Thursday, 7 November 2013

Grand Oak at Lagos Trade Fair

Grand Oak at Lagos Trade Fair

Grand Oak Ltd (GOL), a leader in the wine and spirits market in Nigeria is showcasing its prime brands namely, Seaman’s Schinapps and Calypso Coconut, among others at the ongoing 2013 Lagos International Trade Fair organised by Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Fair which has the theme, Harnessing Trade Potentials for an Inclusive Economy is being held in partnership with the Federal and state Governments.
Speaking on the event, Grand Oak, General Manager, Marketing, Mr. Brajesh Kumar, said, “Grand Oak Limited will latch on the opportunity to project its corporate image and exhibit its brands to visitors and participants from within and outside the country who will be at the fair.”
Mr. Brajesh added that the trade fair will also create the opportunity for the company’s numerous customers to have a chance of buying and stocking their favourite products for the festive period.
Fear of food insecurity grips Nigerians

Fear of food insecurity grips Nigerians

Good prices are rising– no thanks to insecurity and lack of financial muscle by many Nigerians.
For instance, rice has hit record N12,500 per bag, triggering a panic among consumers.
The Nation learnt the increase in prices of other staple products such as fish, bread, meat, cereals, chicken, yam, onions, beans, vegetable oil, tomatoes, groundnut oil and others are expected to rise as the insurgency in some parts of the North affects traders. .
In September, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has warned that Sahel states in the North are faced with severe food insecurity. The release mentions, “Poor families have used up their food stocks and are facing high food prices awaiting the next harvest.”
Alarmingly, it points out that over 1.4 million children in the region are at risk of severe malnutrition in 2013.
In certain products regrettably, the country’s ambitious Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) seems to have been hijacked by unscrupulous operators across the country’s borders.
Ssince the implementation of high tariffs for rice importation, legal imports have come to a standstill, creating a massive demand from staple consumers. In the absence of local paddy production to meet this demand, smugglers have been having a field day, moving in rice through the borders.
The common routes include Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Benin where there are zero or negligible duties.
Reports said more than 2.5 million tonnes of rice was imported into these countries since Nigeria’s implementation of the new tariffs at 110 per cent. As a result, the Federal Government and terminal operators are losing billions of naira in unpaid Customs duty and levies, as well as handling charges. The Deputy Comptroller General of Customs (DCG) in charge of Enforcement, SakaYinusa recently said the importation should be through approved seaports to ensure adequate payment of import duties, levies and other charges. He disclosed that Nigeria loses an estimated N1 billion on contraband rice daily, which translates to N356 billion yearly.
A report suggests that the rampant smuggling further compounded the woes of local rice millers operating in a high cost environment – devoid of infrastructure such as potable water, power and good road networks – with sparse funding.
The nation is also reeling from the severe impact caused by the Boko Haram activities. The Chairman, Borno State Farmers Association, MuhammedNamadi, said “hundreds of farmers have been killed or forced to abandon rice and other crops ready for harvesting or just planted.”
He spoke in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and a former insurgent stronghold. Without immediate relief, farmers in Borno, who already live with abject poverty, insecurity and isolation, could also face widespread hunger.
He said: “We have suffered a great deal as farmers in the last three years. Many young and old farmers have been forced to leave their farms.”
Nearly 20,000 farmers have been driven from their land by both the insurgency and the military crackdown since President Goodluck Jonathan in May declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Jonathan is seeking an extension of the emergency.
In June, the Chad Basin Development Authority reported that 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of rice paddies had been abandoned at the peak of harvesting season.Large-scale investments made into the farming and milling industries by private businesses are also in jeopardy, following Nigeria Customs Service ’ inability to protect the industry from the vagaries of smugglers. Small farmers consume most of the paddy produced in the nation on a sustenance basis.
The new agricultural policy that was aimed at protecting the local rice industry interests seems now to be helping smugglers make a fortune. The millers face unfair competition from smugglers, making their large investments unviable and effectively stalling any new expansion plans in the country.
Indian parboiled rice costs about $430 per MT and Thailand rice is around $550 per MT. Comparatively, rice paddy in Kano is at a high $480 per MT, while in other places, such as Ebonyi, it is at a prohibitive $ 540 per MT. The price of local finished rice is around N16,000 per 50kg, whereas the imported rice is sold at an affordable N 8,000 per Kg, until the tariffs were increased significantly.
The Managing Director, Attajiri Rice Mill Sokoto, Alhaji NuraAttajiri, said: “Most of the people that collect agricultural loans from government for paddy rice production are not genuine farmers. I strongly believe that it will take some time for Nigerian farmers to meet local demand and this can be achieved only if government is determined to put in mechanisms to ensure that only genuine farmers are empowered.”
The President, Rice Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIDAN), Esther Olufunmilayo, urged government to review the impact of its policy on the economy, arguing that tariff hike imposition without tangible transformation of the local rice value chain defeats government’s rice self-sufficiency goal.
N255m cars: Reps panel proposes Oduah’s sack
ON THE HOT SEAT: Ms Oduah at the committee’s hearing in Abuja...yesterday PHOTO:

