· Ohanaeze condemns assault
The fight for the actualisation of Biafra took a dramatic twist yesterday when Senator Ike Ekweremadu, was attacked by some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Germany.
The former Deputy Senate President had been invited to attend a New Yam festival in Nuremberg when he was assaulted by IPOB members.
The video of the incident, which has gone viral on the Internet, shows Ekweremadu being protected and then bundled into a car and rapidly driven out of the venue ostensibly to save him from further being attacked.
IPOB subsequently confessed to being behind the attack accusing the Senator of being a “supporter” of Operation Python Dance, the security operation currently taking place in the Eastern part of the country.
In a statement, signed by the group’s media and publicity secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, IPOB also warned that what happened to the Senator now also awaits other Igbo leaders including Governors, Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Willie Obiano (Anambra) and President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo should they venture outside the shores of Nigeria.
“Today being the 17th day of August 2019 the Nuremberg IPOB family in Germany in keeping with the long standing directive from our leader to hound all instigators of Operation Python Dance, is glad to report that Ike Ekweremadu was confronted and duly hounded out of a so-called New Yam Festival event in Germany,” Emma Powerful said.
He then concluded the short statement by warning: “This should serve as a warning to Nnia Nwodo, Dave Umahi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Willie Obiano and co that any day we find them in a public event abroad, they will be humiliated. IPOB is strategically located in over 100 countries around the world. Anywhere we find them, they will be dealt with.”
However, in swift response, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo condemned the assault on the former Deputy Senate President in Germany.
In a statement made available to journalists in Enugu at the weekend, Nwodo said: “The assault on Ekweremadu by Igbos in Germany, described as IPOB members, is disappointing, grotesque and dangerous for Igbo solidarity.
“This violent, rude, impertinent, divisive and discourteous style of IPOB or IPOB instigated miscreants is damaging to our cause. It strengthens the case of those who describe them as terrorists and weaken our case against the infringement of our fundamental human rights.”
AKWA IBOM BOOSTS ECONOMIC TIES WITH KINGDOM OF NETHERLANDS
As part of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s effort at attracting investment to Akwa Ibom, the Commissioner of Economic Development and Ibom Deep SeaPort over the weekend shared the Completion Agenda with the Economic Envoy of the Kingdom of Netherlands at a cocktail reception held in honor of the new Consul General Mr Jan van Weijen at the Dutch Embassy grounds in Lagos.
Exciting similarities between Netherlands and Akwa Ibom were enumerated and the strong economic cordialities holds great promise for collaboration and partnership.
Akwa Ibom like Holland remains an emerging Port nation with opportunities in tourism, agriculture, aviation, water technology and education.
The Ibom Deep SeaPort remains a flagship PPP project of Akwa Ibom and Nigeria with critical economic potential in jobs, technologies and Investment opportunities
Economic Development Mandate for International Cooperation emphasizes the delivery of development finance/partners synergy towards impactful economic growth for the benefit of Akwa Ibom.
Inflation rate drops to 11.02% in August —NBS
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday said that the Consumer Price Index which measures inflation drop from 11.08 per cent in July to 11.02 per cent in August.
The bureau in the report stated that inflation rate of 11.02 per cent for August represents a decrease of 0.06 percentage point year-on-year.
The NBS said that the drop in inflation rate continued in August despite several pronouncements regarding restrictions on the import of some food items, minimum wage and the recent border closures.
With respect to the impact of border closure on consumer prices, the bureau stated that the country may not see the significant effect on inflation now as the closure was only captured for 11 days during the 31 days reference period in August.
24 killed in bomb attack at Afghan president’s rally
Afghan officials say a sticky bomb attached to a police vehicle went off near a campaign rally by President Ashraf Ghani in the country’s northern Parwan province.
Afghan hospital officials said 24 people died in the bomb attack.
The president’s campaign spokesman, Hamed Aziz says that Ghani was there but that he is safe and unharmed. Aziz said he would provide more details later.
Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan, says the explosion happened while the rally was underway on Tuesday, at the entrance to the venue.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, reports The Associated Press.
Xenophobia: We’re sorry, S’Africa begs Nigerians
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has apologised to Nigerians over recent xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in his country.
