Monday, 14 October 2013

IRS plane in air incident

IRS plane in air incident

There was another aviation incident yesterday involving an IRS airline aircraft flight 3390, flying from Lagos to Kaduna.
The plane, a Fokker 100 registered 5N-HIR, developed hydraulic leakage shortly before landing at the Kaduna airport.
With 89 passangers and crew members on board, the aircraft departed the Murtala Muhammed Airport at about 9:30am.
Having discovered the fault, the pilot, using the Reverse Throuttle mechanism, landed safely and stopped the aircraft on the runway.
“The passengers disembarked safely after which the aircraft was towed away from the runway to the ramp,” said Joe Obi the media adviser to the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah.
Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, in another statement yesterday, said the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau (AIPB) has commenced investigation into the incident.
He added: “The NCAA wishes to ensure all air travellers of their safety and (to) caution against magnifying a manageable incident out of proportion.”
IRS Managing Director Mr. Yemi Dada said the maintenance crew “inspecting, to confirm the cause of the warning to the crew.”
The Kaduna incident came nearly two weeks after the crash of the Associate. Aviation’s flight 361, an Embraer 120 plane, carrying the body of former Ondo State Governor Olusegun Agagu and 20 passengers and crew from Lagos to Akure.
Fourteen people died in the crash, which a preliminary investigation said was caused by pilot’s error.
After that crash, there was another incident involving a Dana Airline, which made an air return on its Port Harcourt route.
The airline’s licence was suspended by the Ministry of Aviation to enable it investigate its operations.
Also, a Kabo Air flight travelling to Mecca from Kano with over 400 people on board had a tyre fault on landing in Sokoto.
IGP to meet UN police adviser in New York
IGP Mohammed Abubakar

IGP to meet UN police adviser in New York

The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, is expected to embark on a working visit to the United Nations in New York between October 20 and 23, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
The police chief, who will visit the Police Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD), is also expected to visit the UN Police Adviser.
The IGP would also hold discussions with the Under Secretary-General Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) and the Assistant Secretary-General, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institution (ORLSI).

Nigeria moving forward despite challenges – Jonathan

Nigeria moving forward despite challenges – Jonathan
President Jonathan

Nigeria moving forward despite challenges – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has said Nigeria is moving forward in spite of its daunting internal challenges.
Jonathan made the statement at a Pre-Centenary National Praise and Thanksgiving Service held on Sunday at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president urged Nigerians to see the challenges being faced by the country as ephemeral, adding that they should not be despaired.
Specifically, the president gave the instance of the victory being recorded in the sports sector in spite of the challenges currently being witnessed in the country.
He recalled that when he visited the Super Eagles at their camp in Addis Ababa on Saturday, he charged the players to win the World Cup qualifying match against Ethiopia.
According to him, the victory will be a message to the World that the country is moving forward even in the face of challenges.
He noted that with prayers, commitment and resilience of Nigerians, the country would overcome its challenges.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event scheduled to start at 3pm was delayed for 90 minutes to enable the president watch the World Cup qualifier.
The match played in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, ended 2-1 in favour of Nigeria.
The Praise and Thanksgiving service was organised by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Religious Affairs and Chaplain of the Aso Villa Chapel, Ven. Obioma Onwuzurumba.
The service was sponsored by the Chairman of Nestoil, Dr. Ernest Obiejesi.
In a brief exhortation before leading the prayers for the nation, Rev. Austen Ukachi, noted that prayers remained the key factor that united the nation for 100 years of its existence.
Ukachi said that in her 100 years of existence, Nigeria had witnessed series of crises that would have disintegrated the country.
He noted that it was the mercy of God and the prayers of the faithful that had kept the country united.
NAN reports that the event featured Nigerian gospel artists like Frank Edward and Hope Davies, American Judy Jacobs and Kurt Carr as well as the Mass Choir.
World Cup playoff: It was a team victory – Emenike

World Cup playoff: It was a team victory – Emenike

Super Eagles striker, Emmanuel Emenike, has said Sunday’s victory in Ethiopia was achieved by the entire team.
Emenike scored twice for the Eagles to take a 2-1 advantage into November 16 return leg in Calabar.
“We prepared well for this game and we deserved the three points. It was not all about me because this was a collective victory for us. We all worked hard as a team to show the spirit of champions,” Emenike told
“It was a tough game, it is one of the toughest games I have played for Eagles so far and I am happy to have conquered the fears.
“I went to Ethiopia with a determination for victory, so the victory was a mission accomplished. We remain humble in victory.
“I must give God the glory and adoration because he made it happen for me and my team.”
The 2013 AFCON top scorer said he expects the return leg to be even tougher.
“The return leg will be tough, we are not there yet, but we are in a comfortable zone. We just need to be focused and wrap it up in the second leg with another victory,” he said.
Italy-based Nnamdi Oduamadi told he did not panic even when Ethiopia went ahead.
“It was a tough match no doubt, they came at us to win but we gave our best to curtail them. I never felt we will not win the game, I was very upbeat there was no way the Ethiopians will beat,” he said.
“I was sure of victory. I am happy to be part of the team. World Cup here we come!”
Oduamadi was one of Nigeria’s best performers at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in June and said he will be glad to return there for the World Cup.
“I was at the Confederations Cup this year, I am glad that I will be going back there for the World Cup, it is a football country,” Oduamadi told
ASUU: no more dialogue with Suswan’s committee

ASUU: no more dialogue with Suswan’s committee

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) National President Dr. Nasir Faege has said the strike will continue.
He said the union was ready to negotiate with any other body, besides the Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam’s committee .
The Suswam committee, he said had nothing good to deliver.
Faege said: “The strike continues even if government is threatening to do the worst. There is no more dialogue with government, if the 2009 agreement is not approved. But we are willing to dialogue with anybody towards meeting ASUU’s said agreement. That is the truth.
“Our doors are open towards addressing these problems. If anybody invites us, we will be there. The only dialogue that we will not attend is that with the Suswam committee. ASUU has vowed not to listen to that committee again. The struggle is on and we are waiting and hoping that government will do what is right so that we will go back to our classes and start lecturing.
“Many students have been calling me in support of the ASUU strike and they want government to listen to us and that we should not call off the strike until the 2009 agreement is met. The condition of the universities is nothing to write home about.”
On the ‘no-work no-pay’ issue, the ASUU boss said: “The Federal Government has not been paying. That statement is not applicable now since we have been working without pay.”

