKELI EMMANUEL, Sokoto

Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday through the State Zakkat and Endowment commissioner donated 1,000 bags of grains to both widows and the needy across the state. Speaking before distributing the grains to beneficiaries, chair-

man of the Commission, Malam Lawal Maidoki, said the donation was Tambuwal’s personal contribution towards alleviating the plight of widows and the needy. According to Maidoki, widows had earlier appealed for support to enable them feed their orphans. Disclosing the rationale for sharing the grains, Maidoki said, each of the beneficiaries would

get one bag of grain plus a thousand naira with which they will transport the gift to their respective destinations. Maidoki said, “The state governor donates 1,000 bags of grains which include 250 bags of rice, millet, maize and guinea corn for distribution to both widows and the needy across Sokoto State. “This is to ease the sufferings

of the less privileged in the society and to fight poverty and hunger in the state. “The gesture to provide grains and other daily needs for both widows and the needy in the state remained a continues one, as the governor remained very committed to every effort geared towards improving the living standard of his people.”

CVR: Sokoto Registers 110, 000 In 10 Months BY ANKELI EMMANUEL, Sokoto

No fewer than 110, 000 eligible voters have so far been registered in the ongoing continues voters registration (CVR) exercise in Sokoto State, Musa Muhammad confirmed. Muhammad, who is state Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) head

of Voters Education and Publicity Unit added that, he cannot ascertain the total number of registered voters in the state for now hence registration is ongoing. While disclosing that the state has about 39 CVR centers at the moment, Musa added that, the turn out by eligible voters has being very impressive.

According to him, those registering people equally deserves commendation, hence, they resorted to rotating from one ward to the other to ensure that, people are not disenchanfrised. “INEC has so far registered about 110, 000 eligible voters in Sokoto state between April 2017 and January this year. “However, on the total num-

ber of registered voters in the state, I cannot say for now hence people are still registering. INEC will also subject the entire registration to verification and ensure that all double registrations are sorted out. Until all the verification is done, then, we can confidently say, these is the total number of registered voters in the state.”


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AN APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE 11-year-old Jamila Needs N5m For Stem Cell Transplant

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t the tender age of 11, pretty Jamila Umar Mohammed is battling with sickle cell anaemia and more than ever before needs the assistance of kind hearted members of the public. Born with sickle cell anemia and her parents getting to know about it when she was about six months old, Jamila suffers severe body pains and organs disorder anytime the ailment begins. This entails that she has to be admitted to the hospital a couple of times in a year to be treated for hand-foot syndrome occasioned by swollen hands and feet. Miss Jamila who is currently undergoing treatment at Celltek Healtcare Limited in Benin City, needs N5 million as hospital bills for transplantation and one year drugs post transplantation. According to her father, Umar Mohammed, while Jamila needs N10 million to be treated, he has been able to raise the sum of N5 million through the benevolence of some members of the public, with which she has successfully undergone stem cell transplant at Celltek Healtcare Limited in Benin City while the results are awaited from Basel University, technical partners to Celltek Healthcare. “We are seeking the help of public spirited individuals to help us raise the balance of N5 million to cover for the cost of transplantation and one year drugs post transplantation”, Mohammed noted in a letter he sent to LEADERSHIP. He further noted that the family has expended all its funds; hence, the appeal to the public to further assist. He said willing donors could support by contributing their widow’s mite.

Donations could be sent to the following bank account: Account name: Umar Mohammed. Bank: Zenith Account number: 1003926359 For further enquiries, please contact Mohammed on: 08035888894

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32 ISSUES

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JAMB: Extending The Frontiers Of Reform BY HAMIDU DAN BAREWA

The successful and virtually hitch-free conduct of this year’s UTME across the country seems to have been an anti-climax judging from the unusually calm response from the general public and the media. It is a far cry from the frenzied chatter of critics, complainants and allied wailers that has regularly swamped the JAMB outing like an annual plague, much of which was justified. The appointment of Professor Ishaq Oloyede as Registrar two years ago and the series of introspective sanitation exercises against endemic operational plagues he launched literally took JAMB to the cleaners, throwing up all the dirty linen for public opprobrium. The professor did the needful without fear or favour but with a daring determination to demystify the unfathomable by dint of curative innovation and street-wise scuttling of exam malpractices. Simultaneously, the technological templates were reviewed and upgraded solely for the enhanced convenience of the candidates and strengthened integrity of the processes. The cumulative impact of the Oloyede crusade in JAMB highlighted the

reassuring reality of potent possibilities for far-reaching corrective interventions in the notoriously dysfunctional and corrupted public service institutions by meticulous selection and purposeful deployment of requisite chief executives with a track record of impactful leadership. It was a remarkable instance of a one-man-riot squad successfully carrying out the administrative equivalent of exorcism on a bedeviled institution to the satisfaction of a hitherto pessimistic public. The challenge is to garner the consistency of commitment and sincerity of purpose to search, identify and deploy such caliber of not-so-rare professionals and bureaucrats like Professor Oloyede whose trail-blazing legacies as VC UNILORIN remain immune to deterioration and drift. The seemingly low-keyed acknowledgement of the highgrade hitch-free conduct of this year’s UTME by the Oloyedeled JAMB actually signifies the calmness of contentment and quiet submission to excision of abnormality and inequity within the hitherto cynical, agitated and culpable community of stakeholders wallowing at the inherent excesses and inadequacies of the institution. The absence of the usual post-examination hysteria of dissatisfaction

is therefore an indication of the burden of responsibility attached to leadership positions in determining the quality of service and level of performance of public service institutions. The crux of the matter however is the “life expectancy” of the phenomenal corrective reforms and innovative initiatives for preserving the credibility and integrity of JAMB and its examinations. Though these landmark achievements are almost exclusively attributable to the leadership of Professor Oloyede and though the humble academicadministrator would always cite the supportive input of his management team, there is valid cause for concern as to the immunity acquired by JAMB against post-Oloyede relapse. Mercifully, the reformist professor’s tenure is just half way into a first term and he is most certainly qualified for an anticipatory approval of a second term and he can be trusted to extend the frontiers of his spectacular success into unexplored areas of further refinements of conduct of examinations! So perhaps we can confidently declare JAMB as being extricated from the ranks of irredeemable public institutions in the education

sector. Instructively however, in the process of reclaiming JAMB from various ills, the contaminating contributions of various stakeholders and related institutions were unceremoniously exposed. In particular, there were more than sufficient implicating grounds for putting the universities and other tertiary institutions as well as the secondary schools and related institutions who churn out the shockingly unqualified but intelligently dishonest candidates for UTME into the dock for Oloyede-type exorcism. Indeed the nation’s entire education sector would benefit tremendously from the dispassionate and professionally-motivated review and reform process with the same nationalistic objectives applied to JAMB so effectively. The crucial importance of the education sector in determining the ultimate potentials of a nation to meet and exceed its peoples’ expectations and attain a distinctive stature of progress and development relevant for humanity’s continued sustenance cannot be downplayed. Thus far we seem to be tottering on a tortuous treadmill of disarticulated goals and aspirations, rarely connecting with the feasible or functional formula for desired outcomes. As basic education lies

crippled in avoidable decay and deficiencies, secondary education is a mere conveyor belt of ratracing students to universities that crown their desperation for certification with non-academic laxity. The result is now lamented to have deteriorated from unemployed to unemployable graduates. It is therefore pertinent not only to begin a vigorous but vigilant manhunt for the likes of Professor Ishaq Oloyede who have distinguished themselves as dispassionate and dedicated in upholding professional as well as ethical standards of service to the country in all critical areas of national endeavour, beginning with education and deploying them meticulously and meritoriously to specific institutions where their influence will be transformative. In the meantime, can we crave the indulgence of Professor Ishaq Oloyede to help the process of much-needed national reform by producing a comprehensive blueprint of recommended remedies for the major maladies afflicting public service institutions in the education sector, now that he has satisfactorily exorcised the evil spirits of snakes, students, sorcery and science from the management and operations of JAMB? –Danbarewa Kaduna

writes

from

Kebbi And The Imperative Of Good Governance BY: UMAR SAGIRU GWANDU In Nigeria, there have been a power exchange from military to civilian and vis versa, and in some instances, there was interregnum and joint military and civilian administration. Thus, when Kebbi State was created in 1991, it was ushered into existence by the Ibrahim Babangida military administration thus necessitating a series of military governors and administrators before the transition to civilian government in 1999 and the sustenance of democracy till date. Down history lane, the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) was the first party to rule the state under the administration of Gov. Adamu Aliero before the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took control under the stewardship of Gov. Usman Dakingari who ruled the state with an iron fist from May 29th 2007 to 2015. PDP regime was a clear example of misgovernance and misdirection characterized by visionless and directionless leadership desiderata, policy summersaults and witch hunting of opposition figures to no end. Indeed, the PDP’s stewardship in Kebbi state was as more in the mold of the legendary Louis XVI, the Sun King of France who ruled with unparalleled pomp, pomposity and pageantry while the masses of his country wallowed in penury and abject poverty unprecedented in those times. In fact, rather than concentrate on meaningful

and purposeful governance that would transform the fortunes of the Kebbi people for the better, a grandiose loving regime was more interested in power accumulation and power aggrandizement at the expense of the denizens of Kebbi society. The then government was more interested in dispensing favours to an influential segment of the state consisting of retired generals, super civil servants, corporate barons and conservative traditional rulers rather than initiating any meaningful developmental architecture that would pull Kebbi state out of the woods and rank it in the comity of progressive states of Nigeria. In agglomeration with PDP party hacks and scribes, their vested interest was the massive and systematic looting of Kebbi state finances under the guise of awarding questionable, fake or non-existent contracts or tenders as a Trojan Horse for siphoning huge amounts of funds from the state treasury. Disgustingly, at no time during the woebegone administration could the government point to any meaningful physical or infrastructural project that they had executed or in the process of executing in Kebbi State, therefore the only recourse was to engage in media hype, propaganda and the dissemination of state-sponsored campaigns of calumny and blackmail against the opposition parties. It was clear that, during that epoch, appointments, postings, deployments and promotions in the state civil service or its numerous MDA’s was

