By Kede Aihie, Editor in Chief, Nigeria Magazine
2,000 feared killed in Boko Haram’s ‘deadliest massacre in Baga, Borno State, North East Nigeria Run up to the elections, Buhari certificate saga, (Form 1998), Nigeria Army denies being in possession of Buhari’s cert, credentials.
Calls by NSA for shift of election date causes stir and resisted by opposition, Kerry visits Nigeria holds talks with GEJ and GMB
Reduction of PMS from N97 to N87, announcement by Dezieni Alison Madueke
the most Googled word in Nigeria in January. And the word is –
Sacrosanct – President Goodluck Ebelechukwu Jonathan wielded the S-word in January in an attempt to convey his Administration’s resolve to handover, as expected, on May 29, 2015, more than a few Nigerians went Googling to keep up with the number one Citizen’s erudite turn of phrase. And even now, after the announcement of the six-week postponement of the polls, the Presidency has issued a press statement (February 8) in which the things sacrosanct remained so.
Seven-hour meeting of the National Council of State on Thursday on the 2015 general election and security issues in the country, deep divisions along party lines deterred the council from taking a decision on whether to hold the poll as scheduled or not,
Having failed to arrive at a common resolution on the scheduling of the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), whose chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, was at the meeting to brief its members on the commission’s preparedness or otherwise to hold the polls, was instructed to hold consultations with his National Electoral Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and the political parties to arrive at a decision that would be made public on whether the elections should go ahead as planned or be postponed.
The Associated Press (AP) Saturday reported categorically that an official close to INEC said the commission would postpone Feb. 14 presidential and legislative elections for six weeks to give a new multinational force time to secure northeastern areas under the sway of Boko Haram.
According to the AP, “millions could be disenfranchised if the voting went ahead while the Islamic extremists hold a large swath of the northeast and commit mayhem that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes.”
Boko Haram group has distributed leaflets warning people to boycott the March 28 nationwide elections. But that is not the only threat to security, People are moving their families away from sites of possible tension around the country and are preparing for unrest once results are announced.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has expressed satisfaction with Saturday’s field-testing of card readers, planned for use in validation of voters in the March 28 and April 11 general elections.
The electoral body said in a statement that the exercise, held in 12 states from the six geo-political zones of the country, was successful and will prove useful during the elections. It however acknowledged challenges in confirming finger prints.
The statement came amid controversies between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which opposes the use of card readers during the polls, and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, which backs the policy. INEC says the cards will help combat electoral fraud
36 towns retaken from Boko Haram, military say
Nigeria said on Wednesday that 36 towns had been retaken from Boko Haram since the start of a four-nation military offensive, voicing hope that the operation could lead to the group’s “total defeat”.
National security spokesman Mike Omeri said four towns had fallen since last Friday, including three in Borno state and Buni Yadi, in neighbouring Yobe, where the insurgents slaughtered more than 40 students in February last year before seizing it in August.
Crucial “co-operations and alliances” have led to victories over the Islamist rebels, he said, thanking neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger for cutting off “the supply lines of the terrorists”.
“It is hoped that the unfolding regional cooperation will hasten the total defeat and extermination of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the sub-region,” he added.
Since the unprecedented joint offensive was launched last month, Nigeria has maintained that its troops were controlling operations.
But witnesses, experts and claims by other militaries indicate that Chadian troops have made a particularly large contribution, advancing deep into Nigerian territory and flushing Boko Haram fighters out of several parts of Borno state.
Nigeria delayed its February 14 general election to March 28 after security chiefs said they needed more time to weaken the militants.
The reported successes, which have not all been independently verified, may allow more people to vote across Boko Haram’s northeast stronghold.
As a result, President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election chances could improve if voters feel he has finally taken decisive action against the rebels.
The conflict has killed more than 13,000 people since 2009, and critics have accused Jonathan and military top brass of failing to contain the violence
Diplomatic row: Jonathan shocked, embarrassed, says he did’t speak with King of Morocco
The controversy surrounding the alleged telephone conversation between President Goodluck Jonathan and the King of Morocco took another dimension as President Goodluck Jonathan Friday evening said he never spoke on phone with the Moroccoan King and has ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs to carry out a full scale investigation into the matter and punish those responsible for the national embarrassment.
Addressing a press conference Friday evening, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said the President was ‘shocked, surprised and embarrassed” over the controversy generated by his alleged telephone conversation with the Moroccoan King.
The controversy over whether or not the Nigerian President spoke with the Moroccoan King culminated in the recall of the Moroccoan Ambassador to Nigeria for consultation by his home government.
There were reports that the King of Morocco declined a request for a telephone conversation with president Jonathan when the later sought to speak with him, saying that it was inappropriate since president Jonathan was going into an election. They alleged that the Federal Government was trying to use King of Morocco to win Muslim votes.
PRESIDENT–ELECT Muhammadu Buhari, received his Certificate of Return from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, said he has no bias against any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion and gender.
Xenophobic attack in South Africa
A month to the expiration of his tenure, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday sacked the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Suleiman Abba. The termination of Abba’s appointment and duties, according to a tweet by the presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, is with immediate effect.
Jonathan swiftly appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Mr. Solomon Arase, as acting IG. Arase’s appointment is also with immediate effect, thus making him the 18th IG.
Abba was appointed acting IG on August 1, 2014, following the retirement of his predecessor, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar. He was confirmed as the IG a few months later
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Stephen Keshi new contract
After so many postponements, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Stephen Keshi yesterday signed a new contract that will see the former Mali coach handling the Super Eagles for another two years.
Keshi’s first two-year contract expired after Nigeria’s ouster from the Brazil 2014 World Cup, but the National Sports Commission (NSC) gave him the nod to handle the team on an interim basis following the crisis that engulfed the NFF shortly after the World Cup.
Keshi was later sacked by the new leadership of the federation, headed by Amaju Pinnick, following his inability to qualify the country for the 2015 African Nations Cup, but he was reinstated shortly after allegedly on the orders of the Presidency.
The relationship between both parties were strained even when the NFF agreed to offer the former Togo coach a new contract, but the issues were resolved late last month and they agreed to continue their relationship.
After appending his signature to the contract, Keshi described events of yesterday as ‘a fresh start.’
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday ordered that the full report of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) forensic audit of the corporation be released immediately to the public so that all Nigerians will be properly informed on the matter.
But while the audit did not mention any missing funds, only requiring NNPC’s exploration and production (E&P) subsidiary – the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company – to remit $1.48 billion to the Federation Account, the report did raise many pertinent questions.
Edo state governor marries, Lara Fortes from Cape Verde in his country home in Iyamo Auchi Edo state
Nigeria is currently batlling one of its worst fuel scarcity in recent times as reports on Saturday indicate..
Most filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory have shut down following the non-availability of the commodity.
The few stations that were dispensing the product had long queues of vehicles with desperate motorists besieging their gates with the hope of getting fuel to pursue their economic and social activities.
However, black marketers were not short of supply as they chased after vehicles along the road selling fuel at N200 per litre to those who could afford it.
Some stations sold fuel at N140 per litre, but few motorists patronised them, preferring to stay in the queue for hours to buy at the official N87 per litre.
Checks showed that most filling stations in the satellite towns including Kubwa, Zuba, Nyanya, Kuje and others sold fuel for N140 per litre.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), said on Saturday that the house arrest which the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency placed on the Ogun-East Senator-elect, Buruji Kashamu, was informed by a recent extradition request by the United States of America.
Adoke said immediately his office received the request it was passed to the appropriate organ of government for implementation. The implementation process involves filing an extradition
Muhammadu Buhari on 29th May sworn in as president of Nigeria.
Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in today as Nigeria’s new president, in a ceremony at the nation’s capital Abuja, after he won the first opposition victory over a sitting president in the nation’s history.
He is the first opposition figure to win a presidential election in Nigeria since independence in 1960.”I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, he told cheering crowds at the inauguration in the capital, Abuja.
Buhari vowed to tackle “head on” the issues of corruption and the insurgency from militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
At the inauguration ceremony at Abuja’s Eagle Square – Mr Jonathan handed over the constitution and national flags before Mr Buhari took his oath of office. In his first speech as president, Mr Buhari reiterated his commitment to tackle Boko Haram, whom he described as “a mindless, godless group, who are as far away from Islam as one can think”.
Immediately Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in, guests in Eagle Square rose to their feet, danced and sang their new president’s name. As he was then driven around in an open vehicle, people rushed forward to record the moment on their phones.
Moments after Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in thousands of excited young men ran through the security barriers to Eagle Square and pressed up against the perimeter fence cheered their new leader. It was a stark reminder that so many in Nigeria are expecting change, including jobs, from President Buhari.
Mr Buhari also announced plans for the Nigerian military’s command centre to be moved from Abuja to the strategic north-eastern city of Maiduguri, which is closer to areas where the group operates. He said Boko Haram could not be said to be defeated without rescuing the more than 200 Chibok girls, whose capture last April sparked a global campaign to bring them back home.
“This government will do all it can to rescue them alive,” he said. Mr Buhari said the Nigerian economy was “in deep trouble”, identifying “insecurity, pervasive corruption… and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages” as key concerns. The country’s power supply crisis was “a national shame”, he said, which had brought “darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation” to Nigerians
The 72-year-old takes charge of Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. The inauguration, before visiting heads of state and dignitaries, comes 32 years after the former army general seized power in a military coup. He was ousted after 20 months in office.
Buhari has described himself as a “converted democrat” and vowed to lead an administration committed to the needs of Nigeria’s 185 million people by tackling corruption.
According to Ian Betts is global head of risk analysis at G4S Risk Consulting Criticism of Nigeria as a place to do business is widespread but misplaced. ‘’The scaremongers say that the country is unstable, with a crumbling economy and threats from terrorist groups’’.
They point to oil shortages, collapsing crude prices, the ferocity of the Boko Haram terrorist group, and rampant corruption. But these snapshots do not paint a fair portrait of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy, and overlook what the regional powerhouse offers foreign corporations and investors.
Nigeria, the sixth fastest growing economy in the world, attracts the largest amount of foreign direct investment in Africa. Shell, Chevron and Nestle top the list of western companies committed to the country. When its GDP was rebased recently, Nigeria overtook South Africa to become the largest economy on the continent. With a new government, a booming economy and a popular mandate to tackle its most pressing challenges, investors should not overlook Nigeria for fear of the risks.
69 people killed in by petrol tanker in Onitsha which ploughed into a motor park.
Methanol Poisoning: FG Bans Sale of Unregistered Local Gin. Following several deaths in Rivers and Ondo States due to food poisoning linked to the consumption of local gin, better known as Kai-kai or Ogogoro, with lethal doses of Methanol, the Federal Govt yesterday banned the consumption of unregistered locally made gin.
Reacting to the death of 38 persons in Rivers State, the government said the deaths in Rivers and that of Ode-Irele, in Ondo State, were associated with the consumption of locally made gin.
NA Leadership: Odds Favour Saraki, Speakership Too Close to Call
As the 8th National Assembly is inaugurated, the odds are in favour of former Kwara State Governor Senator Bukola Saraki to clinch Senate presidency in a contest that is certain to alter the fortunes of the APC.
This is despite spirited attempts made by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Oyegun, and governors elected on the platform of APC to unite its members-elect behind Senator Ahmed Lawan for the Senate presidency and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the post of speaker in the House of Representatives.
However, Saraki looks set to coast to victory following the decision last night of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to back him. PDP also adopted Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Gbajabiamila’s main rival for the speakership, making the contest in the House too close to call.
An impasse over the leadership tussle in the federal legislature snowballed when APC conducted a straw poll on Saturday that threw up Lawan and Gbajabiamila as its choice for the posts of Senate president and Speaker, respectively.
But their emergence was rejected by Saraki, Dogara, and their supporters, who cried foul over APC’s attempt to foist its preferred candidates for the coveted posts in the National Assembly.
The situation has been made more precarious for APC with PDP’s emergence as the spoiler that may determine the outcome of the contest in both chambers of the National Assembly.
But in order to resolve the impasse that had ensued, the party and its governors made attempts to unite its members-elect behind its candidates for both posts.
Osinbajo, who was scheduled to hold a reconciliatory meeting with APC members-elect, at the last minute chose to stay away from the meeting to starve off the boycott of the meeting by Saraki, Dogara and their supporters.
Apparently, the Vice President got wind of a plan to boycott the meeting by the groups loyal to both Saraki and Dogara, and decided to change plans to forestall an embarrassing situation.
Instead, it was the National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun who represented Osinbajo at the meeting, which held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
The meeting, though boycotted by most of the lawmakers, had about 60 members-elect in attendance.
Oyegun repeated the party’s appeal to APC lawmakers to toe the party’s line by voting for Lawan and Gbajabiamila for Senate president and speaker, respectively.
He urged the lawmakers to allow the party and the national interest override personal interests.
Shortly after Oyegun addressed the lawmakers, they left the venue in a buoyant mood at about 7 pm after it became obvious that Osinbajo was not going to make it to the meeting.
The absence of several APC members-elect was said to have been precipitated by a text message from Dogara informing all legislators loyal to him not to attend the meeting, as there were plans to arrest and detain them in order to shut them out until after the election.
The message read: “Information reaching us indicates that this purported meeting is a ploy to arrest and detain members until after tomorrow’s election. Members should therefore disregard the invitation.”
Speaking to reporters, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Parry Iriase, representing Owan Federal constituency of Edo State and supporter of Gbajabiamila, said that they had to leave because they still had a lot of things to tidy up before the inauguration of the House monday.
