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Buhari: We won’t depend on hand-outs from devt partners

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Buhari: We won’t depend on hand-outs from devt partners

…says I’ll count on ministers to succeed

 

resident Muhammadu Buhari has declared that his government will not depend on hand-outs from development partners to solve some of the challenges confronting the nation.

The president said in the next four years, he would rely on members of his new cabinet to deliver on policies and programmes geared toward lifting many Nigerians out of poverty.

Buhari stated this yesterday at the opening of a two-day retreat for ministers-designate and other top government officials at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Declaring the event open, President Buhari explained that considering the United Nations (UN) estimate that Nigeria’s population will grow to 411 million by 2050, it becomes frightening, hence the need for proactive action towards development.

He said: “We are all aware of the looming demographic potential of our country. By average estimates, our population is close to 200 million today. By 2050, UN estimates put Nigeria third globally behind only India and China with our projected population at 411 million.

“This is a frightening prospect, but only if we sit idly by and expect hand-outs from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us.”

The president charged the ministers-designate: “As ministers, I am counting on you together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon our roadmap of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.”

The president said his government cumulatively in eight years, would have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

According to him, such outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place it among World’s great nations.

Buhari, who reminded the ministers-designate that they will be responsible for the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in their various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), said they must ensure that such agencies remain effective, efficient and accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.

“It is a great privilege for you to be called upon to serve in these great offices of State and you must grasp the chance with two hands and put in your best efforts as Nigeria today needs top managers to handle our numerous challenges. There will be long hours and you must be prepared to live laborious days if we are to serve our people optimally.

“I congratulate all the new comers who your country has chosen above others to join the first term ministers whose performance has been outstanding. All of you are appointed to assist and advise the president in running the affairs of our country.

“At the end of the retreat, it is hoped that all of you will be in tune with the roles and responsibilities of positions you will occupy in government. Many national issues require unified decisions.”

Buhari enjoined the ministers-designate to encourage team work.

He said his government succeeded in the last four years in rolling back the frontiers of terrorism and actively addressing other challenges such as kidnappings, farmer-herder violence, improving the safety of our roads, railways, air traffic and fire control capacities.

“We are steadily turning the economy round through investment in agriculture and manufacturing, shoring up our foreign reserves, curbing inflation and improving the country’s infrastructure.

“On corruption, we have recovered hundreds of billions of stolen assets and are actively pursuing control measures to tackle leakages in public resources. We will not let up in fighting corruption,” Buhari said.

In his welcome remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the objective of the retreat is to prepare the new cabinet in Buhari’s second tenure the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities as ministers, an understanding that will help to shape and streamline efforts towards achieving the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people of Nigeria.

He said the outcome of the retreat will set a strategic agenda, which would define the course of action for the next four years of the administration, set achievable targets and identify basic strategic options that will assist the new cabinet realise the goals for which the administration was elected to achieve.

According to him, the retreat was conceptualized in three thematic phases comprising, a context setting segment, led by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and supported by Mckinsey & Co. and KPMG as consultants.

“The second segment is principally designed to be more interactive, setting the values of team work as your appointments demand, which will be demonstrated by your involvement in syndicated breakout sessions focused on topics across defined government priority areas,” Mustapha noted.

Others slated to deliver papers at the retreat include former SGF, Yayale Ahmed, former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), Ms. Amal Pappel and former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani.

The retreat is expected to end on Tuesday while the ministers will be sworn in by President Buhari on Wednesday.

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Group justifies West Africa’s quest on African Union Commission

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socio-economic group, Advocate for Equity and Fairness, has justified West Africa’s quest to fill some vacancies in the African Union Commission, noting the contribution of the region, especially Nigeria, to the socio-economic growth of the continent.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Thompson Jane, premised its request on the reports of a renowned international organisation, PricewaterhouseCoopers; that named Nigeria as Africa’s largest.

The rating further confirmed the West Africa nation as an economic hub on the black continent and emerging power house.

The statement noted the contributions of some experts and technocrats like former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Akinwumi Adesina, Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chukwuma Soludo and Sanusi L. Sanusi, Oby Ezekwesili, late Dora Akunyili and Mr. Ebiekure Eradiri, who brought his wealth of experience to bear in repositioning Bayelsa State Small and medium Scales Enterprises.

The statement reads in part; Okonjo-Iweala, who served both Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan, cut her teeth at the World Bank, where she spent 25-years as a development economist and rose through the ranks to the number two position of managing director, operations. Nigeria’s success could be tied, but not single-handedly, to her immense contributions to the nation.

She spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors, leading to the cancelling of US$48 billion, introduced the publishing of each state’s monthly financial allocation from the Federal Government in the newspapers, built an economic financial management platform – the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS).

The Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) were also her brainchild and were instrumental in the obtainment of Nigeria’s first ever sovereign credit rating from Fitch Ratings and Standard & PPOR’S in 2006.

Another contributor to Nigeria’s success story was the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina, who was the first Nigerian to hold that position. He was appointed as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2010.

Adesina, a 1981 first class graduate of Agricultural Economics at the prestigious University of Ife, was named as Forbes’ African Man of the Year for his landmark reforms in the Nigerian agricultural sector. Changing the narrative in the sector and attracting investors into the sector.

He was credited as the one who introduced more transparency into the fertilizer supply chain, which before then was bedevilled with corruption and sharp practices. Fertilizers were hoarded and diverted and sold to ordinary farmers for exorbitant prices and this he helped check to a large extent before the end of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Similarly, the impactful tenure of Soludo and Sanusi as heads of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was not in doubt. The indelible mark they left in coordinating Nigeria’s fiscal policy was there for all to see. The former was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari into the Economic Team. This can only be in recognition of the role he played while in office.

Sanusi, the Emir of Kano continued to point government and other critical stakeholder in the right direction, especially bordering on financial policies affecting the country.

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Alleged sabotage: Army declares NGO persona non grata

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Alleged sabotage: Army declares NGO persona non grata

For the umpteenth time, the Nigerian Army accused some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of sabotaging the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North East, through the alleged supply of food items to suspected terrorists.
Consequently, the Army said it had declared one of the NGOs operating in the North East, Action Against Hunger (AAH), persona non grata.
Spokesperson for the the Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Ado Isa, who conveyed the position on Thursday in a statement, said the declaration became imperative following several warnings.
“The Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole (TC – OPLD)) has observed with utter disappointment and concern the notorious activities of some Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) working in the North East (NE) Nigeria.
“The subversive and actions  of the NGO Action Against Hunger (AAH) persisted despite  several warnings to desist from aiding and abetting terrorists and their atrocities  The TC – OPLD has on many occasions raised alarm over this unwholesome practices of some NGOs and expressed same position during  meetings with the NGOs operating in the NE Theater of Operation.
“Consequently, the AAH has been declared persona nan grata for aiding Boko Haram Terrorists/Islamic State West Africa by supplying them food and drugs despite warning from the TC – OPLD.
“The Command has obtained several credible intelligence indicating AAH as one of  those  NGOs operating in the  NE that is notorious in supplying food and drugs to the criminals in the area,” Isa said.
While urging tthe public to continue to give credible information on the activities of tsuspected terrorists and their supporters in the North East to relevant authorities, the Army assured of its resolve and determination to always partner with credible NGOs and CSOs “to cushion the impact of  humanitarian crisis generated by the criminals in the NE in line with the international best standards”.

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Ebonyi indigenes kick against Umahi’s planned airport

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Ebonyi indigenes kick against Umahi’s planned airport

Indigenes of Ebonyi State under the umbrella of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (OESID) have kicked against plans by the state governor, Engr. Dave Umahi to embark on construction of an international airport in the state, stating that it as a white elephant project that would be difficult to achieve at the moment.

However, the group has charged him to prioritise projects that will have direct impacts on the people and not the one with ulterior motives.

In a statement signed by the spokesman of the group, Ambassador Paschal Ogbonna in Abuja, the group said while the estimated value of the project has not been made public, “it is trite knowledge that building an international airport usually involves colossal amounts of money which may not be available to the state government at the moment. Chances are, the resources would invariably be borrowed either locally or most likely from Chinese and other international financers.

“But even if these funds were available to the Ebonyi State government, the organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora insist that spending it to build an international airport is a gross misapplication of resources,” the group said.

The statement described the project as “a clout chasing endeavour by the state governor David Umahi, who clearly has other ulterior motives in initiating this project.”

According to the group, the governor should concentrate the attention of his administration in pursuing “people oriented projects that will directly impact lives of the citizens of the state rather than embarking on this expensive and needless adventure.

The group added that with Enugu International Airport less than an hour away from Abakaliki and similar facilities in Owerri, Calabar and Uyo within reasonable driving distances, the construction of an international airport in Ebonyi is clearly not a viable economic model.