based on ‘man know man’ factor as PDP’s hacks and favourites were appointed to man strategic positions in the state’s bureaucracy while other more competent and experienced hands stagnated in the same position for years on end. It was pathetic that, during the previous regime, government was mainly concerned PDP was Kebbi state and Kebbi state was PDP, no more no less. And being possessed of their fanatically partisan mindset, they ran the state aground while allegedly moving billions of naira into the coffers of his cronies and acolytes in the PDP not caring for the welfare and wellbeing of the citizens of Kebbi state, majority of whom had become disenchanted and estranged from his rampant kleptoratic maladministration of the land of equity. Therefore, during the 2015 general elections, hundreds of thousands of determined Kebbians trooped out to hand a humiliating and woefully devastating defeat to PDP throwing out the cronies and acolytes that the former helmsman had used to milk the state for years. It was a sweet and resounding victory for the APC and the newly elected Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu who moved swiftly to deliver on key infrastructural and developmental projects, programs and policies designed to raise the socio-economic index of the state for the better. Bagudu rather than engages in partisan axe-grinding typical of the ousted regime, he’s running an all-

inclusive administration and treating all Kebbians as his constituents regardless of partisan, ethnic, religious or sectional loyalty or inclination and because of this singular gesture, most of the PDP members including the former governor has joined the APC in the state leaving the PDP with few degraded members. His idea on location of projects has been across the board, as and where needed and not tied to any parochial or primordial disposition as was the case with the PDP’s rein of political favoritism. Indeed, such has been the stunning array of projects bequeathed by the revolutionary government which make thousands of erstwhile PDP supporters to have switched their party loyalty to the APC as the party of hope, achievement sustenance and delivery of democratic dividends. On that basis, the politically conscious Kebbians have compared and contrasted the dynamic APC led government of Bagudu with the erratic PDP led administration of yore and have come to the irreversible conclusion that the ancient regime and its remnants and lackeys must never be allowed to come close to the corridors of power again. Interestingly, in lieu of engaging in empty, vile or deceitful propaganda reminiscent of the PDP years of the locust, an objective Gov. Bagudu has remained focused on his goal of uplifting Kebbi State to a greater height, materially, socially and physically not caring whose ox is gored in the process. Equally, while those that regard themselves as unrepentant power

brokers in the state continue in their fruitless shenanigans against his government, an unfazed Gov. Bagudu has rather allowed his visible democratic tidings to speak for him and his administration, vowing that he would not spend a kobo of state funds for cheap publicity stunts aimed at garnering cheap and vacuous popularity. The fact is that, if money could buy votes or popularity then PDP’s favoured gubernatorial choice, Major General Sarkin Yarki (rtd) would have emerged victorious in the 2015 polls but sadly the famed war hero was decimated by the APC moving train and crashed into early political retirement before he could even kick start his political career from military retirement. It’s prevailing that, as the 2019 election looms the PDP has once again kicked off their ubiquitous propaganda machinery comprising of half-truths, misstatements, outright lies and manufactured falsehood all in an attempt to hood wink the stoic and hardworking people of Kebbi who have borne the brunt of their years of misrule, misgovernance and neglect to no end. However, times have changed, the Kebbi people have become wiser, have come of age and are determined to take their destiny in their own hands once and for all rather than fall victim to the hyenas, jackals’ vultures, predators and scavengers that hark in the Peoples Democratic Party. -Sagiru writes from Gwandu


business

Monday, April 16, 2018

NEWS

MONEY

CAPITAL MARKET

INSURANCE

INFLATION RATE (%) 2016

August September October

17.61 17.85 18.33

INTERVIEW

2017

16.01 15.98 15.91

ANALYSIS

Leadership Newspapers

4.9375 14.4265 15.2737 16.9888

1.69 0.99 1.02 1.45

Dangote Bags ABU Top Corporate Award BY MBAKAAN KWEN, Abuja

Africa’s foremost philanthropist and president of the Dangote Group Aliko Dangote has bagged ABU’s top Corporate Award. The Award was conferred on him by the Ahmadu Bello University Alumni Association. The 2018 Corporate Award was presented to the top industrialist in view of the numerous contributions of his conglomerate to the development of the educational sector in Nigeria, the Association’s National President Professor Ahmed Tijani Mora said. Professor Mora said the interventions of the Aliko Dangote Foundation in the educational sector over the years have been unprecedented through, especially, the sponsorship of various scholarship programmes. Reading his citation, Professor Mora said apart from the $100million donation to fight malnutrition, Mr. Dangote is a ‘dedicated philanthropist’ who has also “made an initial endowment of $1.25billion to the Aliko Dangote Foundation in March 2014.” He said Dangote Foundation has constructed 10 blocks of hostels for ABU Zaria. According to him, the Association has 12 governors as alumni, adding that one in every four Nigerian is governed by the alumni of the school. The Dangote Academy located in Obajana Kogi State is yet another contribution of the Group to education to Nigeria, he said. Group Business Editor Bayo Amodu 08118672002 Business Editor (Lagos) Chima Akwaja Assistant Business Editors Kingsley Alu Tony Awunor Correspondent Chika Izuora Reporters Festus Okoromadu Mark Itsibor Mbakaan Kwen Bukola Idowu Olushola Bello Abah Adah Chika Okeke

Deputy Governor, corporate Services, Mr Edward Lametek Adamu presenting Vanguard Newspapers “Life Time Achievement Award” to Professor Emeritus Grace Alele-Williams in Lagos at the weekend.

4 Months After Flag-off, NRC Yet To Move Cargoes From Kaduna Dryport BY YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos

Commercial activities at the Kaduna Inland Container Dryport (ICD) has suffered massive setback as the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has failed to move cargoes from the Apapa seaports to the dryport, LEADERSHIP investigation has shown. Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on January 2, 2018 officially flagged-off the Kaduna ICD for activities. The Kaduna ICD is the first of its kind in Nigeria created and designed to receive cargoes from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway. The dryport is also designated as port of origin for exports and port of destination for imports. It was also designed to accelerate the implementation of the federal government’s economic diversification policy by providing for importers and exporters located within the nation’s hinterland, especially industrial and commercial outfits, access to shipping and port services without necessarily visiting the seaports. But, the motives for the creation of the dryport is greatly under threat as importers now move their cargoes from the port through trucks instead of rail. Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, a top management staff of the ICD said the inability of the NRC to move cargoes from the seaport

Business 101 with MBAKAAN KWEN

INTER BANK LENDING RATE (AS AT APRIL 12) RATE CHANGE (%)

O/N 1M 3M 6M

to the ICD has affected operations. The source who craved anonymity said few cargoes they received at the dryport were brought by trucks. The source also said even though the railway corporation promised to dedicate wagons and locomotives at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos for the exercise, after the commissioning, they are yet to fulfil their promise. “When we had a stakeholders meeting at Federal Place Hotel, Lagos, the Managing Director of NRC promised that they will dedicate locomotives and wagons but as at now, they have not done their part, but they promise they are working on it. He stated further that shippers from the Northern part of the country have expressed disappointment over nonfunctional rail system into the dryport. “Northern Shippers have been coming and asking whether the rail is working and we have told them they will start operations by this quarter. T ‎ hey believe r‎ ail is cheaper and safe. “If we use rail, we have more advantage to attract northern shippers and the dryport has cost leverage compared to what is obtainable in Lagos ports. If we are to entice customers, rail use must be working because, we can use rail for both import and export,” he said. He said: “They have not started moving containers either in or out, but they have promised that before the end of this quarter they will give us locomotives and wagons. The

movement of cargoes they did was last year, and that was when they had a wash out‎ but they have concluded the washout. What we need now is wagons and locomotive.” On the impact of the trucking cargoes by road, he said “Since the train is not working, we have been getting cargoes by roads and you know our roads are bad and the best option is the rail even in South Africa that is what is used.” But, speaking to LEADERSHIP in January, managing director of NRC, Engineer Fidet Okhiria disclosed that the corporation would be discussing with the Kaduna ICD management for movement of cargoes in and out of the dryport. “We will be discussing with the Kaduna ICD management and if the goods going to the dryports are readily available, then we are ready to move the cargoes. “Rail doesn’t carry goods in pieces rather, we carry in bulk. We have the wagons and when they are ready they are loaded and not that they will be waiting for Mr. A to bring one cargo or Mr. B to bring in another cargoe, rather it is direct from the shippers to the dryport. “We believe the containers will be readily available and not one person taking container to Benin, another to Warri but everyone having containers destined for Kaduna dryport being taken on the rail and have it loaded on the wagon and taken to the ICD,” he said.

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Things You Must Know Before Buying Shares •YOU OWN A PART OF THE BUSINESS: When you invest in stocks, you do not invest in the market (despite what you think). You invest in the equity shares of a company. That makes you a shareholder; you now own a small part of that business without having to go to work there. The good news is, since you own part of the company, you are entitled to a share in its profits. The bad news is that you are also expected to bear the losses, if any. That is why investing in shares is risky. If the company does well, you benefit. If it does not, you lose. There are no guarantees whatsoever. •ALWAYS INVEST FOR THE LONG-TERM: The best way to make money is to buy low and sell high. This means you should buy the share when the price is low and sell it when it is high. That is why you must buy in a bear market. This is a term used to describe the sentiment of the stock market when it is low and the prices of shares have generally fallen. The best time to sell is in a bull market, when the sentiment is high and the prices of shares are rising. •DECIDE HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO INVEST: Always remember one basic rule in finance -if something gives you a higher return, that’s usually because it carries a greater risk. That’s the reason why not-so-good companies will pay you a higher rate of interest for your deposits. The same reasoning goes for stocks too -- they give higher returns than, say, bank fixed deposits because they are more risky. So the amount of money you invest in the market depends on your capacity to bear the risk. Source: Sulagna Chakravarty

QUOTE OF THE DAY We have invested immensely in new technologies and digital solutions.” Chairman of Zenith Bank Group, Mr. Jim Ovia.

Ovia


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Lagos Int’l Trade Fair Board Meet To Revive Complex BY TAIWO OMILANI, Lagos

R-L: President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and chairman, UBA Plc and founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Tony O Elumelu when Elumelu had discussion with the President on financing infrastructure development and entrepreneurship in Kenya, at the State House in Nairobi, at the weekend.

