Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Items filtered by date: September 2017

A Nigerian minister has promised to quit if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to seek re-election, claiming the ailing leader had earlier vowed to serve only one term.

Women’s affairs minister Aisha Alhassan said she would back former vice-president Atiku Abubakar for the presidency at the next election in 2019 rather than the incumbent.

“If today Buhari decides to go for re-election… I will go and kneel before him and tell him, ‘Father, I’m grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve in your cabinet but you know Atiku is my mentor, staying around you will portray me as a hypocrite and I’m not one’, that is if Atiku declares his interest to contest,” she told BBC Hausa radio.

Speculation has been rife in Nigeria about whether Buhari, 74, will stand again, after he has spent much of the year in a London hospital with an undisclosed illness.

The government maintains he is back at work, although he has kept a low profile since returning from the British capital last month.

Buhari has skipped and cancelled weekly cabinet meetings, chairing his first gathering of senior ministers in five months last week.

Alhassan disclosed her allegiance on Wednesday after being asked whether Buhari had told anyone he planned to run in 2019.

She said: “In 2015 prior to the election, when Buhari decided to contest following intense pressure, he declared that he was going to serve one tenure, that is four years.

“And to date no-one can claim Buhari has expressed any desire to stand for re-election in 2019.”

Buhari made Alhassan women’s minister after she narrowly failed to be elected to run the eastern state of Taraba, making her the country’s first female state governor.

Abubakar, whom Buhari beat to be the All Progressives Congress (APC) party’s presidential candidate for 2015, nominated her for the ministerial post.

The former customs service chief, 70, who served as vice-president under former president Olusegun Obasanjo in the 2000s, is widely tipped to try again for the top job.

He has been touring the nation to drum up support but senior APC figures maintain Buhari remains the candidate to beat, should he decide to contest.

Alhassan made no further comment when asked about her remarks by AFP.

Nigerian politics is largely dependent on patronage, with little to separate the main parties other than personalities.

In 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party haemorrhaged support because ex-president Goodluck Jonathan allegedly reneged on an apparent pledge to serve just one term.

A slew of lawmakers switched to Buhari’s APC, ensuring the first opposition win in Nigeria’s history.

AFP

Published in Headliners
 

The National Association of Resident Doctors on Thursday refused to call off its strike despite holding a 13-hour meeting with representatives of the Federal Government.

The meeting, which held at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja,  ended in the early hours of Thursday, had in attendance the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige; the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Labour, the strike would continue until at least Friday when the doctors are expected to meet to review the offer by the government on their demands including payment of salary arrears owed.‎

”The meeting agreed that NARD national officers will present the outcome of the re-negotiated Memorandum of Terms of settlement to an emergency meeting of its members by Friday September 8, 2017 with a view to suspending the strike once there is evidence of payment of the mandate as presented to the meeting, to the affected institutions,” the statement noted.
Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 07 September 2017 11:30

End of recession sparks row between APC, PDP

Politicians were up in arms yesterday over the news that Nigeria was out of recession.

To the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS’) figures showing that Nigeria is out of recession are “nothing to celebrate”.

But the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) defended the government’s economic policies which led to the country’s exit from recession.

Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma applauded the policies and promised to deepen them.

They reeled off facts and figures to show that the economy was in good hands.

Besides, they said, Nigerians will soon begin to feel the impact of the economy’s good fortune.

PDP National Chairman Ahmed Makarfi cautioned the government against politicising the issue.

He blamed the APC administration for bringing the economy into recession with wrong policies, stressing that the NBS’s report did not reflect the reality of the economic situation of the people.

The APC has always stressed the fact that the PDP plunged the economy into trouble by not saving for the rainy day when oil prices rose beyond $100 a barrel, embarking on unprecedented profligacy and swinmming in corruption.

Makarfi said: “Nobody will want his country to be in recession and it’s a matter which affects everybody, irrespective of political inclination. So it’s a matter that we must never politicize.

“The country did not get into recession under the PDP administration. It nosedived into recession because of the policies that the APC administration came with, which frightened foreign investors, which led to capital flight.

“And, of course, the Nigerian economy is resilient, Nigerians are hardworking people and all of us that have been working to make sure that this country comes out of recession both from the public and private sectors have to share in the credit of whatever efforts have been put in place.

“So it is not a one party issue. And in any case, even government itself has said that we must not become lazy and think that we are out of the woods.