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Suspected terrorists fleeing to North, Central Africa – Army

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Suspected terrorists fleeing to North, Central Africa – Army

The Nigerian Army has claimed that suspected Boko Haram, and Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists were moving towards North and Central Africa, owing to sustained attacks on their hideouts within the Lake Chad general area.

The claim by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sagir Musa, is coming in the face of reports of continuous attacks on territories and troops’ locations in the North East, resulting in deaths and destruction of property.

Just last week, a report by New York Times had claimed that: “Some soldiers have complained they haven’t had a home leave in three years. Their weapons and vehicles have fallen into disrepair.

“(But) Boko Haram militants are still roaming the countryside with impunity. Their fighters now have more sophisticated drones than the military and are well-armed after successful raids on military brigades, according to local politicians and security analysts.”

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) did not respond to a message from our correspondent sent over the weekend on the report.

However, the Army has insisted that troops were having the upper hand in a counter-insurgency operation that has lasted about 10 years, with past claims of “technical defeat” of the terrorists.

According to the Army, the “massive movements” were occasioned by sustained air and surface attacks on the terrorist elements.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to inform the public that due to the combined onslaught on the identified hideouts of elements of the criminal elements of bandits and erstwhile Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters by our troops and the MNJTF, at the fringes of Lake Chad region, there is observed massive exodus of the criminals out of Lake Chad Tumbus to North and Central Africa sub-regions.

“There are credible reports from very reliable sources indicating massive movements of the criminal groups out of the area towards Sudan and Central African Republic as a result of successful artillery and aerial bombardments of their settlements and as the heat of the onslaught is becoming unbearable.

“This mass movement for their lives was necessitated following the sustained air and artillery bombardments by the Nigerian Armed Forces and Coalition forces of the MNJTF, which killed uncountable erstwhile Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters and destroyed their weapons and equipment,” Musa said.

Consequently, Musa said the affected countries had been duly notified of the development, in a bid to prepare them for possible battle.

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50 Afghan civilians killed in US drone strike, Taliban attack

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50 Afghan civilians killed in US drone strike, Taliban attack

At least 50 Afghan civilians have been killed in separate incidents, as the West-backed Kabul government and Taliban fighters have stepped up attacks since a peace deal between the armed group and the US collapsed earlier this month.

A US-backed air raid conducted by the Afghan security forces accidentally hit a farmland in Nangarhar province killing about 30 civilians and injuring 40 others, while at least 20 people were killed in Zabul province in a suicide car bomb claimed by the Taliban group.

Afghan officials said the drone attack on Wednesday night was aimed at destroying a hideout used by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group fighters, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field in Wazir Tangi area of Khogyani district in Nangarhar province.

Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member in Nangarhar said a drone strike killed 30 workers in a pine nut field and at least 40 others were injured.

The defence ministry in Kabul confirmed the strike, but refused to share casualty details immediately.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the air strike.

“The government is investigating the incident, so far nine bodies were collected from the attack site near a pine nut field,” he said.

US forces were not immediately available for a comment.

Malik Rahat Gul, a tribal elder in Wazir Tangi said the air raid happened at a time when tired workers, mainly daily wage earners, had gathered near their tent after harvesting pine nuts in a field nearby.

“The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,” said Gul.

Earlier this month, four brothers were killedin a raid by the CIA-trained and funded 02 Unit of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency.

Spike in Taliban attacks

The Taliban fighters wanted to target a training base for Afghanistan’s powerful spy agency, NDS, but parked the explosives-laden truck outside a hospital gate nearby, a defence ministry source said.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said several women, children, health workers and patients in the hospital were critically injured in the blast.

“[The] truck bomb that drove up against an exterior wall of the NDS building detonated, but right next door was a provincial hospital that has taken the brunt of this explosion. …the death toll is likely to rise,” he said.

The spike in Taliban attacks comes as Afghanistan prepares for a presidential election scheduled to be held on September 28.

The Taliban has warned that its fighters will step up their campaign against the Afghan government and foreign forces to dissuade people from voting in the presidential election.

“The government is still going ahead with its preparation for elections and trying to open up the number of polling stations,” McBride said.

“As the Taliban say they are still open to peace talks, the Afghan government is saying it has to resume only after elections.”

More than 9 million Afghans are expected to vote in the presidential election, for which which the government has deployed more than 70,000 security forces across the country.

US President Donald Trump abruptly ended talks this month with the Taliban for a deal on the withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan, in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.

The talks, which did not include the Afghan government, were intended to lead to wider peace negotiations to end the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan, reports al-Jazeera.