N255m cars: Reps panel proposes Oduah’s sack

Aviation Minister Stella Oduah maysoon be waving a painful farewell to her controversial job —should the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation have it way.
It is to recommend today that President Goodluck Jonathan should sack Ms Oduah, for exceeding the official limit in approving the purchase of two bulletproof vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at N255million.
The committee may have recommended also sanctions for the former acting Director General (DG) of NCAA, Nkemakolam Joyce, and the agency’s Director of Finance, Salawu N. Ozigi – in line with the Civil Service Rules.
The panel is to seek the immediate termination of a loan agreement of N643, 088,250.00 to finance the purchase of 54 vehicles (including the armoured vehicles) between the NCAA and the First Bank of Nigeria.
Coscharis Motors Limited is to be asked to refund the N255million meant for the bulletproof vehicles. Besides, the panel will recommend that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should investigate the company for alleged abuse of waivers.
These key five recommendations are some of the major highlights in the report of the committee, which will be tabled today before the House of Representatives.
The report will then be debated and put to vote before the House takes a stand on the matter, which has generated so much heat in the polity.
According to sources, after a prolonged debate on Oduah’s fate, the panel agreed that the minister allegedly violated the 2013 Appropriation Act and the Public Procurement Act because due process was not followed in approving the purchase of the armoured vehicles.
The committee recommended to the House to ask “President Goodluck Jonathan to review the continued engagement of Stella Oduah as the Minister of Aviation, having contravened the 2013 Appropriation Act by overshooting her threshold of N100million and for violating the Public Procurement Act.”
The report said: “The committee recommends sanctions for the acting DG of NCAA, Nkemakolam Joyce and the agency’s Director of Finance, Salawu N. Ozigi, in accordance with civil service rules for circumventing the Public Procurement Act.”
On Coscharis Motors Limited, the committee directed that the auto firm should “refund the N255million paid to it for the bulletproof vehicles through a loan agreement with immediate effect”.
“The armoured cars are also to be returned to Coscharis Motors Limited.
“The N643, 088,250.00 loan agreement with the First Bank of Nigeria by the NCAA to finance the purchase of 54 vehicles should also be terminated forthwith because it is not in the interest of the country.
“The EFCC is also advised to further investigate Coscharis Motors Limited for abuse of the waiver process and the discrepancies in the chassis numbers of some of the BMW vehicles.”
Speaking with our correspondent last night, a member of the panel said: “As a matter of fact, there was nowhere in papers to show that the vehicles were bought in the name of the minister.
“But in terms of approval, the minister was found guilty, having gone beyond her threshold of N100million. Due process was also not followed in the purchase of the vehicles by the NCAA.”
On the next step, another source said: “It is left to the House to accept or reject our recommendations.
“It was not easy arriving at these recommendations because of vested interests and pressure, but most members of the committee put the nation ahead of personal matters. The committee members had to reconsider the wording of recommendations on the minister.”
First Bank Plc was given a clean bill of health in respect of the transactions.
The July 30, 2013 agreement between NCAA and First Bank of Nigeria reads in part: “The borrower (NCAA) has applied to the bank for a Term Loan Facility (herein referred to as “the facility”) in the sum of N643, 088,250.00 to finance the purchase of 54 vehicles for Management Staff of NCAA on Grade level 15 and above.
“The bank has agreed in the usual banking terms to extend to the borrower the said facility on terms and conditions herein contained in this Loan Agreement and in the Letter of Offer which terms are hereby incorporated into this agreement.
“The parties hereto have agreed to secure the facility, including interest and other charges.
“The facility shall be for a period of 36 months without moratorium. Subject to the terms and conditions hereinafter contained, the Borrower shall repay the facility hereunder in 36 monthly installments as contained in the Letter of Offer.
“The borrower shall until the repayment of facility to the Bank pay interest on the balance outstanding and on all monies whatsoever at any time owing to the bank at the rate of 18 % per annum(all inclusive) or such other rates in line with changing market conditions as may be advised.
“The borrower hereby covenants with the bank that so long as any part of the facility or interest or other moneys hereby covenanted to be paid remains outstanding, the borrower shall:
•furnish annually to the Bank not more than 120 days after the end of the period in respect of which they have been made up Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Accounts showing the true position of the Borrower’s affairs such Balance Sheet and Accounts being certified by the Auditors …”
“The borrower will also from time to time supply to the bank such other information as the bank shall reasonably require in respect of the assets and liabilities of the business operation and administration of the Borrower and shall permit and enable the bank’s representative to inspect the borrower’s properties and operations including all relevant records and documents after giving reasonable notice; and costs of such inspection and the out of pocket expenses incurred by the bank’s representative aforesaid during such inspection being payable on demand by the Borrower provided that such costs are fair and reasonable.
APC to President Jonathan: Compensate Boko Haram victims