“Getting out of recession can be because of one or two indices which may not even have direct bearing on ordinary citizens. But when you look at the figure collectively and holistically, it will indicate that you are out of a problem when you are not really out of a problem.

“You will be out of a problem when people are able to eat well, people are secured, people find jobs, infrastructure in good condition, students don’t find it difficult to pay common tuition fees.

“But because all these issues are there and then we say we are out of recession and we are clapping? We have nothing to clap for. We have a lot to do.

“That is what PDP intends to correct when we come to power. But, be that as it may, what we can do, even at the moment, is to partner with those in power to make sure that the condition of every Nigerian, especially the ordinary people is better”.

To PDP National Publicity Secretary Dayo Adeyeye, considering the inflation rate of 16.05 per cent and annual population of 2.67 per cent, the recovery is insignificant.

“It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the recovery of the Nigerian economy is weak, feeble and insufficient to herald the sort of celebration and backslapping being displayed by officials of this APC led-administration.”

“We are of the firm belief that there is nothing to celebrate until the so-called economic growth improves the harsh living conditions imposed on millions of ordinary Nigerians by the Buhari administration’s incoherent economic policies and is reflected in a reduction of the high cost of goods, services and staple foods necessary for everyday living.”

In a statement by National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC said the Buhari administration was determined to pull the country out of the woods.

“The All Progressives Congress (APC) rejoices over latest disclosures by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) respectively that the country has exited recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction and the country’s foreign reserve has hit $32 billion, the highest mark since January 2015.

“Nigerians will recall that during the 2015 elections, the APC promised to curb corruption, restore the economy and ensure security of the nation. We commend the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on the economic recovery efforts which have evidently started to yield fruits.

“The APC also commends the National Assembly as it continues to work with the executive on improving the economy and other areas of national life.

“Commendably, the country’s exit from recession was in tandem with the current administration’s forecast that the country will experience economic growth in 2017. This is another demonstration that the President Buhari APC-led administration is one that keeps its promises.

“The APC thanks Nigerians for their patience, understanding and support for the President Buhari administration while the economy was in recession. Although there remains much more work to be done, we assure Nigerians that the administration remains focused on its effort to sustain the economy on the path of growth.

“As the President Buhari administration works assiduously to build a new solid foundation, credible image and pull the country out of the present hardship, we appeal for continued patience and the cooperation of Nigerians. While these are difficult times for many Nigerians, we must sustain the hope that brighter days are ahead of us.”

 

Published in Headliners
Monday, 04 September 2017 20:10

Nigeria draw Cameroon 1-1 in Yaounde

The Super Eagles on Monday played a 1-1 draw with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at the Stade Omnispirts Ahmadu Ahidjo in Yaounde.

The Nigerians were rewarded with a goal in the 30th minute after an Odion Ighalo’s shot was cleared to Belgium-based Moses Simon who put the ball behind goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa.

The Cameroonians equalised from the spot following a reckless challenge by goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa on Djoum Arnaud.

Vincent Aboubakar slots the ball calmly into the net as Ezenwa runs the wrong way.

The Super Eagles were the better team when both sides clashed last Friday in Uyo; winning 4-0 at the Nest of Champions.

Nigeria tops Group B with 10 points ahead of second-placed Zambia which has 4 points but with a game in hand, Cameroon are third with three points while Algeria stay at the bottom with just a point and a game still unplayed.

Published in Business and Economy
Barely two weeks after the signing of six agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Federal Government has initiated moves to seize assets of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and four others in Dubai.

The others are: a former Managing Director of the defunct  Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed and his son, Shamsudeen.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced eight choice assets to Mrs. Ibru and two to Mrs. Diezani.

Although the ex-FCT Minister and his son are on the Federal Government’s list, their Dubai houses are yet to be listed. The investigation is on.

The profiling of the suspected assets of more than 25 Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) is ongoing.

The EFCC has done “considerable intelligence work on the assets of Diezani and some of her business associates”, a source told The Nation on Sunday.

The source said: “Following due diligence by the EFCC, the Federal Government has already compiled a list of first batch of suspects with houses in Dubai, whose assets ought to be attached.

“They are a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; a former Managing Director of the defunct  Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru and a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed and his son, Shamsudeen.

“The government will soon formally apply to the UAE for the seizure of the assets traced to these Nigerians.

“Despite the fact that many assets were said to be allegedly owned by Mrs. Ibru, only eight choice mansions has been identified by the EFCC.

