News

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo

In continuation of his fact-finding tour to oil-producing in the country, Acting President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, on Monday in Benin City, Edo State, stated that Nigeria’s oil-producing communities have suffered neglect and development due to the insensitivity and corrupt activities of leaders and politicians entrusted with positions of trust.

He however gave the assurance that the federal government’s new era and vision aimed at developing oil-bearing communities and other areas will boost development, unity and peaceful coexistence.

Prof Osinbajo stated this during the stakeholders meeting held at the Dr Samuel Ogbemudia College, Benin City, where stakeholders poured out their minds about the challenges that were being faced by oil-producing communities in Edo State and probable solutions to them.

Those who spoke before the Acting President included Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu; Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani and environmentalists, Rev David Ugolor.

Rev Ugolor said if the Federal government was determined to develop the Niger Delta, focus should be shifted from testifying traditional institutions to the people.

A mild drama ensued midway into the programme as youths from oil-producing communities staged a protest that stalled the event for about 30 minutes until they were prevailed upon by some notable personalities including Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, who took time to talk to the youths.

The youths were particularly irked that the Acting President did not visit their communities unlike when he visited Rivers and some other states, pointing out that they were not being accorded due respect as critical stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta.

They also complained that they were not allowed to make their presentation at the event, vowing to make oil prospecting hard for multinational firms if their communities were not given due attention in the scheme of things.

Speaking after the unrest by the youths, Governor Obaseki said Edo was big part of oil-producing state in Nigeria with 38 oil-producing communities and 205 oil flowing wells, adding that “we have had our own share of neglect that has become a major threat to the state socio-economic development.”

In his speech, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, noted that the federal government was committed to completing ongoing projects in the Niger Delta region, most notably the East West Road, appealing to the state government to work with his ministry in order to complete the projects and start new ones.

In his address, Acting President Yemi Osibanjo said federal government’s plan was to ensure that the team visited all the oil-producing communities, but time did not allow for such due to the planned closure of the Abuja Airport, stressing that further arrangements would be made for a repeat visit.

He read the riot act to contractors handling government projects in the Niger Delta, especially those handling projects awarded by the Niger Development Commission (NDDC), assuring that an audit body would soon be constituted to look into all the contract awards and funds spent on the projects with a view to bringing the overall spendings before the Federal Executive Council for necessary action.

He said as an “emissary of President Muhammadu Buhari,  the visit was aimed at engaging the people and the leadership to seek for better understanding and concerns as well as offer the oil communities a new vision and a new compass.”

The Acting President said, “I have listened to several of the complaints in several areas. I can tell you precisely how much had been voted in several of our own communities but there is no sign of development in those areas.”

“I can tell you how many of these projects are supposed to have been completed and when you look into some books, they said they had been completed but they have not been completed.”

They have not been done, many have not even been started at all. That is the story not just in the oil-producing communities of Edo State but the story everywhere.”

“We are committed to everyone of the things that we say we want to do. It does not make sense for leadership to look at the plight of the people, especially in the oil producing areas.”

“This is the source of the wealth of the nation and to ignore the people even if it is for a while; the time will come when you can no longer ignore them.”

“So o there is no question at all that we are committed to doing what we said we would do and that is a pledge coming directly from Mr President himself, President Muhammad Buhari.”

He promised a wholistic partnership between the federal government, governments at all levels, oil firms and the civil society groups towards the development of the oil-bearing communities.

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Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President of Nigeria

Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has described Nigeria’s political system as a mockery of true federalism, saying restructuring and merging of some states remain the panacea to the challenges facing the country.

He said this yesterday while delivering the Annual Professor Ademola Popoola public lecture of the Faculty of Law at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, with the theme: “The constitutional and political framework for reconstructing Nigeria for true federalism and national integration.”

According to him: “There is no doubt that many of our states are not viable and were not viable from the start, once you take away the federal government allocations from Abuja.

“We have to find creative ways to make them viable in a changed federal system. Collaboration among states in a region or zone will help.

“We can examine the possibility of using the existing geopolitical zones as federating units. We can also find other ways to determine the viability of states, for example by introducing a means of test such that a state that is unable to generate a certain percentage of its expenditures internally for a specified period of time will be deemed unviable and collapsed into another or a group of states,” he said.

