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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has offered to personally mentor and guide a prominent Igbo lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), if he would “step forward and develop a mobilisation framework that seeks to rearrange Nigeria.”

The former President said it was time for Agbakoba, who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, to “jump down from the fence and siddon look corner,” noting that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe were younger than Agbakoba when they assumed the mantle of leadership in public offices.

Reminding Agbakoba that Nigeria is his fatherland too, Obasanjo charged the SAN to “take the hard road,” rather than sit on the sidelines.

The former President said this in a July 28, 2017 letter which he wrote to Agbakoba.

It was his reply to a July 20, 2017 letter, written to him by Agbakoba, seeking the ex-President’s intervention in facilitating the emergence of a youth as Nigerian leader, as was seen in France and Canada.

Agbakoba had, in his letter, expressed concern about how the youths were not given the opportunity to assume leadership positions, while the old generation of politicians kept recycling themselves in power.

But Obasanjo, in his reply, said though he shared Agbakoba’s sentiments, he had discovered that majority of Nigerian youths were not venturesome but were “mostly contented with waiting for dead men’s shoes and are unwilling to beat an alternative path to leadership.”

He said even some young men that he and others recently threw their weight behind to assume leadership positions, only turned out to be a disappointment as they pushed down the drain the infrastructural development that the old generation of leaders struggled to put in place.

Obasanjo told Agbakoba, “You should know that some of these young people, whose interest we canvass, have, in the recent past, been a complete disappointment and failures in their various appointed or elected  positions. Some of these young people, in public and private sectors, have frittered the prospect of being at the vanguard of sustainable development of what some of us, the earlier generation of leaders, pioneered on the altar of their crass materialism, self-centredness and opportunism.”

The ex-President said while those youths who turned out to be a disappointment should, however, not be a disincentive for his generation to support other youths, he still held the belief that the old people should still not be excluded from leadership.

“For me, if I find men and women who have shown profound commitment and exemplary integrity in their various chosen careers or profession as well as zeal for the service of our fatherland, I will, of course, give such both my support and inspiration, notwithstanding their age, circumstances and place of birth.

“I ask you, dear Olisa, you are at a point where you should step forward and develop a mobilisation framework that seeks to rearrange Nigeria on a different basis of legitimacy,” Obasanjo said.

He said the youths should not expect power to fall on their laps but must fight for it, noting that they had an advantage “since politics is a game of number and the youths are in the majority.”

NEWS / Lagos Ranked 2nd World’s Least Liveable City
« on: Today at 05:40:15 AM »
Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, has been ranked as second world’s least liveable city.

It ranked second behind Damascus in an annual report by The Economist, which placed Melbrourne, Australia, as the world’s most liveable city for the seventh year running.

The Lagos rating was a fall from the third position from the bottom as contained in the 2016 report.

The 2017 ‘Global Liveability Report’, which was released on Wednesday by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, stated that terrorism and diplomatic tensions were eroding living conditions worldwide.

The report was premised on the criteria of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The “overall rating” of Lagos State stood at 36 per cent with stability, pegged at 10 per cent; healthcare, 37.5 per cent; culture and environment, 53.5 per cent; education, 33.3 per cent and infrastructure, 46.4 per cent.

Agence France Presse reports that conflict and terrorism were the major factors responsible for those cities finishing on the bottom of the survey.

“Violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, France, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US.

“While not a new phenomenon, the frequency and spread of terrorism have increased noticeably and become even more prominent,” the report added.

Melbrourne, the Australian city was ranked number one out of 140 cities, slightly ahead of the Austrian capital Vienna, with the Canadian trio of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary completing the top five.

The survey revealed that medium-sized cities in wealthy countries fared best.

“These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” the report said.

Major hubs like New York, London, Paris and Tokyo which were hives of activity reportedly lost points due to high levels of crime and overcrowded public transport.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday visited ailing President Muhammadu Buhari at the Abuja House, London.

The visit came over 100 days after Buhari left Nigeria for the British capital for his second medical vacation since he assumed office in May 2015.

He had left the country on May 7, 2017, shortly after receiving the Chibok girls who were released by their abductors the previous day.

The Presidency on Thursday posted a picture from the visit of the National Assembly leaders to the President on its twitter handle, @NGRPresident.

A message, “President @MBuhari today received Senate President @bukolasaraki and Speaker, House of Representatives @YakubDogara in Abuja House, London,” accompanied the picture.

Saraki and Dogara, who wore suits, were seen in the picture discussing with Buhari.

On Saturday, the President’s media team had paid him a similar visit.

Members of the team were led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

According to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President had told the team that visited him that there was tremendous improvement in his health and that he wished to return home.

“I have learnt to obey my doctor’s orders rather than be the one issuing the orders. Here, the doctor is absolutely in charge,” the President was quoted as saying.

Mohammed led the team that included Adesina; Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu;  Personal Assistant on Digital/Online Media, Lauretta Onochie; and the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

According to Adesina, when the team expressed delight at the improved health of the President, Buhari reportedly said, “I feel I could go home, but the doctors are in charge. I have now learnt to obey orders, rather than be obeyed.”

On how he felt hearing different conjectures about his health, Buhari was reported to have said he followed events at home closely. He was said to have lauded the media for keeping him informed.

When told that prayers were ongoing for his recovery; not only in Nigeria, but all over Africa and the world, the President reportedly said, “What we did in The Gambia early this year fetched us a lot of goodwill on the African continent. It gave us a lot of latitude. I thank all those who are praying. May God reward them.”

Meanwhile, the Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, has berated the #ResumeOrResign Coalition protesters for calling on Buhari to either resume work or resign.

The monarch, who spoke in an interview with one of our correspondents said those calling on the President to resign following his medical vacation in the United Kingdom were not fair to him.

He said Buhari, like other mortal beings, became ill and had to seek medical treatment outside the shores of Nigeria, adding that he had not done anything wrong and did not deserve the kind of pressure being mounted on him, especially since he was recuperating.

The traditional ruler said the anti-Buhari protesters should redirect their energy towards a more productive venture which would ensure a better life for all Nigerians irrespective of their religion or ethnic backgrounds.

Akanbi said, “ I think those protesting that the President must resign are not being fair to him. The President was voted for and I think we should not pressurise him to resign. Anybody can be sick and if one is sick, I don’t think that is the time to call on him to leave his job. This is the time to show love to our President and pray for his quick recovery.

“I believe that the President will come back to us hale and hearty. But we all must pray for him to recover. I have organised a prayer session for President Buhari and all our leaders. The President needs our love and prayers now and we should allow him to recuperate.”

The monarch said Buhari was not the first sitting President of a nation, who would fall ill, pointing out that some Presidents of the United States became sick while in office and Americans did not ask them to resign.

He said, “Former American President Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while in office and had abdominal operation. He also suffered a stroke. Woodrow Wilson in 1913 had a near fatal stroke. Franklin Roosevelt had polio and he was in a wheelchair while in office. He spent fourth term of 16 years. He was the last US president, who spent fourth terms in office.

“None of these US former presidents was ridiculed despite their predicament; so why should our case be different here in Nigeria? We need to show love to our leaders so that they will also be forced to show us love.”