Capital Market: Oando Shareholders Accuse Adeosun Of Interference BY OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos

Shareholders of Oando Plc have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun for what they described as her “unwholesome interference” in the nation’s capital market. The shareholders also accused the minister of “unnecessarily meddling” with the functions of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The national president of Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria (TSAN), Alhaji Mukhtar Ismail Mukhtar, the National Coordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association (PROSAN), Mr. Taiwo Oderinde; and the Coordinator, Oando Shareholders Solidarity Group (OSSG), in a joint statement in Lagos on Sunday said the minister in her desperate attempt to shield Oando from probe, has inevitably caused untold harm both to the independence of SEC and the Nigerian capital market. “We wish to bring the attention of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and all Nigerians to the unwholesome actions of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun with regards to the probe of Oando Plc. “You may recall that since early last year, Oando has been enmeshed in series of crises bordering on abuse of corporate governance and alleged gross financial mismanagement. “The internal auditors of Oando Plc, Messrs Ernst & Young, in the company’s financial report last year expressed doubts over its ability to continue as a going concern because its liabilities exceeded its assets. “As concerned shareholders, we sent petitions to the

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and to the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market. The committee mandated SEC to investigate these allegations, culminating in the setting up of a committee by SEC to carry out a preliminary investigation of the company’s affairs. “SEC’s preliminarily investigation, as disclosed by the commission in a letter dated October 17, 2017 signed by its head of Legal unit, Braimoh Anastasia, unearthed several malpractices in the company. These include insider trading, decoration of dividends from unrealised profits, release of false financial statements to the public and the disposal of assets without the knowledge of the regulatory body in contravention of the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) 2007, among several other infractions. “These weighty findings compelled the suspension of Oando shares on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) to pave way for a more thorough investigation via a forensic audit ordered by SEC,” National Coordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association (PROSAN), Mr. Taiwo Oderinde, said. Oderinde also explained that unfortunately, the forensic audit has been stalled due to the “unwholesome interference by Mrs Kemi Adeosun to the detriment of Oando shareholders and the entire Nigerian capital market”. He accused Adeosun of suspending Munir Gwarzo and Dr Abdul Subair as SEC director-general and acting director-general respectively because they resisted her plan to shield the management of Oando from probe. “It must concern Mr. President, Mr. Vice President and all Nigerians that Mrs. Adeosun has now removed two SEC DGs from their

positions all in a desperate attempt to shield Wale Tinubu and the present management of Oando from probe. “These men have been sacked from their positions because they refused to stop the probe of Oando. Zubair was sacked because he initially resisted Adeosun’s attempt to forcefully remove the suspension placed on the shares of Oando to preserve investors’ funds. Unfortunately, she had her way and the lifting of the suspension is part of a grand plan to sweep the weighty allegations against Oando under the carpet. “This is clearly a negation of the anticorruption stance of the present administration and a systematic destruction of the Nigerian capital market. “The show of shame exhibited last week where the Nigerian Stock Exchange was made to implement three different directives with regards to the suspension of Oando shares within 24 hours should worry the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians. It sent very bad and negative signals to investors all over the world. The attendant negative impact of Adeosun’s meddlesomeness to protect some entrenched interests will haunt the market for a long time to come. “Consequently, we believe the sack of the Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari is the only way to show that the Federal Government remains committed to the fight against corruption in all sectors of the economy,” National President of Trusted Shareholders Association of Nigeria (TSAN), Alhaji Mukhtar Ismail Mukhtar, said. However, all attempt to get a response from the minister proved abortive as text messages and e-mail sent to her special assistant on media, Mr Oluyinka Akintunde, were not responded to as at the time of filling this report.

Lagos International Trade Fair complex management board have come together to find ways to revive the complex and put it in good shape. In an interview with journalists, the Board Chairman, Mela Audu Nunghe described the complex as a monument of wealth lying fallow which needs urgent attention. According to him, we came for inaugural meeting and tour to see things for ourselves and

to understand the challenges ahead us. “For those who knew International Trade fair complex in the past years and see the state now will weep. The challenges are major now and you can refer to it as a mad house or abandoned project. It is really a sad story. “Why will government have such project and it is abandoned. It is better to life”, he added. Nunghe therefore said that with the cooperation of the board they would make

difference, stressing that the mandate is given to them by the Federal government. In her contribution, Mrs. Lucy Omosefe Ajayi, who is the Executive Director of Lagos International Trade Fair management board stressed further that within the four month she assumed office, things have changed. Her words: “as one of the government agencies, We made made half a billion as Treasury Single Account (TSA) and my target for third quarter is one billion naira”.

Dangote Urges Private Sector To Fund Healthcare With 1% Profit BY OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos

Africa’s foremost entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote has given an insight on the need why private sector operators in the country should commit one per cent of their profit annually to funding health care services. Dangote has suggested to members of an expanded National Economic Council meeting recently the need to

have a trust fund to revitalise the nation’s sorry public health sector similar to the education trust fund operated at the federal level and security trust fund run in some states. He expressed the conviction that such trust fund would go a long way to help the nation’s health sector and improve the people’s well-being in the face of multiple challenges confronting the nation with

limited resources available to government. His advice came on the day the Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates picked holes in the economic policy of the federal government, when he said the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) being bandied by the government does not address the needs of Nigerians.


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‘Bureaucratic Bottlenecks Frustrating OPL 310 Field Devt’ In this piece, CHIKA IZUORA examines regulatory bottlenecks that has frustrated genuine efforts towards the development of Nigeria’s Oil Prospecting Lease, OPL 310 in contrast to federal government’s desire to facilitate ease of doing business in the oil and gas industry.

P

rotracted delays and other bottlenecks in regulatory approvals can negatively impact indigenous capacity for growth within the exploration and production segment in the energy sector in Nigeria. Such delays which are nonexistent in advanced economies and have no place in modern practice may lead to avoidable loss of valuable business time, erode investors’ confidence, engender uneasiness and deny

the nation of actualizing its full potentials both as a regional hub and an international market. In addition, such also negates the federal government’s renewed efforts at boosting Nigeria’s ease of doing business index as championed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. LEKOIL, an oil exploration and production firm with petroleum assets in Africa recently commenced proceedings against the

Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR) over the delay in giving assent to its investments in Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 310. The company said it began to acquire stakes in the block, which is in shallow waters offshore Lagos in 2013, but the ministry had failed to give any decision on the purchase made in 2015 of an Afren subsidiary, which holds a 22.86% stake in the block. Though the court is yet to confirm a date to commence

L-R: Managing director/chief executive officer, Coronation Merchant Bank Group, Abubakar Jimoh; chairman, Board of Directors, Babatunde Folawiyo; company secretary/ legal adviser, Cornelia Utuk; non- executive directors, Babatunde Dabiri and Adamu Atta during the 3rd annual general meeting, held in Lagos, recently.

hearing, it appears that there is more than meet the eyes. Industry watchers and practitioners are wondering why regulatory delays have to assume such worrisome dimension. LEADERSHIP, learnt that the delay which currently worries LEKOIL and warranted the litigation may not be unconnected with roadblocks erected by another key player, Optimum. An industry source which confided in our correspondent said that “as the transaction was not undertaken on the basis of an Assigned Interest in the oil block, approval by Optimum was not required under the JOA between Optimum and Afren.” There is a Joint Operating Agreement. The Joint Operating Agreement requires the consent of the operator for the transfer of interest which applies at the time of funding to the transfer of 17.14% interest. That was the direct transfer of interest to LEKOIL from Afren from the Afren subsidiary which has 40%; LEKOIL has since received ministerial consent for that because Optimum granted consent for that transaction, the source explained. Stakeholders in the energy sector are also worried about the development and the implications for the industry, regulatory processes and investors, in view of Nigeria’s drive to attract more investment into its critical sectors including petroleum and energy. An industry expert, Oluwole Cole believes that the requirement of consent from the operator Optimum should not apply to a simple shares purchase. According to him, the real question begging for answer is that: “Did the DPR conduct the due diligence it was supposed to

which would have led to the subsequent recommendation of the ministerial consent?” From the information in the public domain, some facts are quite clear. The transaction was not undertaken on the basis of an assigned interest; Afren assigned 17.14% to LEKOIL in 2013 which formed the basis of its listing on the London stock exchange and that Optimum consented to and Optimum is required to consent to it based on the agreement. “The 22.86% was acquired as a result of a direct purchase of an Afren subsidiary. So, in this context, you don’t need a consent of a third party to buy a company, he quipped. LEKOIL had said it decided to sue the ministry due to the protracted delay in decision, which, it said is tying down its funds and ticking off time on its license. As a result, the company has taken the decision to apply to the Federal High Court for a declaration that is expected to expedite the consent process and preserve the unexpired tenure in the license. The company had noted that its first expression of intent in the oil block started with the purchase of a 17.14% participating interest and a 30% interest in Afren Investments Oil and Gas Nigeria LTD (AIOGNL) on February 1st 2013. It was reported that Mayfair Assets and Trust Limited, a subsidiary of LEKOIL, farmed-in to Afren Investments Oil and Gas (Nigeria) Limited’s (AIOGNL) interest in OPL 310 for a 17.14 percent participating interest and 30 percent economic interest, subject to Ministerial Consent from Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources. But it took a whooping Forty-two (42) months before Ministerial Consent was granted for the interest on 9 June 2017!

The narrative goes further that because Afren PLC, the parent company of AIOGNL was weakening, on 31st July 2015, it went into administration. LEKOIL then entered into an agreement with the Administrators of the company to purchase its shares. To that end, On 1 December 2015, LEKOIL announced an agreement with the administrator of Afren and Afren Nigeria Holding Limited to acquire the shares of AIOGNL, which held a 22.86 percent participating interest in OPL 310. This interest was also subject to Ministerial Consent from the Minister of Petroleum Resources The procurement of the stakes made LEKOIL a technical and financial partner to Optimum Petroleum Development Company the Operator of the block which retains a 60 percent participating interest, and by implication, LEKOIL would hold a consolidated participating interest of 40 percent and an economic interest of 70 percent in OPL310. It’s then bewildering that despite LEKOIL’s confirmation of an application for the transfer of the 22.86 percent interest by Afren Nigeria in January 2016 and assurances that due diligence will be conducted in March of 2016, the company neither heard from the ministry nor the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), fuelling its fears of protracted, avoidable loss accrued by the operational hiatus. As this issue portends grave danger to the industry, analysts are keen to see as events unfold and hope the imbroglio can be resolved speedily with minimal impact on investors’ confidence and the markets and in Nigeria as whole.

