Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday said that the concession of Asaba Airport would generate N100 million for the state annually.
The governor stated this while presenting the 2020 appropriation bill of N389.1 billion to the state House of Assembly in Asaba.
He commended the Assembly for giving the state approval for the concession of the airport to a consortium of investors, describing the development as a breakthrough.
“It is the first full brown-field airport concession in Africa and a hybrid arrangement covering further development and management of the airport.
“The concession is for a period of 30 years, with annual concession fee of N100 million payable the state government, escalating by 10 per cent every five years.
“There is also an annual royalty of 2.5 per cent of gross annual revenue payable to the state, with over N28 billion expected to be pumped into the airport development by the concessionaire over the next three years.
“The benefit to the state in terms of employment opportunities, urban renewal and tourism potentials are enormous,” he said.
According to the governor, government would in 2020, ensure the functionality of Kwale Industrial Park, adding that the same investors had given their expression of interest to establish glass, ceramics factories and agro-allied industry for soya beans.
“Once fully operational, the park is expected to be a major driver of this administration’s agenda and provide immense employment opportunities for our people,” Okowa said.
He expressed his administration’s commitment to transforming the agricultural sector and ensure wealth creation to boost the state’s economy.
The governor said his administration was implementing a public-private partnership (PPP) for the establishment and operation of an agro-industrial park in Ogwashi-Uku in partnership with private investors.
“When fully established, the park will be the principal catalyst of the agricultural commodity value chains, create new jobs and multiply wealth for the teeming youths and agricultural population of the state,” he said.
Okowa later told newsmen in an interview that the state government would partner with vigilance groups to ensure effective security of the state.
He said the vigilance group would be supported to work with security agencies to provide adequate security for lives and property in the state.
Community expresses disappointment over compensation on oil spill
Members of Aghoro 1 community, Ekeremor Local Government Area in Bayelsa on Friday expressed dissatisfaction over the compensation that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) offered to pay for an oil spill that occurred on May 17, 2018.
They alleged that the oil firm arbitrarily determined the compensation for the incident in spite of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report on the matter.
They claimed that the spill had impacted and polluted an estimated area of 113.03 hectares.
The JIV report obtained by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) states that the leak on the pipeline at three spots were caused by equipment failure.
It added that the leak discharged 1,114 barrels of crude oil into the environment.
Mr Friday Otigha, a Community Leader and member of the Community Development Committee in Aghoro 1, told NAN that the N34 million offered by SPDC was unacceptable and had no relation with the impact assessment report.
Otigha said instead of N3.68 billion compensation that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) recommended, SPDC proposed to pay N34 million.
He alleged that SPDC connived with some unauthorised community leaders to foist the arbitrarily determined compensation which fell short of NOSDRA’s compensation rate, a development that attracted sanctions for those individuals.
Otigha recalled that the leak was reported on May 17 but the JIV was on June 23, a development that worsened the impact of the spill on the predominantly fishing coastal community.
He said hundreds of impacted fishermen thrown out of business by the incident were disappointed at the turn of events as they had expected SPDC to act in line with international best practice.
He urged the Federal Government to prevail on SPDC to retrace its steps and resolve the compensation in line with existing oil spill compensation guidelines set by the regulators.
Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager, SPDC, had earlier given an assurance that the firm would compensate victims and remediate polluted areas.
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Michael Adande, a Spokesman for SPDC insisted that the firm acted with industry stakeholders to arrive at the compensation.
“The SPDC conducts a comprehensive damage assessment and enumeration exercise with active participation of other members of the Joint Investigation Visit Team, especially the impacted claimants.
“We also use geomatrics map to establish the exact area of impact and extent within SPDC’s Right of Way or third party area and the degree of impact to arrive at a fair compensation value.
“In the case of the regrettable incident in Aghoro in Bayelsa State and Odimodi in Delta State in 2018, SPDC has paid the agreed compensation to the affected persons and communities.”
“The NOSDRA Post-Impact Assessment report, however, included N2.74 billion as ‘ecological damage assessment’ for environmental restoration and not as compensation.
“SPDC takes responsibility for clean-up, remediation and restoration.” Adande said.
NBMA: Biotechnology needs regulation for economic growth
The Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has said that biotechnology is a modern tools for economic growth, but requires adequate regulation to ensure safety for both human and animal health.
Ebegba disclosed this yesterday when he addressed participants at the fifth National Biosafety Conference organised by the agency in collaboration with the Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
While he noted that NBMA was established to serve as a safety gauge for the practice of modern biotechnology in the country, he also assured the public that the agency was well equipped to ensure proper regulation of modern biotechnology in the country.
He said: “That modern biotechnology is a powerful tool which needs adequate regulation in harnessing its benefits to ensure safety to human and animal health, and the environment, hence the United Nations came up with protocols to address the potential adverse effects that could arise from the application of the technology and use of its products.”
He also stressed the need to translate knowledge into production, job creation and economic growth; noting that the agency was working on calling a stakeholders’ meeting to strategise on how to address the new areas included in the agency’s mandate.
Earlier in his remarks, Vice-Chancellor of Nasarawa State University, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed, acknowledged that products of modern biotechnology were controversial due to lack of proper communication and understanding.