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday in Ibadan said that the bogus earnings of National Assembly members portrayed them as a “bunch of unarmed robbers.”

Obasanjo, spoke at a public presentation of a book written by Prof. Mark Nwagwu, titled, ‘I am Kagara, I Weave the Sands of Sahara,’ in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

He also called on the Federal Government to respect the agreement it signed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, saying that the Federal Government put itself in a corner by entering into the agreement without full consultation.

He said, “Government allows itself to be stampeded into signing agreement particularly when one group or the other withdraws it services and goes on strike. After the agreement has been signed, without full consultation within government, implementation becomes an issue.

“But an agreement is an agreement whoever the agent is that signed that agreement on your behalf, you are bound by it. You may now have to renegotiate to have a new agreement but the agreement earlier signed remains an agreement.

“When the university teachers go on strike, there is an agreement; and when doctors go on strike, there will be a special agreement. And when the universities teachers see that the agreement reached with the doctors is different from theirs, they go on strike and this is bad for our economy.

“The way we are going about spending all our revenue to pay overheads, we will not develop. And we will have ourselves to blame. Ninety per cent of revenue is used to pay overheads, allowances, salaries and not much is left for capital development. In a situation like that, we have to rethink.

“It is even worse for the National Assembly. They will abuse me again but I will never stop talking about them. They are a bunch of unarmed robbers.

“They are one of the highest paid in the world where we have 75 per cent of our people living in abject poverty. They will abuse me tomorrow and if they don’t, maybe they are sleeping. The behaviour and character of the National Assembly should be condemned and roundly condemned.”

At the event, a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, called for positive attitudinal changes for national development.

She said the book would serve as a tool for the country to examine the extent to which it had lost her values and culture.

The Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, has accused Nigerians of refusing to support the anti-graft crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The presidential aide spoke on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, on Thursday.

Reacting to the Nigerian Corruption Survey 2017 published by the National Bureau for Statistics, which states that Nigerians paid bribes to the tune of N400bn between 2015 and 2016, Obono-Obla said, “It is chilling, daunting, outrageous and shocking but I am not surprised because corruption has become pandemic and endemic. Most Nigerians are pathologically corrupt.

“This government wants to fight corruption but what is the challenge? Nigerians do not want to support the fight against corruption; the judiciary and the legislature do not want to support the fight against corruption. It is as if only the President and the Vice-President are in support of the war against corruption.”

Obono-Obla said Nigeria had laws that could be used in jailing corrupt people but past governments were not brave enough to take the bull by the horn.

He said the Recovery of Public Property Special Provisions Act Cap R4 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had existed since 1983 but had never been used by any government to tackle corruption.

The presidential aide added, “The law we are using to fight corruption now has been in effect since 1983 but that law has not been used by successive governments because these successive administrations did not have the will, did not have the commitment or dedication to fight corruption and this government has gone into the archives to exhume that law to fight corruption and the law is very strict and maybe that is why successive administrations did not use that law in fighting corruption. That law predates the EFCC and ICPC Act.”

Also in an interview with one of our correspondents, Obono-Obla scolded ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for claiming he fought corruption, saying his administration was “scandalously corrupt.”

“Why is this man blowing hot and cold? Anyone blowing hot and cold is not a man of integrity. Anyone who doesn’t speak the truth is not a man of integrity. More than N500bn was stolen by officials of his government. That was why Nigeria went bankrupt. That was why more than $48bn that was left by the Musa Yar’Adua’s government was squandered.

“If $48bn was intact, we would not be looking for money to do railway from Lagos to Calabar and from Lagos to Kano and so on and so forth. The stolen money would have been used to cushion the effects of the drastic fall in oil prices, which is the mainstay of our economy.

“We know that his government was chronologically and scandalously corrupt. There is no doubt about it. The evidence is in Jonathan’s Petroleum minister and the few billions of naira we have seized from her property. That property is more than the budgets of the northern states put together in four years. So, what is he talking about? There was unemployment, fuel scarcity and a lot of money was stolen under his watch,” he said.

NEWS / FG/ASUU’s Meeting Ends In Deadlock
« on: Today at 05:36:43 AM »
• Govt turns down lecturers’ request on TSA

The Federal Government’s efforts to make the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its nationwide strike failed on Thursday.

It was gathered that at a meeting with ASUU in Abuja, the Federal Government asked the lecturers to end their strike, but both parties did not agree on some issues.

ASUU consequently rejected the FG’s request to call off the strike.

Our correspondents gathered that the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the demand of the union that universities should be exempted from the Treasury Single Account.

ASUU had on Sunday called a nationwide strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 agreement between the two sides.

The ASUU president had, at a press conference on Monday, explained that the union decided on the strike after the FG failed to implement the 2009 agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding it signed with ASUU in 2013.

He listed the areas in dispute in the current industrial action to include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, the registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company and pension matters, fractionalisation and non-payment of salaries and the issue of universities’ staff schools.

A source, who was present at the meeting, told The PUNCH that the Federal Government promised to honour all of ASUU’s requests except the one regarding the TSA.

The source said the government admitted wrongdoing and appealed to the lecturers to call off the strike immediately, but the appeal was rejected by ASUU leaders, who pleaded for time to meet their members because of the TSA.

He said, “The meeting was straightforward. The government admitted wrongdoing and promised to honour its past promises. The only issue on which no agreement was reached was the TSA.

“The members of ASUU executive said they would meet with their members and give us a response next week.”

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Ngige stated that the government was expecting  feedback from ASUU on the overtures made to it, adding that the union promised to return to the negotiation table within one week.

He explained that the government position was drafted by the Ministers of Education (Adamu Adamu); Labour and Employment (Ngige); Finance, (Kemi Adeosun); and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and was communicated to ASUU.

Ngige said, “Within the last 48 hours, the government has been working; the Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, Attorney General of the Federation met and we have taken some government positions which we have communicated to ASUU leaders to take back to their members to see if that is adequate enough for them to call off the strike.”

“The major issue is that we want the strike called off so that our children in school can write their degree and promotion exams. ASUU leaders said they will come back to us on a date within the next one week. It will not be later than one week,” the minister said.

ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said he would not go into the specifics of the offers made by the government until he met with his members, adding that the union would not call off the strike.

He said, “Like the minister said, government has made offers on the issues we have raised, but we have to get back to our members for them to consider the offers and advise us. Based on their position, we will come back to government, hopefully within the next one week.”

Explaining why he could not call of the strike, Ogunyemi said the action was called by the union members, noting that they were the ones that would determine when it should be called off.

He said, “The offers are for our members and when we meet with them, we will come back and reveal all we agreed on.

“The leadership of the union did not call the strike, our members did, and they will decide when to suspend the strike.”

Strike didn’t follow procedure –FG

Ngige, however, accused ASUU of not following the proper procedure before starting the strike.

The minister, who stated this in his opening remarks shortly before the meeting began around 3:45pm, explained that the union did not issue the mandatory 15-day notice as required by the Trade Dispute Act.

He expressed displeasure over the agreement brokered by the National Assembly, describing it as a political agreement.

He said, “If we want to apportion blame, certain things have been done by the government side that went for the negotiation in the National Assembly and made political agreement with them.”

