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Nsima Ekere’s witnesses frustrate APC chances at Tribunal

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…Ekere walks out of tribunal

Witnesses called by the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom State have frustrated the pleas made by the party at the governorship election petitions tribunal.

The governorship candidate of the party Obong Nsima Ekere, in his amended prayers sought the tribunal to set aside of results announced by INEC in all the local government areas in the State except in Etim Ekpo and Essien Udim local government areas.

Ekere claimed that election was conducted at polling units and results were announced in Etim Ekpo and Essien Udim.

However, a chieftain of the APC, Engr Akanimo Edet, who was the party’s collation agent in Etim Ekpo, has disproved the claim made by Obong Nsima Ekere.

Appearing in the elections petitions tribunal sitting at Court 8, Fulga road, Uyo, Edet distanced himself from claims by his party that it won the election in Etim Ekpo, saying that there was no election in all parts of Etim Ekpo local government area.

Edet, a former member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, admitted a statement he earlier deposed under oath, that there was no collation and announcement of results of the governorship election in Etim Ekpo.

During cross examination, Chief Assam Assam(SAN) counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel asked Edet if his party won the governorship election in Etim Ekpo.

He answered, “there was no election, so there is no way APC could have won.”

Edet’s response foreclosed the chances of the APC to further claim that it won the governorship election in Etim Ekpo local government area.

Our reporter who is covering the sittings of the tribunal said, the APC governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, immediately walked out of the tribunal furiously after Edet’s testimony contradicted his claims and submission made by the party.

The leadership of the APC is said to be disappointed that its star witness in Etim Ekpo, Engr. Akanimo Edet has frustrated their case at the tribunal.

However, other six witnesses called by the APC said there was no election in their respective local government areas but at the same time insisted that their party won the election in some units and wards in those local government areas.

One of the witnesses, Barr. Emmanuel Atakpo, told the tribunal that there was no election in Ibesikpo Asutan local government area, but when asked by counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) if APC won in any ward or unit in Ibesikpo Asutan, he said, the party won in Ward 1, Unit 6.

Atakpo had claimed that the election results were manipulated at the local government coalition center, but when asked if he had the election result as the party agent for the local government before it was manipulated, he said he had no result.

When asked how he arrived at the conclusion that the governorship election was not held in the entire local government, Atakpo said, “I personally drove around most of the polling units within his ward to confirm that election didn’t take place.”

Another witness for the petitioner, Dr. Ita Udosen, also said in his statement that
there was no election in his unit, unit 4, Ibesikpo ward 3.

During cross examination, Udosen however admitted that election took place in his unit but that a fight broke out midway during voting so he ran away to the local government coalition center.

Another witness called by the APC, Mr Effiong Bassey Etim, from Ikot Akpabio in Nsit Atai local government told the tribunal that there was no election in his polling unit where he served as APC agent because there was violence immediately the election materials arrived.

Etim in Paragraph 5 of his earlier statement deposed at the tribunal said there was no violence but massive thump printing at his unit. It is clear to the world that the strategy of the APC to say that elections did not take place in some local government areas has fallen apart, as they keep contradicting themselves at the tribunal. The governorship elections took place peacefully throughout the state, a fact that the Police Commissioner in charge of elections in the State, Ibrahim Kaoje in his report to the Police Headquarters also affirmed.

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Aisha Buhari attacked me in Aso Rock –Daura’s daughter

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Aisha Buhari attacked me in Aso Rock –Daura’s daughter
  • First Lady: You lied, ignored President’s directive on apartment

An amateur video leaked to the social media may have exposed the fierce battle between the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari and the much dreaded cabal for the control of Aso Rock, the seat of government in Nigeria.

In the video which went viral at the weekend, the First Lady, apparently in an angry mood, is heard shouting on top of her voice, complaining about being denied access into one of the apartments within the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Aisha queried why those in the apartment chose to shut the doors against her and ordered them to vacate it immediately.

The video trended on the heels of the rumour about the alleged wedding between her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari and his Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umaru Farouq, in Abuja.

The release of the video had elicited a lot of debates about what may have transpired in the encounter as no faces were shown. But, Fatima Daura, daughter of Mamman Daura, President Buhari’s nephew, has accused the First Lady (Aisha) of attacking her and her siblings inside the Presidential Villa.