Friday, 11 October 2013

Educating the Girl Child

Educating the Girl Child

The importance of the girl child in any society cannot be overlooked. In the words of Barr. (Mrs) Funmi Falana “an untrained girl child is indeed an untrained society” depicts the danger of not training the girl child.
Having recognised the importance of the girl child in the society, United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 every year as the “International Day of the girl child”. This day according to UN is to “focus attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.” A day set aside to promote human rights and address discrimination and violence faced by girls.
The theme for this year’s girl child day is: “Innovating for Girls’ Education”. The theme shows the quest for effective, efficient and sustainable methods of educating the girl child.
Having noticed the overwhelming evidence of the girl child education in serving as a powerful transformative force for societies, UN calls for innovative ways of educating the girl child effectively.
According to a website research, an estimated 5.5 million children are trafficked annually for forced child labour and sexual exploitation while 67 percent of the illiterate people in the world are women and girls. This is attributed to early marriage and other cultural practices.
The United Nation Children’s Fund on twitter: @UNICEF puts the figure of 31 million as the amount of girls deprived of education.
“What can be done to make sure that the girl child is educated? After all, educating girls is the single most powerful investment for development. And it is their right.
“But even though more girls are entering school than ever before, 31 million are still denied this right.
“Those that do attend school face major challenges- discrimination, financial stress, and threats to their safety, to name just a few.
“It is clear that the world needs new, creative solutions to help girls everywhere overcome these barriers to learning and achievement,” as stated on UNICEF’s twitter handle – @UNICEF
The theme for this year is chosen due to the ‘perceived low returns from poor quality of education,’ which has prevented the girl child from achieving adequate learning outcomes.
This year’s International Day of the Girl Child is meant to address “innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves.
Some of the areas UN requires its member states to focus are:
  • Improved public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes;
  • Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls;
  • Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational education programmes;
  • Corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work;
  • Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles.
According to a senior lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, policies concerning the girl child are mostly tied to culture and religion. This she says makes the girl child vulnerable to all sorts.
“People hide under the cloak of culture and religion to do many things. We all should look at whether these are according to global best practices. Before a law is passed, you should ask yourself if this were to be my child would I allow it,” she says
Ogwezzy calls for continuous sensitisations and enlightenments that will result in a better informed nation. She also calls for the Child Right Act passed by the National Parliament in 2003 to be the benchmark for legislating on the girl child issues.
The university don says: “The girl child should take advantage of current opportunities now the world is beginning to see her gain. Go to school. Gone are the days when your parents say you should not go to school but go into your husband’s house.”
She calls on the girl child to discover her self worth and importance to nation building, adding, “Learn how to carry yourself, if your teacher is interested in you, you can turn him down politely.”
In his goodwill message to commemorate this day, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, calls for improved investment in the girl child education in order to achieve a common future. Ki-moon identifies the importance of education in dislodging issues of discrimination and violence experienced by the girl child.
In his words: “Empowering girls, ensuring their human rights and addressing the discrimination and violence they face are essential to progress for the whole human family. One of the best ways to achieve all of these goals is to provide girls with the education they deserve.
“Yet too many girls in too many countries are held back simply because of their gender. Those whose mother was also deprived of an education, who lives in a poor community, or who have a disability face an even steeper climb. Among girls who do make it to school, many face discrimination and violence. I launched the Global Education First Initiative to accelerate progress in getting every child into school, especially girls. We are aiming to teach more than reading and counting; we are striving to raise global citizens who can rise to the complex challenges of the 21st century.
“To achieve meaningful results, we need fresh solutions to girls’ education challenges and we must heed the voices of young people. I have heard from girls around the world participating in the consultations for the new Girl Declaration. I resolve to ensure that Global Education First mobilizes all partners to respond to their powerful call for empowerment.
“More broadly, our campaign to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and shape a vision beyond that date must address the concerns and potential of the world’s girls.
“On this International Day of the Girl Child, let us work together to invest in education so that girls can advance in their personal development and contribute to our common future,” Ban Ki-moon says.
Two years ago, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. To mark the day last year, UN chose the theme: “Ending child marriage”
Don’t rely on ‘big’ nations, Jonathan tells African leaders
President Goodluck Jonathan

Don’t rely on ‘big’ nations, Jonathan tells African leaders

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has urged African countries to harness their potentials and depend less on “industrialised nations”.
Speaking when he received Botswana’s Ambassador to Nigeria Mr Louis Matshewenyego Fisher at the State House, Abuja, Jonathan implored Africa to use its comparative economic advantages for its people’s benefit.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president said it was time Africa moved away from current “dependency” partnerships with the industrialised nations.
He urged African leaders to focus more on building domestic capacity around the strength of their economies, instead of wasting efforts on areas in which they lack a competitive edge.
Acknowledging the inter-connectivity of the world economy, Jonathan said globalisation would work better when African countries take greater advantage of their human and natural resources to enhance their ability to compete effectively with other regions in world trade.
Africa’s competitiveness, he said, could be further enhanced through increased regional trade and horizontal investment partnerships.
Jonathan said: “I want to insist that our diplomacy should be based more on trade and economic relations. We must encourage trade between our people and I see that relationship as the bedrock for diplomacy.”
The president also received letters of credence from Czech Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Pavel Mikes, Kuwait Ambassador to Nigeria Abdulla Ahmed Al-Sharrah and Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr. Perry Calderwood.
He told them about the need for partnerships that could boost the economies of Nigeria and other African nations.
Pointing out that the growing youth population in Africa was an advantage for the continent, he said the population gave the continent a competitive edge over other parts of the world by providing a vast labour pool for investors and a huge market for products and services.
“Most Western countries have a population that is largely elderly. We have a larger population of youths in Nigeria and most African countries. But we must do more to ensure that they are meaningfully engaged and that will involve confronting the challenge of unemployment head long,’’ he said.
Jonathan congratulated the ambassadors on their posting and wished them success in their efforts to boost bilateral relations between Nigeria and their countries.
The ambassadors thanked the president for receiving them promising to work hard to further enhance existing trade, economic and cultural cooperation between Nigeria and their countries.
Okonjo-Iweala, IMF chief: US budget row may hurt Nigeria

Okonjo-Iweala, IMF chief: US budget row may hurt Nigeria

VISIT NATION NEWS FROM the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington yesterday came a warning that the budget row in the United States (US) may hurt Nigeria if it deepens.
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the consequences of the row would be dire for Nigeria and other countries which rely more on foreign trade for sustenance.
They spoke at separate meetings at the on-going IMF/World Bank meeting.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala, who addressed the world press with the Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, and the Prime Minister of St. Kitts, Densil Douglas, on the outcome of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Meeting, said what was happening in the US could create uncertainty for people in developing and emerging countries. The face-off, she said, could affect Nigeria’s $500million Bond and the Euro Bond, adding that if the crisis lingers, it would also affect interest rates.
She said there was need for a stable and regulated international system, adding that the US government’s budget debate and the debt must be “urgently “resolved so that we can have stability in our financial system.”
Earlier, Lagarde said the US government’s shutdown, if not quickly solved, would create volatility and uncertainty in the rest of the world, warning that Nigeria, as an oil exporting country would be affected. “The shutdown will affect price of oil, and because Nigeria is an oil exporting country, she’ll be affected.”
While admitting IMF’s constraints in intervening in the face-off between President Barack Obama and Congress, she urged the parties to put their house in order because “the failure to raise the debt ceiling will cause severe damage to the US economy, as well as have global consequences.”
She said was not for the IMF to interfere, adding: “we look at the economic consequences of actions taken elsewhere, we engage in dialogue and look at the potential risks.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke on a wide range of issues on the outcome of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Meeting, said the body was considering looking inwards in sourcing for funds to address some of the region’s development concerns.
She said there was need for Domestic Resource Mobilisation, adding that such efforts would require, in the case of Nigeria, the strengthening of tax collection.
She said the Federal Inland Revenue Service was doing a great job in this regard, stressing that there was need to do a proper audit on whether companies that provided for tax in their books duly remitted such to the government as required.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), she said its passage would provide an environment for the oil companies to operate in a more certain and clear terms of engagement, arguing: “Even if it is not perfect, it will provide an environment for our oil companies to have more certainty. I know the oil companies don’t like it too much because the fiscal regime is tougher on them in that PIB than what they had before, but we are urging them to support it, so that we get it through, and then later on, we can begin to amend, but the way we have it now, we really need it to go through.”
She said the PIB’s passage would enable the government to commercialise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and make the sector to be more transparent.
Lar: Buhari, Ihedioha,  governors, CAN pay tributes to ‘apostle of peace’

Lar: Buhari, Ihedioha, governors, CAN pay tributes to ‘apostle of peace’