He attributed the inability of the government to implement the 2009 agreement to “some trajectories.”

“One or two things happened and due to lapses in labour administration, there were some trajectories that made it impossible for some of the conditions to be fulfilled,” the minister said.

He said the Dr. Wale Babalakin-led renegotiation committee was working on various issues in the agreement signed by the government and ASUU.

ASUU president, however, denied allegations that the union failed to give notice of strike  before embarking on the strike, adding that the union wrote five letters to relevant stakeholders after suspending the seven-day warning strike in November last year.

He said, “In the last 10 months, we have written five letters and tried to reach out to relevant stakeholder.”

Besides Ogunyemi, other members of the ASUU negotiation team included Vice President, ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, and a former ASUU president, Dr Dipo Fashina.

FG offers to pay ASUU N23bn

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, at a  meeting with the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions on Thursday, said ASUU had earlier demanded that it should be paid N23bn, but the government insisted that it should account for N30bn earlier given to it.

Briefing the committee on the outcome of the meeting between the government and ASUU two days ago, Adamu said both government and the union had earlier agreed that the result of the audit of the N30bn would be presented in six months.

“The government had then offered to pay the union N1.5bn each month while we wait for the result. The grouse of ASUU is that the forensic audit promised by the Minister of Finance was not done and the money promised was not paid.

“But we have agreed that the union would be paid the balance of N23bn, while a forensic audit on the entire N53bn would be done.”

He said he wrote the Minister of Finance on Wednesday, adding that the minister had approved that the money be paid.

The minister said, “Probably, by Monday, they will be able to receive the cheque. There are other issues which we didn’t agree on, especially their request to be taken out of TSA. I told them that it is not possible because this is a new policy and government is not going to change it for anyone.”

‘Varsities employ without approval’

The minister said many universities employed workers without approval, which resulted in the shortfall in lecturers’ salaries.

He said, “Concerning salary shortfall, many universities employed workers without authorisation.

“For instance, a university can just decide to recruit 50 people and the IPPI (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information) will not be aware. So, the money they got last month will not be sufficient for the following months; and they will now spread it among the entire staff. We said institutions must stop employing without approval and ASUU accepted.

 “I have written a letter formalising the meeting I had with ASUU. From the way they received it, I think it is possible that the strike will be called off within a week.”

NEWS / Babangida Is Nigeria’s Political Lexicon – Bello
« on: Today at 05:32:24 AM »
Niger State Governor,  Abubakar Sani Bello, said on Thursday that former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd) has become Nigeria’s political lexicon due to his impactful contributions to political and economic development of the country.

Congratulating the former military president on his 76th birthday, Bello said Babangida was directly responsible for the political re-engineering of the country.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Malam Jibrin Ndace, the governor described Babangida as apostle of progressive ideology, presidentialism and federalism, adding that the ex- Nigerian leader is a father with an accommodating and philanthropic heart.

Bello said: “Years after he left office, his socio-political wizardry and intelligence as well as the numerous, visibly useful people-oriented developmental projects remain monumental.

“It is on record that as a military officer, Gen. Babangida exhibited high sense of professionalism that singled him out as a unique officer whose quality decisions and advice at critical moments of our national life had made his Minna country home a ‘Political Mecca’ for the country’s political class. The enigma has built bridges across the six geo-political zones of the country and these had made him the nation’s most sort for living leader.

“We are proudly celebrating a strategic and unrepentantly nationalistic leader and human manager with an uncommon passion in the service of fatherland and humanity in general. Indeed, he holds his country very dear in his heart.

“On behalf of myself, the government and people of Niger State, I wish to felicitate with our father and leader; mentor and role model as you celebrate your 76th birthday today. You are indeed a precious gift to mankind and this great country.

“It is my fervent prayer that Allah will continue to preserve you for many more years, so that the younger generation and indeed the country can continue to draw from your wealth of experience and guidance even at this critical moment in the political history of this country.”

NEWS / ‘I Have Sold My Official Vehicle’
« on: Today at 05:31:38 AM »
FORMER Deputy Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly Elisabeth Ativie has told the leadership of the Assembly that she sold one of the official vehicles, a Lexus Jeep 2016 model, given to her when she was Speaker.

 Ativie served as Speaker for 84 days after which she stepped down for Justin Okonoboh for the purpose of balance among the three senatorial districts.

 She was made deputy to Okonoboh but both were violently impeached on Monday by 16 lawmakers.

 In aa August 16 letter signed by the Clerk, James Omoataman,  Ativie was asked to return the official vehicles allocated to her.

 The letter listed the vehicles as Pradon SUV, two Hilux vans, and Lexus SUV 2016 model.

 In her reply, through her counsel, Olayiwola Afolabi, Ativie said she registered the vehicles in her name and that she acted as bonafide owner of the vehicles to sell one of them.

She said the vehicles were permanently given to her by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole as compensation for the sacrifice she made in stepping down for Okonoboh.

 Ativie urged the Clerk to advise the House properly as the vehicles were no longer official vehicles of the House of Assembly.

NEWS / Kwara Council Poll To Hold Nov 18
« on: Today at 05:30:55 AM »
The Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWSIEC) has postponed the local government elections from November 4 to 18.

KWSIEC chair Dr Uthman Ajidagba said card readers would not be used for the election.

He said: “A proclamation was issued on July 31 on local government elections, in accordance with provisions of the extant laws, and on the commission’s preparedness to conduct credible elections in the 16 councils.

“However, shortly after the proclamation, there were pleas to consider the interest of Muslims, who are presently on hajj in Saudi Arabia.

“After listening to these, and in line with our promise to conduct a credible election, the commission concluded that to be fair to all, and to allow for an all-inclusive election, there is need to adjust our programme of activities.

“In view of this, the commission is constrained to adjust its election timetable, particularly as it affects party primaries, which in effect has affected the earlier date slated for election.”

NEWS / ‘Shekau’s Video Connected To 2019 Election’
« on: Today at 05:30:14 AM »
The Coalition Against Terrorism (CAT) has described the video released by acclaimed Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, as a desperate attempt to convince his sponsors his group is still relevant for business ahead of 2019 elections.

The group, at a news conference in Kaduna State, said Shekau knew he would be captured soon.

According to it, he is merely re-enacting a psychological gimmick, which worked for him under different circumstances in the past, to prove he’s still relevant.

Group coordinator Shehu Garuba said the directive to hunt down Shekau, in line with the 40-day ultimatum for his capture, is welcome. According to him, groups in the coalition believe the renewed military push to capture Shekau will defeat insurgency in the Northeast.

His words: “Our hope is that the troops will accelerate their mission to smoke the Boko Haram leader out, given the new low to which his depravity has sunk. Boko Haram went underground to brainwash parents into coercing their daughters into becoming suicide bombers.

“The military must focus on the task at hand, and not be distracted by this antic of the terrorists and those behind them. It takes the worst form of perversion to recruit young girls and innocent women to die for other people’s pecuniary reasons.

“In the face of such disparately unconventional circumstances, we laud achievements of the military, which has done well in fighting, degrading and defeating the militant wing of the terror group. We hail the sacrifice of those who died to procure the measure of peace in the areas where Boko Haram once peddled terror on a large scale.”