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Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo will today swear in Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Presidency sources disclosed yesterday that the inauguration would take place at 9:00am inside the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Justice Onnoghen’s nomination was last week confirmed by the Senate.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on extended vacation in the United Kingdom, had last November inaugurated Onnoghen as acting CJN sequel to the retirement of Justice Mahmud Mohammed.

The acting president had on February 7 forwarded Onnoghen’s nomination to the Senate.

Onnoghen will be the 20th person to occupy the position since 1914, according to judiciary records.

Sixty-six year-old Walter Samuel Onnoghen has been a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 2005.

He was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed, in acting capacity, Justice Mahmood Muhammed in November last year.

He graduated from the University of Ghana at Legon, Ghana in 1977 and from the Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1978.

Before joining the Supreme Court, he was a judge in Cross River State and a justice of the Court of Appeal.

Onnoghen was born on the 22 December 1950 at Okurike Town, Biase local government area of Cross Rivers State.

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Jailed former governor Bala Ngilari

A Yola High Court on Monday sentenced a former  Governor of Adamawa state, Mr James Bala Ngilari, to five years in prison without the option of fine. Ngilari governed Adamawa from October 1st, 2014 to May 29, 2015. He was of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He was found  guilty of the   corruption charge filed against him by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The case was filed in September 2016.

The court presided over by Justice Nathan Musa,  acquitted the former Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Welye, and Former Commissioner of Finance, Mr Sunday Lamurde, who stood trial with the former governor on same offenses of 17 count charges.

Delivering judgement, Justice Musa, said that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Ngilari violated the Public Procurement Act of the state by awarding contract for the procurement of 25 vehicles for his commissioners at the cost of N167 million without following due process.

He said Ngilari’s action amounted to executive lawlessness.

Musa said that the five years was the least he could give Ngilari,  whose lawyer, Mr Samuel Toni (SAN) pleaded for leniency “in view of his (Ngilari) invaluable contribution while he was the governor of the state during the trying moment of insurgency.”

Musa said that Ngilari would serve the sentence in the prison of his choice in the country “but for now he should start with Yola prison.”

Musa expressed hope that the conviction and sentence of Ngilari would serve as a deterrent to serving governors who engage in doing things without following due process.

“It is my hope that this conviction and sentence will serve as deterrent to serving governors..”

The judge however discharged and acquitted Welye and Lamurde, saying that the prosecutor could not prove the case against them.

Ngilari told newsmen before he was taken away from the court that he would appeal the sentence.

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Malta Guinness in partnership with Ebony life TV recently launched a new drama series titled Life 101 at a premier event which took place at the Imax Film House Cinema, Lekki on Wednesday– 1st March, 2017. The event was fully lit with guests on the Yellow carpet looking frosh and glamourous as they were treated to an evening of fun, laughter, food and lots of Malta Guinness inspired cocktails.

Life 101; a fresh campus youth drama about four childhood friends who leave their high school years behind and head for University oblivious of what lies ahead. The story is about life, love, laughter and four friends who cannot stay out of trouble. Life 101 is an exciting series that promises to deliver a unique viewing experience as the drama series unfolds in the next 20 weeks showcasing the everyday challenges being faced by the average Nigerian youth and how they are able to relish and overcome each one with vigor and a Can-do attitude.

The Life 101 project kicked off in August, 2016 with over 1000 participants in exciting auditions held across Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Calabar and Benin after which the final fourteen (14) lead cast were selected from the pool of many talented young acts.

 

Speaking at the premiere, Guinness Nigeria Marketing and Innovations Director- Rob Hobart, said“The process was a very humbling one and we are so proud to be a part of this wonderful end product. We are especially proud of the cast and crew and of the result of all their hard work.”

 

“This partnership is one we are especially pleased with, because it gives us an opportunity to showcase our passion and support for the art and creative industry in Nigeria, because we truly believe in the youth of this great country. This project also brings to life the brand purpose of Malta Guinness as it seeks to fuel the Can-Do spirit of every Nigerian and enable them to achieve their dreams.”

Also speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of Ebonylife TV and Ebony Life Films, Mo Abudu, thanked the Malta Guinness team for partnering with them on the Life 101 project.

 

“Life 101 is a product of resilience and talent. I want to congratulate everyone that came together to make the show a reality; the cast, crew, and of course Malta Guinness team. The life 101 cast is made of new talents and we are excited about the potentials the future holds for this project. Ebony life is always interested in nurturing new talents and we are glad Malta Guinness joined us in this project as the Malta Guinness team was fully involved in every phase of this project” She said.