Iriase said the legislators had already met and conducted the straw poll, adding that the aim of the meeting was to ensure that members of APC went into the Assembly united.
“We have met at various levels and we have been meeting. The essence of this meeting was for the vice-president to address all the lawmakers, including those who are not happy with the straw poll.
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s order that the military command centre be relocated to Maiduguri in Borno State, the Nigerian military has established a Command and Control Centre, MCCC, in the state.
The centre’s operation, themed Operation Zaman Lafiya, is created for the fight against Boko Haram that has ravaged the North East since 2009. This has led to the killing of many and displacement of others by the insurgents.
Sani Usman, Nigerian Army spokesperson, said the establishment of the command is in accordance with Mr. Buhari’s pronouncement and the directive from the Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah.
The dramatic election of four key officers of the National Assembly yesterday unsettled the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and breathed life into the Peoples Democratic Party which lost its prime position to the APC.
At the end of intrigues and drama that followed the battle for the four presiding officers’ positions in the National Assembly, all the candidates of the APC lost to the candidates backed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In his immediate reaction to the emergence of the National Assembly presiding officers, President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged that a constitutional process has occurred in the election even though he wished the process had followed the initiative by the APC.
Senator Bukola Saraki of the APC was returned unopposed as Senate President as the game of intrigues which played through Monday night to the early hours caught the APC leadership on the wrong side. His emergence was facilitated by the solid backing of the 49-member strong PDP caucus with unalloyed support from APC Senators from Zamfara, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kogi and Kwara States. As part of the quid pro quo from the PDP, the Saraki elements backed the return of Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP as Deputy President of the Senate, the first time a bipartisan leadership was enthroned in the Senate.
The emergence of Saraki and Ekweremadu bounced off negatively for the official APC candidate in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who lost to the unofficial APC candidate, Yakubu Dogara. Gbajabiamila was also widely reported to be strongly backed by the party leader and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The rout of the APC leaders’ choices was completed late last night when the party’s candidate for Deputy Speaker, Tahir Monguno also lost to the unofficial candidate backed by the PDP, Lashan Yusuf. The contest for the deputy was after Gbajabiamila had, after his defeat, spurned entreaties from the Dogara camp to take the position of Deputy Speaker. Rep. Leo Ogor, coordinator of the PDP in the chambers and Deputy Leader of the House in the Seventh House of Representatives also spurned the offer.
Saraki’s emergence as Senate President was preceded by hard negotiations and intrigues that played for most of Monday night into the early hours of Tuesday.
Game of intrigues
Having rejected last Saturday’s internal party caucus which it claimed was skewed to favour Senator Ahmad Lawan who emerged official candidate of the party, Senator Saraki had through Monday made moves to concretise an alliance with the PDP which came into the Eighth Senate with 49 members compared with the 59 seats occupied by his own party, APC.
PDP leaders, including virtually all governors belonging to the party in meetings gave their commitment to Senator Saraki after it emerged that 41 out of the 49 senators-elect in the party were already committed to him. That was based on the strong lobby put forward by Ekweremadu, Senator Andy Uba and former Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio.
The PDP senators, it was learnt, saw Saraki who served two terms as governor and a Senate term on the platform of the party as a prodigal son of better consideration than an enemy which they saw in Lawan.
However, consideration was given to the strong support being given Senator Lawan by immediate past Senate President, Senator David Mark, who had for the past eight years had Lawan as part of his inner caucus. Besides was the lack of cordiality between Saraki and Mark. Upon the strong support for Saraki, governors and members of the PDP National Working Committee, NWC including the immediate past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih persuaded Mark to drop his objection to Saraki in the interest of party unity.
Mark, according to sources, heeded the appeal and immediately brought relief to all present at the high-level meeting. However, the quid pro quo was that Senator Ekweremadu would run for the office of Deputy President of the Senate.
Upon the agreement which was sealed sometime around 2.a.m yesterday morning, Saraki and his entourage moved over to Senator Mark’s Apo Mansion residence where he thanked the immediate past Senate President for his hand of conciliation and support. Mark, according to sources, was visibly moved by the entreaty from Saraki and further reaffirmed his support.
The PDP quickly issued a statement following the agreement with a directive to senators-elect and members-elect on the platform of the party to vote for Saraki and Dogara in the leadership contest in the two chambers. The APC meanwhile had the previous night been making furtive attempts at reconciliation. A move by Lawan to reach Saraki according to sources was frustrated by Saraki who put himself out of reach to the party leadership.
Saraki emerges Senate president
Remarkably, Senator Saraki’s entry into the hall was hailed by wide applause from the seated senators-elect.
Following the roll call, the Clerk of the National Assembly read the proclamation address to him from the president. He thereafter, requested the senators-elect to nominate someone among themselves for the position of the Senate President and Senator Ahmad Sani, Yeriman Bakura (APC, Zamfara Central), immediately nominated Senator Saraki and he was seconded by Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West.
After the first nomination, Salisu, again, requested for other nominations, but there was a deafening silence as no other nomination for the post of Senate President was made and he immediately closed nomination upon which Saraki was adopted as the sole candidate and returned unopposed as the Senate President.
APC meeting breaks up
Meanwhile, word of the development in the National Assembly reached the ICC, forcing a break-up of the meeting as APC senators-elect waiting for the president started dashing back to the National Assembly.
After his election, he was immediately sworn in by the Clerk of the National Assembly following which he asked senators-elect to make nomination for Deputy President of the Senate.
Senator George Sekibo from Rivers State nominated Senator Ekweremadu for the position of the Deputy Senate President and he was seconded by his kinsman, Senator-elect, Olaka Nwogu.
Senator Ndume was nominated for the same position, setting the stage for an epic battle that however, melted into an easy sail for Ekweremadu who won with 54 votes to 20. He becomes the first senator to be elected to the office three times and the first principal officer of the National Assembly in either House to be elected presiding officer three straight times.
Saraki’s victory paves way for Dogara
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara after inauguration, yesterday. Photos: Olugbemiga Olamikan/
The defeat of the official APC candidates immediately translated into a bounce for Dogara who had formed a partnership with Saraki in the rebellion against the official candidates of the party. The election of Saraki as the Senate President prompted wild jubilation on the floor of the House of Representatives, especially among the supporters of Dogara.
Hon. Emeka Azubugu (Anambra PDP) brought the news at exactly 10.19 a.m. and Pat Asadu, (Enugu PDP) walked and signalled the victory of Saraki to the members.
Amid the jubilations, members began to sing solidarity songs like “All we are saying, give us Dogara”, “solidarity forever, we shall always fight for our rights”. The songs later gave way to shouts of “Dogara, Dogara”, in unison.
But the chants changed when Femi Gbajabiamila rushed in into the chamber from the ICC at 11.00 a.m. apparently to undercut a unanimous vote for Dogara.
His entry also led to a chorus of his name by his supporters. While his fans shouted “Sai Gbajabiamila”, Dogara’s supporters in a surprise response loudly re-echoed “Sai Dogara”, meaning “It is Dogara”.
The mother of all chants, however, came when Dogara walked into the chamber at 11:12 a.m. But feeling provoked, Gbajabiamila’s supporters joined the fray in the chants, showing a clear division of the camps. This continued until 11:58 a.m. when the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Maikasuwa came into the chamber and introduced himself as the clerk
It took about 30 minutes for the house to get ready for the election. At exactly 12:33, the House was called to order with the clerk reading the proclamation letter from President Buhari. Following the letter, the roll call of members-elect was taken and it lasted for 25 minutes between 12:35 pm and 1:pm in alphabetical order of the states. In the end, 358 members were announced by the clerk to be present.
Motion for nomination of candidates
In line with Section 60 of the 1999 constitution and Order 2, Rule 4 of the standing rule of the House, Hon. Abdulmumin Jubrin from Kano State nominated Dogara as a candidate for the speakership. The motion was seconded by Hon. Dike Okafor, a member from Imo State.
Thereafter, Dogara stood up and acknowledged the nomination. He said: “I rise to accept my nomination as the speaker of the 8th House of Representatives”.
His acceptance was greeted with standing ovation by his supporters, prompting shouts of “unopposed”. When this died down, Hon. Mohammadu Saleh from Bauchi State also moved another motion, nominating Gbajabiamila. The motion was also seconded by Hon. Shuaibu Philip from Edo State.
“It is with great humbly and profound gratitude that I accept my nomination for the speakership position of the 8th House Of Representatives”, he said. With the rituals concluded at exactly 1:21pm, the clerk later said “We are proceeding with the election and according to the rule. The election will be by secret balloting.”
Voting formally commenced at 1:27 pm and ended at exactly 3:31 pm with sorting and collation of results commencing almost immediately. In the end, Dogara was announced the winner with 182 votes to 174 votes.
APC rejects outcomes, says it’s treachery
The APC was quick to reject the outcome describing it as the height of treachery as it promised to sanction those who betrayed the decision of the party.
“Senator Bukola and Hon. Dogara are not the candidates of the APC and a majority of its National Assembly members-elect for the positions of Senate President and House Speaker. The party duly met and conducted a straw poll and clear candidates emerged for the posts of Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, supported by a majority of all Senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives. All National Assembly members-elect who emerged on the platform of the party are bound by that decision.
‘’The party is supreme and its interest is superior to that of its individual members,’’ the party said in a statement issued in Abuja Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“Consequently, the APC leadership is meeting in a bid to reestablish discipline in the party and to mete out the necessary sanctions to all those involved in what is nothing but a monumental act of indiscipline and betrayal to subject the party to ridicule and create obstacles for the new administration ‘’ it said. ‘’There can be no higher level of treachery, disloyalty and insincerity within any party,’’ the party said, vowing to resolve the matter using all constitutional and legal means available to it.
Meanwhile, the APC has asked all its loyal Senators-elect to report to the Senate to be sworn-in in order to discharge their constitutional duties.
PDP welcomes election
The PDP in its own reaction, however, welcomed the election saying that no section of the country should be neglected on national issues.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement on Tuesday described the development in both chambers of the National Assembly as “victory for democracy and triumph of the time-honored value of the PDP that every zone and segment of the country must at all times be given a sense of belonging in governance”.
The PDP assured that it would continue to partner with like minds in other political parties and groups to ensure that the nation’s democracy, which it nurtured in the last 16 years is sustained in the overall interest of the Nigerian people.
“What is paramount to the PDP is the sustenance of our democracy and the wellbeing of our people, irrespective of creed, class or ethnicity. The PDP is therefore willing and ready to partner with like-minded individuals in other political parties and groups to sustain our democracy, ensure good governance and promote the unity and stability of our dear nation. Nigeria as a nation belongs to all of us. Its interest, therefore, must be put over and above personal, partisan or group interests at all times.
“In this regard, the PDP notes with gratitude, the immense contributions of the immediate past Senate President ‘the Baba of the National Assembly’, Senator David Mark for the decency and mature manner with which he ensured the smooth take off of the 8th National Assembly”, the party said.
The statement also commended the PDP Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus for successfully galvanizing PDP members in both chambers of the National Assembly, which contributed to the peaceful conduct of the elections.
The PDP charged its members in the National Assembly to continue to uphold the tenets of democracy and enforce the constitutionally vested parliamentary role of check and balances to ensure the much desired accountability and probity in the polity.
Finally, it urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop whining and accept the will of the people, respect the independence of the legislature, as the PDP is not responsible for their naivety and crass inexperience.
Buhari lauds outcome of NASS polls
President Buhari on his part noted the outcome of the just-concluded election of leaders of the National Assembly.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, said the President would rather that the process of electing the leaders as initiated and concluded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been followed. Nonetheless, the President took the view that a constitutional process has somewhat occurred.
“President Buhari had said in an earlier statement that he did not have any preferred candidate for the Senate and the House of Representatives, and that he was willing to work with whoever the lawmakers elected,” Adesina said. “That sentiment still stands, though he would have preferred the new leaders to have emerged through the process established by the party”.
INEC: Drama as Buhari overrules Jega on handover
ABUJA — It was the end of an era, yesterday, when the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, formally handed over to Amb. Ahmed Wali as acting chairman of the electoral body.
Following the handover, Jega said the future of the country and the commission were in safe hands. However, after about eight hours as acting chairman, Wali was replaced as acting chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari who designated another national commissioner, Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari as acting chairman.
Jega, who was appointed five years ago by former President Goodluck Jonathan, bowed out with six national commissioners who were appointed the same day with him.
The commissioners who retired with Jega yesterday were Cojl. M.K. Hammanga (Adamawa), Dr Ishmael Igbani (Rivers), Prof. Lai Olurode (Osun), Dame Gladys Nwafor (Abia), Mrs Thelma Iremiren (Delta) and Dr Nuru Yakubu (Yobe).
The future is bright —Jega
Speaking with newsmen shortly after he bowed out, Jega expressed appreciation for the opportunity given to him and other INEC management staff to serve the country.
He said: “We feel great; we thank God Almighty for the opportunity to serve the country. The future is bright for the commission and the country.”
Though the brief hand-over ceremony was a closed-door event, secretary to the commission, Augusta Ogakwu, told Vanguard that it was just for the former chairman to hand over to another person since the Federal Government has not appointed a substantive chairman for the commission. She explained that Wali was selected because his tenure will expire on August 11 with the hope that by then the government may have taken a decision on who to give the responsibility of running the commission for the next five years.