MORE tributes have continued to pour in for the late first civillian governor of Plateau State, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar, who died in the United States on Wednesday. He was 80 .
Former Head of State and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday said Nigeria and Nigerians will miss the politics without bitterness played by the late Chief Lar.
In a condolence letter to the widow of the late politician, Mary, a professor, Gen. Buhari recalled that Lar handled various challenging national assignments to conclude that the circumstances of our initial interaction following our assumption of power in 1983 could have been more auspicious.
The former Head of State said: “I received the news of the transition of Chief Solomon Lar, former Governor of Plateau State in the Second Republic, former Minister of Police Affairs and the pioneer Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with great sadness.
“My sympathy goes to his family, friends, relatives and political associates who will feel most strongly the huge void that his exit has created. May Almighty give you all the fortitude to bear this loss.
“It has taken decades of knowing Chief Solomon Lar as he handled various challenging national assignments to conclude that the circumstances of our initial interaction following our assumption of power in 1983 could have been more auspicious.
“Knowing him in recent years have persuaded me that we all have to do our duties to the best of our understanding believing that this country is greater than all of us. The important thing is that at the end of the day history will record his legacy as one of selfless service to his fatherland.
“He towers among several progressives who preached and practised politics without bitterness. He carried on with a patriotic zeal in the service of his fatherland even in the face of odds. As the nation mourns, I say adieu to a man who stood by the people and remained principled when it mattered most.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, yesterday said the party would ensure a befitting burial for Chief Lar.
Tukur, who spoke in Abuja when he briefed reporters, said the party would greatly miss Lar who was “a light in the political firmament.’’
He said the vacuum created by the death of Lar would be difficult to fill “because he was an emancipator of the less privileged and a democrat of repute.”
The PDP national chairman said Lar as a former Governor of Plateau and one who had always been in the corridors of power, never compromised his stance.
“He started young as a Parliamentary Secretary and was always in the corridors of power and politics but never compromised’’, Tukur stressed.
He said that although Lar was dead, the PDP leadership would continue to work towards ensuring enduring peace in the party.
This, according to him, was the desire of Lar as manifested symbolically in the white handkerchief he always waved at political meetings.
“It is a pity that Lar had gone, but we will continue to pray and ask for peace which he had already prayed for’’, Tukur said.
He prayed God to grant his soul a peaceful rest and his family, the PDP family and the nation the fortitude to bear his loss.
“All we can say is to pray for his family, friends and associates to take solace because it is very difficult to replace such a giant’’, Tukur said.
Meanwhile, a condolence register had been opened at the PDP national headquarters for the late Lar.
House Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha yesterday described the late Chief Lar, as a nationalist and statesman.
Ihedioha, in a message to the deceased’s family and the Plateau State Government, expressed deep shock over the death of the politician. He said he received the news “with pains and regrets” in far away Switzerland where he is attending the International Parliamentary Union conference.
The Deputy Speaker, who also described Lar as a detribalised Nigerian, said Nigeria has lost one of the finest politicians the nation has ever produced, for a long time remained a link between the old and new breed politicians.
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi described Chief Lar, as a statesman who was passionate about the country’s development.
Fayemi said the death of Chief Lar marked the depletion of the rank of honest and committed politicians who never saw politics as an opportunity to amass wealth but a means to serve the people.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, said Chief Lar preached his brand of politics with maturity and candour.
Fayemi said Chief Lar has proved beyond every reasonable doubt that it is very much possible to play politics without tarnishing one’s image and reputation.
He noted that the deceased was never indicted of any act of fraud or corrupt enrichment by any Judicial Commission of Inquiry or Military Tribunal after he had left office.
The Governor described Lar as an apostle of peace who never encouraged violence either in words or in actions and stood out to be counted for counsel when Plateau State was engulfed in sectarian violence some years ago.
Fayemi pointed out that the legacies left behind by Chief Lar during his tenure as Governor of the state that has since been split into Plateau and Nasarawa states are still enduring. He added that the country would miss the wise counsel of the deceased.
He urged the families and associates of the late former governor to be consoled by the good life he lived and the positive impact he had on his generation.
Kaduna State Governor Muktahar Yero, who expressed sadness over the death of Chief Lar, described the former governor as “a patriotic elder statesman, who dedicated his life to the service of his people and the country.”
According to him, history would be fair to Lar for his selfless commitment to the unity of the diverse people in the North as well as national cohesion. He said Lar’s death is a loss to the entire country and not to his immediate family or the people of Plateau State alone.
Yero said the death of the respected elder statesman came at a time the country needed the advice and guidance of its elders in the effort of building an enduring democracy that will guarantee peace, unity and progress of the nation.
He said: “Our hearts and prayers are with the immediate family of the late Chief Lar, as we urge them to take solace in the fact that their patriarch lived a fulfilled life of service to humanity. On behalf of the Government and the good people of Kaduna State, we wish to express our sincere condolences with the Government and the people of Plateau State over this colossal loss. We pray that God Almighty grant the soul of our late leader eternal rest and give those he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss.”
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday expressed sadness over the passing away of Chief Lar.
In a statement by the Special Assistant, Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Kenny Ashaka, CAN president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor conveyed his heartfelt sympathy to the family of the foremost politician, the good people and government of Plateau State.
According to him, Chief Lar lived a life wholly dedicated to peace and human happiness, a trait he said demonstrated Lar’s principles based on his exceptional skills in learning and focused self-study.
He said:” As the first chairman of the PDP, Lar symbolised the distinctive character of politics without bitterness while improving on the democratic ideals left by Nigeria’s founding fathers.
“As a politician and one time governor of old Plateau State, Lar did not restrict himself to the development of the then Plateau State alone, he extended his audience base, emphasising the pressing social issues of the times.
“Nigerians and indeed the political class will surely miss him. As we pray for the repose of his soul, we express deep sympathy to the bereaved family; we also urge all the present crop of politicians to imbibe some of the great virtues that typified his life and foray into politics.
Kogi State Governor Idris Wada described Lar’s death as a loss to the nation.
Wada, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Strategy, Mr Jacob Edi, said Lar’s invaluable contributions to national development will be missed.
He said: “Our heart here in Kogi State goes to the immediate family of the late Chief Lar, the good people of Plateau State and the country in general.”
The Kogi governor who described the former PDP chair as a leader, a nationalist and a great mobiliser of people, prayed God to grant him eternal rest.
Abia State governor Theodore Orji expressed shock over the death of Chief Lar.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ugochukwu Emezue, Orji said the death of the elder-statesman occurred at a time when his valuable contributions to the nation’s development are needed.
The governor who went down memory lane recalled the numerous achievements the late former governor recorded while in the saddle as the number one citizen of Plateau State and the focused direction he gave the ruling party.
He said the elder statesman will be missed. Orji commiserated with Governor Jonah Jang, the people of the state and the family of the deceased over the sad event and urged them to bear the loss with fortitude.
A former Governor of Abia State Dr. Orji Kalu, described the late Chief Lar as an accomplished humanitarian and an incomparable politician.
Kalu said Lar’s death was a big blow to the nation as he would be sorely missed by those whose lives he touched in various ways.
The former Governor, who described the late politician as a symbol of statesmanship, in a condolence message signed by his Special Adviser, Oyekunle Oyewumi, said: “Chief Lar was an accomplished humanitarian and a consummate politician.
“He touched the lives of many less-privileged in the society through his philanthropic gestures.
“He was a detribalised Nigerian, who built friendship and relationships across boundaries irrespective of age, social status, religion, race and tribe.
“Above all, he lived a fulfilled life worthy of emulation and will be remembered for his forthrightness on national issues.”
Former President Shehu Shagari’s adviser on National Assembly Matters, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai described Lar’s death as not only shocking but a great loss to the country and particularly Plateau State.
Yakasai, in Kano noted that Lar would for a long time to come be remembered as a founding father and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which he helped to nurture.
Lar’s all-embracing attitude, according to Yakasai, would never be forgotten by all those who came in contact with him particularly the political class, who hold him in a high esteem as an elder statesman.
As a member of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), Yakasai noted that Lar did not discriminate against the North and the minority but carried everybody along on equal basis, which is an attribute that engendered him to everybody, irrespective of religion or race.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Bem Angwe said the death “has created a large vacuum in the hearts of Nigerians which will be difficult to fill.”
Angwe said this in a condolence letter to the deceased’s daughter and Chairperson, House of Representatives’ Committee on Human Rights, Beni Lar.
In a statement yesterday, NHRC’s Director, Public Affairs and Communication, Muhammad Ladan, quoted Angwe as saying that Lar’s death “is a monumental loss to the whole country politically and otherwise”.
Reminiscing on the deceased’s life and times, Angwe said: “We, are, however consoled by the nuggets of unquantifiable legacies he has left behind.
He prayed that God grants him eternal rest and to his family and loved ones, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State described the death of Chef Lar as a painful loss to Nigeria.
In a statement, by his Director of Press and Public Relations, Halilu Ibrahim Dantiye, the governor described the late Chief Lar as a dogged politician, dynamic leader and well-respected statesman. “Chief Lar was the pioneer national chairman and later chairman of the Board of Trustees of our great party, the PDP. He contributed immeasurably towards building the party and ensuring its success at all levels. We shall surely miss him”, the statement said.
“It is painful that we have lost such an icon at this point in time but we must be consoled by the fact that Chief Lar’s life was spent in the service of mankind”, the governor lamented.
He, therefore, prayed God to stand by the bereaved family members in this time of sorrow and grant Nigerians, particularly people of Plateau State the courage to bear the loss.
Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed described the death of Chief Lar as a national loss.
Ahmed, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, noted that the demise of the elder statesman is even more painful as the nation has not only been deprived of the depth of his experience as a seasoned politician but at a time when his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the nation are going through real and enduring transformation.
He said that the late politician was particularly outstanding in the country’s political terrain because he “was an adherent of political integration and inclusiveness who played a significant role in the Second Republic: He observed that the late astute politician would be remembered for his exemplary humility, vision and the maturity he brought to political leadership in the country for more than 50 years of Nigeria’s nationhood.
The governor said that the death of Chief Lar had left a big vacuum not only in the party but in Plateau State and Nigeria as a whole and prayed God to grant him eternal rest and grant the family, the government and people of Plateau State and the nation at large the fortitude to bear the loss.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State expressed shock at the death of Chief Lar. He condoled with the people of Plateau State, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) family and, indeed, all Nigerians who feel the pain of Chief Lar’s departure. He described as a “this national treasure.”
He described the late statesman as someone who placed the national interest above his personal interest and served his nation with great passion, delight and love.
Akpabio maintained that the duty of all his admirers in particular and Nigerians in general was to continue his work and realise his principles and values in our nation- building efforts.
The governor said that in every situation that the late statesman found himself while he was alive, either as the first civilian governor of Plateau State or the pioneer Chairman of PDP, he acquitted himself creditably and cast his moral shadow across the nation.
He urged his survivors to be consoled that though he is dead, the memory of his good works and labours of love Nigeria would be stenciled in the sands of time and be embalmed eternally in the sacred places of our hearts.
Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam has said he received with shock the passing on of Chief Lar. The governor said the departure of the elderstatesman has created a leadership vacuum in the politics of the nation especially the Northcentral geo-political zone.
Suswam described the former Governor of Plateau State as a rare leader whose interest in politics was always to fight for the cause of the less privileged and the down-trodden hence he was referred to as the “Emancipator”.
The late Lar, Suswam recalled, sacrificed his entire life to the service of the people and offered selfless service in all the political positions he occupied either as member of the House of Representatives, Governor of Plateau state, Minister of Police Affairs or as pioneer National Chairman of the PDP.
He condoled with the Lar family, the government and people of Plateau state and members of the PDP across the nation over the sad incident and prayed God to grant the soul of the departed eternal rest
Strike continues, say resident doctors
Fed Govt