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Iran’s FM threatens ‘all-out war’ in case of military strike on country

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Iran’s FM threatens ‘all-out war’ in case of military strike on country

Iran’s foreign minister has raised the specter of “all-out war” in the event of US or Saudi military strikes and that Saudi Arabia would have to fight “to the last American soldier.”

Javad Zarif told CNN that Iran hoped to avoid conflict, adding that the country was willing to talk to its regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But the possibility of a return to negotiations with the US, however, would not happen unless Washington provided full sanctions relief as promised under the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran’s top diplomat said.

He again denied Tehran’s involvement in weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the region this week. Zarif said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the attack, have stepped up their military capabilities and are capable of conducting a sophisticated operation such as the one that knocked out half of the kingdom’s energy production.

Probed further, however, Zarif was unable to provide proof that Houthis launched the drones and missiles.

“I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement,” said Zarif. “I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.”

US and Saudi officials have repeatedly dismissed Houthi claims of responsibility in the weekend attacks. Instead, they have highlighted Iran’s alleged involvement in the incident.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Saudi Ministry of Defense spokesman Turki al-Malki said weapons that missed their targets were found to be Iranian-made. He also said that investigations revealed that the drones and missiles were likely launched from the north of the kingdom, and not from the direction of Yemen, which lies southwest of the country.

War drums have become louder since the attack. US President Donald Trump has called on Pentagon officials to plan potential responses. He tweeted that the US was “locked and loaded” but was waiting for Saudi Arabia’s rulers to decide on a path forward.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was the first official to name Iran as the culprit, is in the Persian Gulf visiting Saudi and Emirati leaders.

Asked what the consequence of a US or Saudi military strike on Iran would be, Zarif said: “All-out war.”

“I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” said Zarif. He added that a military response based on “deception” about the weekend attacks would cause “a lot of casualties.”

“But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said.

Returning to the negotiating table

In the interview, Zarif dismissed the possibility of negotiating with the Trump administration, unless the US were to give Iran the full sanctions relief promised under the nuclear deal.

Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018. He has since imposed more than 1,000 individual sanctions on Tehran, which culminated with an oil embargo this May. Zarif himself is also sanctioned.

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Senate justifies planned purchase of N5.5bn SUVs

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Senate justifies planned purchase of N5.5bn SUVs

 

 

 

The Senate, yesterday, took a swipe at critics of the planned purchase of a fleet of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) worth N5.5 billion for members of the National Assembly.

The Red Chamber vehemently reprimanded those kicking against the multi-billion naira project meant to deliver a brand new jeep to each of the 469 federal lawmakers, saying that the criticism was irrational and nonsensical.

There has been a serious public outcry over the move by the management of the National Assembly to purchase the said vehicles in the face of the lean resources available to the government to deliver social services to the citizenry.

The opposition mounted against the purchase of the vehicles resulted in a litigation against it in the court of law by some concerned Nigerians and civil society groups, led by the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, who justified the plan yesterday in an interview with journalists, said it was highly insulting that some public commentators were kicking against the move.

Abdullahi clarified that the N5.5 billion for purchase of utility vehicles is part of the N125 billion 2019 budget of the National Assembly.

He argued that there was nothing for anybody to cry over as far as the plan was concerned, stressing that a serving Senator and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, deserved to have an official vehicle in the mode of a functional utility vehicle or Jeep.

He said: “To say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria is an insult.

“The N5.5 billion is from the National Assembly fund and not money being sought from any other source. Besides, the scheme as it has always been with previous Assemblies, is a monetised one, requiring each of the lawmakers to pay back the cost of whatever vehicle given to them.

“The outcry over it is very unnecessary and insulting to the institution of the National Assembly and status of the federal lawmakers.

“When I was a Permanent Secretary, I know what ministers get; we cannot even compare ourselves with ministers because we are higher than the ministers.

“Go and tell the people that the work that we do, is more than the work of ministers and as representatives of the people, money will spend on daily basis to all forms of indigent people, far far outweighs whatever they as ministers or executive officers spend.”

The lawmaker also stated that both chambers of the National Assembly were ready at anytime to engage any group of people in the polity on its operations and spending in line with the principles of accountability and transparency the 9th Assembly stands for.

“Each of the ministers move in convoy of three to four Sport Utility Vehicles without anybody raising any eyebrow while some people who either as a result of ignorance or mischief, always cry to high heavens anytime, management of the National Assembly wants to buy just one utility vehicle for a lawmaker on the template of monetisation,” he lamented.