The secretary also revealed that in his farewell message, Jega urged the commission to ensure that whatever thing that has been gained in election management must not be allowed to go down because the people of Nigeria and indeed the world must have taken interest in the country’s election management system.
She said: “It was just a brief ceremony for the chairman to hand over to one of the commissioners, Amb. Wali, whose tenure will expire on August 11 and the Chairman has handed over to him pending the appointment of a substantive chairman by the government or pending when his tenure expires but we believe that we will soon hear from the government what will happen next.”
Following the handover to Wali, the Head of Service of the federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi in a statement announced President Buhari’s decision to appoint Mrs. Zakari as acting national chairman of the commission. He said the appointment is with effect from June 30, 2015 until the appointment of a substantive chairman.
Mrs Zakari is senior to Wali and she is due for retirement July 31.
President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the Director General of the State Security Service, Ita Ekpenyong.
In his place, the President appointed Lawal Musa Daura as new head of the agency, which serves as Nigeria’s secret police. The removal of Mr. Ekpenyong and appointment of his replacement was announced Thursday by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, via a statement by the Director of Communications in his office, Haruna Imrana.
That claim could not be independently verified at this time. But a presidency source said even if he resigned, he was compelled to do.
“If he was instructed to submit a resignation letter, is that not a sack?” the source said.
According to the statement by the Head of Service, Mr. Daura, who is returning to the SSS from retirement, was born in Daura, Katsina State, on the August, 5, 1953.
Mr. Daura becomes the sixth director general of the SSS, one of the three security agencies created out of the defunct National Security Organisation in 1986.
The removal of Mr. Ekpenyong, who was appointed DG of the agency on September 8, 2010, has long been expected. Under him, the SSS became openly partisan, especially in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
Rather than gathering intelligence necessary to make the country safe, the agency busied itself more with harassing and arresting opposition figures, ransacking firms and offices with ties to the All Progressives Congress and appearing on television to disparage opposition politicians and their party.
Oshiomole and Okonjo – Iweala Trade Words Over ECA Account:
• Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomole said the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala must explain how the Excess Crude Account crashed to $2billion.
• Dr. Ngozi has however replied to the allegation by Oshiomole saying “No Unauthorised expenditure from the ECA was made under Okonjo Iweala’s watch in the Finance Ministry”.
Popular Ladipo Market Demolished:
• Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market in Lagos has been demolished.
• Some Armed men and officials suspected to be working for Mushin Local Government supported by a team of policemen invaded the market and demolished shops in the market.
FIRS Raises Taxes for First Class Tickets:
• The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has introduced new taxes in order to improve on the country’s lean purse.
• A N15,000 levy on first class and business class travellers has been introduced.
• This levy comes as a result of the bad fortune of oil and gas industry which is the major income earner for the country.
[B-O-O-M] Naira depreciates to N230 to $1
• The Naira fell to N230 on Wednesday in the parallel market as importers scrambled to source for forex lifeline to save their business.
• The Naira was N228 on Tuesday and N220 just a week ago thus depreciating by 4.5% in just one week.
• The depreciation is likely to continue as more importers scramble to secure enough forex for their next imports to avoid being run out of business.
Why CBN Extended BVN Registration Deadline
• The CBN has extended its BVN registration exercise from June 30th to October 31, 2015.
• The CBN in a circular claimed it extended the deadline because it has elicited tremendous interest from the Nigerian bank customers who crowded the banking halls in order to beat the deadline.
• The CBN however failed to admit the pains and inconvenience it had subjected a lot of Nigerians to and giving the impression that the exercise will end June 30, even though it perhaps knew it was going to extend it.
Fixing the economy CBN’s Forex restriction
Nigeria have appointed former Super Eagles midfielder and captain Sunday Oliseh as their new coach. The 40-year-old has signed a three-year deal and succeeds Stephen Keshi, who was sacked at the start of July.
“We have the talent to change our fortunes, to regain the respect we once had and match that with results,” Oliseh told BBC Sport.
“This is the biggest job in African football. With everyone’s support we can get the Super Eagles flying again.” Oliseh, who earned 63 caps for Nigeria and helped his country win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold in 1996, takes the helm at a time when Nigeria are struggling on and off the field.
Political fighting within the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and poor results on the pitch – culminating in the Super Eagles failing to qualify to defend their 2013 Nations Cup title this year – have left Nigerian football in a mess.
“I’s a great honour to be considered and given the opportunity to coach my country”
President Muhammadu Buhari
• Directs CBN to package 300bn special intervention fund
• DMO to restructure N660bn commercial loans
• FG, states, LGs to share $1.7bn from ECA
• Funds to be released this week
In his resolve to end the lingering crisis of unpaid workers’ salaries in the country, especially in several states of the federation, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a comprehensive relief package designed to salvage the situation.
In addition to the direct cash bailout, the three tiers of government will be sharing $1.7 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), effectively emptying the account meant to shield the economy from exogenous shocks.
Opening up on the assistance to be rendered to the states, a source in the presidency said the president approved a three-pronged relief package that would end the workers’ plight nationwide.
He said this entails: The sharing of about $2.1 billion (N413.7bn) in fresh allocation between the states and the federal government. “The money is sourced from recent NLNG (Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas) proceeds to the Federation Account, and its release was okayed by the president,” the presidency official explained.
The second measure, he said, is a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-packaged special intervention fund that would offer financing to the states, ranging from between N250 billion and N300 billion.
This would be in the form of soft loans available to states to access for the purposes of solely paying the backlog of salaries, he added. The third measure is a debt relief programme proposed by the Debt Management Office (DMO) which will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660 billion and extend the tenure of the loans to 15 years, thereby reducing their debt service obligations.
This third option would by extending the commercial loans of the states, make more funds available to the state governments which otherwise would have been removed at source by the banks.
The presidency official noted that the federal government would guarantee the extension of the loans for the benefit of the states.
Mixed reactions as President names new service chiefs, NSA
IN a sweeping shakeup of the nation’s security sector, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the appointment of new service chiefs and a National Security Adviser.
The appointments of the new service chiefs were contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
Adesina later told one of our correspondents that the appointment of new service chiefs was part of the government’s strategies to crush the Boko Haram insurgency.
Buhari had earlier in the day sacked the service chiefs and the NSA he inherited from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The new appointees, according to Adesina’s statement, are, Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Maj.Gen. T.Y. Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan.
They replaced former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, who were all sacked earlier on Monday.
The new NSA is Maj.Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.). He replaced Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.)
Meet the new men of power
The new CDS, Olonishakin (N/6901) hails from Ekiti State and until his appointment, was the Head of the Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command in Minna, Niger State.
The new CAS, Buratai, hails from Borno State. He was, until his new appointment, the Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force, which has its headquarters in Ndjamena, Republic of Chad.
Buratai had previously served as Commander of the Nigerian Army’s 2nd Brigade in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; and Commander of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry in Jaji, Kaduna State.
The new CNS, Ibas (NN/0746), hails from Cross River State. He enlisted into the Nigerian Defence Academy as a member of the 26th Regular Course in 1979 and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in 1983.
Ibas had previously served as the Naval Provost Marshal; Chief Staff Officer, Naval Training Command; Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters; Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command and Chief of Logistics, Naval Headquarters. Until his appointment as the CNS, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Navy Holdings Limited.
The new Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar (NAF/1433), hails from Bauchi State. Before his new appointment, he had previously served as Chief of Standards and Evaluation, NAF Headquarters; Chief of Defence Communications and Air Officer Commanding, NAF Training Command. He was the Chief of Administration, NAF Headquarters, until his new appointment.
The new Chief of Defence Intelligence, Morgan, hails from Benue State. He was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer in June, 1982. He once served as the Air Officer Commanding, NAF Logistics Command.
The new NSA was a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 21st Regular Course.
Before his retirement from the Army, he held several command and staff appointments including, Commander, Guards Brigade; Deputy Commandant, National Defence College; Chief of Defence Intelligence, Chief of Defence Logistics and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command.
Adesina said the new service chiefs would hold their appointments in an acting capacity until confirmed by the Senate.
He quoted the President as thanking the outgoing service chiefs and the NSA for their services to the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours.
Buhari had similarly sacked the former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Ita Ekpenyong, last week and immediately announced Lawal Musa Daura as the replacement.
Daura, 61, from Katsina State, returned to the government secret service from retirement.
‘President in a hurry’
Meanwhile, the Labour Party, in one of the reactions to the sacking of the former service chiefs, said on Monday that Buhari acted in a hurry.
The National Chairman of LP, Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, in a statement in Abuja, said, “It is my candid opinion that Mr. President should have exercised a little restraint in sacking the service chiefs; he should not have taken that action in a hurry. He should have considered the totality of what is on ground. But the fact of the matter is that his action may have also been informed by the security report he had. We do not know what is available to him, which made him take that action hastily the way he did it.
“But whatever the information in possession of the President, it is our candid opinion that the President should have waited for some time, to still try the service chiefs before they were bundled out of office. Buhari should have waited because he seems to be acting on the basis of trial and error. Probably, they must have advised him regarding the removal of checkpoints.
“Buhari made pronouncements and removed the checkpoints; no sooner had he removed the checkpoints, then insecurity escalated and Boko Haram started unleashing terror. The government had to eat its word and returned the checkpoints. It is not good enough for a government that has been advocating change.”
‘New chiefs overdue’
But security experts endorsed the sack of the former service chiefs by the President, noting that the sack had been long overdue.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, noted that the former service chiefs were partisan, stressing that Jonathan “spoilt them with money and there was no control or supervision.”
He noted that the new service chiefs might perform better than their predecessors, adding that he learnt that the new chiefs were core professionals.
A security analyst, Ben Okezie, said the sack of the erstwhile security chiefs was the right thing any new Commander-in-Chief would do.
Okezie said, “Sacking the service chiefs is the right thing any new Commander-in-Chief would do. Why it was delayed was because they were prosecuting an asymmetrical war and the President was understudying them so that he could know how to plan with the new security chiefs.
“I don’t know much about the new security chiefs until we study their antecedents and know their track records. Using the NSA to judge the others, one can say Buhari must have done his research well before appointing them. The appointment of the NSA shows that the President knows what he is doing.”
Also, the National Coordinator of the All Progressives Congress United Kingdom, Mr. Ade Omole, commended Buhari for sacking the service chiefs.
“It will help boost the morale of our valiant soldiers who are battling Boko Haram,” Omole said.
Obama pledges support for Nigeria’s fight against militants
US President Barack Obama has pledged to support his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against Islamist militant group Boko Haram. In the first meeting between the two since Mr Buhari’s election, Mr Obama said the Nigerian leader had a “very clear agenda” for defeating extremism.
The US has committed $5 million (£3.2m; €4.6m) to the fight against Boko Haram since Mr Buhari came to power. The jihadists have killed thousands in north-east Nigeria since 2009.
Speaking after the two met at the White House, Mr Obama called Nigeria one of the most important countries on the African continent and praised Mr Buhari for tackling corruption, an issue which compromised Washington’s relationship with the Nigerian leader’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.
Boko Haram has carried out multiple attacks in northern Nigeria since its insurgency began in 2009, most notably the April 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian school girls who are still missing.
President Obama’s wife Michelle got involved in an online campaign to draw attention to the girls’ plight, #BringBackOurGirls, and the US sent surveillance flights over Nigeria to help locate them.
However, the US refuses to sell weapons to Nigeria because of concerns over its army’s human rights record.
Mr Buhari wrote in an article published in The Washington Post just before meeting Mr Obama that “our allies can provide much-needed military training and intelligence as our soldiers take the war effort to Boko Haram”.
Mr Obama did not give any indication after his meeting with Mr Buhari that the US would provide military assistance to Nigeria.
Mr Buhari also wrote that he was seeking US assistance in “locating and returning $150 billion in funds stolen in the past decade and held in foreign bank accounts on behalf of former, corrupt officials”.
At the outset of the meeting, President Obama praised the March elections won by Mr Buhari as “an affirmation of Nigeria’s commitment to democracy”.
President Buhari replied by saying Nigeria will “ever be grateful” for the US help in ensuring the elections were free fair and credible. Mr Buhari, a former military ruler, was invited to Washington shortly after becoming the first opposition candidate to win a national election in March.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, biggest economy and biggest oil producer.
Nigeria is seeking US co-operation in combating Boko Haram militants. The US had previously agreed to help Nigeria fight the insurgency, especially after more than 200 school girls were kidnapped by the militants group from their dormitory in Chibok early last year.
However, relations between the US and the administration of Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan, soured, amid accusations of human rights violations by the Nigerian military.
President Buhari will also seize the opportunity to seek US assistance to recover billions of dollars from bank accounts in the United States, Switzerland and elsewhere. The US and other G7 countries had promised to assist Nigeria discover the money – if the country could provide evidence that it had been stolen from the country.
Nigeria will also need US assistance in the fight against corruption, which is one of the issues the country’s president had promised to tackle during his campaign
Insurgency: Nigeria borrows $2.1bn to rebuild North East
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the World Bank for unfolding a package which would see it spending 2.1 billion dollars in rebuilding ravaged North-eastern part of Nigeria occasioned by Boko Haram insurgency.
The President made the commendation on Tuesday at a meeting in Washington DC with representatives of the bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He, however, noted that apart from rebuilding the region in terms of infrastructure, priority must also be given to the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who now number over one million.
President Buhari urged the World Bank to send a team, which would work in concert with a team from the Federal Government, so that a proper assessment of needs could be done.
The World Bank would spend the 2.1 billion dollars through its IDA (International Development Agency), which gives low interest rates loans to government.