AIICO Insurance Grows Premium Income To N32.1bn BY ZAKA KHALIQ, Lagos

AIICO Insurance Plc grew its premium income to N32.1 billion in its 2017 financial year end, up from N27.06 billion it posted in its 2016 financial year, representing an increase of N5.03 billion or 19 per cent. Diluted earnings per share for the year were 13 kobo per share, down from 105 kobo per share in 2016. Speaking during a media parley at the company’s headquarter in Lagos last week, the managing director,

Mr. Edwin Igbiti, said, his insurer experienced significant growth as a company in 2017, while it had to significantly increase capacity and improve its processes to meet up with customer demands. Igbiti, who was represented by executive director, operations, Mr. Babatunde Fajemirokun, added that there was improved performance in its life business, as this line of business grew by 15 per cent from N18.8 billion to N21.6 billion in 2017. This growth, he said, was driven by the

increased popularity of its traditional life products, even as its ordinary life business grew by 29 per cent in 2017 to N16.4 billion from N12.8 billion in 2016. Stating that its non-life business grew from N7.6 billion in 2016 to N8.7 billion in 2017, translating to N1.1 billion or 15 per cent increase, he added that AIICO Insurance had worked to improve its relationships with agents, brokers and various intermediaries in its 2017 financial year to improve performance.


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Anxiety As Importers Smuggled 530 Expired SEC Holds First Capital Market Committee Meeting Energy Drink, Spagetti Out Of Lagos Ports the initiatives introduced in the

Last year, 661 pump action rifles were smuggled out of the Apapa Port A total of 530 packages of expired without necessary clearance but was energy drink imported from Europe intercepted by officers of FOU Zone A and banned spaghetti from Turkey on its way to the owners’ warehouses. Also, in May 2016, the Assistant were smuggled out of the Lagos Port Complex without necessary Customs Inspector General of Police, Maritime clearance, last week, LEADERSHIP Command, Musa Katsina, intercepted a truck conveying a 40-foot container has learnt. At the time of filling this report, it that he alleged was smuggled out of the was not clear whether the containers ports at midnight. The container when illegally exited through the Apapa examined contained used tyres that Port or the Tin-Can Island Port, but were not declared and used vehicles importation of Spagetti is on the federal that were under declared. government’s import prohibition list. Stakeholders at the port have, According to the import prohibition however, confirmed that containers list on the website of the Nigeria especially contrabands are smuggled Customs Service (NCS) Spaghetti/ on a daily basis out of the Lagos Noodles – H.S. Codes 1902.1100 – Port -Apapa and Tin-Can - with the 1902.30.0000 are banned from being connivance of Customs officers. imported into Nigeria. Confirming further, the Customs Confirming this, the Customs Area CAC said the container even though Controller of the Federal Operations was declared as baking powder in the Unit, Zone A, Ikeja, Compt. Single Goods Declaration (SGD), Mohammed Uba, disclosed that further investigation revealed it was the container also contained 2,260 cartons of Gonca Spagetti and energy cartoons of Gonca Spagetti made in drinks that were not examined nor Turkey. cleared from the seaport. LEADERSHIP recalls that that He said: “The 1x20ft container was not the first time cargoes would no: CSNU 106087/4 carried 2,260 be smuggled out of the Lagos port cartoons of Gonca Spagetti made without proper clearance procedure. in Turkey and 530 package of Rifle BY YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos

Energy drinks made in Europe as against baking powder declared in the SGD. Investigation revealed that the container was never exited, we are still investigating and all those found culpable will face the full wrath of the law. “While 1x40ft container no: PCIU 865957/1 was seized for carrying 200 cartons of ladies shoes, 134 cartons of children’s ware among other items as against keyboard and mouse declared in the SGD; 1x40ft container no:FCIU 80992/0 was seized for carrying 2,300 cartons of tiffany chocolate,385 cartons of tiffany crunch ‘n’ cream biscuit as against “Tapet for fuel pump complete”. These are clear cases of false declarations, liable to seizure and forfeiture.” The Customs boss also warned smugglers both at the n‎ ation’s seaports and land borders to desist as his officers are on standby to subdue them. “Let me warn all smugglers/intending ones and their accomplices to desist from such trade malpractices and invest their money in legitimate business, as the Unit has devised other operational modalities that will give them a run for their money and count their losses and finally end in jail” he said.

BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to host the First Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting for 2018. The meeting is scheduled to hold in Lagos from Thursday April 19 to Friday April 20, 2018. The meeting is scheduled to hold at the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos. Top on the agenda would be the capital market master plan implementation and other Capital Market Initiatives, the commission said in a statement. The ten-year master plan for the Nigerian capital market which is expected to refocus the market and help double its size over time and grow the economy was unveiled November 2014. Recall that the Commission has vigorously implemented some initiatives in the Master Plan with the aim of attracting more investors to the market. Some of the initiatives, include direct cash settlement, dematerialisation and e-Dividend Registration, as they promote transparency, protect and enhance investors’ confidence in the capital market. The SEC therefore enjoins all shareholders to take advantage of

capital market aimed, primarily, at strengthening the market and accelerating economic development. This, SEC said is in consonance with the present administration’s economic strategy focused on deepening the capital market as a vehicle for encouraging a private sectorled economy with enhanced productivity. Those who have been invited to attend the expanded session are Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all registered capital market firms (i.e Broker Dealer, Capital Market Solicitors, Custodians, Fund Managers, Issuing Houses, Rating Agencies, Registrars, Reporting Accountants, Trustees, and Consultants, e.t.c); Others are Chief Executive Officers of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), The Financial Markets Dealers Quotations (FMDQ), Africa Exchange Holdings (AFEX), Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX), Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS); as well as representatives of relevant Financial Services’ Agencies, among others.

Heritage Bank Restates Commitment To Nigeria’s Creative Industry BY KEHINDE SALLAH, Lagos

Managing director/chief executive officer, FirstBank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan (second left); the bank’s executive director, Public Sector Group, Abdullahi Ibrahim (Left) and executive director ,Corporate Banking, Dr. Remi Oni (right) during the Bank’s courtesy visit to Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed (second right), at the State House, Ilorin to commiserate with the state over the armed robbery attack in Offa, recently.

FCTA To Partner Chams On Abuja ICT Smart City Project BY MBAKAAN KWEN, ABUJA

The minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Muhammad Musa Bello, has said the FCTA is working on arrangement to partner with Chams Plc, a leading provider of identity management and intelligent business solutions on the Abuja Smart City project. Speaking during a presentation by Chams Plc in Abuja recently, the chief of staff, FCTA, Mr Bashir Mai-Bornu, who represented the minister at the event, said the FCTA would like to engage the company in providing ICT solutions in the areas of education and health.

He said: ‘‘Technology is the future and anybody that ignores it does so it at his own peril. The FCT requires a lot of ICT solutions because of the services it provides. We believe with what Chams has done in the country in its 33 years of existence, it can play a big role in making Abuja a smart city.’’ In his response, the group managing director, Chams, Mr Femi Williams, said the company has a lot of creative ways of solving problems. According to him, the company is good at understanding challenges and can generate Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the FCTA from any area with different strategies. In his presentation, Williams said the company has provided intelligent

business solutions for many clients which include: Osun and Anambra state governments, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN, among others. ‘‘Most of our solutions are built and managed by Nigerians. We don’t sell solutions, we adapt them. We are very good at understanding challenges. We do intelligent business solutions that add value to our customers.’’ Chams, a conglomerate commenced business in Nigeria in 1985 as a computer hardware and maintenance company. The company is quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Heritage Bank Plc, has restated its commitment to the development and growth of the Nigeria’s creative industry. Managing director/chief executive officer of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, stated this in a statement issued by the divisional head, corporate communications of the bank at the weekend. He said Heritage Bank was committed to the development and growth of the entertainment industry because one of the easiest ways to solve the unemployment issue in the country is to get as many people as possible involved in the entertainment industry, because manufacturing, banking and other sectors cannot do it alone. Sekibo said the music industry has done so much for Nigeria in terms of employment and foreign exchange earnings and if more resources could be put into it, the country would be better for it. Besides supporting individual artistes in the industry, the bank has also partnered with some organisers to perform and produce some entertainment shows. Some of these include partnership with Yibo Koko in association with

Bolanle Peters to produce and perform Seki, a dance drama. The event which held at the popular Terra Kulture Arena was graced by members of the diplomatic corps, bank officials and lovers of arts and it featured notable celebrities like Hilda Dokubo, Monalisa Chinda Coker, Ibinabo Fiberisima, Julius Agwu, Ovunda Ihunwo, Peace Christian, Deborah Job, Opereke Jamabo Foh and Mercy Albert among others as casts. The bank has also partnered with MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, owners of the DSTV and GOTV brands to bring the third season of the Big Brother Naija to viewers across Africa and beyond. The Big Brother Naija 2018 was recently unveiled with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu as the host with 20 house mates battling for the winning prize of N45 million which include a cash gift of N25 million and SUV Jeep among others. The theme of this year’s edition is “Double Wahala.” Also, Heritage Bank has partnered with Seagull Band, one of the five bands that participated in the 2017 edition of the Calabar Festival with the theme migration and climate change.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Gov Emmanuel Deserves Commendation –Udo BY BERNARD TOLANI DADA, Uyo

The Akwa Ibom state Commissioner for Information and strategy, Charles Udo has called on the people of the state to continue to support the transformation agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel to enable him deliver more sustainable projects devoid of political biases. Udoh who stated this yesterday in Uyo while on a live interactive Planet Radio 101.1 FM programme, Akwa Ibom mandate said that the governor deserves commendation for his trail blazing achievements within the past 30 months of governance. He noted that the governor’s administration is opened to constructive criticism that contributes positively towards the development and growth of the state and not distractions by people whipping up political sentiments and biases on all actions and programmes of government implemented and executed with good intentions. ‘’How many states in Nigeria are paying salaries and pensions as at when due, how many states have constructed over 1700km of roads within the period, how many states are providing free education to the people and paying annual WAEC fees for students, how many states are providing free medicare to children between 0-5 years of age, pregnant women and the aged and how many states have engineered the volume of Foreign Direct Investment to their States as Governor Udom Emmanuel has done in Akwa Ibom State, among others,’’ he stated.