 

Also in attendance were Ifeoma Agu, Brand Manager Malta Guinness and Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Oyo Otome, Marketing Manager- Malta Guinness and Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Mo Abudu, CEO of Ebony Life TV and Ebony Life Films,Heidi Uys, Head of Programming, Kelani Jubril, Asst. Brand Manager-Malta Guinness and Non-Alcoholic Drinks and many others.

 

The series stars EmekaNwagbaraocha, Benjamin Touitou, Patrick Fakoya, Paulette Iwenjiora, Flora Chiedo, Pearl Wats, Malachi Alozie, TegaOlose, ChiagoziemNwakanm, Shadrach Iwebendu, Jeffery Achu, EfaIwara, Kester Oshioreame, and AbimbolaAdemoye.

 

The Life 101 Drama Series is one to look out for every week from next WednesdayMarch 8th, 2017 by 8pm on ELTV channel 165. It promises to be filled with intrigue, suspense, comedy and Life lessons for all.

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan

The Federal Government has urged former President Goodluck Jonathan to stop engaging in finger-pointing over the issue of the Chibok girls who were abducted under his watch, calling such action an unnecessary distraction from ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls who remain in captivity, long after they were abducted.

The advice was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, following the former President’s reaction to the report by a British newspaper that the British armed forces’ offer to attempt to rescue the girls were rebuffed by then President Jonathan.

”While former President Jonathan reserves the right to defend his Administration, he should not engage in finger-pointing by saying, in a statement, that ‘some people who have obviously been playing politics with the issue of the Chibok girls will stop at nothing to further their interest’,” the Minister said.

He said if anyone ever played politics with the issue of Chibok girls, it was the Administration under whose watch the girls were abducted.

”After the girls were kidnapped and the Jonathan Administration did nothing for all of 15 days or make any determined efforts to rescue them thereafter, our party, the then opposition APC, told the nation several times that the whole Boko Haram crisis was allowed to escalate by the PDP-controlled Federal Government so they can use it as a political tool ahead of the 2015 elections.

”In a statement on 8 Sept. 2014, we said: ‘President Jonathan-PDP’s political manipulation of the Boko Haram has to be understood as part of its poker-like calculus for clinging on to political power ahead of the 2015 elections. The Boko Haram crisis is readily used by the PDP to rationalize the Jonathan Government’s abdication of its constitutional responsibilities, including visits and assistance to areas affected as well as effective response to abductions (e.g. the GEJ government was silent over the Chibok girls kidnaps for over 15 days)’,

”Two-and-a-half years after that statement, we have been vindicated by the report that claimed President Jonathan rebuffed an attempt by the British government to help rescue the girls. We hope the former President will now refrain from stoking further controversy over the lingering abduction issue and allow the government of the day to focus on its ongoing negotiations to secure the release of the Chibok girls,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

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Nigerian Senate

The Senate has resolved to probe the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) over the raiding and carting away of goods in shops at a rice market in Sango-Otta, Ogun State.

The Upper Chamber came to the decision after a brief debate over a motion moved by Senator Gholahan Dada under Order 42 & 52, over the unlawful seizure of rice and invasions of shops by the customs in Ogun State.

While the Senators agreed that the Customs  has power under the law to carry out raids, it resolved to carry out the investigation to know if the Customs did not step out of the ambit of the law.

The decision to probe the Customs’ actions was reached after Senate Majority Leader Senator Ahmed Lawan argued that it was necessary for the legislature to look into if the Customs did not do anything wrong while carrying out the raid.

A protest by angry youths and rice sellers in Ogun is reportedly turning violent at the Sango-Ota area of the state with the participants blocking the two ends of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.

Recall that a violent protest by rice traders broke out on Wednesday, February 22, over alleged invasion of their markets by officers of the Nigerian Customs.

The rice sellers alleged that the customs officers stormed their shops and stalls at the Sango-Ota market around 1 a.m. to confiscate their goods even though not smuggled such.

Scores of the rice sellers later on Thursday, February 23, protested to Ogun state Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s office at Oke Mosan in Abeokuta to register their displeasure at the actions of the Customs.

 

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Willie Obiano, Anambra state governor

The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) in Anambra State has hailed the appointment of one of its member as a permanent secretary by Governor Willie Obiano.