Daura is believed to be a leading member of the alleged cabal in the presidency which wields so much powers in the current political dispensation.

Fatima, who gave an account of the incident in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, said she recorded the incident on video for confirmation and proof that the President’s wife violently confronted her inside Aso Rock.

According to her, the incident took place in 2017.

However, a senior aide in the office of the First Lady, who pleaded anonymity, told New Telegraph yesterday that Daura’s daughter lied in her interview with the BBC, adding that she kept several other things away from the public on what actually happened during that encounter.

In the interview translated by The Cable, Fatima insisted that she least expected Buhari’s wife to act in a violent manner.

The interview ran thus: “My name is Fatima. I am a daughter to Malam Mamman Daura… if one reasons well, he or she will understand that it is not possible to say that the wife of the president is denied access to her apartment, but let me give a context.

“The apartment in question is called the Glass House. You know that there are several houses and apartments in the Villa. When the president got into office, he gave the Glass House to our father, Mamman Daura.

“You all know that they are friends and are related, more so, they grew up together like twins. When he became president, he gave the Glass House to our dad and said he should stay there. Our dad stayed there for three years now until when the president’s son, Yusuf, had an accident and went to Germany for treatment.

“When he returned, the president told our dad to move out of that apartment to an even bigger one in the Villa, that Yusuf is going to stay and be treated in the Glass House,” she said.

New Telegraph gathered that the Glass House is closer to the main presidential apartment and the idea of evicting the Dauras from there was to make it easier for the First Lady to have access to her son.

Daura’s daughter further narrates what led to the incident that was captured in the video. Fatima said: “(On that day) my mom and dad were not around. So, my dad instructed me and my elder sister, both of us are working and we go to work every morning, that we should come on a Saturday and move our belongings to the new apartment the president instructed.

“We planned to pack out then and have even concluded moving all the things. All of a sudden, in the afternoon as we were busy on that errand of packing our belongings when we heard noise from outside. I was in an inner room in the house while my sister was in an outer one close to the main gate of the apartment. So my sister went out before I could come out.

“On getting there, it was the wife of the president. When she came, the door was locked and she picked a metal chair and broke the door. I have sent the picture to you. My sister that went out was almost hit by the chair. She threw the chair which broke through the door and almost hit my sister.

“I was so shocked and afraid of getting there because she was shouting and reigning abuses and saying we should move out of that apartment. That she has never seen this kind of thing before. I then went back and picked my phone because if one is to say that she acted that way, no one would believe it without a proof. She has already been saying a lot of things depicting that she is being suppressed.

“So I recorded it to show our parents and the security, so that they will know the truth should anything happen. Because the way she was raging and shouting, I was thinking that she would pick something and hit us with it or something like that. That was why we recorded it. Had it been we wanted to release the video, we would have done it earlier. But you know if a video clip enters one or two hands, you can’t control where it will get to.

“There are even other clips that have not been released, I will send them to you to see how she was insulting the security and how she drove them away saying who are they protecting and calling them bloody idiots. It’s all on the video clip. That was what happened.”

The aide in the First Lady’s office confirmed that the incident happened over a year ago when the wife of the president, on the instructions of the President, asked the Dauras to vacate their living quarters inside the Villa for a sick Yusuf Buhari who was recuperating after an accident.

“For this reason, the quarters were needed and the Dauras were asked to move to another part of the Villa. Long before the accident, Yusuf’s mother had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the place because the building is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president,” he said.

The source noted further that: “The IG of police, DG DSS, NSA and the Vice President, who was the acting President, were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies. Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, did not say this in her interview.

“What really was the intent for the video being released now if not for mischief? Fatima didn’t showcase her part in the drama where the door was locked against the First Lady to deny her access to some areas of the Villa, neither did she acknowledge the abuse she first vented before the First Lady reacted under the instruction of DG Lawal Daura who was brought into government by Mamman Daura.”

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Shareholders endorse N120bn acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills by Olam

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Shareholders endorse N120bn acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills by Olam

Shareholders of Dangote Flour Mills Plc. (DFM), yesterday unanimously approved the acquisition of the company by Crown Flour Mills Limited, the Nigerian subsidiary of global food and agri-business conglomerate, Olam International Limited after a whopping payment of N120 billion to the shareholders.