Ijaw, Itsekiri Youths Laud Moves To Dredge Warri Port BY OSA OKHOMINA, Yenagoa

Ijaw and Itsekiri youths yesterday commended the decision by the federal government to approve thr contract for the dredging of the Escravos bar to Warri port in Delta State. The Ijaw and Itsekiri youths, in a joint press statement made available to LEADERSHIP by Comrade Eric Omare, the President of the Ijaw Youth Council and Comrade Weyinmi Agbateyiniro, the President of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, described the approval of the contract to dredge the Escravos bar to Warri port as a laudable response by the federal government to demands by stakeholders in the Niger Delta region to make the eastern ports functional. According to the youth leaders, the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman deserved commendation for their efforts towards ensuring the approval of the Escravos to Warri port dredging contract.

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SOUTH SOUTH 37

253 Teachers To Teach Benin Language, History - Obaseki BY PATRICK OCHOGA, Benin City

Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said the state government has completed the training of 253 teachers, who will be deployed to teach Benin culture, language and history in secondary schools and selected primary schools across the state. Obaseki disclosed this at the weekend during the presentation of a book titled: “Ogiamien and The Illusion of Kingship,” written by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri, in Benin City, the Edo State capital. He said the deployment of the

teachers to the schools was in line with the state government’s policy to preserve Benin’s rich history and culture, noting, “We are emphasising the study of Benin language, culture and history to preserve it for the present and the future generations. This is to ensure that we preserve our identity.” The governor said a major focus of his administration is to reform basic education in the state, adding that, “In few years to come, children who complete basic education in the state would have obtained quality education, similar to the quality of education obtained by the author of the

book.” According to him, “during the last book presentation by Chief Edebiri, I made a commitment to restore the teaching of history in our school curriculum. We have not only achieved the promise but happy that the federal government is following suit by reintroducing the teaching of history in the national curriculum.” He commended the author of the book, whose generation, he said, has helped build local communities, the state and country. The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, also commended Chief Edebiri, noting

that the book had revealed more historical facts about the Benin monarchy by dispelling the wrong perception relating to the defeat of Ogiamien by the Oba of Benin in the 13th century. The Benin monarch, who was represented by the Oliha of Benin, Chief Edionwe Oliha, noted that the book was significant in presenting the real issue about Ogiamien, adding, “I commend the author in going the extra mile to present such a book. I have confidence that the book will serve as valuable research material for researchers and all those interested in Benin history.”

R-L: Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki; Deputy National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Wale Oke; and Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Taiwo Akerele, during the courtesy visit by Bishop Oke to the governor, at the Government House in Benin City, at the Weekend. PHOTO BY EDO STATE GOVT.

Obaseki Places 90-day Ban On Grazing In Edo Communities BY PATRICK OCHOGA, Benin City

As an interim measure to forestall further killings and destruction of property, Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has placed a 90- day total ban on grazing in Odighi, Odiguetue communities and environs. Obaseki announced the ban during a meeting with members of Odighi, Owan and Odigwuetue communities at the

palace of the Enogie of Odighi Community in Ovia North East local government council of the state. The governor said the ban became necessary to stop further killings as the duty of his administration is to protect lives and property of the people of the state. “We have set up a special taskforce made up of the Army, Police, State Security Service,

hunters and vigilante groups to comb the bushes and dislodge squatter camps of killer herdsmen and ensure no grazing takes place in Odighi, Odiguetue communities and environs”. He added that within two weeks, the taskforce will go round the affected communities to get information that will help dislodge the criminals who pose as herdsmen in the forest. Obaseki noted that, “be-

structural development of Bayelsa State. Other awardees are; the wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, (rtd) Governor of Taraba State, Arc Darius Ishiaku, Abia State Governor, Chief Okezie Ikpeazu, Governor of Kano state, Alhaji Umar Ganduje and Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar. The award was also conferred on the Managing Director òf Union Bank Plc, Emeka Emuwa, Van-

guard Banker òf the Year, 2017, Prof. Grace Alele Williams (vanguard life time achievement 2017), Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Dr. Oba Otudeko, King Sunny Ade, Chief Ade Ojo and Alabo Tonye GrahamDouglas. Governor Dickson who was accompanied by governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Muktari Shagari, the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party led

Dickson Bags Vanguard Newspapers Award BY OSA OKHOMINA, Benin City

Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson was at the weekend honoured as the Vanguard Newspapers Governor of the Year. According to Vanguard Newspaper, the award was in recognition of his selfless service, contribution to the political stability of the country, enthronement of transparency and accountability in the state and good governance. Other reasons include his purposeful leadership and infra-

fore now fulani herdsmen were known for carrying sticks around to control their cattle” and lamented that “today some of them have become criminals.” He said there was the need to separate herdsmen from cattle rustlers who steal cattle, invade farms, rape and kill people, and assured that efforts are being made to identify the real herdsmen in the state. by the National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus, former governors, members of the Bayelsa State caucus at the National Assembly led by Senator Foster Ogola, Bayelsa State elders caucus led by Chief Francis Duokpola, PANDEF delegation led by Chief Alfred Mulade, traditional rulers, top government functionaries and other notable personalities across the country to the event. Governor Dickson was honoured alongside other governors and prominent Nigerians.

‘No Alternative To Wike In 2019’ BY ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, Port Harcourt

The Special Adviser to Rivers State governor on Political Matters and Strategy, Chief Emeh Glory Emeh, has declared that there is no alternative to Gov-

ernor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the 2019 governorship election in the state. Emeh, who disclosed this in a chat with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, said with the governor’s preparation for fu-

ture elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will still take over the Government House in 2019. He said, “He has adequately prepared himself to do that and what we are waiting for is a ques-

tion of time. I have told people severally that there is no alternative to Wike. So if we don’t have alternative to Wike, you can by extrapolation, say that 2019 is fait accompli for PDP under the leadership of Wike.


38 NORTH CENTRAL

Police Commend Al-Makura For Initiating Conflict Resolution Mechanism DANJUMA JOSEPH, Lafia

Nasarawa State government has been applauded for putting in place community conflict resolution and peace for building mechanism as a pro-active intervention for security issues. The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone 4, Hilda Ibifuro gave the commendation in her address during a courtesy visit to Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura in his office, in Lafia the state capital. A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Musa Elayo, said that AIG Hilda commended the governor’s pragmatism in handling security related issues in the state and for empowering security operatives with logistical support and operational assistance. “My stay in this zone has opened my eyes to his very dynamic, pragmatic well rounded and well founded home grown strategies for putting in place security for Nasarawa State”. The AIG made a case for improved information and intelligence gathering between the Police Force and the general public due to its potentials in pro-active intervention on salient security issues that may threaten the relative peace being enjoyed in the state. She assured the people of the state that the Police would not rest until normalcy returns to all parts of the hitherto troubled communities. Responding, Governor Al-Makura, thanked the AIG for her kind words on the efforts he is making in bringing about peace across the nooks and crannies of the state.

FMC Board Condoles NAF, Kebbi Over Chonoko’s Death BY SUNDAY ISUWA, Abuja

The Chairman, Governing Board of Federal Medical Center (FMC) Keffi, Nassarawa State, Prince Sule-iko Sadeeq Sami, has commiserated with the Nigerian Air Force , NAF and the people of Kebbi State on the death of its Director of Finance, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, Air Commodore Suleiman Ismail Chonoko. In a condolence message issued on yesterday in Kaduna, Sami described the late Chonoko as a disciplined, honest, prudent and fine officer that has contributed to the vision of the Chief of Air Staff’s efforts of enshrining accountability in the NAF. “We are deeply saddened by the death of this fine, disciplined and prudent gentleman whose legacies would live in the patriotic work he did as an Air Force officer,” he said. The chairman who was also an inlaw to the deceased, described him as a dedicated officer who was always ready to offer his best to the development and stability of Nigeria. Chonoko died on Wednesday in Abuja , after a protracted illness and is survived by three wives and 11children. He has been buried according to Islamic rites.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

NUJ Cautions Journalists Against Promoting Hate Speech BY ABDULLAHI OLESIN, Ilorin

President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists ( NUJ), Alh AbdulWaheed Odusile has cautioned journalists against allowing the political class, traditional institutions or spiritual leaders to use their platform or their medium to publish, broadcast or propagate hate speech. Odusile gave the advice in Ilorin,the Kwara state capital while answering questions on a radio personality interview programme. The NUJ boss urged media practitioners to be careful and mindful of the implications of the stories they

publish or broadcast to the Nigerian society. He said it is not mandatory for any journalist to use stories that contain hate speech by anybody or group of people that could destabilise the country for their own personal benefits. Odusile said towards this end, the leadership of the NUJ under his executive has introduced an online biometric registration for all journalists which will capture their details on the website as a means of curbing quackery. He disclosed that the registration exercise which is a continuous process

would determine the exact number of media practitioners and warned that any journalist that is not captured would not be allowed to participate in any union activity and would not be allowed to vote or be voted for during union elections . He announced that as part of efforts to generate more revenue for the union and to provide journalists with adequate training on the job, it has concluded arrangements with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to accredit courses being run by the International Institute of Journalism,(IIJ) in Abuja while the union has also gone

into partnership with developers to construct a 4 star hotel, thereby making the union to be financially independent. Odusile announced that the union has gone far in acquiring Television and Radio licenses to create employment for its unemployed members and demonstrate journalism at its best as well as discourage the practice of inducing journalists while discharging their constitutional responsibilities. He lamented that the present economic situation in the country has affected the media industry and brought it to its knees as journalists are no longer paid as and when due.

L-R: Group Head, Strategy & Innovation, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Shina Atilola; Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, and minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire during the ThisDay HealthCare Policy Dialogue in Abuja at the weekend.

Attah Igala Commends Gov Bello On Security BY SAM EGWU, Lokoja

The traditional head of Igala kingdom who doubles as chairman of the traditional institutions in Kogi State, Attah Igala, HRM Michael Idakwo Ameh Oboni 11, has commended Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for his proactive measures at making Kogi State safe for peace and development.