Strike continues, say resident doctors

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) yesterday dashed hopes of any resolution of its ongoing strike.
In a communique issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, NARD said its members would only return to work when the government settled its demands.
The doctors accused the government of failing to address their demands, including the payment of salaries and allowances to its members.
The communique by NARD President, Dr. Jubril Abdullahi, and Acting Secretary General, Dr. Udu Chijoke Udu, blamed the government for delaying the resolution of the crisis.
NARD said the strike could not be resolved because the attitude of the “government grossly fall short of the articulated demands”.
The association added: “All salaries and allowances of our members (House members and resident doctors) must be paid in full with immediate effect.
“The government must release and implement the stakeholders’ agreement on residency training programme of July 5 and 6, 2013.”
NARD demanded an “elaborate investigation of alleged victimisation” believed to have been perpetrated against its members “at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State”.
The doctors also insisted that failure on the part of government to address the aforementioned demands in clear terms, “the ongoing indefinite withdrawal of services is to be sustained until the above demands are met”.
NARD said it could no longer “trust the government” on any agreement until it resolved its face-off with the resident doctors.
It said: “This is not the first time we have been talking. We have met, signed agreements; yet, nothing has changed for over 40 years.”
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday said the Federal Government cannot blackmail its members to return to the classroom.
The Chairperson of its University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) branch, Prof. Antonia Okerengwo, addressed reporters yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on the protracted lecturers’ strike.
She vowed that the nationwide strike would only be suspended when the 2009 Federal Government/ASUU agreement was fully implemented.
She said the Federal Government voluntarily signed the agreement with ASUU leadership, adding that it would be improper to renege on it.
The union leader said ASUU wrote over 50 letters to Federal Government and lobbied some members of the National Assembly on the need to revamp the Education sector, all without a positive response.
Okerengwo explained that contrary to the government’s claim, ASUU members were not just fighting for themselves and their welfare but were agitating for Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions to be revitalised.
Okerengwo said: “We cannot continue to pretend or wish that these problems do not exist. Practical problems need practical solutions.
“The negotiations for the 2009 agreement took three years (2006-2009). As was agreed in 2012, evidenced by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the Federal Government promised to release N100 billion immediately in 2012 and N400 billion in 2013.
“The technical committee set up by National Executive Committee (NEC) to review the NEEDS Assessment Report also recommended that N800 billion would be required in the short-term of two years (N400 billion per year) for revitalisation. This has remained a mere promise.
“Only N100 billion for 2012, which is 20 per cent of what is due as at today, has so far been released. The fact is that the N100 billion is the amount due and outstanding since 2012. What about the N400 billion for 2013?
“We wrote letters to the Federal Government; we lobbied members of the National Assembly on the need to revitalise the Education sector. Now, the government is saying our action is politically-motivated. It is the Federal Government that is politicising the issue…”
National Assembly plans prayer to avert plane crashes, terrorism

National Assembly plans prayer to avert plane crashes, terrorism

The National Assembly will this month hold a prayer session to seek God’s intervention to end terror attacks and to avert more plane crashes in the country.
Chairman, Publicity Committee of the National Prayer Breakfast of the National Assembly, Senator Ita Enang, stated this at news conference in Abuja yesterday.
Enang noted that against the backdrop of a myriad of problems confronting the country as an entity, the national assembly is set to seek the face of God for spiritual solutions to the problems.
Enang, who is also Chairman, Senate Committee on Business and Rules, said the prayer session would focus especially on the unending security challenges ravaging the Northeastern part of the country over the last three years and other problems facing the country.
The National Prayer Breakfast is an annual event organised by the National Assembly to bring together Nigerians of all faiths, tribe and creed to seek the face of Almighty God for divine solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the nation.
He noted that the National Prayer Breakfast, with the theme: “God in the lives of national leaders for development,” would feature Pastor John Enelamoh, who would give the key note address to “help in pulling down all walls and vices blocking the growth of the nation in the right direction.”
He said: “The 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, seeks to build bridges of unity, national harmony and progress.
“Through the instrument of our faith, we prayerfully pull down all walls and vices that divide us as a nation and provoke the spirit of patriotism and love among Nigerians necessary to propel Nigeria to her rightful place in the comity of nations.”
He added that the prayer conference, which would have in attendance President Goodluck Jonathan, the leadership, management and members of the National Assembly with their counterpart in the judiciary as well as members of the diplomatic corps, would be spiritual avenue for God to guide the leaders of the nation right.
He said: “We hope that as every well-meaning Nigerian join us at the prayer conference, the prayer to God of all creation, to direct our noble cause, guide our leaders aright, help our youths to know the truth and build a nation where peace and justice reign, shall definitely be answered.”