APC to President Jonathan: Compensate Boko Haram victims

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday disagreed with President Goodluck Jonathan’s statement that the Federal Government would not compensate the victims of the Boko Haram killings.
Dr. Jonathan stated this on Monday while receiving the report of the Boko Haram panel.
But yesterday, APC’s Interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande said the victims of the ‘ongoing mindless and callous killings” which started in 2009 deserved to be compensated.
He said: “This is because such a decision, if upheld, will amount to double failure on the part of the Federal Government and double jeopardy for the victims.
In the first instance, the killings and maiming have occurred because the Federal Government failed in its most important task of ensuring the security of lives and property.
“Secondly, the same government that failed to live up to the main reason for its existence, which is the security and welfare of the citizenry, is now failing to provide succour for the victims of its own failure.
“This constitutes double irresponsibility on the part of the government, and double jeopardy for the thousands of victims who have been killed and wounded by the insurgents.
“After the people were victimized by Boko Haram, they are now being victimised by their government.
“This is unacceptable, and President Jonathan must have a rethink.
“The APC believes that the issue of compensation for victims of Boko Haram should not be subject to any debate.
“All victims of the Boko Haram insurgency must be compensated without delay. They must be given succour. They must be made to feel that their government cares for them.
“Compensation cannot bring back the thousands who have been killed. But it can provide succour for the children, parents, brothers, sisters and other family members they left behind.
“Compensation cannot remove the scars on those who have lost limbs or become blinded due to the effect of gunshots or bombs, but it can help them to restart their lives and to know that they are not alone in their ordeal.
“These people cut across religions, ethnicity and gender. They include Christians and Muslims, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba and people of other ethnic groups, as well as men and women, the old and the young.
“President Jonathan must not only ensure that the victims of Boko Haram insurgency are compensated, he must strengthen his resolve to ensure that Nigerians are well protected and catered for, irrespective of where they reside in the country.”
Why Nigerians should dump PDP, by Buhari
Gen. Buhari