“Mrs. Diezani has two apartments, including  the one marked as J5 Emirates Hills (30 million Dirham) and another tagged E146 Emirates Hills, valued at 44million Dirham.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “The EFCC is profiling more than 25 PEPs based on the huge database from the UAE.

Some of these assets are in Emirates Hills, Marina, Jumeira, Bur Dubai in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE. “We are yet to focus on looted funds stashed in the Emirates,” the source said.

On the inclusion of the ex-FCT minister and his son, the source added: “This is based on intelligence report. We will keep you posted on the outcome of their suspected assets in Dubai. Ours is to make their names available for investigation by the UAE.

“Even those  who bought houses through proxies can be detected.”

Following a state visit to the UAE by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 19, 2016 , the Federal Government entered into  six agreements with the Emirates.

The agreements, which were signed by President Buhari last week, are:

  • Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement;
  • Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection;
  • Judicial Agreements on Extradition;
  • Transfer of Sentenced Persons;
  • Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters; and
  • Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters(recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).

Sections 7 of 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 mandate the agency to seize suspicious assets.

Section 7 says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.

“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”

Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.

“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.’

Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 03 September 2017 14:17

‘Help save my sight and dreams’

Losing both eyes to the deadly paws of cataract just five years ago, Master Holy Ogene, a talented musician is appealing to well-meaning Nigerians to save his sight and dreams

At the first encounter, his visual handicap is not obvious, considering  the way he carries himself with little or no assistance at all. It is astonishing to find him deriving strength and courage from his inability to see. It is true that even in his physically challenged state, Master Holy Ogene has managed to craft a worthy name for himself, struggling to make ends meet and  living without his parents help.

Christened Master Holy Ogene by his parents, he lost his sight in highly unfortunate circumstances just five years ago when he was still a student at Babs Fafunwa Millennia Senior Secondary School, Ojota, a Government school where both eyes were infected by cataract.

In an interview with  our correspondent, he recalled the genesis of his present situation.

“When I was born, I had short sighted. I was asked to use glasses but my father refused to let me use them as he believed I was too young to use recommended lens.”

Tragedy  actually struck when he was admitted to Babs Fafunwa Senior Secondary School at Ojodu Berger where the inability to cope due to large groups of students finally coerced his father to let him use recommended lenses. However, the damage had already been done at the ripe age of 14.

“It was after I started using glasses upon admission that I got cataract on my left eye and it got serious. My Dad had to take me to Eye foundation and they advocated surgery as the only solution. I was about 14 at the time and the implications of an eye surgery was much which included an operation via my brain and the risk being my Dad signing a form if anything happened to me.”

The delayed decision in undergoing a surgery led to the complete closure of the right eye after cataract covered the second eye.

The 22 year old who is an upcoming musician and politician witnessed the loss of both eyes after the unfortunate incident. Not willing to concede to defeat, he picked up a singing career due to his current condition.

“Singing comes from emotions, how I feel and the society around me. How I feel being depressed and just hearing people around me. At times, when I eat I don’t see what I eat,” Holy said.

He described his foray into politics by the nature of his unique singing talent. He was able to attract the attention of politicians and majorly the political presence of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“Due to my knowledge, and my brain, I operate phones and create technology. I created caller tunes and the current one for my phone was created by me. I created caller tunes and ways to advertise politicians which instantly peaked their interest in me, especially the PDP, though I would not want to say much over that.” He however attested to creating his own caller tune himself.

The event which happened in his heydays in secondary school hampered him from acquiring higher education but did not stop him from developing his mind.

“I wasn’t able to go to university but I went for some lessons to take my knowledge to another level.”

When asked if he used braille as means to communicate or express himself; he stated that he did not believe in the use of braille phones, he attested to the capability of using any phone no matter the complexity in functionality in less than three days.

“I use a normal phone and there is no phone I can’t use. Right now, I can send you a text message as fast as possible,” he demonstrated using his Nokia phone. Even the caller tune I created, you can hear it yourself; I did it in less than 3 minutes.” He reaffirmed: “I create caller tunes for myself and can operate any phone in 3 days.”

“I require #340 000 for the operation which is the specific operation price but the total is #360 000 drugs inclusive. Eye foundation gave me a bigger bill of #750 000 which is much. The Federal Medical Centre Asaba is cheaper and I have the doctors report with me here offering me #360 000.”

