Breaking: FG Unveils New National Carrier, Nigerian Air 

By Nofisat Marindoti 

The Federal Government has revealed the name and logo for the new National Carrier.

Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow in London, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed that the National Carrier would be called “Nigerian Air”.

Farnborough is one of the biggest Airshows in the world, where decision makers and industry experts gather every two years to do business.

The Minister also disclosed that the Nigerian Government will not own more than 5% (maximum) of the new National Carrier, adding that Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it.

“We want to use this new private-sector-led airline to make a statement that, ‘Yes, Nigeria can do it!’ and we also want to promote our cultures and traditions. It will also create economic opportunities and jobs. The new National Carrier will bring Nigeria closer to the world.

“81 routes (domestic, regional and international) identified for now, for #NigeriaAir, out of more than a thousand considered” he added.

See photos from the ceremony shared on Twitter handles:

Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika unveiling Nigeria Air in London.

    

 

World Bank Approves $2.1bn Loan For Seven Projects In Nigeria

The World Bank has announced the approval of $2.1bn loan for seven projects to be executed in Nigeria.

A statement issued in Abuja on Thursday said the loans were approved in Washington on Wednesday and are for seven projects to support Nigeria’s investment in nutrition, access to electricity, states’ fiscal transparency, polio eradication, women’s economic empowerment, public finance and national statistics and reducing vulnerability to soil erosion.

World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, was quoted to have said, “The Federal Government of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan identifies human capital investment, restoring growth, and building a competitive economy as its key pillars.

The projects approved by the International Development Association, the bank’s low-interest arm, are expected to support Nigeria’s economic growth plan.

Growth rates in Nigeria have bounced back since the third quarter of 2016, when a recession, its first in 25 years, bottomed out. Growth returned largely due to higher oil prices, with the country relying on crude sales for much of its revenue.

However, growth slowed again in the first quarter of 2018, as the country’s non-oil sector struggled.

The government expects growth to rise to a pre-recession level of 7 percent by 2020.

The World Bank said more than half of the loans would be used to fund power and climate change projects and boost fiscal transparency. It also approved a $7 million grant for nutrition.

Nigeria privatised most of its power sector in 2013 but retained control of its dilapidated monopoly transmission grid, often blamed for hobbling growth.

The country intends to raise $2.8 billion of debt offshore to help part-finance its 2018 budget and plans to explore all options to lower costs, the debt office head told Reuters.

The debt office said it could tap capital markets or concessionary loans from the World Bank after the 2018 budget had been approved.

(Additional reports from agency)

Dasuki Vs FG: Court To Rule On N5bn July 2

The Federal High Court in Abuja will on July 2 deliver judgment on the propriety or otherwise of the two and a half years long detention of the immediate-past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).

Dasuki, in the suit, asked the court to declare his detention by the Department of State Service since December 29, 2015 illegal and award in his favour the sum of N5bn as “general damages and compensation” for the alleged violation of his rights.

Arguing his client’s suit which was filed March 15, this year, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), said there was no legal basis for keeping the ex-NSA in detention for over two years.

Joined in the suits as the respondent were the Director-General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, the DSS itself, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, all of whom opposed the suit on Monday.

DSS operatives had on December 29, 2015, re-arrested and took Dasuki into custody shortly after he was released from Kuje Prison in Abuja on meeting the bail conditions imposed on him by the courts where is being currently prosecuted.

He had been granted bail by both the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, where he is facing two separate sets of charges of diversion of funds earmarked for purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North-East, and the Federal High Court in Abuja where he is being prosecuted on charges of illegal possession of firearms and money laundering.

He instituted the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/263/2018, on March 15, 2018, following the Supreme Court’s judgment delivered on March 2, 2018, dismissing his case in which he had sought an order stopping his trials until he was released from “unlawful” detention.

Earlier before the Supreme Court’s judgment, he had obtained a favourable judgment of the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice delivered on October 4, 2016, ordering his release from illegal custody but which the DSS had not obeyed.

Dasuki’s lawyer, Raji, told Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Monday that the continued detention of his client on the grounds that he would constitute a threat to national security if released, was not legally justifiable.

Raji said the allegations of diverting of funds meant for fighting insurgency and being in illegal possession of firearms were already the subjects of his client’s ongoing trials in which the the ex-NSA had been granted bail, thus could not be the basis ‎for his continued detention.