President Ramaphosa’s apology was conveyed through his special envoy, Jeff Radebe, who met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday.
Radebe, at a joint press conference, said: “The president has deemed it appropriate to send us to meet with the Nigerian leader.
“Our young people must believe in the future of Africa. All of us must play our parts to ensure that this incidence does not happen again.
“We met a short while ago with His Excellency, President Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to convey our President, Ramaphosa’s sincerest apologies about the incident that have recently transpired in South Africa.
“Those incidents do not represent what we stand for as a constitutional democracy in South Africa and the president has apologised for these incidents. He has also instructed law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned that all those involved must be brought to book, so that the rule of law must prevail in South Africa.”
The presidential envoy continued: “He also conveyed his belief that both Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play a critical role in the rebuilding of Africa to attain the agenda 2063, the Africa that we want.
“We also recall with fond memories the historical times that existed between Nigeria and South Africa during the dark days of apartheid; we always knew that the Nigerian people and their government always stood behind our leaders who were fighting against the obnoxious system of apartheid.
“Even, Nigerian families contributed to make sure that apartheid was ended and even though Nigeria is far from South Africa, it was regarded as the frontline state because of the principled stand that all leaders of Nigeria made to end the system of apartheid.
“We also remember, among others, President Murtala Mohammed, who played a key role and, of course, the founding father of the Nigerian nation, President Nnamdi Azikiwe.
“So, we believe that the crisis, as the minister has just described, must serve as an opportunity for us to make sure that the level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in Africa is attended to by our leaders.
“We also expressed the president’s wish that when His Excellency, President Buhari pays his state visit to South Africa on the 3rd of October, the bi-mission commission that exists between the two governments that has now been elevated to the heads of states level, will serve as a forum to address all those issues of mutual concern about South Africa and Nigeria.
“I’m very happy to have been here to convey this message to President Buhari and leave with very good information that President Buhari has given to us to take back to President Ramaphosa.”
On Nigeria’s insistence on compensation to victims of the attacks, Radebe said: “During President Buhari’s state visit to South Africa, there will be detailed discussions, which will be held there. I do understand that the issue of compensation or restitution is part of the agenda in the draft the Nigerian government has presented to South Africa. So, I think we should wait until October 3rd to see how that unfolds.
“But I can indicate, as a lawyer, that the South African laws require that all registered companies must have public insurance in terms of things of this nature. But, like I said, that meeting will just be held.”
On the apprehended attackers of foreign nationals in the country, the South African special envoy said: “The law enforcement agencies are working day and night to apprehend all those involved in this unfortunate incidents. I’m told that over 50 people have been arrested thus far. I think we should wait until the whole issue has been resolved. It is a security cluster led by the Minister of Defence, as well as the Minister of Police, that are working round the clock to ensure that all those that are alleged to be involved in these incidents are brought to book.”
Commenting on why it took South Africa so long to take this step since xenophobia is not a recent development, Radebe said: “This incident has been happening from time to time, but I recall that it always coincided with economic tough times in our country. As you know, we are still emerging from the system of apartheid, where, according to statistics, the last unemployment rate in South Africa was around 29 per cent.
“It seems to us that some of these incidents occur in areas where there is poverty, unemployment and fight for scarce resources. But having said that, no amount of hunger or hardship justifies the looting of property and killing of people, whether they are South Africans or foreigners. We regard that as an act of criminality.”
The South African envoy, meanwhile, noted that the economy of the country was currently being impacted as a result of those attacks.
“Obviously, there is an impact of this event on the economy and that is why the president, at his level, deemed it necessary to send us as special envoy, so that we take appropriate steps and measures to deal with these incidents.
“At the end of the day, we believe that the ‘Agenda 2063, the Africa we want,’ is one that will help not only South Africa, but the whole of Africa, to unite around that common agenda of ensuring that our people, especially young people, must believe that the future of Africa is bright.
“So, it is the responsibility, therefore, not only of governments of Nigeria and South Africa, but of ordinary citizens, to play their parts in ensuring that these incidents do not reoccur.”
Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the press conference, however, cleared the air on whether the Nigerian ambassador to South Africa has been recalled.
Onyeama told the gathering that the diplomat “has not been recalled, but has been asked to just come and give a comprehensive picture of events there to Mr. President.”