Azuka Ofomata, who is visually impaired, was sworn in yesterday as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Social, Children and Women Affairs.

Ofomata, a former Director in the Rehabilitation Department, was among the nine sworn in yesterday in Awka, the state capital.

Others were Linus Nwankwo; Chukwudi Ike; Nneka Ezeanya; Patricia Ezeaku; Emeka Ohuoha; Stephanie Keri-Uzor; Caroline Njaka and Pauline Nwandu.

In a statement yesterday in Awka by the Chairman and Secretary, Lawrence Nwanolue and Ugochukwu Okeke, the group described the Ofomata as a person with proven records of dedication and diligence.

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The Federal Government has approved a payment guarantee assurance by the CBN for power generating companies (GENCOS) to solve liquidity problems in the energy sector. The approval was made yesterday by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the highest decision making body in the country.

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who announced this to State House Correspondents, said the CBN would hold N701 billion for regular payment for power generated onto the national grid.

He said that the government’s bulk energy buyer, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) had series of liquidity problems which made it difficult to fulfil its delivery obligations.

“The liquidity problems that have characterised the market have affected the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET’s) ability to deliver on its PPP obligations to the Gencos. So going forward in order to strengthen the NBET, CBN is providing a payment assurance guarantee for energy produced by any Genco, so that Gencos can pay their gas suppliers when they are paid so that the hydros can continue to operate.

“What we seek to achieve here is to bring some stability to the production side of the power value chain and also give confidence to investors who want to come in, who are concerned about how to recover their money.

“They see now payment assurance and also people who are planning to invest in the gas sector which is being championed by Ministry if Petroleum also are seeing the same thing in terms of payments for gas produced.

“So the approval of council was to provide this guarantee for NBET which is a 100 per cent government owned company to pay on a monthly basis its obligations, for what was actually produced onto the grid , to the Gencos that are its customers.’’

Fashola said that the nation’s power transmission capacity had moved from 5,000 megawatts to 7,000 megawatts while generation had moved up from below 2,000 megawatts to 4,000 megawatts.

The minister denied that the transmission company of Nigeria (TCN) did not have the ability to take in all the energy generated adding that government was regularly expanding its transmission infrastructure.

He said that it was observed that there was un-evacuated power on the Eastern part of the Delta adding that the ministry had solved the transmission of power in the Ikot Ekpene axis to evacuate 1,000 megawatts but the gas producers were not being paid.

“As to the quantum of the guarantee, it is for two years from January this year through Dec. 2018. It is capped at a maximum of N701 billion but it is to be drawn monthly.

“That is the cap, it is possible it will not reach that but we have projected on the total cost that NBET is likely to pay and that is for power generated on the grid only,’’ he said.

He said the measure was part of the reforms being done in the sector adding that government had plans to recover the power sector and keep its fundamentals.

Fashola also announced that FEC approved that government should take over the financing of the Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos – Ibadan road projects from the private sector operators for speedy delivery.

He said that the decision was taken after the PPP status of the infrastructure projects were reviewed and government took the option of leading in financing where there were problems in the PPP.

He said that while engaging the private sector as it remained committed to PPP in infrastructure renewal, it would take some initiatives to improve infrastructure.

“Government as a matter of strategy thinks that it can continue until financial closures, agreements and all of that are put in place when PPPs become ready and viable to help deliver infrastructure.

“It was a strategy memorandum. The conclusion essentially is that government is committed to doing both self-financing as much as possible and encouraging PPP as much as possible,’’ he added.

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo

Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, says plans have been concluded for the state visit of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.

Udoh said in a statement on Wednesday that acting President Osinbajo would inspect the ongoing construction of the second runway at the Akwa Ibom International Airport shortly on his arrival by 1.00 p.m.

According to him, the Acting President is billed to pay a courtesy visit to the royal fathers in the state.

“Osinbajo is expected to also address a Town Hall meeting with stakeholders at the state Banquet Hall in Government House before departing the state,’’ Udoh said.

He listed those expected at the Town Hall meeting to include members of the state elders council, royal fathers and representatives of the oil producing host communities.

Others are the socio-cultural organisations, women leaders, and representatives of youths in the state.

Udoh said that the visit was part of the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to interact with the stakeholders and end crisis in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Osinbajo had visited Delta, Rivers, Imo and Bayelsa States