Why Nigerians should dump PDP, by Buhari

The All Progressives Congress (APC) roadshow rolled yesterday into Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, where its leaders renewed their call on the G-7 Governors and members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the APC.
The delegation, led by the Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, former military Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari and former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, met Kwara State Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed, members of the House of Assembly, PDP leaders and others.
Other APC chieftains on the entourage include former governors of Edo and Benue states, Chiefs John Odigie-Oyegun and George Akume, former House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, APC’s Interim National Publicity Secretary Lai Mohammed, former Works Minister Hassan Lawal and another ex-minister, Alhaji Musa Gwadabe.
The APC leaders did not mince words on their mission – to woo Ahmed into the progressives’ camp.
First to speak was Akande, who said: “I am at home and I don’t think I should have to perambulate too much, except to say that we’ve come to Kwara State through the governor to invite first all of you to our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and secondly, we are not limiting our visits to the members of the new PDP, which they call the G-7; we are extending the visit to all the other governors and all the other members of the PDP because we are starting a revolution that will make us a country of the progressives.”
“And that is what we have started just about a week ago and we hope to use Kwara state as a clapboard to enter the heart of every Nigerian that it is better to live for the people.”
Tinubu bemoaned woes of Nigeria, occasioned by bad and visionless leadership.
Said he: “To the people of Kwara State, I will say we have brought joy, joy for the change. We brought hope and we brought friendship. And bringing that is to introduce to you again formally the APC.
“The appropriate name, the appropriate movement and the appropriate political platform for the current situation in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Why we have not succeeded in fraternising the opposition and the government is not challenged to be responsive to the people because there was no strong alternative platform.
“There is an army of unemployed; our youths are frustrated. Even if we can manage our own hunger, but can any graduate or none graduate going to bed every night hungry think right of democracy? Can a woman in labour with pains who has not been able to take proper care of the first child and having the second think well of democracy if there is no proper medical care? Can we talk today of solid and good education that was given to us by our own fathers, because education is a weapon against poverty; can we boast of that in the face of this unending crisis in the education sector? Before you know it, this electricity supply will flip and can we continue to sit back and lament and complain about the suffering, about government, about Nigeria going backward and drifting or do something; talk together; work together and challenge ourselves for the future of our children.
“Kwara State is a beautiful bride, but go and ponder yourselves very well, freshen up with nice perfume and come on marry us; with that we will have stability and progress. That is our proposal and that is why we are here, we want that beautiful bride to be ours so that you all join hands together and rescue Nigeria from drifting.
“This is the time to do just that and if we miss this boat, our grandchildren will give us a poke in the nose. They will curse us – God forbid. We are capable of bailing Nigeria out of poverty. We have very progressive platforms in Lagos, Oyo states; go there and see what we are saying and if you collaborate, agriculture will become revived; farmers will be incentived and industries will be established in Kwara.
“There will be progress, there will be employment. But if we are not collaborating, if we are not cooperating. If we are not putting our political act together, government will continue to take you for a ride and nothing will happen. Nobody can intimidate you, if they see us united. But immediately they see us oscillating and uncertain, they treat us as chickens for dinner. Help is here. APC is here. Hope is here, APC is here. Change is here APC has arrived. We invite you all to join us for the sake of our country.”
General Buhari said since the PDP government had been in the saddle, nothing had improved in the lives of Nigerians.
He added: “That nothing has improved over the years shows the non performance of the ruling PDP. The non performance of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), popularly known as NEPA, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Pension Funds are enough to remove any government in power, except in Nigeria. The PDP government has institutionalised corruption in Nigeria. There is no way Nigeria, with our vast population, vast land can continue to entertain an army of unemployed youths without the resultant effect of kidnapping and Boko Haram. So, the fundamental objective of APC is to secure a hope for Nigerians.
“The attempt for this movement started in 2005. We realised that the ruling party is so amorphous, with none of the opposition parties in critical zones to effect a change. It became absolutely necessary for all the representatives of these parties at the National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly and even the local governments to come together and balance the equation. Another sacrifice began by the parties that have come together.”
Ahmed described Nigeria as “basking in residual superstition”, adding that “we are at the turning point in the history of this country, not forgetting the fact that Nigeria has come of age”.
“Nigeria, like any other developing country, is still basking in the residual superstition. The whole world is being driven in the comity of developed nations, but, unfortunately, every country gets the leadership it deserves. Whoever is leading this country today is a product of our choice. That means we have a choice to move along with the progressive countries or we sit behind.”
Ahmed added that “today, as it is, the APC has formed itself into a strong formidable platform. They are in Kwara on a marketing activity. What makes Kwara unique is simply because we have established structure, formed over a period of four decades of hard work and dedication to the people of Kwara State; selflessly delivered by our late political leader, Dr Olusola Saraki. This has led us into inheriting what we call an election winning machinery. This machinery has been directing every election in the state over the years.
“I want to commend the leadership of the APC. You have come here to share with us your aspirations for Nigeria. You are aware we are still under the leadership of the PDP, which is undergoing serious challenges today and reconciliation is still ongoing. Clear areas of differences are being critically reviewed. We hope that the interest of this country will take precedent over and above any self interest. Be assured that we will always have a common platform for growth and development. In Kwara, we are one party, one family and that is what has kept us together. That will continue to sustain us.
“The same machinery has put in place all the 191 councillors and 16 local government chairmen. The same has put all the members of the House of Assembly and National Assembly in place and it has also put the governor in place. We here in Kwara are one family.
“Dr Bukola Saraki has been carrying the mantle of leadership inherited in a way and manner that has given us… That structure has demonstrated that it can lead us aright. That is why we will join hands with anybody out to maintain the peace, because that is where the strength of our people lies.”
House of Assembly Speaker Razak Atunwa applauded the APC chieftains for having the interest and progress of the nation at heart.
“It is indeed refreshing to see these titans of Nigerian politics from all walks of life, various ethnicities, different age groups, diverse political backgrounds come together to pursue a common goal and development of our dear nation Nigeria. It is crystal clear that what is paramount on your mind is the progress of the nation. Political parties have a final role to play in the democratic existence of our nation. Parties must provide the platform by which people can express themselves.
“Parties must not subject their members to unwarranted persecution. In other words, political parties must have internal democracy. A party that ceases to have internal democracy cannot do this country a world of good. Avoid bad governance, avoid autocratic tendencies and practices. We must resist acts of impunity; we must be tolerant of divergent views. We must see ourselves as one indivisible nation, as people with a common heritage.
“In Kwara State today, that is precisely what we practice. We see ourselves as one people. We see ourselves as our brothers’ keepers. That is why there is great harmony not only in the various parts of government but also between the executive and the legislature.
“However, what is also unique in Kwara is that we have a unique political structure. In the state today, one man commands mother of votes. The one man that will deliver Kwara state in its entirety is Senator Bukola Saraki. “You only need one vote of one Dr Bukola Saraki. Once he speaks’ the entire Kwara has spoken. But I’m particularly, nonetheless, happy to see juggernauts of Nigeria politics here today.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Fire razes 25-storey Great Nigeria Insurance building
•Fire fighters battling to put out the fire... yesterday.