The Attah Igala (Gabaidu) made this disclosure over the weekend in the palace of Attah in Idah, headquarters of Idah local government area and headquarters of Igala traditional institution, when the members of security trust fund paid him a courtesy visit in the palace. While commending the governor for his efforts in stemming criminality in the state through

his proactive measures at providing security vehicles to security agencies in the State, the royal father enjoined all hands to be on deck by reporting security lapses. He, however, condemned the invasion, killing and destruction of properties in some parts of Igala kingdom recently, warning that he would not condone such in the kingdom. The chairman of the security

trust fund, Ishiaka Oyibo, the leader of the team who led the team to the palace stressed that the mission was there to solicit the support of the traditional ruler to ensure a peaceful state to engender development. He pointed out that all efforts will be geared towards ensuring peaceful environment for rapid socio-economicvdevelopment of the state.

2019: Gov Lalong’s Declaration Does Not Stop Other Contestants – APC Chair BY ACHOR ABIMAJE, Jos

Plateau State chairman of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Hon Latep Dabang at the weekend said Governor Simon Lalong’s declaration to re - contest the 2019 governorship election “does not foreclose any other chieftain of the party from contesting because there would be party primaries.

According to him, the APC will continue to promote internal democracy in the state. Dabang told journalists after a stakeholders meeting in Jos that the party was confident of victory in the forthcoming governorship and presidential elections . It could be recalled that Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, had declared his intention to seek re-

election in the 2019 general election under the platform of the APC at the weekend. Dabang said, “the declaration by the governor was coincidental as it was not part of the agenda of the meeting. The governor was said to have made the declaration during the stakeholders’ meeting of the APC held in Jos. The meeting had in attendance, the

entire APC leadership in the state, Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden and members of the State Executive Council, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Peter Azi, members of the Parliament as well as members of the National Assembly. Dabang said, “Governor Lalong has formally declared his intention to contest the 2019 governorship election on the platform of the APC.

Truckload Of Tramadol Impounded In Benue BY HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi

The Benue State police in collaboration with the Natinal Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) officers have arrested a J-5 truck with cartons of tramadol. The commissioner of police,Fatai Owoseni who paraded the suspects alongside the substance disclosed that

the substance which was packed in different boxes with different names upon checking turned out to be tramadol, a drug taken by youths to commit crime. Owoseni while conducting journalists round averred that there was an intelligence report that a J-5 bus coming from Aliade to Makurdi was transporting substance packaged in different cartons believed to be dangerous

drugs.Based on the report the police with officers of NDLEA mobilized and accosted the vehicle with its two occupants. According to the CP, the two suspects arrested have made useful information and investigation is ongoing. In another development, twelve armed robbers were arrested at different locations of the state, with several

items used in perpetrating crimes like locally fabricated pistols, military uniforms, caps, walkie talkie and other weapons including a carton of dangerous drugs recovered from them. The CP while commending the general public for their support through timely information called on the citizens to say something when they see something.


Monday April 16, 2018

Minister Pledges Support For NAPTIP BY OMONU NELSON, Abuja

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama has pledged to collaborate with NAPTIP to eradicate Human Trafficking in the country. Onyeama made the pledge when the DG NAPTIP led a delegation to visit him in Abuja. The DG was in the ministry to present the Minister with a report on human trafficking highlighting challenges and possible solutions. The minister also assured NAPTIP of collaborating with the embassies to stop issuance of visas to underaged persons Onyeama informed the DG of the ongoing work on regularisation and harmonisation of labour laws between Nigeria and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He said the ministry was working towards convening a meeting of all stakeholders; the Ministries of labour, Justice, Youth and NAPTIP for further deliberations on the issue. The Minister suggested that NAPTIP officials should seek to share experience with their counterparts from the Philippines which had similar problems in the past and have made substantial progress. Earlier, the DG said the agency’s challenges include the new dimension of trafficking which is mass recruitment of unskilled labour to gulf countries under false pretenses.

Court Affirms Nguru As Yobe State PDP Chairman A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by Alhaji Gana Lawan and 26 others, challenging the leadership of Alhaji Inuwa Nguru as Yobe State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Chairman. Delivering judgement on Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1134/2017, the presiding judge, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday dismissed the suit and all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs and affirmed the Alh. Sani Inuwa Nguru-led executive committee as authentic PDP EXCO in Yobe state. It may be recall that late last year Alh Lawan Karasuwa filed a similar suit at Yobe state high Court challenging the leadership of Sani Inuwa Nguru but the court struck out the case in favour of Nguru and awarded a penalty of 50,000 against the plaintiff. Alh Sani Inuwa Nguru leadership of the PDP is said to be loyal to Adamu maina waziri - a member of PDP board of trustees while Alhaji Gana Lawan faction is allegedly backed by a serving Senator from Yobe State who has been funding the legal cost. Reacting to the judgement, a PDP chieftain and member representing Nangere/Potiskum Federal Constituency, Hon. Sabo Garba commended the judgement, describing it as a victory for the Party and democracy. He urged parties involved to bury their differences and forge a common front for the unity, cohesion and success of the party at all levels.

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NATIONAL NEWS 39

Mark Clocks 70, Pledges To Serve God, Humanity BY AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE, Abuja

Immediate past president of the Senate, Senator David Mark, at the weekend took stock of his 70 years sojourn on earth and renewed his covenant with God to serve him and humanity faithfully. Senator Mark told a crowded gathering in Abuja to commemorate his birthday that “I have resolved to serve God and humanity ceaselessly for the rest of my life . “I will intensify my prayers and do the work of mercy for peace and unity of Nigeria where genuine

friendship and brotherhood, devoid of parochialism reigns. “When I was growing up, I made friends across board devoid of ethnicity, tribe or religion. And we saw ourselves as brothers and sisters with a common destiny. But what we see today is a celebration of ethnic or religious champions in our national life. “This is not the Nigeria of our dream. We must rise up to reorientate our people in order to reverse the trend for good. We must see ourselves as one people with a common destiny and purpose,” Mark said.

He expressed optimism that a better Nigeria where every one is free to live and pursue his or her legitimate ambition in any part of the country without fear of intimidation or molestation is possible “if we see ourselves as brothers and sisters “ President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke through his special adviser on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, described Mark as a brave soldier and astute politician who has made positive impact in the development of the nation. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola

Saraki showered encomiums on his predecessor for the foundation he laid in the senate as well as his contributions to national development. Saraki requested Mark to always make his knowledge and wealth of experience available for upcoming leaders to profit from, pointing out that “Mark is a rare gift to Nigeria”. Also speaking, the governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, described Mark as a patriotic and relentless public servant who over the years demonstrated unquestionable loyalty to his fatherland.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, (middle) and his wife, Erelu Bisi, leading thousands of party supporters in a street procession to the APC secretariat for his declaration rally in Ado-Ekiti, at

Obaseki, PFN Urge Nigerians To Shun Divisive Speeches BY PATRICK OCHOGA, Benin City

Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), have urged Nigerians to shun divisive speeches which create tension among the various ethnic and religious groups in the country. While playing host to the Deputy National President, PFN, Bishop Wale Oke, at the Government House in Benin City, at the weekend, Obaseki said, “we

should always remember that we are our brothers’ keeper and must imbibe the teachings of our faiths on peaceful coexistence by shunning acts that divide rather than unite us as Nigerians.” He noted that the peace being experienced in the state could be attributed to prayers of religious leaders, adding, “I will continue to encourage spiritual leaders to always pray and work for the peaceful coexistence of all the people in the state and country.”

Bishop Oke said political and religious leaders and other Nigerians must work towards promoting unity among the people, noting, “We all as Nigerians should emphasise what unite us as a people rather than what will create lines of division amongst us.” He noted that Nigeria as a country is stronger together, adding, “Political, religious leaders and other Nigerians must avoid politics of ethnicity

and religion which are capable of dividing the country. Nigeria belongs to all of us and as such, we must make effort to build the country through collective efforts. Let’s emphasise what unites us, as one indivisible nation.” The cleric urged Nigerians to hold leaders accountable by ensuring political office holders deliver on campaign promises such as security, education and other dividends of democracy.

APC Announces New Website, Social Media Accounts BY ANDREW ESSIEN, Abuja

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has announced the debut of its newly-designed website and other official social media accounts. In a release signed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC’s new official social media handles include Website:

www.officialapcng.com, Twitter: https://twitter.com/OfficialAPCNg, Facebook: https:// web.facebook.com/officialapcng/ Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/officialapcng/, YouTube: Official APC Nigeria The statement added that “the newly-designed website features a streamlined and uncluttered design, offering user-friendly functionality and rich content. This

website as well as the official social media accounts offers quick and easy access to essential information and features to keep party members, the media and indeed the general public abreast of party activities, the APC-led federal government and APC-governed states. “APC’s new website will be regularly updated with news on Party accomplishments and

events. The party encouraged visitors to explore the new website and sign up for the APC’s mailing list and newsletter to receive direct emails on the Contact Us page and follow the APC on the listed social media accounts. The party had recently denounced the social media handle, @APCNigeria which had supposedly carried its tweets before now.

2019: Labour Party Make Case For Young, Responsive Leadership BY ANDREW ESSIEN, Abuja

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Labour Party has called on Nigerians to vote out what it called “old brigade who lack vision and direction” and vote in the younger generation. The party further said it presents

the only alternative with “first class collection of brilliant minds, who are young, well educated, exposed, cosmopolitan, patriotic and dedicated to move Nigeria to the next level”. Chairman of Labour Party, Mike Omotosho in a statement reacting to the recent declaration by President Muhammdu Buhari to seek a

second term, however highlighted that he is not unmindful of the crisis in the party but the usurpers will be booted out soon to pave way for its progressive and people-oriented agenda. The statement reads in part: “The Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria is prompted to react to the recent

declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek reelection in 2019 on the basis of what we consider as far-reaching implications this decision may have on the destiny of Nigeria, even as we acknowledge the constitutional right of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek reelection.


40 NATIONAL NEWS

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Labour Urges African Leaders To Immortalise Winnie Mandela BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna

African leaders have been urged to immortalise the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid freedom fighter and former wife of Nelson Mandela, who was laid to rest at the weekend in South Afriaca Addressing the eighth African Regional Executive Committee, in Dakar, Senegal, the vice president (Africa), Comrade Issa Aremu, said sustaining the legacies of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela amounts to throwing apartheid permanently into the dust-bin of history. Comrade Aremu described the iconic heroine of South African liberation as the mother of the modern democratic South African Nation and the Continent, Africa. “Lest we forget, not long ago racist South Africa shamelessly separated the beautiful peoples of that great country on account of their God-given colors. “Apartheid South Africa even callously separated young handsome husband - Mandela from his beautiful wife; Winnie for 27 years! Winnie courageously joined the millions who fought and defeated apartheid,” he said.