The first 10 years will be interest-free, while an additional 30 years will be at lower than capital market rate.
It was gathered that the World Bank was eager to move in quickly and give out the loans in order to give succor to the people of North-East.
Meanwhile, WHO is also to invest $300 Million on immunisation against malaria in Nigeria, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will collaborate with Dangote Foundation to ensure that the country maintains its zero polio case record of the past one year.
“If the effort is sustained for another two years, Nigeria will be declared fully free of polio,’’ NAN quoted a Presidential source on Buhari’s entourage to the U.S. as saying. (NAN)
Nigeria celebrates 1 year with no new polio cases
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Once stigmatized as the world’s polio epicenter, Nigeria on Friday celebrates its first year with no reported case of the crippling disease, having overcome obstacles ranging from Islamic extremists who assassinated vaccinators to rumors the vaccine was a plot to sterilize Muslims.
Just 20 years ago this West African nation was recording 1,000 polio cases a year — the highest in the world. The last recorded case of a child paralyzed by the wild polio virus endemic in Nigeria’s impoverished and mainly Muslim north was on July 24, 2014.
“We are celebrating the first time ever that Nigeria has gone without a case of polio, but with caution,” Dr. Tunji Funsho, chairman of Rotary International’s polio campaign in Nigeria, told The Associated Press.
If there are no new cases and laboratory tests remain negative in the next few weeks, the World Health Organization will take Nigeria off the list of polio-endemic countries, said Oliver Rosenbauer of the U.N. agency’s polio unit.
Nigeria is the last African country on that list
The two remaining countries are Pakistan, which recorded 28 new cases this year, and Afghanistan, with five, said Rosenbauer. It’s a 99 percent reduction since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in 1988, when one of the world’s most feared diseases was endemic in 125 countries and was paralyzing nearly 1,000 children every day.
Polio shows up unsuspiciously as a fever and cold, followed quickly by acute paralysis as the virus destroys nerve cells. The disease mainly affects children under 5. The virus invades the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine, then is spread through the feces. It is highly contagious with infected but asymptomatic carriers able to spread it silently and swiftly.
That’s why “surveillance takes place in every nook and cranny of this country, even in those areas that have been free for years,” said Rotary’s Funsho.
In Nigeria, where Boko Haram Islamic extremists held a large swath of the northeast for months until March, that means testing sewage and stool samples of refugees from areas too dangerous to access.
The extremists opposed the campaign and Boko Haram gunmen killed nine women vaccinators in northern Kano state in February 2013, but the vaccinations continued.
The milestone has been reached despite the government’s failure to deliver the most basic services: 100 million of Nigeria’s 170 million people defecate in the open, while the percentage with piped water has shrunk from 12 percent in 1990 to 2 percent today, according to U.N. estimates.
Nigeria has been on the brink of recording no new cases before, only to fall back during elections in 2007 and 2011 when money was lavished on political campaigns instead of vaccinations, said Dr. Oyewale Tomori, chairman of the government’s Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication.
Politicians spent unprecedented amounts on March elections that for the first time ousted a sitting president. But 2015 also brought the government’s biggest commitment of $80 million to fight polio.
Flexible strategy was needed for the campaign to succeed. “Initially there was this wrong approach … we thought we could overcome it with global pressure and scientific information,” Tomori said. “It didn’t work.”
The campaign had to win over religious and community leaders and grass-roots women’s groups, he said.
Nigeria tracks vaccinators through GPS on their cell phones and has emergency operations centers that provide “real-time information,” said Tomori. “If someone refuses vaccination, we know within minutes and can go back and take action. Before, it could take weeks.”
The polio tracking system has additional benefits. It formed the backbone of Nigeria’s successful efforts to fight Ebola. The WHO will not declare Nigeria out of the woods until 2017.
“It will take another two extra years of no polio to be polio-free and that is why we cannot relax,” said Tomori, who has been fighting polio for 20 years. He said monitoring, surveillance and vaccinations all must increase to ensure no backsliding: “On no account must we lose focus and take our eye off the polio radar.”
In major restructuring, Buhari shrinks NNPC’s directorates
• Sacks eight Group Executive Directors
• GMD removes PPMC’s Managing Director
President Muhammadu Buhari has reduced the Directorates of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from eight to four, just as the new Group Managing Director (GMD), Dr Emmanuel Kachikwu, yesterday sacked all Group Executive Directors (GEDs).
The Guardian learnt that the new GMD has the major task of repositioning the Corporation to become one big ‘profit centre.’ The Presidency, in creating the four new directorates, appointed GEDs from within the Corporation.
The new GEDs include Dr M.K Baru, for the Directorate of Refining and Engineering; Dennis Nnamdi (Exploration and Production); Bankole Komolafe (Commercial and Investment); and Abdulrazak Isiaka, for Finance.
However, unlike the GMD who was brought in from the outside of the NNPC, the four GEDs were upgraded to their present positions from the rank of Group General Managers.
The eight directorates that were shrunk to four were Gas and Power, Exploration and Production, Commercial and Investment, Engineering and Technology, Corporate Services, Refining and Petrochemicals, Business Development, Finance and Accounts NNPC chief executives (GMDs) were previously selected from among the eight Group Executive Directors, preferably that of Exploration and Production directorate, whose head is usually an engineer.
Unconfirmed reports also said that Kachikwu has sacked the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Haruna Momoh.
But President Buhari decided to go outside of the tradition to employ a lawyer, who has traversed the oil and gas value-chain and who is seen as a no-nonsense industry operator to drive the process of repositioning the NNPC to become a real national oil company.
The reason for the sack of Dr Joseph Dawha, the former GMD, apart from the allegation of institutional corruption against the NNPC, is the lingering fuel crisis in some parts of the country.
While Buhari is believed not to be keen on removing fuel subsidy, there is a silent move to take the best path between selling off the three recently refurbished refineries and maintaining them with public funds.
An industry source told The Guardian: “The removal of the former GMD and his Group Executive Directors (GEDs) was mot unconnected with the move by the President to chart a new course for the Corporation. “
If we remember very well, the determination of the Federal Government to reposition NNPC as a profit centre was the epi-centre of Mohammed Barkindo’s tenure.
Indeed, he ran a campaign he tagged “transformation of the NNPC” that took him to virtually all the major offices of the NNPC, including the refineries. ‘But what happened after he was removed? The dream died.
Now, it is better for Mr. President to bring someone outside of the NNPC to once again drive the vehicle of NNPC transformation. “Another important aspect of his work would be to work out the best policy option for our refineries. Fuel importation cannot and is not sustainable; hence, the need for government to find lasting solution to the problem.
As has been said many times, the long-term solution lies in increasing local refining capacity of the existing three refineries and building new ones, either by government or the private sector. “But the private sector cannot come into a regulated environment.
So, the new NNPC boss must guide government on which is the best policy option for our country.” The Guardian learnt that the new NNPC boss is expected to hit the ground running in the transformation journey of the NNPC.
Under the new deal, the NNPC will be more feasible in the activities of the PPMC, while conscious efforts would be made to empower the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to carry out its primary function of regulating the oil and gas industry.
However, it was not immediately clear yesterday which organisation (s) would assume some other auxiliary responsibilities of the Corporation.
On what should be the focus of the new NNPC helmsman, the Director of Emerald Energy Institute at the University of Port Harcourt, Prof Ilewumi Iledare, said that he must uphold transparency accountability as well as cultivate the spirit of teamwork with the GEDs and other top management members of the NNPC.
He said: “I expect Dr. Kachikwu to prioritise accountability and transparency in the conduct of the NNPC businesses. He must also work very closely with the GEDs and other members of the management.
For me, repositioning of the NNPC is very germane and one that must be done with utmost care and precision. The NNPC must operate like every national oil company that we see in other parts of the world.”
FG converts 11 states’ bank debts to bonds
The National Economic Council chaired by Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo was on Thursday told that Federal Government bonds had been issued to 14 banks on behalf of 11 state governments as part of the plan to restructure states’ loans in commercial banks.
As part of the plan, the Federal Government had approved the conversion of states’ loans in commercial banks to Federal Government bonds.
This is in line with the palliatives President Muhammadu Buhari had approved for state governments to enable them to meet their financial obligations.
The 11 states, which are beneficiaries of the FGN bonds issued to the 14 banks, were among the 22 states who had applied for their commercial loans to be converted to FG bonds as of August 19.
Four governors, Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); Willie Obiano (Anambra); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); and Muhammed Badaru (Jigawa), briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.
The NEC which is chaired by Vice-President has all state governors as members.
Ahmed said the latest on the terms of restructuring of states’ indebtedness to commercial banks were contained in the presentations made to the council by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Debt Management Office.
He said the bonds for the 11 states were issued to 14 banks after they submitted the reconciled figures and other required documents for the restructuring.
Ahmed, therefore, urged the remaining 11 states to quickly put their documentation in place to ensure that they fitted into the time schedule.
The governor said, “The DG of DMO told the council that based on the approval of Mr. President on the plan to restructure bank loans of states into FG bonds in order to address fiscal imbalance, 22 states had submitted reports and applied for restructuring as of August 19.
“The DG also said the DMO had requested the states to reconcile figures with the banks and had been jointly authenticated with the banks as of June 30.
“As of August 14, out of the 22 states that applied, FG bonds had been issued in respect of the loans of 11 states.
“The bonds were issued to 14 banks after submitting the reconciled figures and other required documents for the restructuring.
“DMO is now reviewing the additional submissions by states in the second phase of the programme.”
Economic and financial experts said the loan conversion deal was good for the banks and the state governments because the bond certificates issued to the 14 banks on behalf of the 11 states meant the states were no longer indebted to the banks.
The Head, Asset Management, Meristem Asset Management Limited, an investment advisory firm Mr. Taiwo Yusuf, said, “What the bond certificates issued to the 14 banks mean is that the states are no more indebted to the banks. The Federal Government through the DMO has taken that up. While I don’t know much about the 14 banks, it can be inferred that the 14 banks are the lenders the 11 states were exposed to.”
The Head, Research and Investment, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, said, “It is good news for the banks considering the challenging financial situations some of them are passing through.”
The Federal Government bailout package for the 36 states includes the sharing of about $2.1bn (N413.7bn) in fresh allocation between the states and the Federal Government.
Another measure is a CBN-packaged special intervention fund that offers financing to the states, ranging from between N250bn and N300bn.
The third measure is a debt relief programme proposed by the Debt Management Office which will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660bn and extend the tenure of the loans to 15 years, thereby reducing the states’ debt service obligations.
However, Obiano said the Ministry of Finance reported to the council that the current Excess Crude Account proceeds stood at $2.207bn as of August 2015.
He added that the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, also briefed the council on ongoing reforms in the petroleum industry.
He said Kachikwu told the council that the reforms would cover aspects of performance management, transparency and accountability and zero tolerance for corruption among others.
He said the GMD urged the state governors to assist in protecting oil and gas infrastructure in their states.
Amosun on his part told journalists that Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State presented what he called a provisional report of the five governors asked by the council to review the operations and management of the ECA and the Federation Account.
He quoted Oshiomhole as reporting that all the necessary agencies had been invited while two audit firms had been appointed to find out what transpired within the last five years.
The governor said the council was expected to receive the committee’s final report next month.
He explained that no law was violated in appointing the audit firms since the governors carrying out the probe needed expertise.
Badaru said the council was also briefed on developments in the power sector, saying there had been overall increase in power supply by 29 per cent as of the first six weeks of the present administration.
He said power generation reached 4,6662MW by July 29.
The governor also said that the council was informed that the Transmission Company of Nigeria’s management contract had been extended for another year.
He said the council was informed that there was currently a 45 per cent default rate on payment of electricity bills by state governments. Badaru said state governments had therefore been urged to ensure payments of electricity bills by their Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Badaru added that the state governments were also urged to assist with the provision of security to reduce vandalism of distribution assets
Buhari suspends Nigeria Immigration boss, David Parradang
President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the comptroller general of Nigeria Immigration Service, David Parradang.
Mr. Parradang was asked to immediately proceed on suspension Friday while the service’s deputy comptroller general, Martin Abeshi, takes over, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
It was not immediately clear why Mr. Parradang was sanctioned. However, the Nigerian government this week launched an investigation into how a wanted suspected terrorist was granted a Nigerian visa in Lebanon to visit Nigeria. The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bulus Lolo, said Wednesday the suspected terrorist was of “Palestinian extraction and resides in Lebanon”.
According to reports, the cleric, Ahmad al-Assir, was arrested by Lebanese authorities as he attempted to leave Lebanon to Nigeria via Cairo early on Aug. 15. He was reportedly arrested while attempting to travel with a fake Palestinian passport and a valid Nigerian Visa at the Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport in Lebanon.
President Buhari had immediately ordered an investigation into the matter, and it is unclear whether Mr. Parradang’s suspension has any link with the matter.
Also, the Immigration Service under Mr. Parradang’s leadership sparked national outrage in 2014 after nearly 20 job applicants died in stampede during an Immigration recruitment test.
Ahead of the examinations, an agent commissioned by the Ministry of Interior, extorted N1000 from each of over 700,000 applicants. Despite raising nearly a N1 billion, logistics for the exercise were dismal resulting in the deaths. Mr. Parradang denied any role in the contract. He said the Interior minister, Abba Moro, handled the deal. An investigation launched by the Senate into the matter, ended without a report till date.