Fire razes 25-storey Great Nigeria Insurance building

THE 25-storey Great Nigeria Insurance Company (GNI) Ltd House on Martins Street, Lagos, was yesterday razed by an early morning fire.
Two persons were injured and properties worth of billions naira destroyed in the fire which started from the first floor and spread to other floors of the building.
Officials of the Lagos State Fire Service and other emergency agencies battled for hours to put out the fire.
Director, Lagos State Fire Service Rasak Fadipe told reporters that his men received a distress call around 6:34 am that the building was on fire.
He said the fire trucks at Onikan Fire Station, with 10,000 litres of water were mobilised to the scene, adding that on getting there, his men discovered that the fire was huge and that the water would not be sufficient.
“We had to call for reinforcement from the Sari-Iganmu Fire Station which brought another 10,000 litres of water to fight the fire,”
“We left the island to as far as Apapa to get a functioning water hydrant. So, if you couple that with the traffic challenge, you will see that the fire keeps coming back.”
The team, he said, also found it difficult locating the source of fire as the premises had many combustibles.
“Aside crowd control challenges and the unavailability of water hydrants, we have not been able to locate the source of the fire,
“It started on the ground floor, which had many combustibles. Several cars were parked in the premises and they also led to the escalation of the fire.
“Although the structure was built as offices, most people have converted the offices to stores and warehouses.
“We also suffered from crowd control, with the hoodlums trying to seize our fire equipment from our personnel. They obstructed the adequate positioning of fire trucks and attacked fire men,” Fadipe said.
He said the fire men also brought aerial ladder used to fight fire in high rise buildings to gain access to the affected floors.
He said the first to the third floors of the building were affected, adding that the battle to put out the fire was still on at the time of filing this report.
Fadipe said his men faced crowd challenge on arrival, adding that they battled the crowd to gain access to the building.
He said the thick smoke from the building also posed a challenge to his men, who had to use breathing apparatus to enter the building, adding that the cause of the fire has not been ascertained.
Fadipe said officials of the Federal Fire Service and their United Bank for Africa, UBA, were on ground to complement the state fire service men.
The incident caused traffic grid-lock on Martins and adjoining streets as vehicles sought alternative routes out of the area.
Spokesperson, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye said the fire took a combined fire service team an estimated 12 hours to fight.
He said no life was lost, adding that one of those injured is a Senior Fire Officer of the Federal Fire Service, Obiah Onoh who was attacked by hoodlums.
As at 4pm, the fire men including those from the military and private organisations were still battling to bring it under control.
Eyewitnesses said the fire started on the ground floor, where many cars were parked.
The Nation learnt that residents in the area were able to salvage five cars before smoke engulfed the place.
When The Nation visited, those with offices and warehouses on the premises were scampering to salvage their belongings.
Some workers at the building looked confused; others who stood in clusters lamented the loss of personal effects kept in their offices.
One of the workers, Musiu Ahmed said he got to work about 7am to meet the building razed.
He said some people kept diesel on the ground floor, wondering if that could have led to the outbreak.
“You know that this ground floor is supposed to be solely a parking lot, but some people have turned part of it to warehouse. Could it be the diesel that people keep here that caused this fire?” Asked Ahmed.
Ahmed, who said his office was on the second floor, thanked God that no life was lost.
However, another fight ensued between officials of the state government and NEMA, with the Commissioner for Special Duties, Wale Ahmed, ordering Farinloye to vacate the premises.
The battle for supremacy between NEMA and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) has become a recurring decimal emergency sites, leading to the agencies not working together.
Crowds gather in Rivers for APC
•Some of Amaechi’s supporters waiting for All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders at the Port Harcourt International Airport...yesterday.