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari reminded the South African team on the roles played by Nigeria in engendering majority rule in South Africa and ending the apartheid segregationist policy.
He disclosed that during the closed door meeting, President Buhari recounted that he was a junior military officer to Generals Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo, who were military heads of state at different times in the mid to late 1970s.
According to Buhari, “Going back to historical antecedents, we made great sacrifices for South Africa to become a free state. I was a junior officer to Gen. Murtala Muhammad and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. They were not operating in a democracy, but they got Nigerians to support them in the bid to see a free South Africa.
“Our leadership was quite committed to the cause. We made sacrifices, which younger people of today may not know. During my last visit to South Africa with the late President Robert Mugabe, it was very emotional, as Mugabe spoke about Nigeria’s contribution to free South Africa.”
Buhari extended appreciation to President Ramaphosa, through the special envoy “for coming to explain to us what happened in South Africa recently, leading to the killing and displacement of foreigners.”
Buhari, in response to the profuse apologies from the South African President, pledged that the relationship, which exists between the two countries “will be solidified,” while describing the xenophobic attacks as “very unfortunate.”
Radebe, the statement further said, apologised on behalf of his president for what he described as “acts of criminality and violence” that recently occurred, adding that “such do not represent our value system or those of the larger number of South Africans.”
The special envoy disclosed that 10 people died during the attacks – two Zimbabweans and eight South Africans. He said there was no Nigerian casualty.
He added that South Africa remains eternally grateful for the role Nigeria played in ending apartheid and hoped that the coming visit of the Nigerian president would solidify relationship between the two countries.
Minimum wage: Again, strike looms as talks end in deadlock
There are indications that workers under the auspices of the Joint National Public Sector Negotiating Council (JPSNC), might embark on strike over delayed implementation of minimum wage.
A meeting between the Federal Government and the Joint Public Sector Negotiating Council (JPSNC), has once again ended in deadlock.
Negotiations on the consequential adjustment, which was earlier adjourned to September 4 to allow the government team brief President Muhammadu Buhari and later rescheduled for September 16, yesterday suffered another setback. Both parties failed to reach an agreement despite minor adjustments in their separate positions.
During the meeting, which was chaired by the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, government shifted from its earlier position of 9.5 per cent to 11 per cent for grade levels seven to 14 and 6.5 per cent from 5.5 per cent for levels 15 to 17.
But the workers insisted that government should adjust the salaries of workers on grade levels 07 to 14 by 30 per cent and those on levels 15 to 17 by 25 per cent, having stepped down to 29 from 30 per cent for grade levels 7 to 14 and 24 from 25 per cent for levels 15 to 17.
Expressing dismay over the turn of events, the Chairman of the Labour team and National Auditor of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Simon Anchaver, who accused the government team of toying with workers, said the JNPSNC has resolved to write to the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress, (TUC) on their advice on a possible industrial action.
According to him, government’s action was an open invitation for industrial action, since workers were already engulfed in fear and agitations whether their accumulated arrears would be paid when talks were finally concluded.
He, however, said that the meeting decided that the two positions be presented to the President for further action.
Secretary of the JNPSNC, Slade Lawal, who noted that organised labour would decide on a next line of action towards the issue of the minimum wage, maintained that in due time, Nigerians would be informed on the next step to take.
In his words: “The meeting is deadlocked; we found out that the Federal Government officials are not serious about it at all. We are suspecting foul play or a hidden agenda somewhere. So, we have decided to report the development to our principals, including the Labour unions. Nigerians will be adequately briefed of our next line of action very shortly.”
New Telegraph recalls that recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said President Buhari has directed that a deadline be fixed to conclude the process of negotiations as soon as possible to ensure immediate implementation of the new wage for workers to enjoy.
Shell deploys cameras to check oil thieves, vandals
Oil super major, Royal Dutch Shell, has deployed state-of-the-art high definition (HD) cameras against oil thieves and pipeline vandals who reportedly stole 4.015 million barrels from its Nigeria’s multibillion dollars assets in 2018.
The cameras, Shell announced through its subsidiary in Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), would also help in quick detection of and response to crude oil spills from its facilities in addition to tracking vandalism of SPDC joint venture assets.