Olam International has made an offer for the acquisition of 100 per cent equity in Dangote Flour Mills Plc. for a consideration of N24.00 per share. The acquisition was carried out through a Scheme of Arrangement.

Most of the shareholders who spoke at the meeting lauded the company’s management for the noble decision.

Nona Awoh, a notable financial analyst and one of the shareholders of the company, thanked the management on the offer of N24 per share and reminded other shareholders that the last time the share price of the company increased significantly to N20 per share was in the year 2010.

Another leader of the shareholders group, Mr. Boniface Solomon, described the deal as a very good one for the shareholders.

He said the stock has really been struggling in view of the current realities in the nation’s economy, stating that the N24 per share is indeed a good price for his members.

Managing Director of Crown Flour Mills Limited, Anurag Shukia, said his company intends to maintain and expand DFM’s business as well as provide enhanced manufacturing capacity and create synergies to deliver improved products to customers across the country.

With the acquisition, the entire 4,994,886,771 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each in DFM held by the shareholders of the company will be transferred to Crown Flour. The N24 per share that will be given to the shareholders for 50 kobo shares held represents a 124 per cent premium on the share price of DFM as at the close of April 18, 2019 being the last business day prior to the date the proposal was received and announced on the floor of the Exchange; and a 145 per cent premium on the three-month weighted average share price of the company as at 18 April, 2019.

Benefits to the shareholders include, but not limited to: opportunities for shareholders of DFM, other than Crown Flour, to enhance the value of their investment in the company and exit at an attractive pricing; in addition, the scheme is expected to create valuable synergies between the operations of Crown Flour and DFM, to ensure improved revenue generation capacity, reduced operational costs, and enhance profit.

It will also enable Olam focus on the flour business, to provide the necessary financial and technical support required to maintain and expand the business.

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2020 Budget: Govt earmarks N450bn to fund fuel subsidy

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2020 Budget: Govt earmarks N450bn to fund fuel subsidy

…targets N237bn looted funds, N252bn privatisation proceeds

 

Oil subsidy regime, also known as under recovery for local consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), is to be sustained in 2020 fiscal year with government earmarking N450 billion for it in the 2020 budget.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, confirmed yesterday, stating that the ‘under-recovery’ was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the Budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” the minister said.

This was as government, yesterday, itemized sources for its revenue estimate of N8.155 trillion laid out in the 2020 budget.

These include privatization proceeds in which government intends to harvest N252,083,688, multi-lateral/bilateral loans of N328,128,150,000; new borrowings in the sum of N1,594,986,007,544 comprising local (N744,986.007.544) and foreign borrowing (N850,000,000) and sale of government property.

Also lined up for funding next year budget, is N237 billion of recovered looted funds.

The N8.155 trillion revenue projections represents seven per cent or N561.2 billion more than 2019 budget revenue figure of N7.59 trillion.

Ahmed confirmed the figures yesterday in Abuja at the budget 2020 breakdown.

The central government has pegged her spending in 2020 (inclusive of GOEs/PT loans) at N10.33 trillion. Of the figure, recurrent (non-debt) spending is projected at N4.88 trillion (reflecting increases in salaries and pensions including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage).

Capital expenditure (inclusive of transfers, GOEs capital & Project-tied loans) is estimated at 24%, provision of N296 billion is to cater for settling of matured bonds to local contractors, representing an increase by 169.09 % from 2019 figure of N110 billion.

Twelve Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government collectively will spend N1,99.85 trillion in 2020 fiscal budget.

The top twelve priority ministries with highest allocation include, Ministry of Works & Housing N259.2 billion; Ministry of Education (including UBEC) N162.74 billion; Ministry of Power (includes PSRP transfer to NBET) N127.67 billion; Ministry of Defence N99.87 billion and Ministry of Health (including BHCPF) N90.98 billion.

Other MDAs on top priority capital allocation in 2020 budget include, Ministry of Transportation N123.07 billion; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development N79.79 billion; Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development N45.45 billion; Ministry of Water Resources N78.34 billion; Ministry of Aviation N53.85 billion; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N41.34 billion and Ministry of Science and Technology N37.55 billion.

Present at the session were Director-General, Budget Office of Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other top government officials and representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSO).

Other funds earmarked for key projects include N110 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of roads in every geo-political zone of the country.

The roads listed to be covered include, construction of Kaduna eastern bypass, Abuja–Kano Dual carriageway, dualization of Odukpani–Itu–Ikot Ekpene Road; construction of Kano western bye pass and Abuja–Abaji road, amongst others.