Crowds gather in Rivers for APC

•Police stop Amaechi’s fans
•Lawmakers’ plane grounded
Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s supporters, who thronged the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa to welcome All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders, were barred from the facility yesterday by policemen. The policemen said they were acting on the orders of the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu.
Undeterred by the police action, Amaechi’s army of supporters from the 23 local government areas stayed at the junction of the airport on the Port Harcourt-Owerri Expressway, singing, drumming and dancing.
Apparently to show total support to the Rivers governor, thousands of people stormed the Government House, Port Harcourt. They were initially at the main gate on Azikiwe Road, but the gate was later left open for them to enter the seat of power.
The Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, hinted on Sunday night that the First Lady, Dame Patience, was expected to leave Port Harcourt for Abuja at 11:30 pm yesterday. The APC leaders, including former Head of State Gen. Mohammed Buhari, Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and some governors, would fly in from Abuja around 2 pm.
The leaders of the main opposition party are visiting Rivers State to persuade Amaechi and his teeming supporters to join the APC. There have been similar visits to some of the G-7 governors.
Reporters and photographers of various media houses in Port Harcourt and those from outside Rivers state, in a Toyota Hiace bus, had it rough with the overzealous policemen at the gate of the airport, as they were initially prevented from driving in.
Two senior police officers called the security personnel to order, after the identity cards of the media men had been thoroughly checked.
As at 3:46 pm, when our reporter left the airport, the supporters of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) chairman were still waiting at the junction of the airport, while the crowd at the Government House started dispersing around 6 pm, when it became obvious that the APC leaders would no longer visit.
A police officer, who would not want to be named, said the supporters of Amaechi were prevented from accessing the airport to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
When the policeman was reminded that supporters of the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, were always allowed into the airport, even up to the VIP Lounge and the tarmac to receive Wike, Jonathan or his wife, he declined to comment.
The Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a telephone interview, said the visit to Port Harcourt by the leaders of the main opposition party was shifted till 11 am today, because of “coordination and logistics”.
Amaechi, who spoke through the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, said today’s crowd would be three times bigger than yesterday’s.
Okocha said: “The police and other enemies of progress want to diminish the support of Rivers people for Governor Amaechi, but they have failed. Rivers people refuse to be intimidated or cowed. Their support is unwavering and they will not take the law into their own hands.”
The First Lady, who was scheduled to leave Port Harcourt yesterday, did not leave. There was no official explanation for the change secluded.
The wife of the President was in Rivers state for the funeral of her mother, the late Madam Charity Fyneface Oba, aka Mama Sisi, at Okrika, headquarters of Okrika Local Government Area.
At the funeral service at the playground of Okrika National Secondary School last Friday, Dame Jonathan refused to shake Amaechi while she moved round to greet dignitaries, but the Rivers governor, unperturbed, danced to the music of Gozie Okeke, Buchi and Yinka Ayefele, among others.
The members of the advanced team of the First Lady were already at the airport yesterday, waiting for their boss, who did not show up.
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government, George Feyii, commissioners, local government chairmen and other top Rivers government officials were at the airport waiting to receive the APC leaders.
ASUU discusses Jonathan’s offer
ASUU President Fagge

ASUU discusses Jonathan’s offer

Teachers won’t call off strike until after consultations, says leader
After 13 hours of negotiations with the Federal Government, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) got yesterday another offer towards the resolution of the crisis that has crippled the campuses for over four months.
But ASUU President Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, did not disclose the new Federal Government’s offer, insisting that its members have the final say on the issue.
Lecturers were holding meetings on the various campuses last night over the government’s offer.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the First Lady’s Conference Room in the Presidential Villa, Fagge said the meeting was working towards tackling the problem of university education.
He said: “Well, we have had lengthy meeting with Mr. President, rubbing minds on how best to address the problem of university education in this country.
“And we now have a message from Mr. President we are going to take to our members. And we are expecting that our members will respond appropriately to the message of Mr. President.”
On whether the lecturers are going back to the classroom, he said: “That is up to our members.”
Asked what the message was, he said: “I can’t tell you. Its not for you. It is for our members.”
If impressed with the message, he said: “Don’t put words into my mouth. Our members will determine that.”
Also speaking at the end of the meeting, Minister of Labour Emeka Wogu said: “We made progress; the President of ASUU told you that they are going back with a message from the Federal Government to their members. And the message is full of high expectations and hope.”
On whether the strike will be called off, he said: “That is why the message is full of high expectations and hope. So, our prayers is that they come back with positive outcome. They might not even come back to meet us; they might take decisions there that will meet your expectations.”
“Nigerians should be patient for ASUU to finish their meetings and come out with a message to Nigerians.”
Asked whether the government made a fresh offer, Wogu said: “Well, the offers we made are the offers they are taking in line with the 2009 agreement. The issues that led to the strike are issues contained in the 2009 agreement and we did not go beyond the agreement.”
Before the meeting started on Monday afternoon, President Jonathan had assured the lecturers that the strike would be resolved .
Jonathan, who took charge of the Federal Government’s negotiations with the lecturers, while exchanging pleasantries with the ASUU team, led by Fagge, said: “My president, all the problems will be over today, all our children must go back to school.”
Also greeting the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwahab Omar at the beginning of the meeting, President Jonathan said: “My president, with you around today, there will be no problem; our agreement is signed, sealed and delivered.”
On the Federal Government team were Vice President Namadi Sambo; Wogu; Supervising Minister of Education Nyesom Wike; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim; National Universities Commission (NCC) Executive Secretary Prof Julius Okogie and Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Also in the government team are the Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadhome and the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Mac John Nwaobiala.
For ASUU were its Vice President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, three past presidents of ASUU, Profs. Festus Iyayi, Dipo Fashina and Abdullahi Sule-Kano.
Others included Prof. Suleiman Abdul; Dr. Victor Igbum and Prof. Victor Osodeke.
The ASUU team also had Omah and Trade Union President Bobboi Kaigama.
The Presidency, on September 19, took over negotiations with the striking lecturers with Sambo heading the government’s side.
‘Amaechi is an epitome of courage under fire!’