Abdullahi, however, commended the executive for rolling out the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), upon which the 2020 budget proposals would be presented next month by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This, he said, would facilitate adjusting the yearly budgetary cycle from May/June as it is presently to January to December every year.

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Xenophobia: Again, 315 Nigerians return from South Africa

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Xenophobia: Again, 315 Nigerians return from South Africa

Another batch of 315 Nigerians fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa yesterday arrived at 7.45p.m., through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

This brings the total number of Nigerians evacuated from the Southern African country to 493.

Alighting from Air Peace B777-300, many of the returnees expressed thanks to the Federal Government and Air Peace for the quick intervention in bringing them, despite several millions of naira lost to the rampaging South African marauders.

Immediately after their arrival, the returnees were offered free medical tests by Louis Medical Hospital to check their health status and to know if they were HIV positives.

However, all of them tested for HIV tested negative. But those who showed symptoms of malaria were referred to the hospital to be treated free of charge.

They were, however, referred to a desk where their passports were verified and stamped, showing they were not deported, but came home on their own volition.

Unlike the first batch that returned on Wednesday last week, many of the returnees came back with their families, many of them children and infants.

Both the returnees and those waiting to receive them wept freely as the victims of xenophobic attacks in the former apartheid enclave recounted their horrific experiences.

Nigeria began repatriating more than 600 of its citizens from South Africa following a wave of deadly xenophobic attacks that frayed diplomatic relations with neighbouring nations.

Air Peace volunteered to fly people for free back to Lagos. The returnees burst into tears as they alighted from the aircraft that flew them into Lagos.   

They expressed their bitter experiences in the hands of South Africans.

NEMA gave each of the returnees N10,000 while MTN and Airtel gave each returnee N90,000 making N180,000 from the telcos. Lagos State also gave each returnee N20,000 while they were also given Tecno mobile phone each.

Speaking with journalists, the Chairman, Air Peace Airlines, Mr. Allen Onyema, said a lot of them were happy to return home.

Onyema added that he decided to come to the returnees’ rescue to save Nigeria from embarrassment meted out to her by South Africa.

He said his decision to intervene in rescuing Nigerians from that country was borne out of genuine love and not to curry publicity.

The chairman said the 18-man Air Peace crew went for a rescue mission and spent over 24 hours to bring the returnees back.

He said: “When Captain Egonu and his team came back, they rejected allowances of $42,000, saying it was their own contribution to bring these Nigerians back. They said if their chairman could decide to do this job free of charge, they too said they want to learn to give back to the society. They had the money, but they returned the money.”

Onyema said the singular action had brought back respect to Nigeria.

He said: “I can tell you that. It was a bad advertisement for South Africa. All over the world, people are talking about this evacuation. They said once Nigeria rises up to the act, they will be respected and we are now respected. It is not about Air Peace, it is about nationhood.

“The truth is that, without this non-violent action that we engendered, xenophobia will still be happening. That is the non-violence we have engendered by doing this. If not, nobody would have come here to apologise to Nigeria. This evacuation is a bad signal to any country. That was why they wanted to stop us from evacuating because flights are now going back empty to South Africa.”

Onyema stated that tourists were now shunning South Africa because of xenophobia.

He wondered why South Africa degenerated to the situation where fellow Africans are killed.

Onyema commended the Federal Government for the strong support given to his carrier to rescue Nigerians trapped in South Africa.

He said: “We brought 315 today. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has just informed me now that we should give them time to profile the people we have now and make sure that the next people that are coming are the right people who need to come and not people who are coming for holiday. As far as there are Nigerians remaining to be evacuated, Air Peace will fly its equipment there free of charge.”

The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri Erewa, told New Telegraph that the Federal Government decided to assist the returnees, especially the skilled ones, with palliatives for now until they were assisted by their state governments.

She said: “What we did immediately they landed was to give them data and airtime and cash that would last them for some time. We have appealed to kind hearted Nigerians to support them. Their only crime is that they are Nigerians. States are also encouraged to support their citizens. We have profiled them according to their states and they have been responding as we have been communicating with them.

“The Bank of Industry has reached out to them to empower them to know exactly what they want to do. There is adequate arrangement for all of them. There is a widow with four children. There is scholarship coming for the children and I am sure they are glad to be home.

“We are getting offers from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Everybody will be settled. The children will go to school. State governors are responding. What each has is not too much to take care of them. They are happy to be home.

“It is going to be a gradual process of resettling them. We have somebody here who is already talking to them about entrepreneurship.  We will reach out to them to find out how they are doing.”