Other key projects lined up for financing in the 2020 budget included N1 billion for construction of terminal building at Enugu Airport, N10 billion for construction of second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and asphalt overlay in Lagos.

On transport, government earmarked N67.17 billion for counterpart funding for railway projects. The amount covers, Lagos-Kano (ongoing), Calabar-Lagos (Ongoing), Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Aladja (Warri) (ongoing); Port Harcourt- Maiduguri, Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic (new), Abuja-Itakpe and Aladja (Warri)-Warri Port and Refinery including Warri New Harbour, and Bonny Deep Sea Port & Port Harcourt and other rail projects.

In 2020, government is committing N2 billion for funding of Mambilla hydro power project, N200 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/ Gas Power station in Kaduna, another N150 million for Afam fast power programme accelerated gas and solar power generation.

For housing sector, the sum of N17.5 billion was earmarked for National Housing Programme, N30 billion for Social Housing Scheme (Family Homes Fund).

For Agriculture and Rural Development, government proposed over N11 billion for promotion and development of value chain across in more than 30 different commodities; another N3.97 billion for Veterinary and Pest Control Services; N8.20 billion for rural roads and water sanitation; N2.01 billion for National Grazing Reserve Development; N813 million for mechanization; N1.48 billion for Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise (Life) Programme; N2.86 billion for food and strategic reserves; N1.81 billion for agribusiness and market development and N1.96 billion for extension services.

The special intervention programme got N430 billion in 2020.

On how much of recovery looted fund earmarked for the budget, she said: “On the recovery of looted funds, if you look at the budget, we have a provision of N237 billion provided for as a financing item in the budget. This is our projection of how much would be recovered as looted funds. The funds will now be available to fund the budget” the minister explained.

Ahmed noted that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.

She said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.

She said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.

Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.

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FG bans land importation of goods

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FG bans land importation of goods
  • Security operatives seize N1.4bn items, arrest 317 smugglers
  • Customs: We’ve saved 10m litres of PMS from being smuggled out

 

 

 

The Federal Government has banned all importation of goods, whether contraband or not, through land borders until further notice.

Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), at a joint news conference with his counterpart from Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, in Abuja yesterday, said for now, only goods passing through the controlled borders such as air and sea would gain entry into the country.

According to him, the partial land border closure affects all goods, adding that anyone who hitherto imported and exported legitimate goods can do same via seaports and other manned outlets for now.

He foreclosed any plans to reopen the borders anytime soon.

He said there is no time limit to end the partial closure of the nation’s borders.

Ali added that the exercise would be sustained until the neighbouring countries duly comply with the ECOWAS protocols on transit of goods.

The NCS boss said that diplomatic engagement was ongoing to ensure the cooperation of the neighbouring countries.

He said that following this development, Niger Republic had just announced the ban on all forms of exportation of rice into Nigeria.

The Customs boss stated that the ongoing border closure code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response’ by combined Nigeria’s security agents has led to seizure of goods worth N1.4 billion.

Aside the goods seized, Ali said the operation has also led to the deportation of some Pakistanis and South Koreans, while 146 illegal immigrants were arrested.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, the Customs boss explained that 317 smugglers have been arrested; adding that 21,071 bags of 50kg parboiled rice have been impounded.

Other items seized are; 190 vehicles, 891 drums of petrol, 2,665 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 66,000 litre tanker of vegetable oil, 133 motorcycles, 131 bags of NPK fertilizers used for making explosives, among others.

Ali said that the closure of the nation’s borders had saved 10.2 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), from being smuggled out.

Using the N145 per litre pump price, the value of the products saved by security operatives stood at N1.479 billion.

“From the record available to me, the consumption of PMS in the country has reduced by 10.2 million litres since the border operation began.

“This means that this amount of fuel was being smuggled to the neighbouring countries before the exercise began.

“We are deploying every technology available to secure our borders, and in line with this, the president has graciously approved e-customs for the service,” he said.

He added that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an e-customs project, which involves using drones and geo-spatial technology to further fortify the borders.

According to him, e-customs means all customs tools will be driven by technology to manage the borders.

“Our men will remain at the borders for as long as it will take the neighbouring countries to adhere to ECOWAS protocols on transit.”