Six Northern Governors, Security Agencies discuss Solutions to cattle rustling
Six governors from the north-west and north-central geo-political zones on Saturday met with the heads of security agencies of the affected states to appraise the ongoing war against cattle rustling and cross border crimes.
The meeting was held behind closed door at the Kaduna State Government House and had in attendance the governors of Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger States.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, Governor Abdulaziz Yari, of Zamfara State, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said the States were in close collaboration with the Federal Government towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
He said that the security operations would be expanded to focus on the forest areas where the notorious rustlers and bandits operated from.
Governor Yari, however, gave the assurance that the affected state governments were ready to provide logistic support to enhance the operations of security operatives in their effort to dislodge the rustlers that have been terrorising herdsmen and farmers over the years.
Besides the plans to enhance the security in the region, the governors have also come up with a plan on youth empowerment and job creation that will be implemented by various states to train the youth on skills acquisition in order for them not to get involved in criminal acts.
The menace of cattle rustling in most states in the north has become a nightmare for residents of the region, with over 30,000 cows and other livestock stolen by armed bandits in the past one year.
It is expected that regular meetings of this kind would go a long way in stemming the recurring cases of cattle rustling and other associated crimes in the region.
Buhari appoints SGF, Chief of Staff, others
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the following appointments:
Babachir David Lawal – Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Abba Kyari – Chief of Staff to the President
Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) – Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service
Kure Martin Abeshi – Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service
Senator Ita S.J. Enang – SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate)
Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu – SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives)
The appointments are with effect from today, August 27, 2015.
Lawal, the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation hails from Hong Local Government Area, Adamawa State. He graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979 with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree and worked with the Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Nigerian External Telecommunications Limited and Data Sciences Limited before establishing his own ICT and Telecommunications consulting firm in 1990. He is also a member of the Nigeria Computer Society, the Nigeria Society of Engineers and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.
Abba Kyari, the new Chief of Staff to the President holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick in Law and Sociology. He has worked with the New Nigeria Development Company, New Africa Holdings, African International Bank, United Bank for Africa, Unilever, and Mobil in various capacities over the years.
The new Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Ali, holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Criminology. He was military administrator of Kaduna State from 1996 to 1998.
The new Comptroller- General of Immigration, Mr. Abeshi hails from Nasarawa State. He joined the Nigerian Immigration Service in 1989 as an Assistant Comptroller. His educational qualifications include a Masters Degree in Public Administration.
Nigeria beat Angola in AfroBasket 2015 Final to win first-ever continental title
Nigeria (NGR) – AfroBasket 2015 champions. Angola v Nigeria, Afrobasket 2015, Radès (Tunisia), Final, 30 August 2015
RADES (AfroBasket 2015) – Nigeria beat Angola 74-65 in the Final of AfroBasket 2015 in Rades, Tunisia on Sunday to claim their first-ever continental championship.
In being crowned African champions, the Nigerians also qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Meanwhile, second-place Angola joined third- and fourth-place Tunisia and Senegal in booking their places for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs).
Angola went into the Final looking to win a 12th African title and led early on, before Nigeria’s rotation made the difference as they turned the score around in the second quarter and once they took the lead, they held on to it, going up by as many as 19 points.
Chamberlain Oguchi hit a trifecta of three-pointers on his way to a game-high 19 points for Nigeria, with Olaseni Lawal finished with a dozen. Carlos Morais led the Angolans with 15 points while Yanick Moreira added 13. Click here for the full game report.
Oguchi was rewarded for his impressive tournament and huge individual performance in the Final by receiving the Most Valuable Player award, presented by Tissot.
The 29-year-old headlined the All-Star Five which also included his Nigeria team-mate Al-Farouq Aminu, Morais of Angola, Tunisia’s Makram Ben Romdhane and Gorgui Dieng of Senegal.
“It’s the best moment of my life, to be able to come here after missing the last AfroBasket, to be able to come here and do this with my brothers, it feels amazing,” Oguchi said afterwards.
“I’m happy to be able to share this moment with them and for me personally, it’s just really great.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja lamented that the public service stank of corruption.
Buhari said the situation was worsened by the inability of the service to clearly articulate its mandate, following which it had earned a reputation for inefficiency, low productivity, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the public it ought to serve with commitment.
The president also said attempts to revamp the service would require great ingenuity, especially when the ethical values that hitherto formed the crux have been eroded.
He made the observations at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, yesterday at the launch of a progamme tagged, “Capacity Building Programmes for Public Servants/Structured Mandatory Assessment-based Training Programme (SMAT-P) and Leadership Enhancement And Development Programme (LEAD-P)”.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo represented the president at the occasion.
“Many who mourn the decline of the civil service today from its days as ‘primus inter pares’ in the commonwealth to one which has earned a reputation for inefficiency, low productivity, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the public fall into the error of thinking that the problem is poverty of ideas and capacity on the part of the civil service,” Buhari lamented.
He said the problem was the inability to clearly articulate a vision and ensure that the service develops the required capacity to articulate and implement the various components of the vision.
Buhari said: “Here, we’re launching capacity building initiatives designed to strengthen the leadership at all levels in the service and build a new performance management system. But the fundamental questions are: ‘What is the ethos, the ethical and ideological world view that the service is to deliver? To what purpose do we deploy leadership skills and for what ends? How can we measure performance when the objective itself is unclear?
‘Without clear answers to these questions, the service will grope in the dark and take the government and people along with it on a blind-leading-the-blind voyage. So, what sort of country do we envision? We want to build a nation with the citizen as its reason for being and thus its sole focus and responsibility. The citizen regardless of status in life must be respected by the governing authorities and treated with dignity.’
“Flowing from these is the imperative that our society must be governed by the rule of law administered by a trustworthy, fearless, impartial and efficient judiciary.”
He noted that the country once again stood on the threshold of greatness if stakeholders involved desired it badly enough to fight for it.
He said the civil service must as a priority see itself as servants and facilitators of commerce and entrepreneurship, designing policies and removing obstacles to doing business in Nigeria.
Charging public servants to cultivate the habit of scoring itself not in enforcing processes and procedures but as to how efficient and expeditious they have enabled businesses to be.
“What are the crucial communications to make to the people in a season requiring sacrifice and perseverance on account of falling revenues or for that matter communicate the position that our anti-corruption, zero tolerance stand, is not merely a moral or ethical stand but a developmental construct that recognises that corruption, if not apprehended, will destroy all institutions, the economy and eventually our society?” he queried.
Earlier, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, pointed out that the overall objective of the programmes being launched was to address capacity and leadership challenges in the civil service.
He noted that the programmes were funded mainly from the training budgets of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and delivered by the Nigerian Management Development Institutes.
Kifasi said in the absence of ministers, Buhari had helped to restore the confidence of the civil service by depending on it for support to govern the country.
He further pledged the support of the service to the incumbent administration in its bid to bring about positive and sustainable change in the country.
Kifasi also told the gathering that all Federal Government MDAs had been directed to comply with the instructions on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by September 15, 2015 or face sanctions.
A circular by Kifasi to the affected agencies noted that a number of MDAs were yet to comply with the directive given on August 7, introducing the TSA, directing that all receipts due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies be paid into the Federal Sub-Treasury Account maintained at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Government had hinged the implementation of the TSA on the need to aid transparency and facilitate compliance with Sections 80 and 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and other top financial professionals, would this morning gather in Abuja for a two-day brainstorming on realistic blue-print to support the Federal Government’s efforts at restoring investor and public confidence in the nation’s economy.
The forum is holding under the auspices of the Ninth Annual Banking and Finance Conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) with the theme, “The Financial Services Industry Agenda for a New Nigeria.”
Sub-themes to address specific critical issues in the economy include “The imperative for National Rebirth for Economic Development: The Role of Nigerian Financial Services Sector”; “The Financial Services Sector and Security Challenges in Nigeria”; “Financing Infrastructural Development in the New era”; and “The Financial Services Sector and the Challenge of Corruption in Nigeria.”
High profile experts who would examine issues at the conference include President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase; Chief Executive Officer, Geometric Power and former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji; Chairman, ICPC, Ekpo Nta; Executive Director, The Convention on Business Integrity, Soji Apampa; member, Monetary Policy Committee, CBN and Faculty member, Lagos Business School (LBS), Dr. Doyin Salami.
Nigeria’s Buhari heads to France
Trip ‘will focus on further strengthening and consolidation of ongoing bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and France in areas of defence, security, trade and investments’
World Bulletin / News Desk
President Muhammadu Buhari is eyeing closer ties with France, including on security, as Nigeria and its neighbours fight back against Boko Haram, his office said on Sunday.
The 72-year-old will spend three days in Paris from Monday following an invitation from his French counterpart Francois Hollande, Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina said in an emailed statement.
His entourage on the official visit includes the country’s national security advisor, retired major-general Babagana Monguno, plus senior officials in the defence, finance and foreign ministries.
Buhari will meet Hollande on Monday evening and also hold talks with Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and other senior government figures, Adesina said.
The trip “will focus on the further strengthening and consolidation of ongoing bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and France in the areas of defence, security, trade and investments”, he added.
Meetings with the heads of French oil major Total and concrete manufacturer Lafarge, both of which have operations in Nigeria, are also planned, as is a meeting with African ambassadors in Paris.
Buhari has made defeating Boko Haram a priority since he came to power in May, after six years of bloodshed that has left at least 15,000 dead and made more than two million others homeless.
Anglophone Nigeria is in a coalition with Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin, and overcoming historically suspicious ties with its French-speaking neighbours is seen as key to defeating the militants.
France has a strong military presence in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, for operations against insurgents in the Sahel region.
Former military ruler Buhari is also trying to revitalise Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy after a slump in revenue caused by the fall in global crude prices since mid-2014.
Nigeria anti-corruption drive set to trigger huge bank outflows
A landmark reform intended to improve transparency in Nigeria’s notoriously corrupt government departments is set to worsen a funding squeeze for the country’s banks as the economic woes gripping Africa’s top oil producer deepen.
A directive from Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, to be enforced Tuesday, will require all federal revenue-generating institutions, including the opaque state-owned oil company, to begin paying their revenues into a single Treasury account instead of a web of largely untracked private bank accounts.
In a significant boost to Mr Buhari’s corruption-fighting credentials, the move, aimed at addressing a decades-long lack of oversight in state revenue, is projected to see more than $6bn of public funds transferred from local banks to the country’s central bank.
But financial analysts warn that such rapid outflows will worsen a looming credit crunch facing Nigeria’s financial sector, one of the chief concerns cited by JPMorgan last week when it yanked Nigeria from its influential emerging bonds index.
“If that happens in one day clearly what you’re going to see is significant shock in the system where there is a serious lack of liquidity and interest rates which are already very high will go even higher,” said an executive at one of Nigeria’s larger commercial banks.
“There is very little lending going on in the system and in this type of interest rate environment the economy is starved of credit and this affects the ability of companies to invest.”
Nigeria’s economy, battered by falling oil prices and emerging market turmoil, is also under stress as uncertainty mounts about the country’s fiscal direction under Mr Buhari, who has yet to name a cabinet nearly four months after taking office.
Nevertheless, the president has directed all state institutions to shut down their accounts in the country’s more than 20 commercial banks. Several bankers in Lagos said the minimum amount that will have to be transferred by the banks holding government funds is more than 1.3 trillion naira, or roughly $6.5bn.
Central bank governor Godwin Emefiele concurred with that estimate, saying the amount “could be something” like 10 per cent of the 12 to 13 trillion naira in Nigeria’s banking system.
“The amount involved is very substantial and this will further tighten liquidity,” said Phillips Oduoza, chief executive of United Bank for Africa (UBA).
Mr Oduoza added that the total amount banks such as UBA would be required to transfer was not yet clear: “Initially we were told it has to do with the government agencies that actually generate revenue, but now we are hearing it will involve all the accounts maintained by various government entities with the banks — not just revenue accounts.”
JPMorgan’s decision to remove Nigeria from its GBI-EM index last week has already triggered heavy outflows from the $2bn of local bonds the index tracks as well as a broader stock market sell-off.
With implementation of the presidential order, even less money will be in circulation, adding to the upward pressure on domestic bond yields, said Mohammed Garuba, head of asset management at CardinalStone, an investment bank in Lagos.
Even before the JPMorgan decision, Mr Garuba said yields were rising because of “aggressive selling” by Nigerian banks of government securities in anticipation of this directive taking effect.
In spite of the predicted financial fallout, analysts say the move, if fully implemented, is a significant step for Mr Buhari. The 72-year-old former military ruler has pledged to root out deeply embedded corruption in a state that has failed to translate the country’s vast resource wealth into an improved quality of life for Nigeria’s 170m people.
Razia Khan, chief Africa economist at Standard Chartered, said the reform would bring longer-term benefits: “This is a reform that should have taken place ages ago and the fact that it’s finally coming into place now is very important.”
Nigeria will remain number one investment destination in Africa – Buhari
According to a statement from the Nigerian President’s office, President Buhari told entrepreneurs in Paris that “with a blessed land rich in agricultural and mineral resources, skilled and low-cost labour, large market, a robust and competitive private sector anchored on investment policies and legislation to guarantee predictability and consistency with global business practices, we are poised for double digit growth”.
“There is much more to our country than oil and we are determined to consolidate on industrialising Nigeria and diversifying its economy.
“The privatisation of key sectors of our economy, which started under previous administrations, will be pursued and expanded to include other sectors. This exercise will be conducted in an open, transparent and competitive manner.
“We recognise the private sector as the engine of growth and a veritable partner in our economic agenda and will therefore, give the fullest possible support to foreign and domestic entrepreneurs.