SPDC’s General Manager, Igo Weli, who declared this at a media workshop for journalists in Warri, Delta State, noted that the “cameras are attached to specialised helicopters which carry out daily over flight over our facilities.”
This measure, he said, had improved “the surveillance of our Joint Venture assets.”
In addition, Weli said, SPDC had implemented anti-theft protection mechanisms on key infrastructure, such as wellheads and manifolds to stem constant attacks from vandals and thereby prevent and minimise sabotage-related spills.
According to him, the daily loss of over 11,000 barrels of oil per day in 2018 and the threat to the integrity of the joint venture assets necessitated the multi-pronged approach to protecting what he called ‘critical national assets.’
He said: “We collaborate with community leaders, traditional rulers, civil societies and state governments in the Niger Delta to implement several initiatives and partnerships to raise awareness on the negative impact of crude oil theft and illegal oil refining. Such public enlightenment programmes on the negative impacts to people and the environment help to build greater trust in spill response and clean-up processes.”
Weli noted that SPDC would sustain its air and ground surveillance to complement the efforts of government security forces in checking crude theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refining.
“But for the efforts of Operation Delta Safe in protecting critical oil and gas assets, the situation would have gone beyond control,” Weli said, calling on the Operation Delta Safe, a special oil and gas asset protection force, and other government security forces to intensify their activities around oil and gas facilities.
Also speaking at the workshop, SPDC’s General Manager, Safety and Environment, Chidube Nnene-Anochie, noted that the majority of spill incidents on SPDC pipelines were as a result of sabotage.
“We are burdened by the continuous increase in cases of sabotage and theft. Oil spills due to theft and sabotage of facilities, as well as illegal refining, cause the most environmental damage from oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta,” he said.
According to Nnene-Anochie, SPDC removed more than 1,160 illegal theft points from its pipelines between 2012 and end of 2018, adding that the attendant spills from the theft points were sometimes made worse by challenges of access to the incident sites to investigate and stop leaks.
Dethroned Emir emerges PDP Deputy Chairman in Zamfara
Former Emir of Bakura in Zamfara, Alhaji Hassan Marafa has emerged as the Deputy Chairman of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Marafa emerged during the party’s state congress held in Gusau yesterday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Marafa was appointed Emir of Bakura in 2010 by former governor, Aliyu Mamuda, but was removed by the immediate past governor, Abdulaziz Yari who replaced him with the current Emir, Alhaji Bello Sani.
Marafa would now deputise for the chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha who was re-elected for second term during the state congress of the party, supervised by the former Niger State governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu.
Alhaji Hamisu Modomawa emerged as the state secretary of the party while the party’s former Woman Leader, Hajiya Ai Maradun, was elected Vice-Chairman, Zamfara West.
Other leaders that emerged during the congress include Alhaji Sani Sada, Vice-Chairman (North); Alhaji Isa Maigemu, Vice-Chairman (Central) and Alhaji Sule Anka as Auditor.
Speaking at the end of the congress, Aliyu expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the delegates and charged members of the party to support the state executives in the discharge of their duties.
Aliyu urged them to resolve contentious issues amicably whenever they arise.
Kalu lauds Buhari on Economic Advisory Council
Former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for inaugurating an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami.
Applauding the President’s efforts in fixing the nation’s economy, the lawmaker expressed confidence in the membership of the council.
Kalu noted that the members of the team are people with integrity and vast experience in their respective fields.
While charging the new team to work collectively with the organised private sector (OPS), relevant government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the academia and other stakeholders in a bid to retool the economy, Kalu stressed that government must sustain pragmatic programmes and policies that will enhance the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) in the country.
The former governor, who is a big player in the Nigerian economy, emphasized the imperative of pragmatic monetary and fiscal policies in promoting sustainable development.
In a statement signed by his media office, yesterday, Kalu stated that with the inauguration of the EAC, the President has demonstrated his determination to build a strong and robust economy.
He said: “The constitution of an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) by President Buhari is a welcome and timely development. The EAC will play a crucial role in complementing the efforts of the President in fixing Nigeria’s economy.
“The government must drive policies that will create a conducive business atmosphere for local and foreign investors. The team must review the current economic policies in a bid to stimulate growth and development.”