On why the security agencies are not respecting free movement protocol of ECOWAS into consideration in the border closure issue, Ali said: “When we talk of security, human rights take the back seat. We want to secure our nation. Nigeria must survive before you talk of rights and doing business.”

He noted that all the agencies involved in ‘Exercise Swift Response’ as coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) have been duly briefed on the target of the operation, especially in the area of using minimum force.

Also speaking at the event, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigrations Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, said the border drill also involves human mobility.

“There are rules of this operation. ECOWAS protocol says you must arrive or depart via a recognized port with the right travel documents. You must travel where there is Customs and Immigrations.

“We will launch our e-border initiative next year. We also have forward operational bases and will patrol them round the clock. We have 12 of such.

“Mr. President approved amnesty for over-stayed migrants to register from now till 19th January, 2020. Foreigners have latched on this opening. Sixty per cent of those coming forward have irregular papers. After this window is closed, anyone caught with will be deported,” he explained.

The joint border security exercise, code-named “Exercise Swift Response”, began on August 20.

It was set up to ensure a better security of the country’s territorial integrity, particularly the land and maritime borders, against trans-border security concerns.

The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in the four geo-political zones of North-West, North-Central, South-West and South-South.

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Court freezes companies’ 45 bank accounts over rice smuggling

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Court freezes companies’ 45 bank accounts over rice smuggling

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered a temporal freezing of 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies allegedly involved in smuggling of rice into Nigeria.

The order was premised on an ex-parte application filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Counsel to the applicant, Nosike Nicholas, in arguing the application, prayed for an order to freeze the accounts for 90 days.

He anchored the application on section 60, Paragraph (B) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991 as amended.

He submitted that there was an ongoing investigation against the defendants who are customers of the commercial banks.

According to him, transactions under the accounts can cause significant financial loss to the rice industries in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.

The trial judge, Justice A. R. Mohammed, while granting the application, instead of 90 days, ordered for a freezing for 45 days.

The companies whose accounts were domiciled with 10 commercial banks in Nigeria are Sun Sam A1 International Limited, Sun Sam International Limited and Sunchrist O. Trans Nigeria Limited.

The court directed the head offices of First Bank Nigeria Plc., Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank Plc., United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Polaris Bank and Eco Bank Nigeria to freeze forthwith all transactions from those accounts for 45 days.

The court held that the order of freezing will be pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

It further held that the applicant can approach the court for extension at the expiry of the 45 days if investigation is not completed.

The court consequently adjourned to December 12 for further hearing.

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Researchers raise hope of diabetes cure

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Researchers raise hope of diabetes cure

A team of researchers said an alternative treatment that could  cure diabetes was underway.

According to an article published in ‘The Jerusalem Post,’ the new treatment involves implanting a bio-artificial pancreas under the skin using local anesthesia during an outpatient procedure, which would help monitor blood sugar levels in the body, detect the amount of insulin that each patient needs and release it into the bloodstream.

The artificial pancreas works by connecting with the patient’s blood vessels and measuring the blood sugar levels in order to secrete the right amount of insulin needed to balance blood sugar.

However, the artificial pancreas, which may be replaced after some months could be priced up to $50,000. The product, which lasted 90 days in mice, could hit the market during the next few years.

The current method requires some patients to inject insulin into their body, but manages the disease without a cure.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), half a billion people have diabetes and about 160 million of them were insulin dependent.

Chief Executive Officer of Betalin Therapeutics, Dr. Nikolai Kunicher, who is one of the researchers that developed the therapy, said their invention was a new way to treat diabetes.

He said: “Today, you only have ways to manage the disease. This is a cure. The diabetic pancreas has lost the function of secreting insulin and we give it back. The patient should never have to inject insulin into his body again.”

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into the cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it makes. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.

Kunicher and his team developed the first bio-artificial pancreas composed of pig’s lung tissue and insulin secreting cells.

The innovative pancreas has been successfully examined in animal clinical trials and the researchers hope that human trials will begin within the next year.

Betalin Therapeutics was founded in 2015 and has two famous Nobel laureates on its board, Professor Arieh Warshel and Professor Sidney Altman, who suffers from diabetes and his hope is that the new device could be utilised to help patients.

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Guber poll: Dickson tells Bayelsans to shun APC

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Guber poll: Dickson tells Bayelsans to shun APC

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has called on the people of the state to reject the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 16 gubernatorial election in the state.

