Presidency Dismisses Reports Of VP Osinbajo Trip Cancellation

Following reports that Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo cancelled his trip to India, the Presidency has reacted with some clarification.

It was reported that Osinbajo’s trip to India had been cancelled as a result of the clash with President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to Equatorial Guinea.

Hence, the reports inferred that the Vice President was compelled to cancel his trip to avoid a situation whereby the Senate President, Bukola Saraki takes over as Acting President.

The Presidency however, said Nigeria would not cancel its attendance of the Indian/African summit while revealing that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah would lead Nigeria’s delegation to India.

A statement was on Sunday, released by media aide to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, who debunked the media reports- yet without a clear denial that Professor Osinbajo was not initially scheduled to embark on the trip.

“Nigeria has been invited to the Indian/African summit and the minister of industry, trade and investment will be leading a delegation to the event.”

“There is nothing like cancellation. Remember that the visit of the Vice President to any country is not treated in secrecy. Whenever the Vice President is to travel out of the country, we inform Nigerians.”

“So, this story in question is a bunch of speculation. There is no cancellation.”

Buhari Off To Equatorial Guinea

In continuation of the Federal Government’s efforts to achieve greater security of lives, resources and investments in all parts of Nigeria and its sub-region, President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Monday for talks with President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo on further measures to protect the people and resources of the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea.

The conclusion and signing of an agreement by Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea for the establishment of a combined maritime policing and security patrol committee on Tuesday is expected to be the major outcome of President Buhari’s talks with his host.

President Buhari and President Mbasogo are also expected to discuss and agree on other collaborative measures to combat crimes such as piracy, crude oil theft, attacks on oil rigs, arms smuggling and human trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea.

Both leaders will also confer on the rescheduling of the joint summit of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States on additional cooperative measures to curb terrorism and violent extremism in West and Central Africa.

The summit was to have been hosted by Equatorial Guinea last year but was postponed because of Nigeria’s general elections.

In accordance with the main focus and agenda of the trip, President Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and other senior security officials.

He is scheduled to return to Abuja on Tuesday.

Buhari Assures Of Nigeria’s Support For Breakaway Western Sahara

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria would stand with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in line with several resolutions of the African Union (AU) on the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and independence.

A statement issued yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said Buhari spoke while ‎receiving Mohammed Salem Ould Salek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of SADR at the State House, Abuja on Friday.

Buhari assured him that outstanding issues on self-determination for the country would be scrupulously attended to.

“The issue first came up when I was in office as military head of state. After I left government, Nigeria remained steadfast on it.

“In my maiden outing at the UN General Assembly last September, the issue of Sahrawi was in my speech. You have no cause to doubt our commitment. We stand with our African Union colleagues on this issue.

“Nigeria will maintain focus till everything is finally resolved positively,” Buhari told Salek, who visited Abuja as Special Envoy of President Mohammed Abdelaziz of SADR.

Salek said his country would never forget the role Nigeria and its then military head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari played in recognising his country in 1984, when it sought self-determination from Morocco.

“It paved the way for the UN to adopt several key resolutions on Western Sahara, elaborating a peace plan. History is now repeating itself, as you are the President of Nigeria at a time the Sahrawi issue is being put on the front burner again’’, he pointed out.

The Special Envoy told Buhari that his country needed a special push from Nigeria again, as it received in 1984, “to accelerate matters”.

He said that Nigeria helped a lot of African countries achieve independence, noting that SADR was the only pending matter on the continent.

Since its inception, the SADR has been recognised by over 80 countries around the world, and in 1984 it became a full member of the OAU and is a founding member of the AU.

Buhari Makes Case For Hajj Stampede Victims

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the authorities of Saudi Arabia to come out with the outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna in 2015 during which 274 Nigerians were believed to have died.

Buhari has also made a case for compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba.

According to a statement on Saturday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President raised the issues during the talks he had with Saudi rulers during his one-week official visit to the country.

Shehu said following the completion of talks with rulers of the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, Buhari directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Hajj Commission to sit down with the Saudis to negotiate improved terms and conditions for Nigerian pilgrims performing the Umrah and the annual Hajj.

This, he said, followed the acceptance by the Saudi government to freely and openly discuss outstanding issues with Nigeria.