NEWS / Commissioner Advises Council Chiefs
« on: Today at 05:28:11 AM »
The chairmen of the 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in Ogun State have been admonished to embark on meaningful and people-oriented projects to improve the people’s standard of living.

The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Jide Ojuko, stated this at the end of an assessment tour of the LCDAs.

“Doing so will not only end the challenges of urban/rural migration, but also make rural areas more conducive for people and make them feel the presence of the government,” he said.

Ojuko urged political office holders, career officers, traditional rulers and the indigenes to support government’s programmes and policies for the sustainability and enhancement of socio-economic growth in the state.

Chairman of Leguru council Ololade Onakoya; his Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode counterparts, Rafiu Awoyemi and Olalekan Adebanjo, thanked Governor Ibikunle Amosun for embarking on projects which would make the state a better place to live.

NEWS / 138 Nigerians Deported From Libya
« on: Today at 05:27:22 AM »
One hundred and thirty eight Nigerians were deported yesterday from Libya in North African.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the deportees comprise 106 female adults, three female children, eight male adults, 18 male children and three male infants.

They were said to have arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja, Lagos, about 6.07 p.m.

The deportees, NEMA officials said, were flown aboard an Airbus 320 with registration number ONO and flight number BRQ 189/190.

Yesterday’s deportation brings to 2,232 the number of Nigerians that have been deported from Libya since last year under a programme facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Besides NEMA, other government agencies and stakeholders have been involved in the reception, rehabilitation and reintegration of deportees.

Confirming the return of the 138 Nigerians yesterday, NEMA’s Director General Mustapha Maihajja said the activities of human traffickers and their conspirators were embarrassing Nigeria.

The NEMA chief warned those involved in human trafficking to desist.

He urged parents and relatives involved in the illegal acts to retrace their steps.

Maihajja described trafficking as the worst form of corruption, adding that those involved were misleading and denying the victims a promising future.

NEWS / Fayose Okays Fed Govt’s School Feeding Scheme
« on: Today at 05:26:44 AM »
After initial opposition to the scheme, Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose has approved the take-off of the Federal Government’s School Feeding Programme for public schools.

Fayose said his administration took its time to study the scheme and found it worthy of implementation because “it is in tandem with its stomach infrastructure policy”.

The governor noted that Ekiti State keyed into the programme following a feedback from government agencies, which studied it.

He said the programme would be benefit pupils as well as other residents.

Fayose spoke yesterday at the launch of the feeding programme and stakeholders’ workshop in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.

The event was attended by officials of the National Home-Grown School Feeding (NHGSF) from the Presidency.

Fayose, who was represented by Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, said the study conducted by his administration showed the scheme would improve the nutrition of pupils and boost school enrolment.

The governor had vowed that the state will not participate in the scheme because it is allegedly being politicised.

According to him, it was a campaign promise by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during its presidential campaign and it is up to the party to fulfil it.

But the governor changed his position yesterday.

He said: “The study showed the potential of the programme to improve the nutrition status of pupils, increase school enrolment and attendance, energise the local economy and empower certain segments of the population. Above all, we also noted that it is in tandem with our stomach infrastructure policy.

“We have decided to set political differences aside and partner the Federal Government for the benefit of our pupils. Our participation will be a boost to our efforts to restore the glory of education in our state.”

NHGSF’s Team Leader Mrs. Abimbola Adesanmi said the programme had been introduced in 21 states.

She said it would improve the health and nutrition of children as well as boost local production of agricultural produce.

Mrs Adesanmi said the scheme had a multiplier effect as it would help pupils, cooks, farmers and create jobs.

NEWS / Valedictory Session For Justice Obaseki
« on: Today at 05:26:02 AM »
Burial activities for the late Justice Andrews Otutu Obaseki, the Obaseki of Bini Kingdom, began  yesterday with a special valedictory court session at the Edo State High Court.

The late Justice Obaseki, who was a justice of the Supreme Court between 1977 and 1991, also served as acting chief Justice at various times.

He died on July 13 at his Benin City residence.

Speaking at the special session, Justice Esohe Frances Ikponmwen, the chief judge, described the late Justice Obaseki as a colossus and giant that bestrode the bench right to the Supreme Court.

Justice Ikponmwen, who was represented by Justice Ikponmwoba Ehigiamusoe, said the late Justice Obaseki was a man of great letters and words.

She noted that it is fitting for the late Justice Obaseki to be honored at the High Court Complex he ensured was put in place when he was chief judge of the Midwest-Western Region.

Justice Ikponmwen described him as a calm and sober jurist, who belonged to the golden generation of Supreme Court Justices.

Her words: “He was an administrator of the National Judicial Institute, a traditional chief. He had in his heart a compelling passion to accomplish justice. He possessed an indispensable mental capacity to translate that passion for justice into the actuality of fair, lucid and righteous judgment.

“He was a judge who showed passion for justice so steadfastly and so indomitably. He revered the bench bringing it to dignity. He took no short cuts and made the journey to the Supreme Court.”

Walter Onnoghen, the chief justice, who was represented by Justice Ejembi Ekpo, said the late Justice Obaseki participated in 658 judgments, comprising 126 lead judgments, 530 concurring judgments and two dissenting judgments while at the Supreme Court.

Justice Onnogen said the deceased pronouncements set ground breaking precedents in the protection of citizens from extrajudicial acts of governments, the principle of fair hearing and natural justice.

Governor Godwin Obaseki, who is a nephew, recalled how the man he called daddy found one of his cousins guilty in a case he presided over as a show of respect for fairness and justice.

Obaseki said the ill-health suffered by his ‘daddy’ was as a result of the long hours of work sitting down which he said gave him backache.

He added that he had the privilege of of being around the late Justice Obaseki from who he learn the values of truth, integrity, fairness and hard work.

Obaseki also pledged to provide good working environment for the judiciary in line with his electoral promise.

“He stood for the truth. He told us about integrity. He was an epitome of fairness and taught us to work hard. He also emphasised education.

“We are grateful for those values everybody talked about. We understand the role of Justice. We will ensure we give the judiciary its dues. We understand what it means to have a good court system. We know what it means to make judges  live in a conducive environment.”

There is no truth in a claim credited to the forum of 2011/2012 Pensioners that Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola has paid himself and ex-political office holders N50 million each as severance allowance, the state government has said.

The association of retirees, led by Mr Omoniyi Ilesanmi, according to the governor’s media adviser, Mr Sola Fasure, got its facts wrong and misled the public.

The media adviser described as unfortunate that the group has become a willing tool in the hands of agents provocateur. He warned purveyos of information, especially the media to refrain, do proper checks to avoid being used as vehicles of lies.

In a statement by Fasure titled: Re: Pensioners allege Aregbesola pays self, ex-office holders N50m each severance allowance! you can’t be serious

“We read with dismay a report in The Punch of Wednesday August 16, 2017, in which one of the associations of retirees, the Forum of 2011/2012 Pensioners, led by one Mr Omoniyi Ilesanmi falsely alleged that the State Government of Osun paid political office holders who served between November 2010 and November 2014 the sum of N50 million each as severance allowance.