Aregbesola Signs Executive Bill On Youth, Women Empowerment

Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has signed an Executive Bill focusing on key areas of Youth, Women and other areas of addressing issues concerning the welfare of the vulnerable and less privileged in the state.

The bill is to also institutionalize efforts of the government under its Social Investment Programme.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State of Osun, Dr Ajibola Basiru disclosed this at the Start-Up Meeting on Building a Pro-Bono Culture in Nigeria facilitated by the Justice Research Institute, Nigeria Bar Association and the State Ministry of Justice.

The meeting held in Osogbo, the state capital seeks to bring together stakeholders from various arms of the Pro-Bono Initiative on the War against Sexual and Gender Based Violence with a view to providing free legal services in the prosecution of vulnerable victims cases in Osun.

Basiru stated that the programme is key due to the vulnerability and susceptibility of the society to Gender-based Violence called on all stakeholders to ensure Transparency and Accountability in the dispensation of Justice.

In his remarks, the Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Anti-Corruption, Mr Akingbolahan Adeniran said the initiative is targeted at ensuring sanity in the society in respect to rampant cases of gender-based violence.

Adeniran is of the opinion that if the Pro-Bono Measure is adopted in states of the Nigerian federation, the usage of the Rule of Law to achieve Social Justice.

He however underscored the role of the media in noting the key areas cum ideals to cover in avoiding stigmatization and other societal negligence for victims.

In separate papers, Funmi Owuye, the coordinator of the Lagos Pro-Bono project gave account of the successes achieved so far with emphasis on the need to get the relevant stakeholders to action in the State of Osun.

The programme gave birth to the inauguration of the State of Osun Task Force Public Interest Law Partnership comprising of relevant stakeholders including the State Ministry of Justice, Osun Chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Justice Research Institute by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr Ajibola Basiru.

 

PDP Cautions FG Over Plan To Establish Ranches

The Peoples Democratic Party has called on the Federal Government to exercise caution over its plan to establish cattle ranches in some parts of the country and hold enough consultations so as not to escalate the same problems it claims to be addressing.

The party noted that the situation has already generated discordant tunes and acrimony among major stakeholders, groups, and states across the country, particularly relating to issues of funding and land ownership.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement in Abuja on Thursday that the PDP is particularly worried by the lack of adequate consultations by the Federal Government resulting in the disagreements that had trailed the plan, especially along ethnic divides.

He said, “The party calls on the Federal Government to get its acts together and follow all due processes, as stipulated by the laws and 1999 constitution (as amended) regarding this issue, in order to eliminate the current disagreements being generated.

“The PDP holds that the nation has witnessed enough disagreements, violence, and bloodletting, as such all measures must be put in place to avert a fresh crisis.”

Nigeria, Morocco Sign Agreements On Regional Gas Pipeline, Others

Nigeria and Morocco on Monday in Rabat, Morocco, signed three agreements, which includes a regional gas pipeline that will see Nigeria providing gas to countries in West Africa sub-region that extend to Morocco and Europe.

According to a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, the signing of the agreements, witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari and King of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed V1, followed a meeting between the two African leaders that focused on strengthening economic relations in gas resource development, global investments and agricultural training and management.

The statement said the feasibility study of the agreement on the pipeline, which was signed by the Group General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Farouq Said Garba, and Mrs Amina Benkhadra, Director General of the National Office of Hydrocarbon and Mines, will be concluded by July 2018.

It added: “The construction of the pipeline will be phased and based on increasing needs of the countries crossed, and Europe, for the period of 25 years.

“The Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP), designed to be 5,660km long, will reduce gas flaring in Nigeria and encourage diversification of energy resources in the country, while cutting down poverty through the creation of more job opportunities.

“The NMGP will further encourage utilisation of gas in the sub-region for cooking, and discourage desertification.”

The statement disclosed that at the ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Authority, Mr Uche Orji and the Chief Executive Officer of the Office of the Management of Phosphate in Morocco, Mr Mostafa Terrab signed a Memorandom of Understanding for the development of a chemical plant in Nigeria for producing ammonia and its derivatives.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh and his Moroccan counterpart, Mr Aziz Akhannouch, signed a cooperation agreement on vocational training and technical supervision, which will enhance skills on better management of agricultural outfits in Nigeria.