Ogene appealed  to well-meaning individuals, Churches, NGOs, and most importantly government officials and political parties. “I think this is a medium where parties can use my knowledge instead of making me a nuisance in the society to create an avenue where I can get my sight back.”

Ogene isn’t new to donations, he claimed that he had been given donations in the past but they had been very meagre to pay the bills for the drugs prescribed. “I got only #10 000 to #15 000 with little assistance from people but you know drugs and it has been almost two years and nothing else came. I don’t stay with my parents in Delta State, I have been feeding alone and life has been a little bit terrible and horrific.”

Holy who was accompanied by his distraught mother solicited the help of well-meaning Nigerians to save his sight by not letting the light of his dreams die a premature death, at the very tender age of 22.

His phone numbers are 08104974780 and 08142556716 while his account details is Ecobank, Ogene Holy 3823067769.

Courtesy: thenationonlineng.net/sight-and-dreams/

Published in Headliners

NAIROBI, Kenya — In a historic ruling and a first in Africa, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified on Friday the re-election of a sitting president, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days after finding that the outcome last month had been tainted by irregularities.

It was a stunning moment for Kenya, one of Africa’s most populous nations, and for democracy in general. Kenya’s disputed presidential election in 2007 set off bloodshed that left at least 1,300 people dead and 600,000 displaced around the country.

But this time, figures across the Kenyan political landscape, including the president whose victory was wiped away, appeared to accept the decision and called on supporters to do the same.

The ruling also offered a potent display of judicial independence on a continent where courts often come under intense pressure from political leaders, analysts said.

“It’s a historic moment showing the fortitude and courage of the Kenyan judiciary,” said Dickson Omondi, a country director for the National Democratic Institute, a nonpartisan organization that supports democratic institutions and practices worldwide.

He said it was the first example in Africa in which a court nullified the re-election of an incumbent.

The election on Aug. 8 was conducted peacefully and was largely praised by international observers. But David Maraga, the court’s chief justice, declared the result “invalid, null and void” after siding with the opposition, which had argued that the vote had been electronically manipulated to assure a victory for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr. Kenyatta, 55, had been re-elected with 54 percent of the vote, easily surpassing the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. His main challenger, Raila Odinga, 72, who petitioned the Supreme Court to nullify the election, had received about 44 percent, a difference of about 1.4 million votes. A parallel tally by domestic observers endorsed the official result.

Photo
 
Supporters of Mr. Odinga celebrating the court decision in Nairobi. CreditBen Curtis/Associated Press

The Supreme Court decision came as a surprise, even to Mr. Odinga and his supporters, who had complained about election irregularities. A top election official in charge of voting technology was killed about a week before the election, and although the casting of ballots went smoothly, the electronic transmission of vote tallies was flawed, leading the opposition to assert that as many as seven million votes had been stolen.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which was in charge of the vote, “failed, neglected, or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution,” the court said.

The six-judge Supreme Court found no misconduct on the part of the president, Mr. Kenyatta, but it found that the commission “committed irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of results” and unspecified other issues.

“Irregularities affected the integrity of the poll,” Justice Maraga told a stunned courtroom.

A new vote means that candidates will have to start campaigning again and possibly raise millions of dollars: Elections in Kenya generally cost about $1 billion, including spending by the candidates during the campaign and by the government to hold the election.

Thousands of people in the opposition strongholds of Kisumu, Mombasa and parts of Nairobi streamed into the streets and whooped with joy after the news was announced on Friday. Supporters of Mr. Kenyatta in Gatundu, his hometown, were subdued.

“I am happy to be Kenyan today,” said Mr. Odinga, a former prime minister now in his fourth run for the presidency. “It is a historic day for the people of Kenya, and by extension the people of Africa.”

“This is a precedent-setting ruling,” he said, adding that it was the first time in the history of African democratization that “a ruling has been made by a court nullifying irregular presidential elections.”

Mr. Odinga said that his team planned to take members of the electoral commission to court, saying that they had “committed a criminal act” and belonged in jail.

Photo
 
Police officers outside the Supreme Court building in Nairobi on Friday. CreditBen Curtis/Associated Press

Mr. Kenyatta, the president, said he respected the ruling and called on all Kenyans to respond peacefully, but he also made clear his anger toward the court.

“Millions of Kenyans queued, made their choice, and six people have decided that they will go against the will of the people,” he said.