“This allegation is preposterous, malicious and false in its entirety. It is absolutely unreasonable and ludicrous for anyone to suggest that a state government will give each political office holder a N50 million severance allowance at this period when every available kobo is being mopped to pay salaries and pensions, provide infrastructure and social services and run a modest government. It is even totally reckless and irresponsible for any newspaper to have published such bunkum. It is a new low for journalism.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the severance allowance of political office holders has been set in accordance with the State of Osun Public/Political Office Holders and Revised Remuneration Package Law 2007, section 4 (1) and (2) schedule (B) which recommends 300 per cent of basic salary as severance allowance. This recommendation was also taken on advisement from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) which recommends 300 per cent of basic salaries.

“However, the State of Osun law referenced above has a proviso of beneficiaries having successfully completed a full term or on pro rata basis, after a minimum of two year period of tenure.

“With this arrangement, only the governor and his deputy are entitled to N6.6 million and N6.3 million respectively. However, the governor returned his cheque to the treasury, having waved his right to earn salary since he assumed office. Two principal officers qualified for N4 million each, 15 political office holders received N3 million each, and while 18 others received N2.8 million each. This was over a year ago.

“Governor Aregbesola demonstrated sensitivity to the financial situation in the state when he did not constitute a cabinet for more than two years. When he eventually did, he put ALL political office holders on half salary. How then could he have paid N50 million to each to political office holders as severance allowance?

“Mr Ilesanmi and his ilk have embarked on a campaign of calumny against the government, hiding under the plight of pensioners, telling barefaced and egregious lies, making outrageous claim and inciting the people against the government.

“He moves around with a motley crowd and they parade themselves as representing the whole company of dignified and respectable retirees in the state.

“He has constituted himself into an insidious political opposition, riding on the sentiment of the sympathy and respect the larger society has for retirees and senior citizens.

“Mr Ilesanmi and his group openly campaigned for the opposition party candidate in the 2014 governorship election in the state, hiding under the cloak of retirees. He used the same platform to openly campaign for the candidate of the same opposition party in the last senatorial election in the state, curiously only in the cities where election held.

“This is an abuse of privilege and he should desist from this less than honourable path. As a private citizen, he is at liberty to join any political party and exercise his freedom of association and political participation as he deems fit. He should however not drag the respectable, decent and cultured Omoluabi retirees into his filthy political waters.

“If he has any evidence that the State Government paid any sum beyond what is quoted above, he should bring it up for the benefit of the public.

“It is most regrettable that a national newspaper would willingly lend its platform to be used for propagating falsehood and deception. The hallmark of journalism is investigation. There would be a thousand and one claims as there are claimants, each with his or her own motive and sinister agenda.

“It is the professional duty of a newspaper (that clearly impinges on its integrity) to investigate a claim and establish its truth before publishing, if it wants to serve the cause of truth and justice. It is a cardinal principle in journalism that while comments are free, facts are sacred. A newspaper that publishes a false claim assaults the sensibilities of its readers, betrays public trust and is an enemy of the open society.

“The media are therefore enjoined to first investigate and verify any claim made by any group or individual before publishing in order not to drag its integrity in the mud.

“The media and members of the public can always approach the Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor; Ministry of Information and especially the Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant General for clarification and relevant information on any (financial) matter.

NEWS / Kebbi To Export Rice, Livestock
« on: Today at 05:22:57 AM »
Kebbi State Govenor Atiku Bagudu has said the state will produce rice and livestock in commercial quantities for export to earn foreign exchange.

Bagudu stated this yesterday when he received a team of agricultural experts from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State.

According to him, the state recorded a 300 per cent increase in rice and wheat production. It is second to Yobe in livestock production.

Bagudu called on international research organisations to make a critical assessment of the agricultural policy of his administration, which is aimed at developing the state’s agricultural potential.

The governor also appealed to IITA to provide research outlets in the state to boost farmers’ capability in grains production and processing. He said the state also had great potential in the production of groundnut, soya beans, cowpeas, sesame seeds, banana, cocoyam, yam, millet, bambara nut, sugarcane, guinea-corn, cassava and ginger.

Leader of the IITA team Dr Kenton Dashiell said the institute was recognised globally as a centre of excellence for agricultural research and resources.

According to him, the team was on a research mission to the state to learn about its agricultural potential, especially in soya beans, since the state is a spe...t in soya bean cultivation.

State Chairman of Rice Farmers Association (AFAN) Sahabi Augie said the association would partner IITA to boost rice production.

He appealed to the institute to assist farmers by supplying them with improved rice seedlings.

CHINA Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), the contractor handling expansion of the Lagos/Badagry Expressway project, has assured Lagos residents the project will be delivered on schedule.

An official of the company, Mr Izuchukwu Obioma, spoke yesterday in Lagos with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

NAN reports that the contract for the rehabilitation of expressway was awarded in 2009 by the state government.

The plan for the project, which is meant to be completed in 2019, is to expand the expressway from four to 10 lanes, with a metro rail line in the median.

This is expected to curb traffic congestion on the international highway, which serves as a gateway to Lagos from neighbouring West African countries.

Obioma was reacting to complaints from residents that the project was unnecessarily delayed.

The company chief noted that although there is a little delay, it was caused by rains.

He said: “It is true the rains posed a challenge but we have had to devise means to save valuable time and resources.

“We had to suspend aspects of the job, such as areas where asphalt and excavation are required and portions where piling is required.”

Obioma assured residents the pace would be accelerated after the rains to cover up for lost periods.

The CCECC official said the government would make a pact with police authorities about the two police posts occupying the right-of-way.

He said: “There is one police station opposite the Ojo Military Cantonment and there is another in Okokomaiko, both occupying the right-of-way.

“The state government officials have been meeting with police authorities on what to do about these stations, so they will not create further delay.”

Obioma added that the authorities of Lagos State University (LASU) agreed to remove parts of the school’s fence, which also occupy the right-of-way.

“In the LASU axis, we have started replacing parts of the fence that would be pulled down.

“Authorities of LASU were cooperative because they understand the importance of the project and we appreciate them,’’ the CCECC official said.

NAN reports that different portions were receiving attention; Orile Iganmu to Agboju, FESTAC Town second gate have been rehabilitated, while Alakija to Okokomaiko is ongoing.

Some structures close to the LASU fence have also been pulled down, to pave way for their relocation.

Excavation, piling and construction of drainage are also ongoing on portions of the road from LASU to Okokomaiko.

NEWS / Man Bolts After ‘Impregnating’ Daughter
« on: Today at 05:21:31 AM »
A man in his mid-40s, Lucky Akuna, is on the run with his son after allegedly impregnating his 14-year-old daughter.

The Nation learnt Akuna, also called Orutebe, an indigene of Ogulagha in Burutu Local Government of Delta State, admitted impregnating his daughter after being interrogated by leaders of Ugboroke community, where he lives.

It was gathered the matter became known when neighbours noticed that the teenager was showing signs of pregnancy.

Sources said the girl confessed she was impregnated by her father.

Confirming the incident to The Nation, a source, who preferred anonymity, alleged this would not be the first time Akuna would commit incest. He cited an instance when he impregnated his niece.