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Justice system: Nigeria is still 53yrs backward –Lagos AG, Ipaye
Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, has taken a cursory look at the nation’s justice system and declared that the system is still where the colonial masters left it at independence.
Ipaye, who spoke on the backdrop of the 53rd independence anniversary, said there was no difference between the present justice system of the nation and the one bequeathed to it by the colonial masters.
He, however, stated that the problem of ineffective justice delivery system should not be shifted to the doorstep of a single stakeholder but be seen as a collective responsibility.
In this interview, Ipaye spoke on many other issues as regards the justice system in the country, most especially on the issue of pro bono (free legal) services and the efforts of the government at encouraging larger percentage of lawyers to pick interest in the project.
Concept of pro bono (free legal) services
The idea of pro bono is a good concept and it is very important because we have all of these law courts that were set up on the assumption that we all can afford lawyers to handle our cases or to defend us in case we are sued. But that is painfully not the case. A lot of people cannot afford the cost of litigation and if those people are left to their own devices, it means that they are shut out.
They do not have access to justice; they do not have the right to fair hearing, which the Constitution says they should have. That is why as a profession, lawyers should take time out to offer free legal services. In Lagos State, we have institutionalised it through the Office of the Public Defender.
But we have another programme now, which we call the Public Interest Law Partnership whereby we get lawyers to voluntarily sign up so that when we have indigent people, needing legal advice or legal representation, we can simply link them with lawyers, who are willing to offer free legal services and by these programmes, we are already taking up to 3, 000 petitions on an annual basis. We have several of our programmes and among them, we are attending to over 3, 000 petitions and we have almost 2,000 cases on-going in court, which we are doing for free.
Legal practitioners and the concept
This does not stop them from doing normal legal work. It is a social responsibility. Yes, they do some cases to make money but they also do some voluntarily because it is an opportunity for them to practice in their idle time. Instead of staying idle, it will widen their horizon because they will get cases that they may not otherwise get from their fee-paying client and they feel that they have done something worthwhile for their fellow man by being able to assist someone who would otherwise not have had such assistance.
And really, we are not saying that if a lawyer is busy, he should still take on pro bono in addition to what he is doing. We want people who would do it as if they were doing a fee-paying brief. And remember, our rules as legal practitioners in Nigeria even compel us to do pro bono work. So, we cannot insist that every case we take in court will be for a fee. We should do a bit for free for other members of the community who cannot afford it.
Agitation for the legislation of pro bono
Well, you see when we talk of corporate social responsibility or individual voluntary service, you don’t need to legislate it. Okay? Like I said earlier, it is incorporated in our rules as legal practitioners because the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) requires us to put in a certain number of hours for free. So, these things need not be compelled by law. It must be voluntary because when I take up a case for free, I should do it with all my heart. I should not do it as in ‘oh, the law forces this on me, so I will just see what I can do.’ One needs to be interested. One needs to buy into the idea and really, it is not a matter for law.
Standardisation of pro bono
You see, like I said earlier, we have such structures and what we do is that we monitor. Number one is that we pre-qualify. It is not everyone that signifies interest that we give cases to. We profile the kind of cases and then we look at the practitioners that can suitably handle such cases. So, if you register with us and you say you don’t do criminal cases, I will not come and give you criminal defence and once I give you any case to do, there is a reporting process. I’m following up; I’m calling you to see how far. So, if for instance, you don’t show up in court, I will know and then we will take the case up and give it to someone else who is willing to do it.
Curbing fraud on pro bono cases
The rules that govern our practice deal with that. NBA has a disciplinary committee and then in cases of fraud, I will prosecute if such a case is brought to my attention as Attorney General. So, there are layers of rules and practices and legislation that enable us to deal with such issue. And so, I will encourage anyone in that situation to petition my office and we will be happy to prosecute if we see that such a thing is happening.
Justice system in the country
Well, to me, talking about our society in Nigeria and Lagos State today, I think the simple question we should put before ordinary men is whether they think justice prevail in our society. If we put that question across, I think the answer we’ll get is what anyone among us can get because getting justice is a challenging problem. It is a big issue. It is one in which judges and magistrates can do very little, even though they do so much.
Barristers at bar have to play their part, the policemen and all the law enforcement agents have to play their part. Even, the prisons where we incarcerate our fellow men after due process, there is minimum requirements to meet there. Otherwise, the context and privilege of justice will not be at the level we want it to be. The justice system we inherited from our colonial master was the one in which a woman, who could not afford to pay a lawyer would be taken to the prison. The idea of fair-hearing cannot come to the aid of such a woman.
A lot has been said about prison congestion and our efforts to decongest. This is not unconnected to earlier discussion. Our journey in this programme is that we are able to assist people who are awaiting trial, but who have no lawyers. Through the office of the Chief Judge of Lagos State, we are also able to visit prison regularly and ensure that nobody is locked in there that ought not to be there.
This is not the forum to examine the concept of plea bargain. It is also a concept that must be examined closely in the context of society in which we live because I strongly support it. However, I think it can be reviewed like every other thing.
But the way we are now, the number of crimes going on out there, the number of criminal case files and the number of cases in courts have all made it such that it is impossible to conclude a case within the shortest period. So, justice will be delayed, not because of the laxity of the judges and magistrates, but because of the congestion of people and because of the overloads that are upon the police and counsel that are handing these cases.
If there are some of them that will not go through trial, I think we must seize the opportunities to do so. If we do not, the consequence is that people are there awaiting trial for longer than the period of the imprisonment prescribed for the offences for which they were arrested in the first place.
So, it is our way of ensuring that for the persons that have been there for a reasonable time and is willing to confess to his/her crime, there is no point keeping him there when we cannot conclude the file/trial. We are in a system that relies on witnesses rather than forensic evidence. Witnesses get tired. A lot of people come to me. They acknowledged that they are victims of crimes, but they are no longer interested because they do not want the trial to continue perpetually.visit sun news
Domestic debt profile rises by N238bn
Total domestic debt of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT has been put at N1.471 trillion in 2012.
This is against the N1.233 trillion debt profile in the preceding year, thus showing an increase of N238 billion or 19.34 per cent.
This was contained in the 2013 Report of the Annual National Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) of the Debt Management Office (DMO).
The increase, according to the report, was an accumulation of arrears and new issuance of bonds in the capital market by some state governments.
Also, the Federal Government of Nigeria’s (FGN) securitised total domestic debt outstanding amounted to N6.537 trillion as at the end of December 2012 compared to N5.622 trillion as at December 2011.
This is indicative of an increase of 16.27 per cent. Of the amount, FGN bonds accounted for N4.080 trillion or 62.41 per cent, the Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs) was N2.122 trillion or 32.47 per cent, while treasury bonds accounted for the balance of N334.56 billion of 5.12 per cent. The rise is based on the figures in the report, it is based on the rising government’s expenditure due to increase in public wages bills, overheads and other recurrent expenditures, resulting to huge budget deficits, which were required to be funded through domestic borrowing.
The total domestic debt service as at end of December 2012 stood at N720.549 billion indicating an increase of 34.08 per cent over the level in 2011.
Similarly, the total domestic debt service as a percentage of the total domestic debt stock outstanding was 11.02 per cent in 2012, which was higher than the 9.56 per cent recorded in 2011.
The significant rise in 2011 and 2012 was due to the increase in the cost of borrowing occasioned by the contraction in monetary policy regime, particularly the upward review of the benchmark Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2011 from 6.25 to 12 per cent, the MPR remained unchanged in 2012 at 12 per cent.
Equally, the total external debt service was $293 million in 2012 and was lower than the $351.61 million paid in 2011 by $58.61 million or 16.67 per cent.
Trends in Nigeria’s external debt stock over the five-year period ending 2012 showed a gradual increase with the highest annual increment of 24 per cent occurring in 2011 due to the issuance of the $500 million Eurobond.
To ensure efficient utilisation of borrowed funds, the DMO opined that efforts should be aimed at ensuring that all new borrowings should be project-tied and should be sustained and such projects should have significant multiplier effects that would provide long-term benefits for the economy.
“As a way of reducing public sector expenditure and the rate of debt accumulation, government should sustain the policy measures aimed at sensitising the private sector to lead investment in the critical sectors of the economy and development of infrastructure.
“The current policy thrust of using sinking fund as a means of redeeming maturing obligations, which was introduced in 2012 should be sustained. The authorities should also consider increasing the amount being set aside, in view of the quantum of maturing obligations (FGN bonds, Eurobonds), which require bullet redemption in the near to medium term,” the document maintained.visit sun news
Why I changed my mind on national conference, by Jonathan
President Jonathan (fifth left), Sambo (fourth right) with members of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue and Secretary to the Government of he Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim (back row right), after the inauguration of the panel in Abuja…yesterday.