Security had been increased on Friday in opposition strongholds amid concern that a ruling in favor of either side could provoke protests or worse. Kenya experienced postelection violence after presidential votes in 2007, 2013 and last month, when at least 24 people were killed, most of them by security forces.

“My concern is that no matter what the court says, the losers will react violently,” John Campbell, a senior fellow for Africa policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former ambassador to Nigeria, said before the ruling.

Mr. Campbell expressed concern that “neither Kenyatta nor Odinga prepared their followers for the possibility of losing.”

Immediately after the court’s announcement, however, the atmosphere was more of joy than fear, and there were no immediate reports of violence in strongholds on the losing side, including Gatundu. There, supporters were seen carrying mock coffins with the words “R.I.P. Jubilee” painted on the sides, referring to Mr. Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.

The Supreme Court, which has bolstered its independence in recent years but had still been viewed by many Kenyans as under government influence, was facing pressure to set out arguments that would persuade people on either side, said Mr. Omondi, the country director for the National Democratic Institute.

The case was an opportunity for the judiciary to truly show its independence, he added, especially after it came under intense criticism for mishandling a similar petition by Mr. Odinga in 2013, which the presiding judge alluded to on Friday at the start of his remarks.

Photo
 
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya addressed his supporters at the Burma market in Nairobi after his election victory was declared invalid. CreditThomas Mukoya/Reuters

The election controversy hinged on two paper forms that legally validate the ballots — one from each of the country’s 40,883 polling stations and the other from 290 constituencies. Representatives from rival parties were required to approve the forms before they were scanned and electronically transmitted to a national tallying center in Nairobi, where they were to be put online immediately so they could be crosschecked.

But the electronic system, which had been overseen by Christopher Chege Msando, the election official who was killed, broke down. Therefore, only the results, not the forms, were sent to the national tallying center, often by text message.

International election observers were quick to praise the electoral body after the vote, saying there was no evidence that the votes had been tampered with at polling stations and that the paper forms would show clearly who had won. The observers assumed the forms would be easily verifiable and would be matched with figures texted to the tallying center by party officials.

But when Mr. Kenyatta was initially declared the winner, just hours after voting ended, almost none of the forms from the polling stations were online, even though the electoral commission had had a week to receive scanned images of the results.

A couple of days later, the commission announced that about 10,000 forms were unaccounted for, sowing even more doubt and suspicion over its credibility.

“The scenario was similar to that of the Bermuda Triangle, where no one knows how ships disappear,” said Pheroze Nowrojee, a lawyer representing Mr. Odinga and the National Super Alliance, the opposition umbrella group.

The electoral commission said it had presented the forms, a claim that was verified in a report by the registrar of the Supreme Court. However, that report found that a third of the forms had lacked security features like watermarks or serial numbers, which election observers saw as evidence that the forms were probably false.

Defending the integrity of the election, Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the election commission, noted that the focus of the decision was on the transmission of the results, not on the voting or the counting of the ballots. He urged investigators to prosecute “any of our staff that may have been in violation of the Elections Offenses Act.”

Walter Mebane, a professor of statistics and political science at the University of Michigan who studies elections worldwide, volunteered to run the voting results through a computer model he developed to detect electoral fraud. Based on statistics only, and without knowledge of the intricacies of Kenyan politics, he and his team found patterns that showed widespread manipulation.

“It was unlike any data set I had ever seen,” he said. “Every single indicator came up signaling anomalies. It’s a huge red flag that something weird is going on.”

Published in Business and Economy

The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Friday beat Cameroon 4-0 to consolidate its position at the top of Group B in the 2018 World Cup African qualifiers.

A goal apiece from Odion Ighalo, Chelsea FC  winger, Victor Moses; skipper Mikel Obi and substitute Kelechi Iheanacho ensured  Nigeria grabbed the maximum three points at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.

After a sluggish start, Ighalo puts Nigeria ahead after receiving a fine pass from  Mikel in the 28th minute. The China-based forward, however, got yellow-carded for taking off his jersey while celebrating. 

Mikel made it 2-0 in the 42nd when he latched onto a Victor Moses corner.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Victor Moses combined with gangling winger Moses Simon before slotting home from inside the box.

Iheanacho, who came in for injured Ighalo, made it 4-0 when he nodded past goalkeeper Fabrice Ondo from Ogenyi Onasi assist in 77th minute.

With the victory, Nigeria top Group B with nine points, while Cameroon have just two points from three matches.

Published in Headliners
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