A source at Warri ‘B’ Division where the case was reported, said the suspect’s wife, Grace, was arrested, but was released following intervention by an Ijaw monarch.

“We are still looking for Akuna and his son,” the source added.

The General Manager, External Relations, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Igo Well,  yesterday said the Niger Delta was no longer attractive for investment.

Weli made the claim in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on the sidelines of an SPDC-sponsored two-day meeting with stakeholders in Abia and Rivers states.

He said declining interest by investors was partly due to restiveness, damage of facilities and the unpredictable nature of the region’s business environment.

“The Niger Delta is no longer attractive to investors, as most businesses have left with new and potential investors preferring to invest in other places, such as Lagos.

“There are issues in Nigeria today but there are parts of the country that are still working. Even in the midst of these issues and challenges, Lagos is making progress.

“Investors are going to Lagos because of the choices the state government makes and the way they organise themselves and the confidence that gives to investors, which is the reverse in the Niger Delta.

“If Dangote could invest $18 billion to build a refinery in Lagos that ordinarily should be sited in the Niger Delta, then the Niger Delta should be seriously concerned.

“The region is depriving itself of investment, employment and business opportunities because of endless agitations and choices it took out of anger,” the SPDC official said.

Weli explained that Dangote refinery would create over 149,000 jobs in Lagos, and other Southwest states will benefit.

He said unemployment was rising in the Niger Delta partly because most firms have left while others have reduced their operation in the area.

Weli wondered why the region is yet to develop despite benefiting from 13 per cent derivation and presence of establishments as the Niger Delta Development Commission; Niger Delta Ministry and Amnesty Programme.

According to him, people who desire to hurt SPDC forget that the company is a global brand with assets all over the world, and as such can make adjustments.

“Even the existing companies’ activities are dropping because everyday instead of spending time thinking of how to grow the business; the companies are busy thinking of how to manage crises.

“So, people need to think deeply before they act because perception of the situation in the area is likened to one day one trouble, and no longer one week one trouble.

“We should ask ourselves questions of why the region is not on the path of progress; why its roads, schools, hospitals and electricity are not different.

“Well, we should look no further because it is simply the choices the region is making,” he said.

Weli said re-positioning the Niger Delta would involve all stakeholders, including states and local governments; private sector and the people.

NEWS / Another Nigerian Killed In South Africa
« on: Today at 05:20:04 AM »
The Nigerian Union in South Africa said yesterday that another Nigerian, Mr. Uchena Eloh, has been killed in the Western Cape Province.

Chairman, Western Cape chapter of the union, Kanayo Onwumelu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Cape Town that Eloh was strangled to death by South African policemen.

Eloh hailed from Eziagu in Eziagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

“We want to call the attention of Nigerian government to the senseless killing of innocent Nigerians by the police in South Africa.

“At about 11a.m. South African time on Wednesday, a Nigerian, Uchenna Emmanuel Eloh, popularly known as “Monkey’’, was killed by a South African police officer.

“He was walking out of his house toward the bus station, when a police van stopped to search him, suspecting that he might be in possession of illegal substance.

“Three policemen accosted Eloh, one of them, by the name Williams, held him on the neck suspecting that he swallowed a substance, while another police officer held him by the legs,’’ he said.

The union official alleged that the policemen dragged Eloh on the ground until he started foaming and suffocated to death on the spot.

“This is not the first time such senseless killing of innocent Nigerians was carried out by South African police officers.

“We have reported similar killings to the South African Government and Nigeria High Commission in South Africa and nothing was done to bring the culprits to book.

“We want the Nigerian Government to intervene to stop this brutality against innocent Nigerians and stop killing Nigerians out of hatred, racism or xenophobia,’’ he said.

President of Nigerian Union in South Africa, Ikechukwu Anyene, who also confirmed the incident, called for an end to the incessant killing of Nigerians in South Africa.

“Our government needs to do something urgently to make it clear that Nigerian lives matter.

“We have made suggestions on what can be done, but it is now clear to us that the endless talks cannot yield any positive result,’’ Anyene said.

He said the union had engaged a lawyer to take up the case against South African Police Service.

“But, this kind of legal service should form part of consular services to provide legal services to victimised Nigerians,’’ Anyene said.

The union said the police have opened an inquest into the case.

NEWS / ‘Cooperative College To Boost Lagos Economy’
« on: Today at 05:19:23 AM »
THE establishment of Lagos State Cooperative College will enhance the economic progress of the state, House of Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa said yesterday.

Obasa, represented by his deputy, Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun, spoke at a public hearing on a Bill for a Law to Establish the Lagos State Cooperative College and for Connected Matters.

The hearing was organised by the House Committee on Commerce and Industry, led by Oladele Adekanye.

The Speaker noted that the bill, when passed into law, will equip co-operators with skills for economic promotion.

Obasa said: “This bill is geared towards effective administration of cooperative societies and enhancing the economic progress of the state.

“If the bill is passed into law, it will ensure the qualitative training of co-operators who with their professional skills will promote the economic activities.

“The bill, when passed into law, will empower the college to provide courses of instruction leading to the award of degrees, diplomas and certificates and other studies.

“This bill, which seeks to give statutory backing to the Lagos State Cooperative College, will produce seasoned and well-trained co-operators to enhance the cooperative movement in the state.”

NEWS / Chief Judge Frees 43 Underage Detainees
« on: Today at 05:18:30 AM »
Lagos State Chief Judge Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade yesterday freed 43 underage Ikoyi Prison inmates.

But 12 of them were not handed over to the Ministry of Youths and Social Welfare officials.

Justice Atilade said that they be taken to Adigbe Foster Home at Pansheke in Ogun State “owing to the nature of their offences.”

Their offences border on rape, attempted murder, murder and armed robbery.

Two of the inmates, who were not remorseful during interview, were not freed.

They told the Chief Judge that they were in prison for selling and smoking Indian hemp.

The exercise was carried out as part of the efforts to rid the prisons of minors, enforce the Child Rights Act and also decongest the overfilled facilities.

“I pronounce you free, pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(1) of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Act, 2007 as well as Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution. You are all hereby released from prison custody. Go and sin no more”, Justice Atilade said.

She said the government was not comfortable with having minors in prison inmates in prisons.

She praised the Head of Prison Ministry of the Fountain of Life Church, Mrs. Dupe Olubamowo, whose petition triggered her prison visit.

The Prison Decongestion Committee Chairman Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye said the issue of underage detainees was at the heart of Lagos Judiciary.

She said no child would be allowed to remain in prison again as the exercise would be continuous.

She said: “The month of August has been a golden one in the calendar of the judiciary. We got alerted on the existence of children in prisons. On August 1, the chief judge released 80 children from Badagry Prison. Again on August 14, underage numbering 62 were freed from Kirikiri Women and Medium Security Prisons”.

Head of the Family Courts, Justice Yetunde Idowu said no child below the age of 18 would be allowed to stay in prison again.

According to her, appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that children were no longer sent to prison.

The Deputy Controller of Prisons, Julius Ezugwu, said of 56 juveniles were in Ikoyi Prisons.