He urged NBMA and all other relevant agencies to boost awareness campaign to ensure Nigerians fully understand the benefits that the technology had to offer.
Lagos lauds pilgrims’ conduct in Jerusalem
Lagos State Government has lauded pilgrims’ conduct in the December pilgrimage to Israel, describing them as ambassadors of good and exemplary conduct. Chief of Staff to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Mr. Tayo Ayinde made the remarks at the hoisting of the Nigerian flag on a boat cruise for the pilgrims on Sea of Jordan, noting that the pilgrimage had been devoid of hiccups just as he urged them to imbibe the virtues inherent in the pilgrimage. He said: “The lesson and virtue of the pilgrimage is tolerance.
This is because despite the fact that participants belong to different denominations, they have bonded and freely interacted with one another peaceably without any acrimony or segregation. “If the virtues of this pilgrimage are imbibed by the participants there would be less suspicion that could cause religious crisis in the country. “To this end, I want to urge the pilgrims to replicate the virtues acquired when they return home and be more tolerant of others with different religious leanings for a better society.”
Adamawa: Appeal Court upholds Fintiri’s election
The Court of Appeal sitting in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, yesterday upheld the ruling of the governorship election petitions’ tribunal in the state, which had earlier declared Governor Ahmadu Fintiri winner of the 2019 election in the state. The appellate court’s pronouncement was sequel to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s pronouncement of Ahmadu Fintiri as the winner of the February 23 governorship election in the state.
The five-man Appeal Court panel, headed by Justice A. B. Gumel, dismissed all the three grounds of appeal filed by the APC and its governorship candidate in the February 23 election and former governor, Mohammed Jibrila, for lack of merit. One of the grounds of appeal was the decision of the former governor and candidate of the party during the election, Mohammed Jibrilla, to be joined in the suit as he was not a party to the case at the election petitions’ tribunal.
The other ground of the appeal by the APC was that it was not satisfied with the ruling of the election petitions’ tribunal and wanted the Appeal Court to reverse the judgement. Delivering judgement on the matter yesterday, Justice A. B. Gumel averred that all the grounds of appeal lacked merit and therefore dismissed them in their entirety. Reacting to the judgement, Governor Fintiri described it as victory for the people of the state, saying that he would continue to have absolute confidence in the judiciary.
Governor Fintiri stated that the victory would propel him more to implement all his campaign promises, which he added had gone under way. However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state had indicated that it would appeal against the judgement of the Appeal Court.
Doctors revive woman after six-hour cardiac arrest
Doctors in Barcelona have managed to revive a British woman who had a six-hour cardiac arrest after developing hypothermia while hiking in the Catalan Pyrenees in freezing weather last month.
Audrey Mash said she was surprised at the attention her case had attracted and said it had not put her off hiking. “I feel like a fraud for not being back at work. I’m hoping to go back before the end of next week,” she said on Thursday.
She and her husband, Rohan Schoeman – who live in Barcelona – set out from Coma de Vaca to Núria on the morning of November 3, reports the Guardian.
Around lunchtime, after the temperature dropped and it began to snow, Schoeman noticed that his wife was speaking oddly and becoming incoherent.
Shortly afterwards, she stopped moving and fell unconscious. He rang friends, who helped firefighters and rescuers locate them and launch a helicopter rescue operation. But bad weather delayed the rescue and by the time they reached the pair, it was 3.30pm.
“Our first assessment suggested that Audrey was in a bad way,” said one of the rescuers, Pere Serral. “We couldn’t find any vital signs and we did what we could using pre-hospital techniques.”
By that point, Mash had severe hypothermia and her body temperature had fallen to just 18C; normal body temperature is 37C. She was then taken by helicopter to the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, which has an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (Ecmo).
When connected to a patient, the Ecmo takes over the functioning of the heart and lungs, oxygenating the blood outside the body then reintroducing it, allowing both organs to rest.
The Ecmo had never been used in Spain for a resuscitation procedure. But by 9.45pm, Mash’s body temperature had risen to 30C and the doctors tried again to revive her, using a defibrillator.
Dr Eduardo Argudo said doctors at the hospital had decided to use the machine “to win some time so that her brain could receive oxygen while we treated the cause of the cardiac arrest”.
He added: “Although hypothermia was about to kill Audrey, it also saved her because her body – and above all her brain – didn’t get any worse. If she’d been in cardiac arrest for that long with a normal body temperature, we’d have been certifying her death. But we knew that the severe hypothermia meant that we had a shot at saving her thanks to the Ecmo.”
Argudo said that while hers was the longest instance of cardiac arrest survival documented in Spain, similar cases had occurred in the Alps and in Scandinavia.
Mash, who is 34, spent six days in the intensive care unit, where doctors monitored her for signs of neurological damage.
“I’m good but a little surprised by all the attention it’s got today – it must be a slow news week,” she told the Guardian on Thursday evening.
“I recovered much faster than I, or I think the doctors, expected. I was out of intensive care after six days and out of hospital six days after that. The doctors have since told me that they expected me to be in intensive care for closer to a month.”