Why I changed my mind on national conference, by Jonathan

Okurounmu Panel gets six weeks to submit report
The Federal Government pressed further yesterday its attempt to convoke a national dialogue by inaugurating in Abuja its appointed panel of planners.
President Goodluck Jonathan told those who contend that Nigeria’s integrity would be compromised by such a conference that it would not lead to the nation’s disintegration.
He said although he was opposed to a national conference, a new reality changed his position, adding that he pandered to the yearnings of the people.
Of the 13 members of the panel, 12 attended the inauguration, including its chairman, Dr Femi Okurounmu.
The members are: Alhaji Dauda Birma, Prof. George Obiozor, Sen. Khairat Gwadabe, Sen. Timothy Adudu, Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), Prof. Funke Adebayo, Mrs Mairo Ahmed Amshi, Dr. Abubakar Sadiq, Mallam Bukhari Bello, Mr. Tony Uranta and Dr. Akilu Ndabawa, who is the committee’s secretary.
The 13th member, Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN), opted out of the assignment on health grounds. The octogenarian recommended another member of his elders’ club, The Patriots, Mr Solomon Asemota (SAN), to replace him.
At yesterday’s inauguration, it was not clear whether his suggestion was approved by the government or not.
Unlike the one month period he announced in his Independence Day broadcast, the President yesterday gave the panel six weeks to submit its report.
Dr Jonathan described the Okurounmu panel as “a child of necessity to midwife this Conversation”, saying they are “Nigerians with wide experience from various disciplines to facilitate a most acceptable process that will bring our aspirations to fruition”.
He said the committee’s work would set the stage for developing a harmonious and truly united nation.
His words: “Today, we are taking historic and concrete steps that will further strengthen our understanding, expand the frontiers of our inclusiveness and deepen our bond as one people under God.
“In my address to the nation on the occasion of our 53rd Independence and Golden Anniversary as a Republic, I announced that in response to the yearnings of our people, we had decided to take on the responsibility of decisively and genuinely exploring the option of a National Conversation.”
The conference, the President said, will “review the foundational principles that drive our action, and also address a few matters arising.
“This is a national project, a sincere and fundamental undertaking aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving, long-standing impediments to our cohesion and harmonious development as a truly united nation.”
He faulted those claiming that there was no need for another conference after many conferences had been convened.
Dr. Jonathan said each era and season had its own challenges and that leaders in a democracy must respond with the best available strategies to ensure that the ship of state remains focused in its voyage.
“I was one of those who exhibited scepticism on the need for another Conference or Dialogue. My scepticism was borne out of the nomenclature of such a conference, taking into cognisance existing democratic structures that were products of the will of the people,” the President said, adding:
“However, we are in a democracy and in a democracy, elected leaders govern at the behest of the citizenry. As challenges emerge, season after season, leaders must respond with best available strategies to ensure that the ship of state remains undeterred in its voyage.”
Reviewing the past attempts, he said: “Let us remind ourselves of the gains from previous conferences and dialogues. The conferences that were held before 1960 were designed to produce a political system and a roadmap to Nigeria’s independence.
“The Constitutional Conference of 1957 in London, for example, effectively prepared Nigeria for Independence. The Eastern and Western regions were granted self-government in 1957 while the Northern region got its own in 1959.
“The Office of the Prime Minister was created and it was also decided that the Federal Legislature would be Bi-cameral.
“Furthermore, the Constituent Assembly of 1978 gave us the 1979 Constitution and also created the current Presidential System with its attendant checks and balances and Fundamental Human Rights provisions.
“The 1999 Constitution we operate today, is a successor to the 1979 Constitution and records show that the 1999 Constitution also benefited from reports and recommendations arising from the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference.
Even though the current six geo-political zones for equitable distribution of projects and public offices in Nigeria was not enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, he noted that it was a product of Dialogue that emerged from the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference.
Jonathan continued: “The 2005 National Political Reform Conference produced a number of key recommendations that were sent to the 5th Assembly, which were however not perfected. In 2010, I reasoned that the outstanding recommendations from the 2005 Conference be revisited.”
“It was my view that government is a continuum and that we must find ways to strengthen the foundation of our Union. I proceeded to set up the Justice Alpha Belgore Committee with a mandate to review the report for possible implementation, especially the areas where there was a common agreement. The committee worked hard and came out with its report that included a number of Bills, which were forwarded to the National Assembly.
“The urgency of a National Conversation in the present therefore, need not be over emphasised.”
Apparently explaining why the conference is necessary, the President said: “As we continue to strive to build a strong and virile Nation, especially in the midst of agitations and tensions, we cannot deny the fact that sitting down to talk is one right step in calming down tensions and channelling our grievances, misgivings and suggestions into more positive use for the good of our Country.”
He thanked the Senate for its support for a national dialogue.
“The concept of participatory democracy is such that even after the people have given their representatives the mandate to make laws and act on their behalf, there is also a space for the governed to make further input into the political processes, without undermining the authority of the statutory bodies,” Dr. Jonathan said, adding:
“Sovereignty continues to be with the people even as the people evolve strategies and tactics to strengthen its foundation for the benefit of successor generations.”
“I will therefore like to allay the fears of those who think the Conference will call the integrity of Nigeria into question. This National Discourse will strengthen our union and address issues that are often on the front burner, and are too frequently ignored,” he said.
Urging the members of the committee not to disappoint the nation, the President urged them to consult widely before sitting down to develop the framework that will guide and guard the proceedings of the discussions.
“In the task before you, no voice is too small and no opinion is irrelevant. Thus, the views of the sceptics and those of the enthusiasts must be accommodated as you formulate this all-important framework. This Conversation is a People’s Conversation and I urge you to formulate an all-inclusive process that protects the people’s interest.”
He gave the committee the latitude to decide on the appropriate name it should be called.
Okurounmu thanked the President for the confidence reposed in them.
He said: “It can be argued that no committee in our polity today is more sensitive or carries higher expectations from the peoples of Nigeria than this committee.”
He noted that there had been calls from many sections of Nigerian Public Opinion, for over two decades, for the convening of a National Conference in one form or the other.
“Advocates of such a conference were prompted by what they perceived as the injustices and inequities prevalent in the polity, all of which they attributed to the inadequacies of the constitutions foisted upon us by successive military regimes since 1966.
“To this clamour for a National Conference, there has also always been a strong resistance from other sections of the public who, while they may not have been as loud and numerous as the advocates of a conference, nevertheless have much political clout. These two conflicting pressures have always put our leaders in a very precarious position, making them reluctant to endorse the convening of a national conference or dialogue.”
He praised Jonathan’s “sincerity and commitment”, which “are further buttressed by the fact that he has not established any so called “no go” areas for this committee.”
Okurounmu promised the president “that we shall not let him down. We shall not fail the nation”. “We shall not be another case of failed expectations. We shall not betray the confidence which the president and over 160 million Nigerians have reposed in us.”
In an interview with reporters later, Okurounmu said he believed that the position of a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, that the conference is a “Greek gift” must have been misquoted.
He said Tinubu had been an advocate of a conference, adding that the Pro National Conference (PRONACO) held in the past was sponsored by Tinubu.
Former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd.), yesterday backed President Goodluck Jonathan’s planned national conference.
He told State House correspondents after making a presentation as the Board Chairman of the proposed Centenary City that it was better to dialogue than to go to war.
“It is better to jaw jaw than to war war.”
On the proposed centenary celebration, he said Nigeria has many reasons to celebrate its 100 years of amalgamation.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Is sex safe during pregnancy?

Is sex safe during pregnancy?

Many women crave sex during pregnancy while others dread it. The good news – or bad news, depending who is looking at it – is that sex during pregnancy is extremely safe and desirous for most men and women.
Sex on a regular basis is safe as long as the pregnancy is proceeding normally — but you might not always want to. Emotions and hormones often take a toll on one’s sex drive and can cause fatigue, nausea and potential adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Miscarriages, preterm labour and excessive bleeding from sex is rare but still very important conditions to be aware of. Sex is generally not the cause of miscarriage as it is usually related to genetics and other chromosomal abnormalities — not due to anything you do or don’t do.
However, poor lifestyle management such as an inadequate diet and lack of exercise can result in excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, hormonal imbalances and additional labour complications. These can increase the risk a large baby and the need of Caesarean delivery — also known as a C-section.
Sexual activity – unless it’s excessively rough – won’t affect the baby. The baby is protected by the strong muscles of the uterus and suspended in a sac of fluid. The man-on-top position does become progressively more uncomfortable and should be avoided during the third trimester.
At this time, the growing uterus can compress major abdominal blood vessels and cause an array of symptoms associated with diminished blood flow. A condition called supine hypotensive syndrome can develop if the blood vessels are compressed. This can change blood pressure, heart rate, and negatively affect the foetus.
Experts agree that experimenting with positions is what works best. This approach allows you to keep safety in mind while still focusing on mutual pleasure and comfort. Popular positions include lying next to your partner sideways or have the female on top.
Both men and women need to practice safe sex regardless of pregnancy status. Exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during pregnancy can terminate the pregnancy or severely affect the health of the mother and unborn child. Conditions such as hepatitis B, HIV, herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and genital warts are easily transmittable.
Anal sex is not recommended during pregnancy. Anal sex is often painful and uncomfortable with pregnancy-related haemorrhoids. Anal sex can cause trauma and bleeding that increases the risk of spreading infections between partners and foetus.
If you choose to receive oral sex during pregnancy, make sure your partner does not blow air into your vagina. This act can cause a deadly blood clot that travels to the lungs. Oral sex is generally considered safe during pregnancy but it also has risks of STI transmission.
Use a latex condom each and every time you have sex. Limit the number of sexual partners if you’re single, unmarried or not committed. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to catch a STI. To reduce your risk, practice monogamy. This means having sex with only one person.