Saraki Wants Full Implementation Of Universal Health Coverage BY JERRY EMMANSON, Abuja

Wife Of the Senate President, Toyin Ojora Saraki, has called for the full implementation of Universal Health Coverage to reduce maternal death across the country. She made the call yesterday in Abuja during a courtesy visit by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Saraki noted that the successful implementation of the UHC will increase workforce for the health sector and increase the number of trained personnel in medical centres. According to Saraki, implementation of UHC would ensure that everyone has access to quality health services without facing financial hardship irrespective of where they live or who they are. “If universal health coverage is successful it means that pregnant women won’t have to pay huge fees for medical care. They would have a trained and skilled health attendants, also they would find the right equipment in the medical centre that guarantees quality health care delivery,” she said. Saraki also called for the full implementation of the Personal Health Record (PHR) at all levels of the health system to ensure proper health records for mother and child. Speaking, the regional director, WHO, Matshidiso Moeti called on Nigerian Government and other African countries to honour their commitment towards achieving UHC for all citizens by 2030. Moeti said Nigeria and other African countries must strive to improve health governance and information systems to ensure better regulation, planning and accountability to their communities and partners.

L-R: Representative of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, and the Oliha of Benin, Chief Edionwe Oliha; minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu; the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri; and Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, during the presentation of a book titled: Ogiamien and the illusion of kingship, by Chief Edebiri, in Benin City, the Edo State at the weekend. PHOTO BY EDO STATE GOVERNMENT.

Former Teacher Picks Presidential Form Of Freedom and Justice Party BY CHIBUZO UKAIBE, Abuja

A former class room teacher, Mr Abanitus Dangir, has picked the 2019 presidential nomination form of the Freedom and Justice Party, vowing to make standard of education and uninterrupted power supply, the focus of his presidency, if he wins. Dangir, who secured the presidential form at the party’s headquarters in Abuja over the weekend, also iden-

tified lack of supervision and corruption as part of the major challenges confronting the development of the Nigeria’s education sector. The former class teacher, who hails from Guyuk local government area of Adamawa State, added that besides ensuring adequate funding of the sector, he will monitr the use of the released fund to ensure optimum result for the sector. He said, “As a classroom teacher who is conversant with the ordeals

of the education sector, I will make sure I use the opportunity to make the sector straight. “Careful study shows that greater percentage of people with high blood pressure, hypertension, suicide and frustration is caused by the challenge of not being able to sponsor their children in school. “If Nigerian citizens can enjoy education subsidy, many broken homes will reunite, our society will experience peace.

“You will notice that if one wakes up in the morning and remember that he/she has not paid school fees, your system will be disorganized,’’ he observed. He promised that if he became the president, his administration would also do everything possible to fix the power supply. Dangir also promised to ensure that useful laws and order were enforced as well tackle the issue of security insecurity in all its forms.

Suspension: Constituents Pass Vote Of Confidence On Omo-Agege BY HOSEA YUSUF, Abuja

Following the suspension of the senator Ovie Omo-Agege from the National Assembly, the people of Delta Central Senatorial District that he represents have condemned the action of the lawmakers, even as they passed a vote of confidence on him. They however said his suspension was a violation of their right to quality representation in the Upper legislative chamber. The chairman of the All Progressives Congress APC) in Delta Central, Olorogun Adelabu Bodjor, made this disclosure weekend while addressing party supporters and the people of

the area following the Senate’s action that suspended OmoAgege for 90 legislative days. The politician in his address also condemned the action of APC senators who took part in the action, calling on the party at the national level to sanction them. “The incidence that took place in the National Assembly and the suspension of the Distinguished Senator representing the Urhobo people in the National Assembly, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has again called to question the affairs of the Nigerian Senate. Our Distinguished Senator has been providing quality representation to the people of Delta Central and we are proud of him. “By suspending him, if the

Senate leadership thinks that it will deter him, then they are wrong. The Urhobo nation is solidly behind him, we believe in him and we will give him all our support at any time and any day in this whole process. We therefore pass a vote of confidence on the distinguished Senator, Senator Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege. We still believe that he will bounce back better and stronger than his distractors in the National Assembly. “But we want to say here and very emphatically, that Urhobo nation would never tolerate any act of political intimidation and threat to our Senator whom we overwhelmingly voted for to represent us in the National Assembly. The primary responsibility of Senator Ovie Omo-

Agege in the National Assembly is to provide quality representation to the people of Delta Central and attract the dividends of democracy to the Urhobo people and that he has been doing excellently well since we cast our votes for him to the Senate. “We therefore use this medium to call on our Distinguished Senator never to despair because he has the backing of the entire Urhobo people who voted him to the National Assembly to represent us and not to represent some individuals in the National Assembly. He is there to represent the interest of the Urhobo nation and not the interest of a very few persons in the National Assembly who feel their election is to feed themselves and the members of their immediate family negating the interest of the nation.”

My Political Allies Betrayed Me After 2014 Ekiti Poll – Fayemi BY ALO ABIOLA, Ado Ekiti

Former Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, yesterday, disclosed that many of his political allies betrayed him after lost his reelection bid in 2014 election. Fayemi, who is the current min-

ister of Mines of Steel Development, said though he had forgiven them, he regretted that the same set of people allegedly sponsored campaigns of calumny against his person after they were appointed into juicy positions in his government

Fayemi, while addressing party members, said “After losing governorship election, many of them started spreading rumour against me that I didn’t allow them to operate freely in my government. “There was no one that held office in my government that I tele-

guided. I allowed them to be free and enjoyed their positions contrary to what they said. “I have forgiven those that betrayed me just like I apologise to whoever I must have offended as a governor, because I am human and I can’t claim to be infallible,” he said.

Wait Till 2023, Former Military Gov Urges Other Presidential Candidates BY JONATHAN NDA - ISAIAH, Abuja

Those trying to contest against President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 should wait till 2023, former military governor of Plateau Maj-Gen Aliyu Adu Umar Kama has said . He spoke yesterday in Abuja at the Hoba Community Grand

Reception for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha by the Hoba Elders Council. Kama, who was a governor during the administration of Gen Ibrahim Babangida said it would be unwise for anyone irrespective of their inclinations to want to contest against Pres-

ident Buhari. While commending President Buhari for appointing two sons of Hoba community as SGF successively, Kama pledged continuous support for the Buhari administration. On his part, the SGF promised to discharge his duties honourably so that at the end

of his service, his people would be proud of him. Acknowledging the individual and collective role and contribution of some of the dignitaries to his political career, Mustapha thanked the community for nurturing him and propelling his growth and development.


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Pakistani Soldiers Killed In Attack At Afghanistan Border the local tribal force. “Two tribesmen were killed and the exchange of fire is ongoing,” said Mohmud Zazai, a senior army commander in the area. Pakistan has blamed Pakistani Taliban militants it says are based on Afghan soil for attacks that have taken place in the region over the past two years, urging Kabul to eradicate “sanctuaries” for militants. Afghanistan, in turn, accuses Islamabad of sheltering the leadership of the Afghan Taliban militants who are battling the Western-backed government in Kabul. A local political official, who asked not to be identified, said that Pakistani security forces had responded on Sunday by opening fire along the border. Mosques in Pakistan’s

Monday, April 16, 2018

German President Warns Against Demonising Russia

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Two Pakistani soldiers were killed in cross-border fire from Afghanistan while working on a fence intended to cover nearly all of the disputed 2,500km border separating the countries, the Pakistani military said yesterday. Though security has improved in Pakistan’s remote areas bordering Afghanistan, sectarian militant attacks, primarily targeting Shi’ite Muslims, still occur. “Pakistani troops are exercising maximum restraint so as to avoid any Afghan civilian casualties,” the Pakistan Army’s public relations department said, adding that five soldiers were wounded in the attack. Afghan officials said that Pakistani troops crossed on to Afghan soil, prompting a response by border forces and

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Kurram Agency region, where the attack took place, made announcements urging locals to assist the armed forces, prompting throngs of armed civilians to arrive at the border after the attack. Kurram has been plagued by militancy over the past decade and was the location of many US drone strikes targeting commanders from al Qaeda and other militant groups. Twin blasts in Kurram’s most populous town, Parachinar, killed more than 75 people in June. In a separate incident on Sunday in Pakistan’s North Waziristan district, which also borders Afghanistan, a security forces vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device 15km from district capital Miranshah, a military official said.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned against demonising Russia and said Germany had a particular role to play in maintaining dialogue with Moscow, given its history. In an interview published yesterday, Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, voiced concerns that Saturday’s air strikes by Western powers had raised the serious risk of a direct confrontation between Russian and U.S. forces in Syria for the first time. “We are at the next step of escalation in the Russian-American relationship,” Steinmeier, who twice served as Germany’s

foreign minister, said The air strikes on Syria - aimed at destroying Syrian chemical weapons facilities have exacerbated tensions between Moscow and the West, already at a new post-Cold War high after the expulsion of more than 130 Russian diplomats in response to a poison gas attack in Britain that London has blamed on Russia. Syria denied using chemical weapons against its civilian population. Russia also denied it was behind the poison gas attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter. Steinmeier said the evidence

pointed clearly at Russia’s involvement, which was alarming, but added: “The galloping alienation between Russia and the West must also concern us, with consequences that will go far beyond this case. There is practically no basis of trust any more.” Steinmeier urged German politicians to keep the door open to dialogue with Russia, and to avoid portraying Russia and its people as an enemy, even as they maintained pressure on Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Steinmeier

Canada’s Trudeau Set For Emergency Summit On Pipeline Crisis Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday try to tackle an escalating dispute over a oil pipeline project that threatens to undermine his political and economic agenda. Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd (KML.TO) wants to almost triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from oil-rich Alberta to the Pacific province of British Columbia, which strongly opposes the idea on environmental grounds. Trudeau who says the expansion will benefit the economy and needs to proceed is due to hold a emergency meeting at 10 am ET (1400 GMT) with the premiers of both provinces.