The former governor, while calling on government to grant concessions in form of tax holidays, import duty waivers and export promotion and expansion grants to the agricultural, manufacturing and industrial sectors, noted that the economic base of the country must be diversified for national well-being.
Kalu, who wished the newly constituted team success in their national assignment, urged the OPS and other stakeholders to support the President in his determination to reposition the country.
FG committed to improved standard of living for Nigerians –Osinbajo
The Federal Government has assured that beyond the high macroeconomics returns being envisaged, the government is committed to improving the standard of living of Nigerians compared to what obtains in developed economies.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, represented by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, while declaring open the 60th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Economic Society with the theme “Economic Policies and the Quality of Life in Africa.”
Osinbajo said that the theme of the Conference was apt and consistent with Nigeria’s national development priorities, coming especially on the heels of the country’s determination to address the economic and social challenges facing the country.
He further stated that the conference could not have come at a better time than now when the current administration was in the process of developing Successor Long Term as well as the Medium Term Development Plans for the country.
“Conference such as this, therefore, provides the opportunity for exchange of ideas and charting the course for improving the overall economic management both at the federal and state levels.
“It will be recalled that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was developed in response to the economic challenges at the beginning of this administration, specifically to address these challenges and ensure inclusiveness,” Osinbanjo reiterated.
According to the vice president, in order to create a more inclusive society that enhances the quality of life, government had continued to implement the Social Investment Programme (SIP), adding that the sum of N500 billion had been appropriated for the scheme since 2016, an action which reflected the continued determination of government to pursue an inclusive society and achieve a pro-poor growth.
He posited that government policies such as the N-Power scheme, have seen 500,000 graduates and 26,000 non-graduates engaged.
“The National Home Grown Feeding programme, as at March 2019, is feeding over 9.5 million school children across 30 states, with over 101,913 cooks empowered.
“The government enterprise and empowerment programme have seen to the disbursement of 1.71 million loans to small businesses and farmers across the 36 states and the FCT. 297, 973 households in 26 states across the country are benefiting from the conditional cash transfer programme,” he said.
He stated that government was also making effort at revitalizing the textile industry in the country, with Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment working closely with relevant stakeholders to commence a data gathering process in that regard.
He commended the Nigerian Economic Society for organising the conference. “The progress we seek in our lives could only be achieved when anchored on credible economic development agenda at all levels of government,” he said.
FGN to NIMC: Protect people’s identification against hackers
The Federal Government yesterday charged the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to protect the identification of people against hackers.
The government, which gave the charge at the celebration of International Identity day, also asserted that the National Identification Number (NIN) should be the fastest way to check ghost workers.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who made the observations, called on the NIMC management to go beyond issuing slips, to issuing the biometric identity cards.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary Political, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Mr. Gabriel Aduda, the SGF said that a proper identification of the citizen would put a rest to bad planning.
He said:”Identity is a requisite for the country’s economic, social and political progress. The digital identity ecosystem project is an undertaking which the Federal Government of Nigeria fully committed to its actualisation and utilization for governance and delivery of important government services.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr. Mohammed Abdullahi, called on NIMC to up their technology to assist other government agencies to fighting crimes that have to do with identification.
According to him, businesses and commerce, international and domestic travels, security management, health insurance, among others necessitate National Institutions such as NIMC to rise to the challenge of digital identification and management.
This can only be done properly when NIMC leverages on technology and innovations in a fast-changing world.
The Minister emphasized that, growing sophistication of terror groups, the innovative creativity of internet fraudsters, group identity agitations, etc, require prompt, effective and harmonization of identity management in the country.
He said: “NIMC should move beyond photo and biometric data capture in support of Nigerian Immigration Service and financial institutions- it ought to, and should be a one-stop shop in forensic analysis of data and should interface with Nigerian Biotechnology Agency to develop DNA replication and encoding Laboratories to support security agencies in detection, arrest and prosecution of criminals in the country.’’
In his remarks earlier, the Acting Chairman of the NIMC, Mallam Ibrahim Gwandu, said the choice of the National Identity Day was in recognition of Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030.
According to him, the goal of NIMC management is to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration by the year 2030.
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