This is as the governor also asked the leader of the APC in the state and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, to apologize to Bayelsans for presenting an unelectable ticket to the people.

Dickson, who stated these at the official opening of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship campaign office in Yenagoa, yesterday, maintained that the forthcoming governorship poll is not only about the party’s flag bearer, Senator Douye Diri, but about the future of the state and Ijaw nation as a whole.

According to him, the APC has nothing to offer the people of the state and indeed the Ijaw nation as shown by the fact that the party which controls the centre has failed to attract any critical infrastructure to the state.

He said that the APC had only succeeded in promoting insecurity and instability in the communities of Bayelsa.

His words: “The election is not about me, but about the future of the state. Senator Diri is a symbol of what we have to do to keep our state within the boundaries of sanity.

“Five years after, we know they have nothing to offers us in Bayelsa. Have they built any school, road, hospital, have they even built peace and security? The only thing to show is the invasion of our communities, which have been destabilized.

“Nobody should be perturbed about party leaders defecting. They are leaving because of money and fake promises, but the people are not with them. The APC doesn’t mean well even for the leaders who are leaving and the defeat APC will suffer will shock them because the election is about us and the future of our children.”

Dickson, who expressed confidence in Senator Diri as a worthy successor, said he would personally chair the PDP Campaign Council.

The PDP governorship candidate, in his remarks, said Bayelsa State has made progress that it doesn’t need a governor that will collude with oil multinationals to drag it back to the days of militancy.

According to him, the development of the state would be retarded if it is allowed to slip into the hands of political rejects.

He insisted that the November 16 election is between lovers of education and those who hate it as well as between those who are knowledgeable and those who lack knowledge.

His words: “We cannot afford to leave governance to slip into the hands of political rejects. We cannot go back to Egypt. There will be consolidation of development in health, education, agriculture, social welfare schemes like the educational development trust fund, the health insurance scheme, among others.

“This election is between lovers of education and those who hate it. It is between those who are knowledgeable and those who lack it. The election is about the larger Ijaw interest.”

Chairman of the state chapter of the PDP, Mr. Moses Cleopas, described Senator Diri and his running mate, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor as experienced hands with the capacity to deliver the dividends of democracy.

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Border closure can’t be reviewed now –FG

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Border closure can’t be reviewed now –FG

The Federal Government has vowed to sustain the border closure policy that came into effect on August 20, 2019, until the neighbouring countries stop violating Nigeria’s laws against food smuggling.

This was even as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, debunked reports that hunger was heightening in the country.

The minister said that there is no hunger in the country and food security has been achieved.

Nanono, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday at a press briefing to mark the 2019 World Food Day, said that hunger in Nigeria was a creation of foreigners who have no stake in the country.

He argued that the case of being overweight or obesity could be attributed to the lack of exercise and not lack of the intake of balanced diet.

He said: “I think so long as these bordering countries do not respect our protocols on these very important issues of bringing food into Nigeria, border closure will remain.

“I think we are producing enough food to feed ourselves. There is no hunger in the country and when people talk about hunger, I just laugh because they do not know hunger. They need to go to other countries to know what hunger is all about.

“If you say I miss my breakfast and I get lunch and dinner, then that is alright. The problem of obesity is not necessarily the issue of balance diet, but because some of us just decide to stay without doing exercise often,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Nigeria’s Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA), Suffyan Koroma, urged the government to give attention to policies to prioritise the availability and affordability of safe nutrition because of the increase of malnutrition.

“One in three children is stunted and underweight is currently at 19.9%, which is higher than the globally accepted numbers,” he added.

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Expect adverse consequences over land border decision, MAN tells FG

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Expect adverse consequences over land border decision, MAN tells FG

Following Federal Government’s decision to place a full ban on businesses across land borders, members of the organised private sector have said the worst will befall the nation’s economy if the decision is meant to stay.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), with such a policy in place, there is no way the private sector can adequately contribute to the nation’s gross domestic product.

The Federal Government, yesterday, ordered the complete closure of the Nigerian borders, placing a ban on both legitimate and illegitimate movement of goods in and out of the country.

Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, in a chat in Lagos yesterday warned that government should expect a dire consequence on the country’s economy in the short, medium and long terms.