“President Buhari, among other things, requested the Saudis to conclude all issues with the Nigerian Hajj Commission, such as the undetermined outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna last year, where our officials believe that 274 Nigerian lives were lost.

“There is also the case of compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba and 35 others from the stampede whose DNA profile is feared to be missing.

“President Buhari equally charged the Ministry and the NAHCON to seek a reduction of fees associated with the Umrah Visa,” he said.

Among the 17 issues tendered at the initial meeting between the officials of both countries, Shehu said Nigeria appreciated the increase offered for Umrah pilgrimage but asked that the 76,000 seats maintained for the Hajj be also increased.

The meeting was said to have been led by Nigeria’s Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Fatima Abba Ibrahim and Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammed on the Nigerian side while the Saudi side was led by their Minister of Hajj Affairs, Dr.Bandar bin Muhammad al-Hajjar.

The two countries are expected to follow up on all the issues in the coming weeks.

Budget Was Compromised, Perpetrators Will Face Full Force Of The Law- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari vowed late Tuesday in Riyadh that all those involved in the “padding” of the 2016 National Budget will face the most severe punishment. Addressing the Nigerian Community in Saudi Arabia, President Buhari condemned the distortion of the budget proposals by entrenched interests.

The President said that the unauthorised alterations had completely changed the document from the one he presented to the National Assembly.

“The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund. Never had I heard the words “budget padding”. Our Minister of Budget and National Planning did a great job with his team. The Minister became almost half his size during the time, working night and day to get the budget ready, only for some people to pad it.

“What he gave us was not what was finally being debated. It is very embarrassing and disappointing. We will not allow those who did it to go unpunished,” President Buhari vowed.

The President also assured members of the Nigerian community that his administration was working diligently to fulfil its campaign promises, particularly on security, unemployment, and corruption.

Reaffirming his government’s zero tolerance for corruption, President Buhari said that the war against corruption was a monumental task that he is determined to tackle successfully.

“We have zero tolerance for corruption and other unethical practices. We will deal decisively with anybody found wanting,” he promised members of the Nigerian community.

President Buhari also used the opportunity of the gathering to brief Nigerians in Saudi Arabia on his administration’s efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.

“Our armed forces have done a great job of dealing decisively with Boko Haram. We are collaborating with our neighbors in the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force to handle security threats in the sub-region and we have significantly destroyed the capacity of the insurgents,” the President said.

He also spoke on efforts being made to diversify the Nigerian economy, stressing that more opportunities are now open for local and foreign investors in the country.

The Scoop

Nigeria, Saudi Arabia Commit To Oil Price Rise

President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz, on Tuesday expressed commitment to a stable oil market and a rebound of oil price in the international market.

At a bilateral meeting between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, the two leaders accepted the fact that their two economies are tied to oil and that all cannot be well with both countries when the world oil market is unstable.

In a statement issued by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the two leaders committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilize the market and rebound the oil price.

After extensive discussions on regional and global issues, they also agreed that terrorism posed a common threat to their states and would require close cooperation to prevail over the threats.

President Buhari , who was making his first pronouncement on the invitation to join the coalition of Islamic states against terror spearheaded by the Saudis, congratulated the Kingdom on its formation.

He said: “Even if we are not a part of it, we support you. I must thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the recent creation of a coalition to address the menace of international terrorism. Nigeria will support your efforts in keeping peace and stopping the spread of terror in your region.

“This is in consonance with our own commitment and on-going efforts in seeking to stamp out Boko Haram terrorists from the West African sub-region and Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) .”

The Nation

Nigeria, Japan Plan $800m Rehabilitation Credit For Jebba Power Plant

The Federal Government and the government of Japan have completed arrangement to sign all relevant agreements towards securing $800million credit to add 578.4 megawatts(MW) of power generation capacity to Jebba Hydro Power Plant.

This is just as one of the plant’s turbines with a generation capacity of 96.4MW, which was rehabilitated by Japan after a fire outbreak, was commissioned to increase its available generation capacity to 482MW.