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Communities demand N10bn compensation on 2nd Niger Bridge

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Communities demand N10bn compensation on 2nd Niger Bridge

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, revealed that communities along the 2nd Niger Bridge are demanding N10 billion in compensation.

Fashola said the demand for compensation is frustrating the Federal Government’s efforts to complete the project.

The minister stated this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said: “People who want infrastructure must also reasonably be willing to sacrifice. The amount we are facing now in claims in compensation for Second Niger Bridge is already in excess of N10 billion, just for compensation for land and all of that.

“As we speak, some people are asking us to pay N10 billion now as compensation for the 2nd Niger bridge.”

Fashola, who was responding to questions about the rate of abandoned road projects across the country against the series of approvals given by FEC during the first tenure, said poor releases has been frustrating efforts to deliver on infrastructure.

He said poor releases of funds remain a major obstacle to the execution of roads projects across the country.

The minister blamed host communities for “frustrating government efforts” by demanding payment for compensation leading to some uncompleted projects across the country.

He explained that some of the road works going on are based on goodwill.

Joined by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, Fashola admitted that budget funding gaps also worked against completion of roads projects in the country in the last four years.

He said not all the over N300 billion budgeted was released to his ministry as the office was yet to get funds since his reappointment as minister.

Fashola disclosed that paper works for releases of funds were still ongoing.

According to him, “Getting FEC approvals is one half of the story, but we don’t get all of the cash. Even the local communities are not helping issues.

“There is a gap between infrastructure needs and income. People are also complaining that government is borrowing too much.

“We have heard that funds have been released, but we are yet to get anything. I have not received any money since I came to office, this time around.”

Speaking further on abandoned projects, Fashola blamed “obsolete rates, under-budgeting and underfunding” as major factors.

The works minister, who noted that there have been criticisms against borrowing during the first tenure, said community support is also needed to facilitate construction of roads projects in the country.

“There is yet another problem, the local communities; we are having problems there too. We have problem, I think in Sapele/Ewu Road, youths, community, compensation issues. Immediately we mobilize to cite, people build all sorts of things within the right of way and file all sorts of claims for compensation.

“And when you look at how much you have to pay for compensation and how much you have to spend on the roads, you begin to do your math very carefully. So we need community support as well,” Fashola noted.

The Works Minister also disclosed that the FEC approved a total of N8.2 billion for roads projects.

Fashola said two of the approvals were to revise the estimates of cost to enable the contractor continue work.

He said Council approved N519 million revision of contract sum of Oba Nnewi Okigwe Road to cater for change in cost of materials since the project was awarded in 2009. The contract sum was revised from N3.7 billion to N4.3 billion.

The Council also revised cost of N2.052 billion for 67 kilometres Alasi-Ugep Road in Cross River State. The council approved a revision from N9.16 billion to N11.22 billion.”

According to him, FEC approved the change of contractor for the Chachangi Bridge linking Takum and Wukari in Taraba State and re-awarded at the cost of N2.132 billion.

Council also approved the rehabilitation of Katsina Ala Bridge in Benue State at the cost of N3.576 billion, which include total bridge repairs, changing of expansion joints, changing of bearings and rehabilitation of the 3.2 kilometers access road at Ugbema junction in Benue State.

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APC youths demand 40% board appointments

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APC youths demand 40% board appointments

The youth wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that it is expecting 40 per cent of appointments into board of agencies and parastatals of Federal Government.

The members, who met at the national headquarters of APC in Abuja yesterday, decried the marginalisation of youths in the composition of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Addressing the media after their meeting, APC National Youth Leader, Hon. Sadiq Abubakar, said they have communicated with the Presidency and the national leadership of the party on the marginalization of the youth.

According to him, they expect the Presidency and the party to right the wrong of ministerial appointments.

He said: “We are just coming out of the familiarisation and appreciation meeting with our support groups that really helped us during the 2019 elections.

“Basically what was discussed is to show appreciation and to see how we can steer the affairs of the youth in the country and how policies should be made to protect the youth and getting us involved in governance.

“Some have discussed about their plights and what should be offered to the youth as their contribution as a party and their support groups.”

Asked to speak about the appointments of youths in the present government, he said: “Basically, the appointment of the youth in governance is poor. There has been a communication between us, the party and the presidency. We are expecting appointments for heads of parastatals and agencies.

“The executive – the ministers – as constituted, we haven’t found much of our own representation there, as a party, from the youth wing but we have communicated. I think something is going to come handy for us.”

Asked what percentage of appointments the youth wing is expecting, he said, “40 per cent.”

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