“Our administration is poised to redress the serious infrastructural gaps in Nigeria, raise production to create more jobs, build capital and stimulate further growth and prosperity of the country,” the Nigerian President stressed.
The President said that one of the key objectives of his administration’s ongoing economic reforms was to restore the confidence of investors in the Nigerian economy.
Addressing leading French businessmen and investors at the headquarters of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), President Buhari also reaffirmed his government’s determination to curb corruption in Nigeria.
“Our ongoing economic reforms are designed to restore business confidence and block leakages and wastage of public resources. We are also focused on the recovery of stolen wealth belonging to the country,” the Nigerian leader told participants in a Nigeria/France Investment Forum.
The President of MEDEF, Pierre Gattaz, announced that the umbrella organisation of about 800,000 French manufacturing firms and businesses will undertake a trade mission to Nigeria next month.
Mr Gattaz said that the MEDEF trade delegation would comprise of prospective investors in agriculture, mining, automobiles, energy, skills development, light manufacturing, food processing, transportation services and many other areas.
Code of Conduct Tribunal orders Saraki’s arrest
The Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja has ordered the arrest of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for failing to appear on Friday as the tribunal commenced hearing of a 13-count charge of alleged corruption against him.
The chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, issued a bench warrant against Mr. Saraki, brushing aside a Federal High Court order seeking to stop Mr. Saraki’s arraignment.
Mr. Saraki had on Thursday obtained a Federal High Court order directing that the case against him be halted.
On Friday, the prosecution counsel, Muslim Hassan, asked the tribunal to order his arrest for failing to appear before it, arguing that the high court had parallel jurisdiction with the tribunal and as such, had no powers to halt a trial of the tribunal.
Mr. Saraki’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, however, prayed the tribunal to adjourn the case until after the Federal High Court sitting on Monday.
But the tribunal chairman granted the prayer of the prosecutor.
The Code of Conduct Bureau had slammed a 13-count charge of corruption on Mr. Saraki.
In charge number ABT/01/15, dated September 11 and filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Saraki is accused of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets in forms he filed before the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara state.
According to the charges, exclusively published by PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday, the Senate President is also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor.
Among other offences, including allegedly acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, Mr. Saraki is also accused of operating foreign accounts while being a public officer – governor and senator.
The offences, the charge said, violated sections of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
Mr. Saraki is also said to have breached Section 2 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and punishable under paragraph 9 of the said Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
The charges were prepared by M.S. Hassan, a deputy director in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. It is not clear on Wednesday morning whether the document had been served on Mr. Saraki, Nigeria’s number three man.
Mr. Saraki dismissed the charges as “false and frivolous”.
“… Those behind this plot will definitely meet Dr. Saraki in court as this case, which is based on outright fabrication and mischief, will not and cannot stand the test of justice,” Mr. Saraki said in a statement.
Boko Haram attacks Kogi DSS office, frees 30 suspects
No fewer than 30 people detained at the Kogi State office of the Directorate of State Service were freed on Friday night when it was attacked by gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect.
This was as four people, including an anti-riot policeman, were reportedly killed in the attack by the invading insurgents.
The attackers were said to have immediately made for the cell of the DSS office located along Hassan Katsina Road, Lokoja, and released all suspects kept there after gaining entrance.
Around 9.45pm on Friday, the gunmen with sophisticated weapons invaded the DSS office.
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the heavily armed men that stormed the DSS office appeared to have overwhelmed the DSS officials present, prompting a Deputy Director of the agency, whose name is yet to be ascertained, to quickly put a distress call to the police at about 10:40pm.
It was gathered that combined patrol teams of soldiers and policemen were later drafted to the place and they engaged the invaders in a gun duel for over seven hours.
The source said the security operatives later overpowered the attackers and some of them (invaders) fled into the bush.
He added that at the end of the shootout, the bodies of a policeman and three of the attackers were discovered.
The source further said two of the attackers fled to Otokiti Housing Estate and forced themselves into one of the flats occupied by a woman.
It was gathered that the woman quickly invited soldiers who responded immediately, arrested and took them away.
The Kogi State Police Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, confirmed the attack to journalists in Lokoja. He said at about 9:45pm on Friday, criminal elements invaded the DSS office in Lokoja.
According to him, the prompt response of the police command led to the death of three of the attackers, while at the end of the operation the command lost a policeman. He said he could not confirm whether or not the invaders succeeded in entering the DSS office.
Ojukwu said, “We are still investigating and we cannot say much for now until we are able to lay our hands on the suspects. “We are working assiduously with other security agents in the state to ensure that we get to the root cause of the attack.”
Meanwhile the DSS has deployed operatives from its Abuja headquarters to Lokoja, Kogi State to hunt down Boko Haram suspects that escaped from its detention facility in the state.
Sources told our correspondent that the DSS was yet to have a definite number of the escaped suspects, adding that the Kogi State directorate was in the process of submitting the full list of the suspects to the DSS headquarters in Abuja.
A DSS source said, “The service is yet to ascertain the exact number of terror suspects that escaped during the attack, but the headquarters is expecting a full briefing on the incident, including the number of escaped suspects, number of dead or wounded personnel, number of re-arrested suspects and a detailed explanation of how the facility was attacked.
“A probe into the security breach has been initiated by the service headquarters and a squad has been dispatched to the state to help in re-arresting the fleeing insurgents; we expect recapture of some of the suspects within 24 hours.”
Ministerial list: Buhari submits 21 names • Fashola, Amaechi, Ngige, Onu, Aisha Alhassan, Fayemi, Malami Abubakar, Kachikwu make list
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday received the ministerial nominees list at about 4:56pm from the Presidency but said the content of the presidential communication would be read on Tuesday. The Senate had adjourned plenary at 2:00pm on Wednesday till Tuesday, October 6.
Sources said 21 names were contained in the list.
55th Independence Day Speech by President Muhammadu Buhari
October 1st is a day for joy and celebrations for us Nigerians whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in because it is the day, 55 years ago; we liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and began our long march to nationhood and to greatness.
No temporary problems or passing challenges should stop us from honoring this day. Let us remind ourselves of the gifts God has given us. Our Creator has bequeathed to us Numbers – Nigeria is the ninth most populated country on the planet. We have in addition:
• Arable land
• Oil and gas
• Solid minerals
We have all the attributes of a great nation. We are not there yet because the one commodity we have been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.
Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.
Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all appreciate and try to consolidate. We have witnessed this year a sea change in our democratic development. The fact that an opposition party replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of the deeper roots of our democratic system. Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences.
As I said in my inaugural speech, I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to join me in working for the nation.
My countrymen and women, every new government inherits problems. Ours was no different. But what Nigerians want are solutions, quick solutions not a recitation of problems inherited. Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.
As you know, I toured the neighboring countries, marshal a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram. I met also the G7 leaders and other friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against Boko Haram. Our gallant armed forces under new leadership have taken the battle to the insurgents, and severely weakened their logistical and infrastructural capabilities. Boko Haram are being scattered and are on the run. That they are resorting to shameless attacks on soft targets such as I.D.P. camps is indicative of their cowardice and desperation. I have instructed security and local authorities to tighten vigilance in vulnerable places.
On power, government officials have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost effective way. In the meantime, improvement in the power supply is moderately encouraging. By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country. All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better.
Preliminary steps have been taken to sanitize NNPC and improve its operations so that the inefficiency and corruption could be reduced to a minimum. Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped.
In addition to NNPC, I have ordered for a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent housekeeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources that is important.
We have seen in the last few years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new APC government is embarking on a clean up, introducing prudence and probity in public financing.
At an early stage, the federal government addressed the issue of salary arrears in many states, a situation capable of degenerating into social unrest. The APC government stepped in to provide short-term support to the owing states and enabled them to pay off the backlog and restore the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.
Fellow Nigerians, there have been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its Report on the reorganization of Federal Government structure after studying the hand over notes. It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.
Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC government for CHANGE is all about.
I would like to end my address this morning on our agenda for CHANGE. Change does not just happen. You and I and all of us must appreciate that we all have our part to play if we want to bring CHANGE about. We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust. We must change our unruly behavior in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.
HappyIndependence Celebrations. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Diezani Alison-Madueke arrested, later released on bail
The former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arrested by the UK National Crime Agency, yesterday, October 2, and was later in the day released on bail, according to TVC News.
After her release, her international passport was reportedly taken from her to prevent her possible flight from the UK.
According to Premium Times, Diezani was arrested for bribery and corruption offences which are currently being investigated by the UK National Crime Agency.
Four other Nigerians were also arrested alongside Diezani by the British law enforcement agency. The report said the British High Commission in Nigeria through its press and public affairs officer, Joseph Abuku, confirmed the arrest of some Nigerians by the UK agency.
“This morning, five people between the ages of 21 and 60 were arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences. The crimes are being investigated by the National Crime Agency.
“The National Crime Agency does not confirm identity at arrest nor provide information that could be used to corroborate the identity of an arrested individual,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement released on its website, the agency confirmed the arrest of the former minister.
The statement issued to confirm the arrest read: “The National Crime Agency’s recently formed International Corruption Unit has arrested five people across London as part of an investigation into suspected bribery and money laundering offences.”
Nigerians have also expressed their excitement over the arrest of the embattled former petroleum minister, stating that it has been long overdue.
Iconic Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has announced his international retirement.
Nigeria icon Vincent Enyeama has announced his retirement from international football after a career that saw him win 101 caps.
The 33-year-old Lille shot-stopper has had a fractured relationship with new head coach Sunday Oliseh, a feud which came to a head this week.
Enyeama had arrived at the Super Eagles’ training camp in Belgium late having had extra time off agreed following the death of his mother. However, he arrived to find he had been stripped of the captaincy, which had instead been handed to Ahmed Musa.
Reports then suggested Enyeama had been expelled from Nigeria’s training camp in Belgium on Wednesday, but the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) came out to describe the incident as a “misunderstanding which has now been resolved”.
Enyeama has now removed himself from the squad, though, bringing an end to a Nigeria career that saw him play in three World Cups.
He wrote on Instagram: “I have fought a good fight for more than 13 years. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith and sang the anthem with passion.
“Henceforth, there is laid for me a crown which only God can reward me for my 13 years of national service. Henceforth, I am no more the captain of the Nigeria senior football team, I am no more the goalie of the team, I am out of the team. I am no more available for international duties. “I want to say thank you to every Nigerian fan and supporter world wide. It has been the most trying period of my life but I know that Nigerians are there for me and God is with me. God bless Nigeria.”
Enyeama, who also represented Nigeria in five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, said it had been an extremely difficult time for him.
He added to BBC Sport: “It has been the most difficult period of my life, losing my mother and the emotion.” After playing for the Super Eagles for 13 years, you never think that it would end like this but the time has come.
“There is never a good time to leave but I will always be a fan of the Super Eagles and Nigerian football. “I played at three World Cups, won the Africa Cup of Nations and fought alongside brave compatriots so I am leaving on a high.”
Buhari flags-off 260km Calabar-Katsina-Ala super highway
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday performed the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the 260km Super Highway Dual Carriage Road from Calabar to Northern Nigeria.
This was his first ever signature project since assuming office in May, 29th, this year.
He gave the commitment of the federal government to ensure the speedy completion of the project scheduled to be completed within the next 4-5years.
The 260km super highway, an evacuation corridor from a deep seaport in Bakassi, a project which will run concurrently, is expected to reduce travel time from about six hours to one hour thirty minutes, between Calabar and Katsina-Ala. Both the super highway and the sea port
projects are estimated to cost about N700 billion.
Special features of the road, according to the Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, in his address include: internet connectivity throughout the highway, a photographic solar system with a satellite antenna and speed cameras.
“It is probably the first road to have anti-slip features on the highway, it is a digital road designed for the 21st century.
“This road is a 260km super highway; it’s an evacuation corridor from the seaport. It will have a track of 14metres and a key wall of 680metres that would allow for vessels from outside and every other vessel to berth. It will therefore provide an evacuation corridor for vessels, material and equipment lying in Calabar uniformly, effortlessly to Northern Nigeria” he said.
The project, a public, private partnership affair, will be bankrolled by partners like Heritage, Skye and Zenith banks as well as an Isreali-British firm, Broad Spectrum which has already provided a takeoff fund of 500million euros.
According to the governor, the project was borne out of a need to reduce dependence on federal allocation, consequent upon the loss of the State’s oil wells and the ceding of Bakassi.
“The state was reduced to wants in body and spirit. It became imperative that we need to onstruct a new means of production, we needed to open the horizon to get more young people employed” he said.
The governor urged his colleagues from Benue and Nasarawa states to key into the project and ensures that the roads spread over from Katsina-Ala. He commended the President for shelving politics and putting national interest first in deciding to perform such a function in a state not of the same party affiliation, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Given the circumstances of our nation and politics, Cross River State would not have been worthy of your first port of call. You have shown that you are truly the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” Ayade said.
He added that the President from inception gave his support to ensure that the dream of the state becomes a reality.
Speaking at the event held at Obung Village, Netim Clam, Akampa local government area of Cross River State, Buhari said
MTN shares plummet for second day on NCC fine
Shares of Africa’s biggest mobile operator, MTN Group, fell for a second day on Tuesday, easing 4.2 per cent to 159.98 rand on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), as investors scrambled to cut their losses following the news of the N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) fine imposed on the company’s Nigerian subsidiary.