Regardless of if you’re pregnant or not, don’t use alcohol, tobacco or drugs before or after sex. These substances can damage the foetus and being drunk or high often prevents safe sex practices.
Have fun, listen to your body and be responsible when it comes to sex during pregnancy. Sex during pregnancy is often better because the pressures are off.
Plot to sack Amaechi thickens

Plot to sack Amaechi thickens

The plot to remove Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi seems to be gathering more stream, following a meeting in Lagos yesterday.
Sources said that a deposed governor, a minister, a senator and other top Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders flew into Lagos by a presidential jet to strategise on the plan.
Details of the meeting were unknown, but a source said it was to explore the lagal option to get Amaechi out of office.
There is tension in Rivers State, following the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Celestine Omehia, the former All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate, could challenge the ruling of the High Court that Amaechi’s first term ended on May 29, 2011. The governor is challenging the ruling at the Supreme Court, which has fixed the hearing for November 11.
Pro-Amaehi forces have alleged plans by certain PDP leaders to remove the governor. Now, they are alleging that “certain powerful forces” want to influence the court’s decision against the governor to get rid of him politically. It has been difficult to impeach Amaechi, since the National Assembly took over the polarised and crisis-ridden Rivers State House of Assembly.
The legal option, sources said, became an attractive route to explore by the anti-Amaechi forces, who have assured the PDP leadership that the governor could be nailed at either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.
Amaechi is challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal to join Omehia in the matter. But, another politician, Cyprian Chukwu, had initiated the substantive case to determine when the tenure of the governor began, following a time-table by the Electoral Commission in 2010 for the governorship elections in the state in August, 2011.
He argued that since the Supreme Court had in 2007 ruled that it was the PDP that won the April governorship poll that year, Amaechi’s tenure should start counting on May 29 of the same year, and not October 26 when he was sworn in, after taking over from Omehia.
However, the Felix Obuah-led PDP Executive Committee has called Amaechi not to drag the Supreme Court into politics by misinterpreting its decision on matters before it. According to the party, Amaechi’s interpretation and information on the October 3 decision of the Supreme Court did not reflect the true position of the apex court.
APC to Jonathan: it’s time to stop the madness in Rivers
Lai Mohammed

APC to Jonathan: it’s time to stop the madness in Rivers

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday accused the presidency of using Rivers State as a testing ground for creeping fascism ahead of the 2015 elections.
The party said it is imperative for all Nigerians to pay a close attention to the apparently-instigated ugly developments in the state.
In a statement in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it is raising the alarm because, as the saying goes, all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.
The party decried the worsening impunity and the violation of constitutional provisions, including the freedom of association and freedom of movement, in the state against those perceived to be against the President.
‘’The arrowhead of these grave acts is none other than the Rivers Commissioner of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu, a malleable police officer who has put himself above the laws of the land and is now, undoubtedly, the Alternate Inspector-General of Police, who can neither be queried nor redeployed because his puppeteers are in the Aso Rock,’’ APC said.
‘’Imagine every state Police Commissioner behaving like Alternate IGP Mbu, who neither respects nor takes orders from the man constitutionally saddled with ensuring security in his state. Imagine every Police Commissioner having the powers to determine who can move around and where, or who can assemble and where, just like Alternate IGP Mbu?
‘’While we may think this madness is restricted only to Rivers State, the danger is that if those behind the Rivers crisis can get away with their impunity, what prevents them from extending it to other states? What prevents them from raising lick-spittle police officers like Mbu to the rarefied ranks of Alternate IGPs where they take orders only from their masters? What will be the implication for the 2015 elections if men like Mbu take charge of all states? These are the questions that should agitate the minds of all Nigerians as the Rivers crisis continues unabated. All that is needed for despotism to reign in our clime is for more and more states to have men like Mbu as Police Commissioners,’’ the party said.
APC said it decided to take the issue to the court of Nigerians because it is apparent that even the system of checks and balances set up by the country’s Constitution is not enough, hence a resolution of the National Assembly demanding the redeployment of Mbu has been shredded by the powers that be, the puppeteers of the Rivers crisis.
‘’When the resolutions of the National Assembly, where the true representatives of the people hold sway, are no longer worth the paper on which they are written, something is definitely wrong,’’ APC said.
It wondered what else Alternate IGP Mbu will do before he is redeployed from Rivers, where his main assignment seems to be to provide security only for the pro-Jonathan, pro-First Lady and pro-Nyesom Wike elements while curtailing the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of all other citizens in the state.
‘’Mbu’s police have barred the man elected to run Rivers State from accessing a road to his official residence, after launching verbal tirades at the State Chief Executive; Mbu’s police have dispersed citizens whose only offence is that they dared to gather for the purpose of collecting their appointment letters; Mbu’s police have taken it upon themselves to determine who can visit the state, while using tear-gas to ward off those they feel should not visit, whether or not they are Governors, House of Assembly Speakers or Central Bank of Nigeria officials on assignment. Mbu’s police determine where and when students can move around.
‘’If Mbu’s reign of the jungle and President Jonathan’s testing of fascism are allowed to continue in Rivers State, it is only a matter of time before the entire country will become their playground, with deadly consequences for all. It is time to stop the madness in Rivers State, where the Chief Security Officer has been put in a position where he is fearful for his own life,’’ APC said.
Rumours of sacrifice, Agagu and Stella Oduah
Chief Fani-Kayode