NEWS / Our Plans For Presidential Lodge, By Lagos Government
« on: Today at 05:17:46 AM »
THE Lagos State Government yesterday spoke its plans for the Presidential Lodge on Marina, Lagos Island; the ownership was finally transferred to it yesterday by the Federal Government.

It said the historical monument would be transformed to a world-class tourist attraction and well preserved without compromising its structural integrity.

“The government will ensure its transformation without compromising its structural integrity and preserving its architectural finesse and beauty”, Secretary to the Lagos State Government (SSS) Tunji Bello, who received the keys to the building, said.

The Federal Government has finally handed over the Presidential Lodge on Marina, Lagos Island, to the Lagos State Government.

A federal delegation, led by the Permanent Secretary, State House, Abuja, Mr. Jalal Arabi, gave the keys to the historical edifice, built to commemorate the nation’s Independence in 1960.

The building was handed over to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the SSG.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding, Arabi said the transfer of the property was done in the spirit of togetherness and the interest of the country.

He said: “History is being rewritten with this handing over. Although the State House Marina is being seeded to Lagos state government but we are not losing the fact that it has gone to the right hand.

“Most of us have been involved in keeping this place we never wanted any distraction. There is difference between old age and statesmanship. I believe we are now in an era where we have a principal, who believes that your words should be your bonds.

“Every parent feels the pains when giving out their daughter in marriage. They would have felt that they made an investment on the daughter and held on to her, but the pleasant thing is that they will be more elated when they realise the husband is worthwhile, this is a clear analogy of how we felt when realised that the state House will be, ceded to Lagos.”

Bello described the development as an affirmation of the healthy intergovernmental relationship between the federal and the state government.

The SSG said: “The successful handover of this structure which represent one of the landmarks of the city of Lagos is an eloquent testimony to the new dawn of politics of tolerance and inclusiveness which the All Progressive Congress (APC) has brought to Nigerian landscape.

“We will ensure that the edifice becomes a tourist destination which residents of Lagos in particular and Nigerians in general would not only be proud of but which compares to similar ones in distant destination.”

Also part of the Lagos State team at the handover were: Commissioners for Special Duties & Intergovernmental Relations, Seye Oladejo; Housing (Prince Gbolahan Lawal); Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (Mrs. Lola Akande); Special Adviser on Tourism & Culture (Adebimpe Akinsola); Special Adviser on Urban Development, Mrs. Yewande Onabule and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Olujimi Hotonu.

NEWS / TSA: Again, Govt Tackles Banks Over Unremitted Funds
« on: Today at 05:17:07 AM »
The Federal Government is not giving up on plans to recover $793.2 million from seven banks that failed to remit funds into the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The government has hired international audit firms to reconcile and retrieve public sector funds being withheld by the banks. Will the new move by the government succeed in recovering the funds? NDUKA CHIEJINA and COLLINS NWEZE report.

THE Federal Government is excited on the impact of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) on its coffers. Since its introduction in 2015, the TSA has remained a masterstroke against corruption and misapplication of public funds by corporate organisations and individuals. But for commercial banks, which hitherto relied on such public funds to post huge profits, the policy has been a nightmare.

For nearly two years of its implementation, over N7 trillion has entered government coffers, giving the country more control of its earnings and public accounting system.

Last month, the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered seven commercial banks to temporarily remit a total of $793.2 million; they allegedly hid in contravention of the government’s TSA policy.

Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the seven banks to remit the various amounts allegedly being kept illegally in their custody to the designated Federal Government’s asset recovery dollar account, domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The concerned banks are United Bank for Africa Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc. All the lenders have denied keeping such funds.

There was a twist when last week, the Federal Government approached the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos with an application seeking to withdraw its suit against the seven banks it accused of violating the TSA rules.

In what many took for another twist, the government yesterday announced that it has directed international audit firms to reconcile and retrieve public sector funds being withheld by banks.

Hamza Adeyemi, a director of funds in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) made the disclosure in Abuja.

“Banks have thrown professionalism to the winds. Some banks are still holding on to funds of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) not transferred to the Treasury Single Account (TSA)”, Adeyemi said.

This, he said, is despite the fact that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had sanctioned some banks by directly debiting their accounts.

According to Adeyemi, the federal government in 2004, lost over N70 billion, being funds in the possession of some commercial banks.

On government’s plans to recover and reconcile all public sector accounts, Adeyemi said: “Accounting /auditing firms are auditing banks to recover funds still with the banks. Some of the audit firms involved are: Ernst &Young and PWC etc, the audit will be very comprehensive.”

He accused the banks of not adhering to the presidential directive to return all public funds in their possession to the TSA domiciled in CBN.

As recently as some few weeks ago, Adeyemi claimed that more funds were recovered from some banks still holding to government revenues.

The government, he assured, “is monitoring to ensure that these monies are paid into the federation’s coffers. Comprehensive reconciliation is ongoing. A lot has been done, but more still needs to be done.”

When asked to comment on idle funds captured under the TSA, Adeyemi disclosed that there is “over N300 billion idle funds in (TSA), a special CBN available window to be invested in Treasury Bills (TB) which attracts interest. The interest accrued goes back to the TSA of government.”

Speaking on the success of the TSA, Adeyemi noted: “This is the first time in the history of this country that N1.2 trillion will be disbursed for capital projects in the 2016 fiscal year; this is because of TSA. In the past, some of the funds were fixed in the banks or just idling away in the banks, not being used for what they are meant for.”

The director added that with the TSA introduction, the exact amount in the consolidated cash position of the federal government can now be accessed by the OAGF at the touch of botton, thus availing the government of how much it has at its disposal for spending.

The Director, Inspectorate Department, OAGF, fingered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for withholding unspent cash at the end of the financial year.

Usman said: “INEC says it is empowered to retain funds, but we (OAGF) have written to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) for clarification on that because it is part of public accounts procedure to return left over cash to the chest.

“The issue is now a subject with the public accounts committee of the National Assembly since 2015.”

He also disclosed that all the MDAs at one time or the other, have fallen short of keeping proper assets register. “All MDAs are not a--- with the asset register. It has become more imperative now, giving the new accounting techniques adopted by the Federal Government to keep accurate assets register.”

Feedback on TSA

The feedback from the project has shown it as one of the best economic decisions ever taken by the government to ensure accountability and transparency is the management of public funds.

It is believed that proper management of funds and transparency central to the growth of every economy.

Before the advent of the TSA in September 2015, the notoriety in the management of public funds brought the country to the state of near-economic-collapse. The TSA has so far proven to be the most significant achievement of the current administration so far.

The backbone of the functionality of the TSA in is Remita, an e-payment solution adopted by the CBN for the payment and collections of funds on behalf of the Federal Government and used by all commercial banks and over 500 microfinance banks.

Remita has significantly assisted to revolutionise the e-payment industry in Nigeria and its developer, SystemSpecs has been described as the unsung hero of Nigeria’s financial reform.

The TSA has been able to consolidate all inflows from government agencies using a single account-Consolidated Revenue Account (CRA) at the apex bank. Its effectiveness has greatly proven that a level of sanity can be achieved in the use of public funds.

Analysts believe that the TSA has helped Buhari administration’s anti-corruption fight by flushing out ghost workers and saving the economy from imminent collapse.