The decline saw MTN’s shares extend their losses to nearly 16 per cent over the last two days, wiping about 50 billion rand ($3.66 billion) from the company’s market value, reported Reuters.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had slapped the N1.04 trillion fine on MTN Nigeria last week for failing to fully deactivate 5.2 million subscribers with unregistered and incomplete SIM card details on its networks within the stipulated deadline given all mobile phone operators in the country to comply with the directive.
Based on NCC regulations, the fine was based on N200,000 per unregistered subscriber. The company was given till November 16 to cough up the fine.
But in a bid to lessen the impact of the record fine on its business, the company was said to have commenced talks with NCC to try to reduce the fine, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed yesterday.
“MTN is talking to NCC with the view to revoking or reducing this fine,” one source was quoted by Reuters as stating yesterday. “There was a bit of misunderstanding around this issue.”
Another source said MTN had been in talks with NCC about the exact number of people using unregistered SIM cards when the deadline to disconnect them passed.
“As you know, relations between both countries have been testy in the past and efforts are being made to improve ties. So both sides will seek to avoid another flare up,” he said.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wins the Best of the Best
We’re delighted to announce that Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been named the ‘Best of the Best’ of the winners of the second decade of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, as chosen by the Chairs of judges of the past ten years.
Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2007 and as ‘Best of the Best’ of the second decade of winners, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will receive a special-edition Bessie statuette, cast in manganese bronze.
Adichie follows in the footsteps of Andrea Levy who was named winner of ‘Best of the Best’ of the Prize’s first decade for her novel Small Island, which won the Women’s Prize in 2004.
Watch Chimananda’s acceptance speech below:
Muriel Gray, Chair of Judges in 2007, the year Half of a Yellow Sun originally won the Prize said: “While it’s sometimes pompous to call a book ‘important’, it’s appropriate to say it of Half of a Yellow Sun.” She continued, “For an author, so young at the time of writing, to have been able to tell a tale of such enormous scale in terms of human suffering and the consequences of hatred and division, whilst also gripping the reader with wholly convincing characters and spell binding plot, is an astonishing feat. Chimamanda’s achievement makes Half of a Yellow Sun not just a worthy winner of this most special of prizes, but a benchmark for excellence in fiction writing.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages. She is the author of three novels; Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction; Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and Americanah which was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2014
FIFA U-17 World Cup
Golden Eaglets retain their crown
Nigeria became only the second side to retain the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a 2-0 win against Mali in Vina Del Mar. Victor Osimhen stole the show once again thanks to his record-breaking tenth goal of the tournament, with Funsho Bamgboye adding a second moments later. Samuel Diarra had saved an early Osinachi Ebere penalty as the Malians played their part in an entertaining finale to Chile 2015.
The penalty came as both sides were just finding their rhythm in the opening exchanges, Chato the culprit with a handball. Ebere saw his low effort saved brilliantly by Diarra, the No17’s follow up header hit the bar before a third bite of the cherry was blocked by the Malian defence.
Both sides had chances in a tense opening period, with Golden Eaglets skipper Kelechi Nwakali hitting just wide and Boubacar Traore seeing his glancing header tipped over by Akpan Udoh.
The second half saw the game burst into life, with Emmanuel Amuneke’s words clearly working their magic on the Nigerian youngsters. Osimhen shrugged off the challenge of Mamadou Fofana before hitting a wonderful dipping half volley towards goal, which Diarra spectacularly saved. Udochukwu Anumudu then smashed a thunderous effort at goal, which rebounded back off the crossbar and was cleared away.
Accountant-General, CBN meet SystemSpecs today
THE Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will today meet with SystemSpecs, banks and other stakeholders on the tariff for the transactions fees to be charged under the Treasury Singles Account (TSA).
Meeting, held at the instance of the OAGF and the CBN, review the tariff for transactions under the TSA.
Presently, there is a one per cent transaction fee for every transaction through the TSA which is conducted on Remita electronic payment platform owned by SystemSpecs.
A source close to the TSA project confirmed this development to Vanguard. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said, “The meeting will involve all the companies in the TSA value chain, and they will discuss and agree on what the new tariff should be.
The meeting should have been held long before now, but recent developments have made it imperative”.
Last week, following the decision of the Senate to probe allegation that Remita had been paid N25 billion, being the 1 per cent commission it charged for the transfer of N2.5 trillion of federal government funds to the TSA, and the directive of CBN to SystemSpecs to refund the transaction fees charged so far under the TSA, SystemSpecs had written to the President, seeking intervention of the Presidency in the resolution of the transaction fees issues. The letter in part reads, “While we await clarification from OAGF/CBN on the way forward, we have since suspended all TSA e-Collection fees on the platform. This means that none of the TSA collection parties/channels are earning any fees for providing services to Government.
“This position is however not sustainable as the collection partner banks are threatening to suspend FGN TSA collections. This would clearly be playing into the hands of those who do not wish this initiative to succeed. We understand the strategic importance of the TSA project to this Administration and the country at large.
“Your Excellency, we would appreciate your kind and urgent intervention to ensure a speedy resolution of this matter before the banks stop collections.
“In line with the subsisting contract and your assured commitment to the rule of law, we humbly request sir, that the fees earned by ourselves and the banks to date be returned to us and our partner banks. In view of the enlarged scope and the need to review the process, we humbly request sir, that you direct a meeting of relevant stakeholders be conveyed to agree a sustainable pricing model going forward. We solicit the continued political support of the TSA initiative by your Administration for this initiative that offers far more to our nation beyond the immediate take-off issues”
World Bank Supports Transformation of Nigerian Capital Market
The Vice-President and Treasurer of the World Bank, Ms. Arunma Oteh, on Wednesday gave assurance that the World Bank Group would support efforts to make Nigerian capital market world class market.
The former Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who midwifed the 10-year Capital Market Master Plan, that is currently being implemented, said she remained passionate about making the Nigerian market world class, assuring she would use her position to achieve that task.
Oteh, who spoke during a visit to the management of FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange in Lagos, said building a world class market and keeping that market is key for the transformation Nigeria.
“I do believe that building a world class market and keeping that market is key for the transformation of our nation. Whether it is making sure that the citizenry are financial discipline or whether it is providing medium to long term for new businesses for expansion, even if it is meritocracy, whether you are allocating resources for the right thing, the capital can do it. You can count on the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC). What we ask are ideas that can stand any test. I do think we have such projects and I assured you of our support and my own personal support,” she said.
Oteh disclosed that to affirm the commitment of the World Bank to the development of the Nigerian capital market, the global financial institution has set up a fund that will expose Nigerian debts to investors around the world. The fund, according to her, is called the World Supporters Fund(WSF).
“ At the World Bank, we are prepared promote the Nigerian debt markets. We want to make sure that we place Nigerian debts in the hands of Eurobonds market investors you cannot imagine. And one of the things we have done is to set up the WSF where bonds issued in Naira could actually be placed with Japanese investors. Because the World Bank and IFC are triple ‘A’ rated, we are very keen to use that leverage we have to promote the market to investors around the World. We can do much more. There is potential for us to do much more,” Oteh said.
She commended the management of FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, saying the platform has performed very well in transforming the fixed income sector of the nation’s capital market.
“Today I feel very proud that the baby that I helped to midwife has now become a genius that is top of the class. I can feel and see the passion and tenacity of the staff and management to take the market to the next level of excellence,” she said.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of FMDQ OTC, Mr. Bola Onadele.Koko said Oteh was instrument to the establishment of the platform when she was DG of SEC.
According to him, she did not only give the licence but also contributed to the framework and made significant input that laid the strong foundation which has taken FMDQ to its high level within two years in operations.
Nigeria wants Iran to delay its plans to pump more crude oil
Nigeria will ask OPEC to prevail upon fellow member Iran to delay its plans for a post-sanctions increase in oil exports in order to ease the oil price slump that is negatively affecting the revenues of producing countries, junior oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said Wednesday.
“There is a lot of sensitivity [to] the $42/barrel oil price currently, that it has the potential to go down if Iran throws the estimated 1.5 million b/d of crude into the market by next year,” Kachikwu told reporters in Lagos ahead of his departure for OPEC’s December 4 meeting in Vienna, at which the oil producer group will set output policy for the year ahead.
“I will be meeting one-on-one with other OPEC ministers to try and see how we can at least get to delay Iran flooding the market with 1.5 million b/d. I will be talking with Iran’s oil minister on that so that we can stabilize the price,” Kachikwu said.
Nigeria, like other oil producing companies, has seen its finances badly hit by the decline in oil prices.
Iran has been subject to tightened sanctions that have resulted in its oil exports dropping to just 1 million b/d from previous levels of 2.2-2.3 million b/d.
Oil minister Bijan Zanganeh has said Iran will boost its crude exports by 1 million b/d within six months of lifting of the lifting sanctions, which, according to some Iranian officials, could be as early as January 2016.
Earlier Wednesday, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said he had written the latest in a series of letters to OPEC urging members to comply with the official 30 million b/d ceiling and to take Iran’s production and export plans into account when setting policy on crude output.
He has said several times that Iran will proceed with its plans to boost production and exports regardless of whether oil prices fall further.
Brent crude is currently trading below $44/barrel, having fallen from levels as high as $115/b in mid-June last year.
Buhari govt announces first year-long spending, proposes N6trn budget
The Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government on Monday proposed a budget of N6 trillion for 2016 at an oil bench mark of 38 dollar per barrel.
The planned spending is the first for the administration of Mr. Buhari, who took office in May 2015.
The minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, stated this while addressing State House Press Corps after an emergency Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister said the proposal was contained in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, approved by the council.
“At today’s council, the council approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
“This sets out the policies of government over the next three years. It sets out the fundamental economic underpinning of the budget.
“The highlights are as follows. We project and we are working with 38 dollar crude oil price.
“We consider that to be very conservative but because of the uncertainties, we feel that we should start with a conservative crude oil price.
“We also are working with 2.2 million barrels per day production.
“We believe it is achievable, particularly because with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, which we are working to achieve, we believe that that is actually a modest figure; that we should be able to produce something higher than that.
“And so, next year we are looking at an expansionist budget. We are looking at a budget that will be N1 trillion more than last year.
“So we are looking at a budget of about N6 trillion. Last year’s budget, including the supplementary, was about N5 trillion.
“Most of the increases, all the increases actually will be spent on capital because there is the need to increase the capital spending because of our infrastructure issues we have to address,” he said.
According to him, the plan would be submitted to the National Assembly and a feedback expected after which the budget will be finalised with all the details embedded.
The minister said the funding for the budget would come from earnings from the non-oil sector.
“We are looking at trying to get more money from the various government agencies, policing their collection and trying to get more money from them.
“We will also look at keeping down our recurrent budget, which means we are looking at savings that we can make from overheads.
“We will also look at the deficiency from our revenue collecting agencies like the FIRS, in terms of companies income tax; in terms of VAT, and then the difference we will have to borrow.
“But the level of borrowing that we anticipate and we are projecting will be well within the maximum that we allow, which is three per cent of the GDP, because we want a prudent budget; we want a credible budget,” he said.
Mr. Udoma futher said the council was working on the exchange rate that the Central Bank of Nigeria had given for the budget, adding that it was also looking into whether fuel subsidy would be retained in 2016.
According to him, government is projecting almost 30 per cent of the budget on capital projects, up from the 15 per cent or so that it is currently.
“We will try and reduce overheads, but keep personnel cost; we are not going to adjust it by much.
“But we are expecting some savings from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, which we are using; so we are not cutting anybody’s salary; everybody will get their salaries,” the minister said.
The minister, however, declined to mention how much of the looted funds had been recovered by the government so far.
Nigeria charges ex-national security adviser with fraud
Nigerian prosecutors have charged the former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki with corruption
Abuja (AFP) – Nigerian prosecutors on Monday charged the former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki with corruption, in the latest fraud case to hit a key member of the previous regime.
Dasuki, 60, served as national security adviser under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan from June 2012 until his sacking in July by President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May.
The former spy master is already facing illegal possession of weapons charges, as well as being under investigation for awarding some $2 billion in bogus deals for fighter jets, helicopters, weapons and ammunition to fight the deadly Boko Haram Islamist group.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Dasuki and four others of misappropriation of public funds, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
The suspects were alleged to have diverted millions of dollars meant for security to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to finance Jonathan’s bid for re-election.
They were also accused of making illegal payments to some media owners as well as for “organising prayers” for the party.
Dasuki and the other suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case was adjourned to Tuesday.
Buhari has launched a crackdown on endemic graft with some high-profile arrests made over the fictitious arms contracts to fight Boko Haram.
Under Jonathan, Boko Haram captured swathes of territory in its quest for a hardline Islamic state in the remote northeast, threatening Nigeria’s sovereignty.
Troops regularly complained they lacked weapons and equipment to fight the better-armed rebels until the involvement of armies from neighbouring countries joined the fight in January.
The insurgency has left at least 17,000 dead since 2009 and made more than 2.6 million people homeless.
Buhari Approves NNPC’s Unbundling into Four Autonomous Units
Kachikwu: I never said petrol will sell for N97 a litre • Forte Oil, Sahara Energy, Oando, 18 others awarded crude term contracts
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the next restructuring phase of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the corporation’s group managing director, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed on Thursday.
Kachikwu said at a town hall meeting with journalists and civil society organisations in Abuja that the next phase of the restructuring, as approved by the president, would see the state oil company broken into four different autonomous profit-oriented companies.
According to him, the four firms to emerge from the exercise are the upstream company, the downstream company, midstream company, and the refining group holding company.