He warned that the country’s production capacity utilisation could fall to an all-time low, with mass closure of industries, downsizing of workers and high inventory of unsold goods looming.

Ajayi-Kadir noted that Nigerian manufacturing sector’s core business was all about import and export of goods and raw materials, adding that these are the areas that sustain the country’s local manufacturers who are into production of goods and service.

Speaking further, he said that the fate of many manufacturers was gloomy.

In addition, the MAN director general stated that the worst hit was the Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs).

According to him, export of local goods contributes about 80 per cent profit to local manufacturers that are into production of goods, adding that being in production is not only to serve the local market, but also to export in order to boost revenue profile.

The MAN DG noted that the policy would be the last straw as doing business in the country had been turbulent.

“It has been difficult for our members as Apapa gridlock continues to linger, leading to high cost of transportation of goods meant for export to the port and imported machineries and raw materials from the port.

“Other familiar challenges of the sector, such as high cost of energy, funds, multiple levies and taxes, smuggling also unleashed untold constraints on manufacturing operations, including the closure of borders almost two months and these have affected export through land borders,” he stated.

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Inside Abuja

Agbarho Musical stage drama storms Abuja

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Agbarho Musical stage drama storms Abuja

For most people in Abuja, it is all work and no play. But whenever an opportunity for fun surfaces, everybody wants to have that good laugh. One of such moments was the day Agbarho Musical stormed Abuja. REGINA OTOKPA reports

It was a night of intense fun and laughter as residents of Abuja came out in their numbers to watch the Agbarho Musical: a stage drama, parading some prominent Nollywood actors. The story is woven around a young woman, Ese, who lost her husband to cancer. She was cursed and rejected by her inlaws and had a hard time with her father. However, her life took a dramatic turn, rekindling strong vibes of hope. Ese’s life took a turn for the better as her natural talent of singing brought her to limelight. Thus she came, she sang and she conquered.

The star studded play, which performance took place at the Congress hall of Transcorp Hilton’, was produced by Patrick Otoro and sponsored by the MTN foundation. It had the likes of Richard Mofe-Damijo, Hilda Dokubo and a host of others.

The captivating drama took the audience to Urhobo land in Delta State, Youruba land, Hausa land, Igbo land as well as Bayelsa and Benue states. The various scenes showed the diverse cultures of Nigeria wrapped around the characters, uniting them in a circle. Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who obviously had a swell time watching the drama, noted that it had a message of hope which resonates unity in diversity for Nigeria. Speaking to Inside Abuja, Mustapha said he had a good laugh and learnt a lot more about Nigeria.

“It was a combination of intense passion, drill, love, the diversity of our people but at the end of it all, you summed it in a beautiful way. It came out depicting that as a nation, we could have our differences, we could have diversities but the beauty about it is that we are an intense people, we are a loving people, we are a kind people we are an understanding people and that reflects who we are. “We acknowledge our differences.

We acknowledge the diversities of our people, we acknowledge the fact that there are challenges but the resilience of the Nigerian people is what makes us a great nation,”he said. Mustapha, who commended the MTN Foundation for investing in the play, pledged government’s commitment towards protecting the intellectual property rights of Nigerians.

“Actors and actresses don’t get commensurate benefits for the work they do because of leakages in terms of piracy of there products and their property rights are not protected. This is why government must step in to protect and secure their property rights,” he said.

Expressing its willingness to further promote arts and culture,especially theatre across Nigeria, MTN Foundation disclosed that investing in the play was another way of engaging and empowering many youths while promoting unity in diversity. Senior Manager, Programmes Implementation, MTN Foundation, Abasi-Ekong Udobang, said the organisation through it’s corporate social investment, was committed to investing in the areas of youth empowerment, mother and child health and arts and culture.

“We believe that it is important to continue to invest in art and culture to make that space vibrant especially in theatre. We are really trying to promote the resurgence and the reawakening of theatre across the country that’s why we are trying to support this particular sort of initiative. “The impact is so far reaching, there are a lot of young people in the production and it encourages a lot of young people to get involved in the whole value chain from actors to lighting. Apart from promoting a very strong message about unity and inter cultural understanding, it also has an economic dimension to it,” he said.

Udobang further noted that besides the various initiatives in the pipeline, its just concluded Theatre for School Initiative is aimed at identifying and supporting talents at the grassroot while at the same time making conscious efforts to touch different stars in the art and culture space.

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