President Buhari, who was received by a large crowd from the airport to the Rabat Royal Palace, assured the King of Morocco of Nigeria’s full commitment to the actualisation of all the agreements signed,” the statement said.

FG Adds 9,400 Beneficiaries To N-Power Scheme

The Federal Government has added another 9,400 beneficiaries to the N-power scheme under the Social Investment Programme, SIP.

Addressing State House correspondents after the FEC meeting yesterday, Zaynab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, said the SIP had up to 9.76 million beneficiaries at the moment.

The minister said the N-power scheme had 200,000 beneficiaries already deployed as teachers, agriculture extension workers and health extension workers.

She said: “So, we are adding to these numbers by moving to the N-Power knowledge category. This is a category where non-graduates will be trained in skills and attached to companies, where they will gain experience during apprenticeship. The categories are three: first is a group of 2,000 beneficiaries that will be trained in software development, web development and will be equipped with devices.”

“Second category is the supply of 3,000 devices that will be used by staff of the National Cash Transfer office at the national, state, local and Ward levels to register beneficiaries of the National Cash Transfer programme to able to record their data, BVN and their biometrics information as well as the location of where they are.

“The third approval was the training of 2,900 beneficiaries in building, construction and automobile related industries skills. This training will cover electrical installations, carpentry, joinery, welding and fabrication, plumbing and piping fitting, paintings and decoration as well as automobile technology.

She added that, “The training will be for a period of three months and also one apprenticeship attachment. At the end of the training they will be given tools related to the trade that they trained for, so that they will become self-employed.”

“The fourth category is the N-Power creating. It is meant to teach our youths on how to cover their creative skills into technology to be able to do animation, graphic illustration, script writing and post production activities. There will be 1,500 beneficiaries and would be trained for a period of one month and will have two months apprenticeship in a relevant company and agency that has the capacity to train them.”

“At the end of this training, each of this group of beneficiaries will be going with the devices that will be provided to them. The devices will have uploaded special software specific to the skills they have acquired. Our target is that at the end of the day they will be self-employed and be able to employ more people.”

FG Increases Maternity Leave To Four Months

The Federal Government has increased maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 16.

The government also advised women to seek legal action against discrimination and abuses at workplace.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said this when he addressed a plenary session at the ongoing 107th International Labour Conference holding in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday.

The theme of the conference is “A Future With Decent Work.”

Ngige had noted that in public service, Nigeria recently increased the period for maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks “to allow enough recuperation time for both baby and mother in terms of breastfeeding.”

He added that all disciplinary proceedings against any female member of staff which may have been taken during period of her maternity leave shall be put in abeyance till the expiration of the leave.

“Employers of labour are also barred from removal of women from work due to their marital status.

“Illegal labour migration, contract staffing and labour casualisation which affects most women are being reformed through policies and regulations at national, bilateral and multilateral levels.

Ngige said that the promotion of youths and women employment and enhancement of the status of women at workplace had continued to be a challenge in the society over the last decade.

According to him, the most effective method of eliminating gender inequality from the workplace lies in vigorous opposition to employers’ discriminatory conducts, policies and harassment in all forms whenever they occur.

“Women who fall victims to these abuses are encouraged to oppose such through legal actions as well as report to labour inspectors,’’ he said.

He stressed the need to put in place appropriate legislation, policies and practices to deal with the gender gaps which inhibit greater participation of women in the labour force.

According to him, the injection of punitive measures and sanctions into Labour Inspection Guide, Law and Code of practice, can serve as future deterrent.

The minister assured that the Nigerian government was committed to promoting youths and women employment as well as enhance the status of women at workplace.

Ngige said this had been exacerbated by economic recession brought about by fall in oil price, and militancy in some parts of the country.

“This is especially in the North-East, and the issue of returnee migrants, majority of whom are women and young girls trafficked for slavery and sex work.

“For a country in which females constitute 49. 4 per cent of the total population of over 190 million, it is therefore, imperative that the issues which hinder increased and effective women participation in the labour force be properly addressed,’’ he said.

He said that the government drew up and had been implementing an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan aimed at addressing gender inequality and youths unemployment

Ngige said Nigeria had also initiated a School-to-Work (N-Power) programme, designed to empower young women and men with skills to facilitate their entry into labour market.

The programme, he said, had an initial two years’ span.