“This is not about punishing British Columbians, this is not about hurting Canadians, this is about bringing forward a project in the national interest,” he told reporters in Peru late on Saturday before returning to Ottawa. “We will do it in such a way that doesn’t seek to further polarize or raise the temperature in this debate.” Although Trudeau’s Liberal government could invoke emergency powers to ensure the project goes ahead, that would most likely anger voters in British Columbia and cost the Liberals support in a federal election in October 2019. But Trudeau is under

increasing pressure from the business community and opposition politicians to take action amid fears the dispute could hit already flagging foreign investment. “In the absence of a swift resolution to this issue, foreign and domestic investors will be left to question whether Canada is a suitable place to invest,” said John Manley, President of the Business Council of Canada and a former Liberal finance minister. Both the federal and Alberta governments have suggested they could take a stake in the project. “There are enough

Montenegro: Prospects For EU Membership As Presidential Poll Begins Voting began in Montenegro’s presidential election yesterday, with pro European Union membership candidate Milo Djukanovic and his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) forecast to get slightly more than half of the votes. Mladen Bojanic, a businessman backed by an alliance of parties, including some wanting closer ties with Russia, is seen trailing Djukanovic, who has dominated politics either as prime minister or president of the Adriatic country of only 620,000 people, with 30 percent of the votes in

opinion polls. Turnout by 1 p.m. (1100 GMT) was 32.8 percent, data from pollster CEMI showed. After casting his ballot, Djukanovic said he was convinced he would win in the first round. “I am convinced Montenegro will confirm its determination to continue on the path of European development,” Djukanovic said. After casting his vote, Bojanic urged citizens to turn out to vote. Voters should “use smiles and pencils to stop an autocrat who wants to drag Montenegro into

dictatorship,” he said, referring to Djukanovic. Although the presidential role is largely ceremonial, if Djukanovic wins and replaces his ally Filip Vujanovic, he is expected to wield considerable power and influence policy through the ranks of the DPS. Montenegro’s last parliamentary vote in 2016 was marred by the arrest of a group of Serb nationalists who had allegedly plotted to assassinate Djukanovic and bring pro-Russian parties to power, to stop the country’s accession to NATO. However, the DPS and


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Asaba 2018: South Africa Unveils Ambitious Squad

After their good show at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games, South Africa are aiming for more glory in athletics. Athletics South Africa have unveiled an ambitious 127-member national preparation squad for the 2018 CAA African Senior Championships in Asaba, Nigeria between August 1-5. The squad features several athletes that won medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, including sprinters Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies, Long Jump stars Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai. Also, middle-distance star Caster Semenya, hurdler Wenda Nel and Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen are all on the roster. The biennial continental championships will be another opportunity for South Africa to defend its continental crown won in 2016 in Durban with a total of 33 medals, 16 of them in gold. Kenya followed in the second position with 24 total, with eight in gold. This year’s hosts, Nigeria ended with four gold medals from a total of 16. South Africa will utilise as another stepping stone to provide athletes with crucial ex-

perience in the build-up to next year’s IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. While the squad includes up to seven athletes in individual disciplines, it will be reduced closer to the event, as only three athletes are allowed per participating nation in each discipline. “This is the squad that is meant to be finalised in due course to produce a best and formidable team that will defend the titles won in Morocco in 2014 and Durban in 2016.” An official of the Athletics Federation in South Africa explained. Aside from Nigeria who have entered 72male, 69 female and 29 officials, the likes of Kenya, Algeria, and Senegal are also planning a large contingent for the Athletics Championships in Asaba. Kenya have provisionally entered Kenya 34 male and 27 female athletes as well as 11 officials. Algeria on their part have 31 male and 29 female athletes on their roster with 17 0fficials. Senegal have entered 30 male and 30 female athletes as well as 9 officials. The Asaba 2018 Africa Senior Athletics Championship will be held at the Asaba Township Stadium from August 1-5, 2018.

The main draw of the Tombim Abuja Open Nigeria Futures I Tennis Championship will serve off today at the National Tennis Center, Package B, Abuja Stadium. Tournament Director, Ikani Agabi assured that all logistics for a flawless three-week of highclass tennis has been provided. He added that aside Nigerian players, there are over 80 players representing 28 countries taking part in the $25, 000 prize-money tournament which is the first of the three-phase ITF Pro Circuit event at the Nigerian capital. In some of the qualifying matches decided, Nigeria’s Joseph Imeh defeated Dies Flores of Chile 6-0, 6-3 while Sylvester Emmanuel got the better of Nigerian-born Adebola Obasoto, who is representing Ireland, with a 6-1, 6-2 result. Taiwo Owolabi bagged a 6-1, 6-3 win over

Hardeep Sandhu of India to also keep Nigeria’s flag high but it was a different story for Emmanuel Idoko as he succumbed 6-3, 7-6 (4) to Indian Vinod Sridhar. Clifford Enosoregbe failed to hold on to a 6-3 opening set win as he was eliminated by countryman Emmanuel Audu who took the second and third set 6-4, 6-4. Mirko Martinez of Switzerland, Viachslav Glebov of Russia, Franko Feitt of Argentina, Kazuma Kawachi of Japan, Giovani Samaha of Lebanon, Alxandru Danes of France, Diego Matos of Brazil are some of the players that successfully navigate their way in the 1st round of the qualifying matches. Canadian Brayden Schnur won the title last year by beating Fabiano De Paula of Brazil 7-6 (2), 6-4.

BY SALIFU USMAN, Abuja

Tombim Open Main Draw Serves Off In Abuja

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Newcastle Inflicts Another Away Defeat on Arsenal Arsenal’s away woes in the Premier League continued on Sunday when they were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal an early lead but the visitors were left stunned as first Ayoze Perez pegged them back before Matt Ritchie netted the winner to push Rafa Benitez’s side further away from the relegation zone. The defeat means Arsenal remain the only Premier League side to not pick up a single point away from home in 2018, losing each of their last five games on the road in the competition. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger named Lacazette up front with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang supporting from the left side of the attack, while 18-year-old midfielder Joe Willock made his Premier League debut from the start. France striker Lacazette got Arsenal off to the ideal start when he guided Aubameyang’s hooked ball across goal in at the far post for his 13th goal of the season with just 14 minutes on the clock. Aubameyang and Alex Iwobi both spurned promising chances to double Arsneal’s lead, and that allowed Newcastle to level as the half-hour mark approached.


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Guest Northern Leaders Must Columnist Change The Narrative

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Jonathan Nda-Isaiah

ast week I was shocked and saddened when I read a news report that only 28 candidates have registered for the common entrance exams for Unity schools in Zamfara. The report further showed three states with the highest registration so far. Among the three states, Lagos has 24,465 candidates, Federal Capital Territory, Abuj 7,699 and Rivers State 4,810 respectively. On the other hand, three states with extreme low registration are Zamfara with only 28 candidates, Kebbi 50 and Taraba 95 respectively. It is quite appalling that the last three states at the rung of the ladder are Northern states. As a Northerner, this is sad and depressing. According to a UNICEF report, Nigeria has the largest number of outof-school children in the world. The report further noted that Nigeria has 10.5 million children that

are out of school. UNICEF statistics show that 60 per cent of the Nigerian children who are not attending school are from the Northern part of the country. So, it is not surprising that the two killer groups in the terrorism index in the world, Boko Haram and killer Herdsmen, are peculiar to the North. Both Boko Haram and Herdsmen are in the top five of the most deadliest terrorists groups in the world . From this stand point, it is not out of place for any perceptible mind to agree with the submissions of the Northern Elders Forum that Northern leaders are not doing enough to remedy the situation and may have, indeed, failed in their duty to the people they claim to lead. Sir Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa would probably be turning in their graves over the antics and calibre of Northerners parading

themselves as leaders in the region. The so called leaders ought to be asking themselves what to do to move forward as a region, especially in environments where most of the children are out-of- school. And for that matter, how is it possible that the nation would make progress when the leaders of the region are comfortable with the backward state of the the people. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world — 814 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the United Nations, the country makes up about two per cent of the world’s population but 10 per cent of total maternal deaths. Founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, who was in the country recently told us to our face that Nigeria is the worst place in the world to be born. The nation’s big shots were all present at the occasion where he passed that damning verdict. It wouldn’t be unlikely if the North accounts for most of the maternal deaths in the country. Bill Gate’s advice to the federal government at that occasion is instructive. He made it clear that the country would do better with strong investments in health and education, rather than concentrating on physical infrastructure to the detriment of human capital development. Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote agreed with Gates that for Nigeria to truly compete globally, the

Shettima

government must prioritise investments in health and education, as well as create opportunities for the people alongside other critical areas. While Gates advise may be for the federal government, it is pertinent to remind Northern governors of the need to be alive to their responsibilities. They must have to invest more in education and health so as to wriggle the people of the area out of the economic and social morass they are enmeshed in. It is, indeed, a big shame that the cut-off mark for some Northern states into unity schools are as low as 10, while some Southern states have as high as 150 as cutoff mark. These practice is promoting mediocrity among Northern students. How can they compete favourablely with their peers when the system

keeps lowering the bar for them? In every profession in the country and beyond, we have Northerners excelling. Brilliance is not limited to any tribe or region; it all boils down to the individual. The federal government should scrap cut-off mark for Unity schools. Instead, it should be the same cut-off mark across the country. The inclination to encourage mediocrity must end. The North needs a new set of leaders with new vision, new thinking and new orientation. 2019 must be the starting point. The Northern electorate must see it as a duty to themselves to vote in federal lawmakers and governors with mission and the zeal to transform the dwindling fortunes of the region. The mindset should be that the era of misfits is over.

The North has the potential of being the richest region in the country. For instance, my state, Niger, has the biggest landmass in Nigeria. Niger State is capable of feeding the whole country because, apart from its big landmass, the state is blessed with natural and mineral resources, including Talc, Gold, Ball clays, Silica, Sand, Marble, Copper, Iron, Felsper, Lead, Kaolin, Casserole, Columbite, Mica, Quartzite and a host of others. Besides, the three Hydro Electric power stations in the country (Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro) are all situated in Niger State. Niger State has the potential of being the California of Nigeria but like every other state in the region, it is still wallowing in mediocrity. For how long are we going to continue like this? For how long are we going to sit and watch other regions label the North parasites? It is time to wake up and change the narrative.

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