Mash, an English teacher who has lived in Barcelona for more than two years, said she was getting back to normal and that the ordeal had not put her off hiking.
“I think my husband is a little more dubious about it than me – he has to live with the memories,” she said.
“I woke up when it was all over. I don’t think we’ll be out in any high mountain this winter. But I do hope that next spring or summer we’ll be able to go back and do some long walking and feel confident in it. I don’t want it to take away from my enjoyment of the mountains.”
US: Iran may have killed more than 1,000 in recent protests
A senior State Department official says Iranian forces may have killed more than 1,000 people in response to recent protests that have swept the country.
Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook cited unspecified reports and provided no evidence of the death toll, reports The Associated Press.
Amnesty International recently said more than 200 people were killed in the recent unrest over economic hardship.
Hook told reporters at the State Department on Thursday the U.S. has seen video of one incident in which more than 100 people were shot and killed.
DSS releases Sowore, pays N.1m fine
The Department of State Services (DSS), has released the convener of #Revolution Now Movement, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was arrested alongside an activist, Mr. Olawale Bakare on August 3, for alleged treasonable felony, among other related charges.
However, an Abuja High Court had granted him bail weeks ago without the Service complying with the ruling, prompting the judge to threaten to charge the DSS with contempt.
But confirming Sowore’s release last night, spokesperson for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “Yes, Sowore was (has been) released”.
Asked if the sum of N100, 000 was paid as fine, he said: “Yes, we paid the N100, 000.”
Obasanjo eulogizes Ajanaku’s loyalty, commitment to women’s development
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday, expressed shock over the death of his erstwhile Special Adviser on Women Affairs, Chief (Mrs) Titilayo Ajanaku.
Obasanjo noted that the loyalty and commitment to women development of the deceased was exemplary and worthy of emulation.
This was contained in a statement signed by Kehinde Akinyemi, Special Assistant (Media) to the former president.
Obasanjo, who wrote a personal condolence letter to the Head of the Ajanaku family, stated that his late aide played a prominent role in his decision to contest for the post of President in 1998.
He recalled how Ajanaku joined other Nigerians to visit in 1998 to persuade him in contesting for the Presidential election.
Obasanjo described the deceased as a woman who would do everything in her capacity to uplift, improve and advance the cause of women, saying this largely informed reasons for her being appointed as his special adviser.
Senate passes N10.59 trn as 2020 budget
*Jerks up initial proposal by N264trn
The Senate on Thursday passed N10.594 trillion as the budget for 2020 fiscal against the N10.33 trillion earlier submitted to the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate passed the Appropriation Bill following the consideration and adoption of the report of its Committee on Appropriations, laid before the Chamber on Wednesday.
While presenting the report, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, explained that the increase of N264 billion was made for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure mines and steel development, and health among others.
According to Jibrin, the statutory transfer stood at N560.5 billion; recurrent expenditure -N4.8 billion, capital expenditure-N2.5 billion, debt servicing-N2.7 billion, fiscal deficit-N2.3 trillion and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.
He also noted that the daily oil production stood at 2.18m barrels per day while the oil benchmark was increased from $55 proposed by the Executive to $57 per barrel, and that the exchange rate remained N305 per dollar.
FG loses illegal bunkering case against 4 Ukrainians
The Federal Government has lost out in the illegal bunkering case instituted against four Ukraine nationals at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
The four men, Vaskov Andriy, Garchev Mykhaylo, Shulga Vladyslav, Orlovkyi Lyvan and a ship, MT. San Pedro PIO, were cleared of the alleged offence by Justice Adamu Turaki Mohammed.
They were discharged and acquitted of six counts of conspiracy to deal in petroleum products, dealing in petroleum products, making false documents and uttering contrary to Sections 3(6) and 1(17)(a), 1 (2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, 2007.
Delivering judgement in the matter, Justice Mohammed upheld the arguments of defendants’ lawyer, Babajide Koku (SAN), that government has failed to prove the case.
“By virtue of the sale agreement between AUGUST A Energy and ANOSYKE Group of Companies, the amended purchase order together with evidence of the 6th prosecution witness under cross-examination, who admitted that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) import permit is valid, I have no doubt that the prosecution has failed to prove that the defendants had no licence or authority to deal in petroleum product.
“Again, Exhibit A1 has shown that naval approval was obtained in respect of Exhibit J, while the Department of Petroleum Resources import permit attached to Exhibit 63 has shown that the necessary permit was equally secured in respect of Exhibit J from the DPR.
“It is clear both from Exhibit A1 and the DPR permit, that the company in whose favour the approvals were granted is ANOSYKE Group of Companies.
“Similarly, as I have held above that the prosecution has failed to prove count two of the charge against the defendants, I am equally unable to infer, from the entire evidence adduced by the prosecution, how the 1st to 5th defendants conspired with each other to, without lawful authority or appropriate licence import; distribute or deal in/with petroleum product as contained in Count 1, particularly having regard to Exhibit A1 and the DPR permit attached to Exhibit G3.
“Accordingly, therefore, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants are found not guilty as charged and are hereby discharged and acquitted,” the judge held.
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