Rumours of sacrifice, Agagu and Stella Oduah

Last year on June 3rd 2012 there was a plane crash in Nigeria in which over 163 people were killed. The plane was owned by Dana Air. The day before that on June 2nd 2012 a Nigerian cargo plane owned by Kabo Air left our shores and flew to Accra, Ghana where it overshot the runway, crashed into the main road behind the airport and killed many Ghanaian motorists. What made this all the more tragic was the fact that Ghana had never experienced a plane crash at Kotoka International Airport before this incident. It is a pity that it had to be a Nigerian plane, with a Nigerian crew and cargo that had to break that enviable record.
Over one year later on 3rd October 2013, which was last thursday, there was yet another plane crash in Nigeria in which 13 people died. The plane was owned by Associated Airlines. Worse still the following day, which was 4th October 2013, a Saudi Arabian-bound Nigerian plane which was owned by Kabo Airline and which was carrying 400 passengers on board from Sokoto, almost crashed when both it’s tyres exploded mid-air and it had to crash land. Had that plane actually crashed we would have lost another 400 precious souls on that day. Before the first crash took place last year and between the two major crashes there were numerous other smaller ones involving light aircraft, private jets, military planes and helicopters that were not publicised. All these unfortunate events occured under the tenure of Princess Stella Oduah, who is the current Minister of Aviation. Under her watch close to 200 souls have been killed in air crashes in the last two years alone.
This does not surprise me given the nature of the individual that is involved. What does surprise me however is the fact that just one day after those that perished in the latest crash were killed, before the victims were buried, before the site of the crash was cleared, whilst the charred bodies and burnt parts of the victims still lay at the crash site and before any formal investigation into the causes of the crash have commenced, the ruling PDP, through their spokesman Chief Olisa Metuh, has told the world that they have ‘’full confidence’’ in Stella Oduah and that ‘’she should be allowed to continue her good work’’.
Is there any greater evidence of the fact that the PDP is a sick party that is led by sick people than this? Such insensitivity is rarely seen anywhere in the world. Only in Nigeria can this happen. Not only am I surprised but I am also utterly disgusted. How many more people have to be killed in air crashes before our president realises that he needs a new Minister of Aviation?
The truth is that there is far more to aviation than beautifying airports. The first and most important consideration has to be the safety of the passengers and the airworthiness of the planes followed by a solemn and avowed commitment to ensure the discipline, professionalism and efficiency of the aviation parastatals. Most important of all when a plane crashes, whatever the reasons or causes, the Minister ought to assume full responsibility and even offer his or her resignation. Failing that he or she ought to be redeployed to another ministry or completely removed from the cabinet. This is because it is his or her primary responsibility to keep air travellers safe and alive.
Sadly it does not appear that this is likely to happen anytime soon. As a matter of fact I am convinced that even if 1,000 people were killed in air crashes in the space of just 6 months under President Goodluck Jonathan he would still not redeploy or sack Stella Oduah because our President just ‘’doesn’t give a damn’’.
Each time a plane crashes it saddens me deeply because to anyone that has ever worked there before aviation is like a family. Worse still those people that lost their lives were our people- they were our fellow Nigerians. It really does hurt. Suffice it to say that there were no air crashes under my watch and not one drop of blood was spilt from the air whilst I was Minister of Aviation, whether it be passenger plane, private jet, helicopter or light aircraft. I thank God for that because if it had happened I would not have been able to sleep at night. I am the only Minister of Aviation in Nigeria between 2002 to date that can lay claim to that. I put it down to hard work, prayer and the grace of God and nothing else. Unlike some others I was literally paranoid when it came to air safety and security because it was obvious to me that there was more to the whole thing than meets the eye.
Permit me to go into a little detail. The year before I became Minister of Aviation there were five plane crashes and 453 people perished from our skies. The airlines that crashed were Bellview (2005), Sosoliso (2006), a Nigerian military plane carrying a large number of senior army offficers (2006), ADC (2006) and a private light aircraft in Kano which had on board the adopted son of the PDP National Chairman Ahmadu Ali and a pilot (2006). At the time that all these crashes took place Prof Babalola Borisade was the Minister of Aviation. In November 2006, Borisade was redeployed to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism where I was Minister and I was sent to Aviation and by the grace of God; from that point on, my team and I, with the full backing and support of President Olusegun Obasanjo, put a stop to the crashes and we broke the cycle.
We left office in May 2007 and almost immediately after that the standard dropped again and the cycle of terrible air crashes returned to our shores. They have not stopped since. As I pointed out in another essay which I wrote last year after the Dana crash, 90 per cent of the crashes that have taken place in Nigeria in the last 11 years have taken place at weekends. That in itself is strange but what is even stranger is the fact that there are two ten year cycles of major crashes that have been in operation in our country since 1992. I call them ‘’sacrificial cycles’’. The details are as follows: There was a major crash in 1992 (C-130 military airplane in which 160 army officers were killed). Ten years later there was a second major crash in 2002 (EAS Airline in which 105 people were killed). Ten years later there was a third major crash in 2012 (Dana Airline in which 163 were killed). This represents the first ‘’ten year cycle’’ of crashes and if it is not broken there will be another major crash in 2022 which will result in a large loss of life.
The second ‘’ten year cycle’’ began in 1996 when ADC crashed with the loss of over 160 lives. This was followed by another crash ten years later in 2006 which involved another plane from ADC and which again resulted in the loss of over 160 lives. If the cycle is not broken I have little doubt that there will be another major crash in Nigeria in 2016. These observations have nothing to do with superstition but they are based on painstaking research, facts and logic. There have many other big and small crashes within and between the dates of the two major ‘’ten year cycles’’ but what seems amazing and strange to me is the recurrent and definative pattern of the ten year cycles themselves. It is almost as if it is some kind of pagan or religious obligation or debt that is being paid to some hidden and dark forces. Some may dismiss all this as mere coincidence but the actual day and month that all those crashes took place on tells another story which I will not go into here. Whatever anyone else may believe or think I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that there is a spiritual dimension to these matters and I have been saying so publiclly since I was at aviation. Other than sheer hard work, an insistance on full compliance with safety standards and the display of the most rigorous form of discipline from the top to the bottom, in order to break these patterns and cycles of crashes and protect our skies, much prayer and intercession is required. There are a number of other rather startling and strange patterns as well but I am not prepared to share those with the public in order not to create any panic.
One thing that I know though is that God is in control and that, as the bible says, ‘’He reveals to redeem’’. There is absolutely no cause for any fear or alarm. I have written and spoken many times on this. I have pointed out the problems over and over again and suggested how it can be stopped. It may not stop though because there are some depraved people in our country that do not want it to stop, that benefit from it, that delight in it and that believe in it. This is the bitter truth. That, together with the fact that in Nigeria not enough people care for or truly value human life. We only pretend to care.
For more on this I urge those that are interested to read my essay titled ‘’Air Crashes In Nigeria, Sacrificial Cycles and the Weekend Phenomenon’’ which was published in a number of newspapers after the Dana crash last year. They can also read the first segment of my submissions at a public hearing of the Senate Aviation Committee in 2008 which was titled ‘’My Mandate At The Ministry of Aviation’’. They are both on my website ( or they can just be googled.
My views about the crashes and their causes are well enunciated in both. Other than that I will not say anything about air crashes in Nigeria because what I have said and exposed has already caused me more than enough trouble from those that believe such matters ought to be kept secret and away from the public for reasons best known to themselves. Suffice it to say that my conscience is clear and that I did my very best to save and protect Nigerian lives whilst I was Minister of Aviation. That is all that matters to me and because of that I sleep very well at night. To God alone be the glory.
One last point. I find it nauseating and distatsteful that some people would relish the fact that the corpse of Governor Agagu went through all that it did when he was being flown to Akure for his final burial rites and that they seemed almost joyful at the fact that the plane crashed resulting in the loss of all those innocent souls. This is a disgrace and I feel utterly outraged by it. The shameful refrain, which is all over the social media, is that Agagu somehow deserved to die a ‘’second death’’ from the skies because ‘’hundreds of people’’ had supposedly been killed in plane crashes under his watch as Minister of Aviation. This is false and malicious.
Only God knows how each of us will come to our end and it is simply not true to say that the massive harvest of deaths that took place in the aviation industry whilst President Obasanjo was in power did so under Agagu’s watch. He was appointed Minister of Aviation in 1999 and remained there until 2001 when he was redeployed to the Ministry of Power by President Obasanjo. I am aware of the fact that on January 5th 2000 there was a Skypower Express Airways crash at Abuja airport in which 17 people lost their lives. I am also aware of the fact that there was another crash of a Dornier airplane in the Niger Delta area on Oct. 26th 2000 in which 6 people were injured but no lives were lost. These crashes did indeed take place under Agagu’s tenure as Minister of Aviation. However, other than the beginning of the two sacrificial cycles that began in 1992 and 1996 respectively, the string of consistent major crashes in Nigeria really began in 2002 when EAS Airline crashed in Kano killing over 105 people including the then Minister of Sports, Mr. Mark Aku. At the time of that crash Mrs. Kema Chikwe was Minister of Aviation and not Agagu.
The most pronounced years of tragedy and carnage in aviation, which involved 6 major crashes and numerous smaller ones in a row, were really between 2002 and November 2006 when the carnage was finally brought to a halt. Sadly it began again almost immediately after we left office in May 2007 when small planes, light aircraft and helicopters started dropping from the sky. Then came the mysterious ‘’disappearance’’ with a number of fatal casulaties of Governor James Ibori’s ‘’Wings Aviation’’ plane from our skies in 2008 and things really went downhill from there. In the last 11 years, between 2002 and 2013 over 850 people have been killed in air crashes in Nigeria- 453 of them under Borisade and just under 200 of them under Stella Oduah. This is an atrocious record of air safety and I believe that I am right in saying that it is a peace-time world record. Whatever the case it is nothing to be proud of and it reflects badly on all of us, particularly those of us that were once Ministers of Aviation.
I have done my research and I have the details of every single crash that has taken place in this country over the last eleven years whether it be a private plane, light aircraft, military aircraft, passenger plane or helicopter. As long as such a crash resulted in the loss of life I have the record of it and all the details. None of those crashes took place under the watch of Dr. Segun Agagu because he ceased to be Minister of Aviation in 2001. I implore those that are doing so to stop attributing the sad events that preceeded his burial to some kind of divine retribution for what purportedly occured when he was Minister of Aviation. Nothing can be more cruel than this and nothing could be further from the truth.
Permit me to end this contribution with a few words to the families of those that were lost in the crash. It is always a painful thing when we lose someone dear and this is especially so when it happens in such a painful and violent manner. My heart goes out to each and every family that lost their loved ones in this latest crash. May the Lord comfort each and every one of them and may He heal their wounds with the balm of Gilead. My commiserations also goes to the people of Ondo state and particularly to my dear friend and brother Governor Olusegun Mimiko who is a man that I have tremendous respect for, a practising and commited christian and a man of immense integrity and spiritual fortitude.
To my dear brothers that were lost in that terrible crash themselves, including Mr. Tunji Okunsanya and his son Tunji jnr. (whose MIC company buried both of my parents in 1995 and 2001 respectively), Mr. Deji Falae who was the Commisioner of Culture and Tourism for Ondo State and so many others, I say the following- may God have mercy upon you. May He forgive you of all your sins. May He cause His face to shine upon you. May He grant you peace eternal. May you abide with Him in eternity. May your souls be blessed forever. May the watchman and the boatman grant you safe passage into the higher realms. May the halls of Valhalla, where the brave shall live forever, be open unto to you.
May you never be forgotten and may your names wax strong in our hearts and minds from generation to generation. May the memory of your beautiful smiles continue to give us strength and bring us hope. You were a real blessing to so many. Rest in peace. Until we meet again.


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