The minister, however, noted that Nigerian government had taken some specific measures to address inequality and had recorded some successes.

According to him, some of the successes reordered are the principle of equal pay for equal work for all, without discrimination on account of sex.

This, he added, was enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

He also said that employers of labour in both the public and private sectors were by regulations requested to provide workplace crèches for nursing mothers for ease at workplace.

 

He called for technical assistance from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the area of gender audits.

(NAN)

FG Begins Implementation Of New Excise Duties On Alcohol, Tobacco

The Federal Government will today begin the implementation of the new excise duties for alcohol and tobacco.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in March assented to an increase in excise duties for tobacco, beer, wine, and spirits imported permitting a grace period of 90 days for implementation.

This follows after the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun wrote to President Buhari to seek approval of the excise review.

The Minister stated that Adeosun noted that the reviews would be from 2018 to 2020 in order to reduce an expected negative impact on the sector.

According to her, the health hazards associated with tobacco-related diseases and alcohol abuse will be reduced.

“The Tariff Technical Committee (TCC) recommended the slight adjustment in the excise duty charges after cautious considerations of the government’s fiscal policy measures for 2018 and the reports of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund Technical Assistance Mission on Nigeria’s fiscal policy.

“The effect of the excise duty rates adjustment on trade and investment was also assessed by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment and it adopted the recommendations of the TTC.

“Peer country comparisons were also carried out showing Nigeria as being behind the curve in the review of excise duty rates on alcoholic beverages and tobacco.”

The upward review of the rates was carried out in line with new ECOWAS standards and is expected to boost the government’s revenue and discourage abuse of the items.

FG Now Feeds Over 8.2m Pupils In 24 States

The Presidency disclosed om Wednesday that the federal government now feeds 8,260,984 pupils in 45,394 public primary schools in 24 states under its National Home Grown School Feeding Programme.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the number had exceeded the target of 5.5 million pupils earmarked to be fed free daily under the initiative.

He listed the 24 states to include: Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia, Benue, Plateau and Bauchi States.

Others are Taraba, Kaduna, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Jigawa, Niger, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Ondo and Borno.

According to him, over 80,000 direct jobs have since been created from the school feeding programme with 87,261 cooks engaged in the 24 participating states.

He added that the entire 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) would eventually benefit from the programme.

“Not only has the Buhari administration’s School Feeding Programme created jobs for thousands of Nigerians in these communities where the programme is being implemented, it has also helped to boost local economies by linking the local farmers to the school feeding market.

“Similarly, the school feeding programme continues to record significant milestones in the classrooms as the scheme has led to an increase in enrolment.

“Another important aspect of the School Feeding Programme is that by providing a meal a day for millions of pupils, it addresses the issues of malnutrition and stunting among children, increasing the chances of the pupils making a significant headway in their learning and in life.

“The NHGSFP plans to implement feeding in 28 states in the coming months, and all over the federation,” he added.

Killings: FG To Rehabilitate Destroyed Communities With N10bn

The Federal Government has approved a rehabilitation fund of N10bn for victims of killer herdsmen attacks in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, as part of efforts to resettle thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made this known on Tuesday during a visit to IDP camps in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

 

He told over 34,000 IDPs who are taking refuge at the Abagana camp that the government is doing everything possible to ensure they are immediately resettled in their ancestral homes.

Professor Osinbajo who also promised to supervise the rehabilitation process, announced a three-point solution of providing adequate security for the communities, rebuilding destroyed homes and restoring farmlands currently being occupied by invading herdsmen to enable food production.

Several states have witnessed various attacks by the killer herdsmen since the beginning of the year with Benue state being one of the worst hit.

In April, the state government declared that the state was under a siege, following another attack on a church in which several persons were killed.

Subsequently, the governor, Samuel Ortom, dragged the leadership of the Miyetti Allah group before the State High Court, Markurdi, on the allegations of murder and widespread violence across 14 out of the 23 local councils of the state.

But the group has maintained that it has no involvement in the killings.

Several groups have, however, attributed the killings to the implementation of the anti-grazing law which bans open-grazing of cattle in the state.

But some others believe the anti-grazing law must not be compromised as it has nothing to do with the killings.

The Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose had said that contrary to the belief in some quarters that Law was responsible for the killings, the Federal Government’s handling of security matters was to blame.