All of them would operate independently with quasi-managing directors and remit profits and taxes to the coffers of the government. Kachikwu said: “Right now I have just received the president’s approval to embark on the final phase of the restructuring we are doing.
“That restructuring effort will unbundle this company into four key components: the upstream company, the downstream company, midstream company which is the gas and power company and then of course, the refining group holding company.”
He further explained that the effect of the restructuring would enable NNPC to focus on individuals who will lead as quasi-managing directors to run the entities with the aim of delivering profits for the organisation.
He explained, however, that there would still be other managing directors at the corporate level.
“A lot of the non-performing but asset-based subsidiaries that we have, we will put them into a venture company where we will begin to help manage them to profitability and hopefully either spin them off ultimately or make them so profitable that we may decide to keep them.
“This is the sort of financial model that we are going to be dealing with over the next few months and trying to set up a performance index that is comparable with the very best in the world,” he explained.
The minister also spoke on some of the activities that he would focus on in 2016. According to him, cutting production cost; growing crude oil production to 2.4 million barrels per day (mbpd); cutting government’s subsidy on domestic supply of petrol through market-based methods; helping the country exit the onerous cash call regime in joint venture operations; reducing the industry’s contracting cycle to six months; and reengineering a profitable operational model for the country’s four refineries, would be his focus in the coming year.
He said: “For upstream, some key essentials: average production for this year was about 2.1 million barrels per day, but we think we ought to be able to move forward a little bit to about 2.4 million barrels per day in 2016.
“To do that, there are key things that need to be looked at. Oil majors have major issues in terms of funding; there are lots of cash call arrears which we need to look at. So a lot of financial engineering will be needed to enable us support that industry.
“Finance is key, cost is key. In an era of declining price of oil, it is going to be very essential that we are able to produce the most competitive oil in the market and that is the OPEC philosophy, we must be the least cost producers and so our energy is going to focus on working with NAPIMS and every other directorate here to bring down substantially the cost per barrel of oil in this country.
“Other than the cost element, obviously, is speed. One of the greatest problems we have in the upstream is the turnaround time for the approval of projects and on the average it is two-and-a- half years. We are committed to taking that to six months.” In the downstream segement, he said: “Downstream problems obviously have been the systematic degradation of our ability to deliver services on time.
“That comes to the issue of pipeline ruptures; the issue of the inability of our refineries to perform; and not just being able to manage the entire infrastructure we have to be able to deliver services. “We need to focus quite frankly on reengineering through investments in some of these facilities and some of the things we are looking at in 2016 would be joint ventures with technical partners to come and help us run some of these plants.”
While acknowledging that financing would be key to all his plans, Kachikwu said: “New models of financing will have to emerge. The country does not have the sort of resources to continue to finance the industry and as we go upstream, we will see a lot of innovative financing mechanisms to provide funding for the industry and I hope that by the end of 2016, we will completely exit the cash calls and be able to find our funds one way or the other to support our businesses.”
He said on the refineries and government’s plan to end the subsidy on petrol: “We have four refineries, none is in the best state but we can get them back because refineries never die as long as you do what you need to do.
“Ultimately, technical support, technical services, technical joint venturing will be models we are going to be looking at for the refineries. The whole idea is find the funds, find the right skills that you need and try and deliver above 90 per cent for the refineries.”
He also dispelled the misconception that the federal government has concluded plans to increase the pump price of fuel from N87 to N97 a litre from January 2016.
Kachikwu noted that the discourse has long left the realm of subsidy removal to a more scientific price modulation approach which entails an elastic price mechanism regime to be reviewed periodically to reflect the prevailing international price of crude oil.
He explained that when operational, the novel price modulation system would place a N97 per litre cap on the price of fuel to ensure that Nigerians are insulated from the vagaries of the global crude price.
“I did not say that refined petroleum products will sell for N97 per litre next year. I said that between a band of N87 and N97 we are going to be looking at prices and today the prices are largely close to N87, So there is no need to change the price,” he said.
The minister noted that to determine the price of petroleum products in future, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) would undertake quarterly reviews of the crude market situation.
“I have not put a static figure. PPPRA will have to do the calculation to be able to announce at what price petrol will sell in January; but we do not anticipate any major shift because of the price of crude today.
“I think what you will find next year on pricing of petrol is a bit more flexible management of the pricing system so that we are as close to what the prices are today and reflective of what the price for crude is, but in a way to create an incentive for marketers to feel free to get out.
“What we hope to do, is to reduce the level of federal government’s subsidy, if any, to the industry so that the industry can grow on its own strengths and we can do that without the mechanism of saying that subsidy is being removed but have a benchmark approach to setting pricing.
“We are going to see a lot more of the quarterly-type analyses of what prices will be in the downstream industry relative to prices of crude oil,” he added.
NNPC also announced that it had appointed 21 firms to lift Nigeria’s crude under new one-year term contracts. A statement by its spokesman, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said: “The exercise witnessed the unprecedented public harvesting of 278 bids submitted by indigenous and foreign firms seeking to secure contracts for the sale and purchase of the 26 Nigerian crude oil grades on offer.
“A breakdown of the 2015/2016 crude oil term contract off-takers for the 991,661bpd Nigerian equity crude indicate that 240,000 bpd representing 24 per cent of the total volume on offer is awarded to four refiners classified as major current receivers of Nigerian crude with capacity to process all of Nigerian crude grades.
“The off-takers in this category include: Emirates National Oil Coy (ENOC) Indian Oil Corporation, CEPSA Refinery Madrid and Sara SPA Refinery. Each of the off-takers in this category was awarded 60,000 bpd.”
He added that three notable international trading companies, namely Trafigura PT Ltd, Mercuria Energy Trading SA and Vitol SA, won the bids to lift 32,000bpd of crude oil based on their pedigree as large-scale buyers of Nigerian crude with structure for short-term freight intervention and storage.
The off-takers in this category represent about 10 per cent of total crude volume on offer, Alegbe said. Also, trading affiliates of international oil companies consisting of ENI Trading and Shipping SPA, TOTSA Total Oil Trading SA, Exxon Sale and Supply LLC and Shell Western Supply and Trading received term allocations of 32,000bpd each, representing about 13 per cent of total volume of crude oil on offer.
Nigerian downstream players with wide experience in crude trading and large asset bases accounted for 405,000bpd, representing about 41 per cent of total crude volume on offer.
In this category, Emo Oil & Petrochemical Coy/China Zhenhea – an NNPC long-term trader was allocated 45,000bpd. Other off-takers in this category included Forte Oil, 45,000bpd Northwest Petroleum and Gas Ltd, 45,000bpd, Oando Plc, 60,000bpd, Sahara Energy Resource Ltd, 60,000bpd, A.A. Rano Nig. Ltd, 45,000bpd, Eterna Oil, 45,000bpd and MRS Oil &Gas Coy Ltd 60,000bpd. NNPC trading companies – Calson/Hyson with 32,000bpd and Duke Oil Incorporated, which got 90,000bpd – account for about 12 per cent of total volume on offer.
“Apart from ensuring transparency, the companies were carefully chosen based on their track records and trading experience to ensure that Nigerian crude cargoes are not left unsold,” Alegbe added.
A bloody clash between Nigeria’s army and Shiite Muslims is raising fears of a new insurgency
Tensions and security concerns have been raised in Nigeria following a clash between the country’s military and Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a Shiite group. Hostilities were apparently triggered by an incident involving the army chief in Zaria, a university town in the country’s north.
According to the official accounts of the military, members of the Shiite group blocked the route of the army chief’s motorcade thus prompting a confrontation. The army claims that the group attacked with ‘crude weapons’ and fearing that the life of the army chief may have been in danger, lethal force was used to clear a route of escape for the army chief. But that was not the height of the violence as the military claims that in a bid to maintain peace, soldiers went to known Shiite bases in the city where it claimed the members of group were ‘mobilizing and attacking security forces’. The army reported the incident as an attempt to assassinate the army chief.
However, accounts by members of the Shia group paint a different picture. They claim they were attacked by the Nigerian army who killed hundreds in what has been called a massacre. The army says the group’s main base was destroyed by the military while the leader of the group, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, is in custody of the military. While the military claims El-Zakzaky is safe, pictures have emerged showing the leader bloodied and with visible evidence of bodily harm. It is not the first time the army has clashed with the Shiite group as three sons of the group’s leader were killed by soldiers in bloody protests last year.
While there are inconsistencies in the various accounts the issue of excessive force and human rights abuses by the army raises its head again.
The clash in Zaria is also a stark reminder of similar events that triggered the rapid evolution of the Boko Haram insurgency which has left thousands dead and millions more displaced. In 2009, the erstwhile leader of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf, died in police custody sparking violence in the northern region and eventually led to a bloody insurgency after the emergence of Abubakar Shekau as leader of the sect. In the last six years, the war on Boko Haram has devastated the economy in Nigeria’s north-east and following the events of the last few days, there are now fears that the killings could fuel another avoidable insurgency.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs released a stinging statement urging the government not repeat mistakes of the past.
Nigeria is yet to officially comment on the killings and that inaction has drawn criticism. The strongest response so far has come from pro-Shia Iran where protests have been held outside the Nigerian embassy in Tehran and there have also been protests in Muslim students in India. Iran has also explored diplomatic channels to make strong protests against the attack.
Troops, Boko Haram clash in army chief’s village
Kano – Boko Haram gunmen launched a dawn raid Saturday on the hometown of the army chief, triggering a fierce gunbattle with troops, residents of a nearby village to which people fled the clashes said.
There was no immediate report of casualties in the fighting in Buratai in Borno state, the home village of Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Nigeria’s top army officer.
Abubakar Umar, a resident of the nearby hamlet of Miringa, told AFP that the fighting began at 5:00 am after Boko Haram insurgents attacked the village.
“At one point we could hear explosions coming from the direction of Buratai,” he said.
Troops reinforcements from a military base in the town of Biu, 30 kilometres from Buratai, were seen passing through Miringa.
“Nine trucks conveying soldiers and another four carrying local hunters drove through our village towards Buratai and from what we hear more are on their way,” said Shitu Ayuba, another resident. Some Buratai residents had fled to Miringa, where they took shelter in a primary school, locals said.
Buratai and nearby villages have been repeatedly targeted in deadly raids by the Islamist insurgents since June, when the army chief assumed office.
Residents believe the attacks are in response to recent military gains against the jihadists under the army chief.
President Muhammadu Buhari has given the military a December 31 deadline to crush the jihadist uprising that has killed some 17,000 and displaced around 2.6 million people since 2009.
Last Saturday, Boko Haram killed 30 people and injured 20 others in raids on three villages near Buratai. On Thursday, the insurgents killed 14 people, some of whom were decapitated, when they raided Kamuya village, the hometown of Buratai’s mother and burnt it down.
Obama Appoints Nigerian Journalist On Us Human Trafficking Council
United States President, Barrack Obama has named a Nigerian-American journalist and Anti-human Trafficking advocate, Bukola Love Oriola as a member of the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
In a statement by the office of the Press Secretary, White House on December 16, Obama said he was honoured that Oriola and ten others appointed to serve on the council have decided to serve the country.
“They bring their years of experience and expertise to this Administration, and I look forward to working with them,” Obama stated.
According to White House statement, Oriola, has served as an independent consultant, speaker, and author on human trafficking issues since 2009.
She founded The Entian Story in 2013, a non-profit organization which advocates for survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse after her personal experience when she relocated to the US from Nigeria.
“In 2009, Ms. Oriola published her book Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim and began producing Imprisoned Show. Ms. Oriola has owned and managed Bukola Braiding and Beauty Supply since 2007. She was a reporter and researcher for Century Media Limited in Lagos, Nigeria from 2003 to 2005. Ms. Oriola received an A.S. from The Polytechnic Ibadan, Oyo.”
She began her journalism career in Nigeria in 2000 at Common Interest Communications, Publishers of the defunct National Interest Newspapers and later joined the defunct New Age Newspaper.
In 2005, Oriola won the Cadbury National Award for Education Reporters and is a fellow of the International Institute for Journalism, Germany.
Responding to her appointment, Oriola who was in Nigeria in September on sensitization campaign against human trafficking, said she was grateful and humbled.
“Please join in thanking God on my behalf. I regard the appointment as an opportunity to do more than I have been doing in advocating against Human Trafficking in the United States and in other parts of the world.”
Zaria killings: Senate panel to meet with Zakzaky, Buratai
Members of the Senate adhoc committee on Zaria killings would meet with the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, Daily Trust has gathered.
The Senate had on Wednesday set up a 16-man committee with Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North) as chairman with the mandate of investigating the killings.
It was gathered that members of committee after their maiden meeting resolved to meet with all parties especially the army chief and the Islamic scholar.
A source closed to the committee said the two personalities would be quizzed on the roles they played in the fracas.
“The committee would hear from Buratai, Zakzaky and his key followers on the issue. A date has not been fixed for this but the committee is working to round up their assignment in two weeks,” the source said.
The source said the committee members, have been barred from speaking on the matter, “going by the sensitive of matter, the members of the panel have been barred from speaking on the matter.” Efforts to get the reaction of the chairman of the committee yielded no result as he neither picked nor replied to the SMS sent to his mobile phone.
Senators on the committee include Shaaba Lafiagi, Jonah Jang, George Akume, Jeremiah Useni, Monsurat Sunmonu, Shehu Sani, David Umaru, Godswill Akpabio, Abu Ibrahim, Stella Oduha, Bayero Nafada among others.