‘Amaechi is an epitome of courage under fire!’

Text of a speech by APC Interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande when the party’s leaders visited Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi in Port Harcourt yesterday

Today, the unstoppable APC train, which has made important stops in Kano, Jigawa and Adamawa, has arrived in Rivers State.
This is another important stop, because it allows us, the APC leaders, not only to invite Chibuike Amaechi, the courageous Governor of Rivers, to join the growing APC family, but to show our solidarity with a man who has succeeded in battling anti-democratic forces to a standstill.
Let us be clear. Our party has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Gov. Amaechi since the beginning of his travails. We have been unrelenting in our support because our party stands for justice, fairness and unfettered freedom. We abhor dictatorship clad in fake democratic garments.
We believe that the system of government that we operate does not make provision for an imperial presidency, who can neither be criticised nor opposed. That is why we told those who said the APC is crying more than the bereaved on the Rivers State issue, that we are indeed the bereaved anytime the rule of law is supplanted with the rule of the jungle; and we are the bereaved anytime a democratically-elected President thumbs his nose at the Nigerian Constitution. Or how else do we explain a situation in which a duly elected Governor, who is known to the Constitution as the Chief Security Officer of his state, is now being made to run his state side by side with the State Police Commissioner, who has been elevated to the de facto Governor by the presidency?
How do we explain a situation in which a State Governor is being prevented from accessing his official residence by the police who should take orders from him? Where is it done that a State Governor cannot receive visitors, including fellow State Governors, without being tear-gassed and humiliated by the police? Or how does one justify a situation in which armed thugs backed by the police attack lawmakers in the hallowed chambers of the State House of Assembly?
Gov. Amaechi has been enduring these and other indignities, without wilting under fire! His plane has been grounded under flimsy, cooked-up excuses! They felt they have clipped his wings, but he is soaring even higher.
What is his offence? Standing up for the defence of democracy and the Constitution, leading his fellow Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to reject a creeping dictatorship.
But because he provided good leadership, because he has the support of his colleagues in the NGF and because his cause is just, he has prevailed over his adversaries, and he stands taller than his physique.
Because he stands as a bulwark against those who wanted to annihilate democracy and cripple governance, the plan to extend the anarchy in Rivers State to other states of the Federation has failed.
That is why we called him an epitome of courage.
It was Maya Angelou, the African-American author and poet, who said courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.
Perhaps that was why another American poet, Robert Frost, said that freedom lies in being bold.
Thanks to Gov. Amaechi’s courage, Nigeria’s democracy is stronger, and our country is better.
We salute your courage under fire, your tenacity under an endless assault and your commitment to unfettered freedom for all citizens.
Since the leaking umbrella can no longer protect you from the vagaries of harsh weather, we ask you to jump on the APC train that will take Nigeria to the promised land!