“Remita processes over $30 billion worth of transactions every year, and that’s just within Nigeria,” SystemSpecs’ Executive Director, Deremi  Atanda, said at the yearly Gulf International Technology Exhibition (GITEX) in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE).

He went on: “There’s also a roadmap to take Remita to Africa. So, if you have a vision to be part of revolutionising payments in Africa at whatever level, driving financial inclusion at the national level, savings, micro-savings and micro-transactions, Remita is best placed to help you achieve that.”

The TSA policy – initiated by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan but implemented by his successor President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration – stipulates that all government  taxes, levies and tariffs should be deposited in the CBN.

The funds would subsequently be disbursed to MDAs based on approved rules to ensure accountability in the management of government resources. Several attempts to adopt TSA in the past were unsuccessful. Reason: the CBN lacked the technological-know-how to manage the retail aspect of the policy. An e-technology platform, Real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS), initially expected to drive the payment leg TSA policy in Nigeria was unsuitable for retail payments.

The analysts explained that apart from reducing the corruption level, the TSA greatly exposes the emerging potential of Nigeria’s FinTech Industry.

As global competition rises and technology advances, the need to leverage IT for co-creation of value is a major factor for development, they said.

SystemSpecs’s Chief Executive Officer, John Obaro, said the deployment of Remita has reduced government’s debt servicing costs, lowered liquidity reserve needs and boosted effective use of surplus cash.

Obaro said his firm would continue to deliver on the TSA service terms of contract with the CBN despite being owed its earned fees on e-collections. He disclosed that some bank branches have started to turn down collection of government deposits due to the non-payment of these agreed fees.

He said: “From our end, we have continued to provide and support the Remita platform, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, for use by citizens for all their payments to the Federal Government. Our continued support for the TSA is fuelled by our belief in the enormous benefits the Remita software brings to the implementation of TSA to the average citizen.

Presenting a paper at a workshop organised in Abuja by the OAGF and the World Bank, Prof. Stephen Ocheni (now Minister of State for Labour & Productivity), said that achieving efficient allocation of resources and the stabilisation of the business cycle remained great challenges facing most parts of the world, particularly developing countries like Nigeria.

In the paper obtained by The Nation and entitled: “Treasury Single Account: A catalyst for public financial management in Nigeria”, Ocheni (then of Public Sector Accounting at Kogi State University, Anyigba), said: “An important factor for efficient management and control of government’s cash resources is a unified structure of government banking.

“Such unified banking arrangements should be designed to minimise the cost of government borrowing and maximise the opportunity cost of cash resources. This requires that cash received is made available for carrying out government’s expenditure programmes and making payments in a timely manner.”

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has initiated and implemented the TSA and other economic policies for better management of national resources and to strengthen the anti-corruption battle.

Besides the TSA, the government also introduced the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Automated Accounting Transaction Recording and Reporting System (ATRRS), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS), among others, to promote public financial management systems.

NEWS / Hate Speech’ll Be Treated As Treason, Says Osinbajo
« on: Today at 05:15:45 AM »
HATE speech promoters got a warning yesterday – stop it or face the law.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said that those making hate speeches will henceforth be treated as terrorists.

He spoke in Abuja during the National Economic Council (NEC) Retreat on National Security, attended by governors and some ministers.

Stressing that government is tired of series of hate speeches going-on around the country, he said such speeches were categorised under the law as acts of terrorism.

Nigeria, Osinbajo said, has been beclouded with incitement capable of jeopardising peaceful coexistence.

He said: “Please permit me a comment on hate speech. The Federal Government has today drawn the line on hate speech. Hate speech is a specie of terrorism.

“Terrorism, as it is defined popularly is the unlawful use of violence or intimidation against individuals or groups, especially for political ends. The law, that is the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended), defines terrorism as inter Alia, an act which is deliberately done with malice which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population.

“The intimidation of a population by words, by speech is an act of terrorism and this government intends to take this matter very seriously. As I have said, we’ve drawn a line against hate speech, it will not be tolerated, it will be taken as an act of terrorism and all of the consequences will follow it.”

The Acting President urged business, religious and political leaders to condemn hate speech in the strongest possible terms at all times.

According to him, leaders who keep mum can only be seen as supporting the hate speeches.

Osinbajo said: “Hate speech, and the promotion of the same throughout history; from Nazi Germany and the extermination of Jews to the Rwandan genocide succeeded in achieving their barbarous ends by the silence of influential voices from the aggressor communities.

“When leaders in communities that speak in such a manner as to create dissension or to intimidate a population are quiet, they do a great disservice to our unity and nation.

“This is why I urge all of our political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and all of those who truly want a united country and a country where there will be peace and security, to ensure that we do not tolerate by our silence the hate speech that we hear every day in our community.”

Stressing that the Constitution states that the primary purpose of government shall be the security and welfare of the people, Osinbajo quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as saying: “you cannot administer a country you have not secured.”

“Corruption and security are also interconnected. We are all witnesses to how, only a few years ago, much of North Eastern Nigeria was at risk of falling completely into the hands of Boko Haram, largely because widespread corruption in the military had robbed our troops of the resources and morale needed to fight and defeat the terrorists.

“Regarding this all-important issue of security in Nigeria, we all know what the issues are. In our lives as politicians and as elites; in our security meetings and confidential briefings, in news reports and editorials in the media, we are all daily confronted by the disturbing reality of Nigeria’s security situation.

Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen (CJN) pledged the commitment of the judiciary to doing things differently for a good society where peace and justice reign.

He said “I want to tell you also that though we also say that there are two sides to a coin, in reality, there are three sides to a coin. In our condition in terms of where we find ourselves today, it is my personal view that insecurity, corruption, and impunity are the three sides of the same coin which ought to be taken together holistically if we are to move the country forward.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said that 99.9% of insecurity issues largely emanate from the states; only few are in the centre in Abuja.

He said: “It is the primary responsibility of government to secure lives and properties of its citizens. Governors are doing their best and the security chiefs can attest to that. We have been shouldering so many responsibilities of logistics in our separate states.

“If government will not achieve anything, it must achieve two things- fighting corruption and ensuring that they fix insecurity.

“We are still having some pockets of issues in the Northeast, which is Worrisome. In the last 12 months we were experiencing some kind of Progress, but, all of a sudden it resurfaced again. And also you will agree with me that the issue of security is two sides although the CJN said it is three sides. Security and the economy has to work together.

“The issue of insecurity is being supported by our teeming youths on thestreets and they are saying that anybody

“Government needs to deploy resources and encourage both those from the centre to employ those youths on the streets and take them out of the street so that they can have something good to engage them.

We have not been paying much attention to agriculture. In the last 10 years, only N400billion was invested from either the Central Bank of Nigeria or commercial banks or the capital markets.

“But in 2010, Amcon came to rescue banks with bad debts and over N4trillion was injected into Amcon and no much impact was made on agric. And even the Anchor Borrowers programme two years only N23billion has been invested for 200,000 farmers across the nation. In two years, N23billion can do nothing to the sector that we believe can give employment to 75% of Nigerians. Something has to be done.” he stated.

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