N255m bulletproof cars: Panel gets terms of reference
Minister of aviation Oduah

N255m bulletproof cars: Panel gets terms of reference

•Minister opts to make written submission to panel
•Jonathan gives probe committee terms of reference
•President wants culprits exposed

The Presidential Administrative Panel of Enquiry into the purchase of N255 million armoured cars for the Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, has demanded transaction details from the Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other stakeholders.
President Goodluck Jonathan has also given six terms of reference to the panel, including a mandate to determine whether or not the procurement followed due process.
But Oduah has opted to make a written submission to the panel.
Members of the three-man panel are: a former Head of Service of the Federation, Alhaji Sali Bello (Chairman); the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere (rtd.)
A source in the panel said the transaction details had been retrieved from the Ministry of Aviation, the NCAA, First Bank of Nigeria Plc and Coscharis Motors Limited.
The source said: “We have asked for all transaction details from the Ministry of Aviation, NCAA, Coscharis, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Customs Service and other stakeholders involved.
“On the basis of the submissions, we will interact with all those who played one role or the other in the purchase of the armoured cars.
“A key issue is the process in acquiring the armoured cars in the light of the existing laws on procurement.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “Well, so far the minister has chosen to make a written submission to the panel. We have got her written memorandum to the panel.
“It is left to the panel to find out if her physical appearance is necessary or not. This will depend on facts from other stakeholders.”
Asked when the panel would submit its report, the source said: “Although the constitution of the panel was announced on October 23, members did not get their letters of appointment until October 28.
“So, if you start counting the two-week mandate, it will expire on Monday, November 11. We hope to conclude our assignment on or before the date.”
Also, a document obtained by our correspondent yesterday revealed that the panel was given six terms of reference by President Jonathan.
The terms are contained in an October 28 letter to the committee members by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
The letter, among others, said: “The terms of reference are to:
• Examine the circumstances surrounding the purchase, particularly whether or not there were budgetary provisions for it.
• Identify all actors in the in the purchase.
• Determine the role of the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, in the purchase.
• Ascertain the cost of the vehicles, its purpose and procurement process.
• Enquire into any other matters incidental to the purchase of the vehicles.
• Make appropriate recommendations in the light of its findings.
N500b SURE-P cash missing, says Senate •Senate president Mark N500b SURE-P cash missing, says Senate Posted by: Onyedi Ojiabor and Sanni Onogu, Abuja in Featured, News 8 hours ago The Senate is investigating the whereabouts of N500 billion Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) cash. The cash ought to have been released to SURE-P for the implementation of its projects, senators said yesterday. A member of the Senate Committee on SURE-P, Senator Kabiru Marafa, broke the news at a meeting with Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Marafa noted that the committee wrote the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, requesting the quantity of fuel it supplied for consumption since the inception of SURE-P in 2012, which was 21 months (January 2012 to 30th September 2013.) He noted that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources responded that 25 billion litres of PMS (fuel) was supplied. He said since N32 was SURE-P’s component of oil subsidy, the committee multiplied 25 billion litres of PMS the ministry supplied by N32, which gave about N800 billion. The lawmaker added that the leadership of SURE-P had at a meeting with the Senate Committee put the total money released for its activities at N300 billion. He said SURE-P also told the Committee that it received N15 billion monthly for its activities. Said Marafa: “Since SURE-P claimed that it received a total of N300 billion, it means that N500 billion that should have accrued to SURE-P is missing. “We are curious to know what happened to the N500 billion. We also want to know why CBN has been remitting N15 billion to SURE-P monthly. This is because the releases to SURE-P should have varied according to PMS consumption, but we hear that N15 billion is remitted to SURE-P monthly.” A letter by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources gave the breakdown of national monthly consumption of petrol(PMS) from the inception of SURE-P to 30th September, 2013 as: January 2012-1,300,250,896; February 2012- 1,565,615,315; March 2012- 2,002,664,178; April 2012-2,068,580,537; May 2012- 1,66,365,783; June 2012-1,374,735,096, July 2012- 1,499,580,516; August 2012- 1,201,378,428; September 2012- 954,263,951; October 2012- 1,173,436,515; November 2012- 1,286,305,205; and December 2012- 1,447,080,385. For 2013, the Petroleum Ministry gave the breakdown of national PMS consumption as: January 2013- 1,109,808,171; February 2013- 941,177,731; March 2013- 1,056,091,918; April 2013- 1,027,298,978; May 2013- 1,088,157,472; June 2013- 798,911,153; July 2013-899,593,874; August 2013- 843,882,415 and September 2013- 770,695,645. Chairman of the committee, Senator Abdul Ningi and other members condemned the absence of Mrs Alison-Madueke and Sanusi at the meeting, after acknowledging receipt of the committee’s invitation. Though the CBN governor later sent some officers to apologise for his inability to honour the invitation, Ningi said that the apology was unacceptable. He said because NNPC was key to the implementation of SURE-P, the committee wanted the Petroleum Minister to appear to clarify certain issues. The lawmaker noted that because the CBN was the disbursing body, the CBN Governor was also crucial to the meeting. A member of the committee, Senator Solomon Ganiyu, said that members of the committee wanted to know how funds made available to SURE-P was used. Ganiyu added that it was obvious that most Nigerians were not happy with the implementation of SURE-P.


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