Deputy Head of Mission at Japan’s Embassy, Mr. Masaya Otsuka, who made the disclosure in Jebba when Japan handed over to Nigeria at Jebba the overhauled unit of the six generating turbines it rehabilitated for the country at the plant, said the credit line would be used to rehabilitate and extend the lifespan of four extra units of the plant.

The loan, he said, was part of Japan’s support for Nigeria’s power sector, noting that it was under the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD, framework, and would include 1.4 per cent concessionary rate for 40 years.

Otsuka noted that if approved under a government-to-government agreement, the loan would be used to refurbish the four generating turbines which had not undergone any form of mandatory overhaul since they were commissioned in 1983.

At present, the Jebba plant is operated by Mainstream Energy Solutions under a concession framework in the federal government’s power sector privatisation.


Nigeria To Host African Beach Soccer Tourney

Nigeria has been awarded the host rights for the 2016 Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations by CAF.

The continental football governing body in a letter to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Tuesday stated that it is ready to meet with the West African nation to “start preparations of the said competition.”

CAF also announced that the beach soccer tournament had been switched from 2017 to 2016 so as to precede the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup which may hold early 2017.

“Considering indeed that the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup might be held early 2017, and that CAF in odd years do organize three major events back to back, namely the Africa Cup of Nations followed by the Under-20 and Under-17 Cup of Nations from January to April 2017, the CAF Executive Committee decided to ease the overall calendar of events by organizing the Beach Soccer Cup of Nations every even years from now on.

“Hence, we look forward to a tremendous competition and to meet your team as soon as possible to start the preparations of the said competition,” part of CAF’s letter to the Glass House had stated.

The Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations will take place in Lagos in December this year and will also serve as qualification for next Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in Bahamas.


Nigeria’s Economy: Awakening The Snoring Giant

By Adekoya Boladale

On January 28th, 2016 Channels Television aired a community programme where a man in Benin, Edo State with little education and has never left the shores of Nigeria was able to build an operational unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV), commonly known as drone, without any special training using everyday tools and parts within his environment. This is just one in the tones of unsung stories of innovations and creativity Nigerians have been producing for decades. While these talents go to waste, we spend billions of dollars yearly procuring the same innovations produced by foreign firms.

A friend said to me over the weekend “If Mark Zuckerberg were a Nigerian and he created Facebook in a garage somewhere in Lagos or Ogun state, the innovation would not pass the four walls of his house.” And he is right;Nigerians would still not have used ‘Whatsapp’ if it was developed by a Nigerian, we prefer ‘Uber’ to ‘Easy Taxi’ ‘Amazon’ to ‘Konga’, unfortunately for us, days such as these are over.

Nigeria is dying and it is only a matter of months before our economy collapse, saying we are in austere times is merely playing it mildly, when a country of over 160 million people produce nothing but depend on the production of other countries to meet daily needs, it does not only portray such country as unserious and lazy but also as incapable of self-sufficiency and independence.

The narrative of ‘Nigerians should embrace made in Nigeria products’ is a cliché that will never work. It is high time government at all levels declare a state of emergency on importation. Nigerians should not be persuaded to buy made in Nigeria products, Nigerians should be forced to buy made in Nigeria products. We are way passed seeking for patriotism, what we should be seeking for now is survival. There is no other way out of this, it is either we patronize local products or Nigeria dies.

The recent Central Bank of Nigeria’s list of banned items is a right step in the right direction but rather too little. Our condition requires a radical approach and as such, the list deserves expansion to all imported goods, products and services with exception to raw materials, machinery and industrial equipment.

The days of medical tourism should stop. Yes, our hospitals may not be one of the best in world but they are not doing badly either. The unnecessarily gallivanting of Nigerians abroad for medical checkups makes mockery of our status. This is not to say banks should not make forex available for specialized operations or severe medical conditions, those are different ball game entirely. But if you live in Nigeria, eat our local foods, breath our air and cannot trust any of the A-list hospitals with ordinary medical checkups then you have over stayed your welcome, please relocate.

I think it is time we ban importation of mobile phones, computers, cars, electronics and related gadgets. If truly Nigeria is a huge market for Toyota, Samsung, Tecno, LG and likes, then it is high time they invest in our economy; it is high time we have Samsung Nigeria, Toyota Nigeria, Tecno Nigeria and co. International brandsand companies must move beyond opening sales outlets in Nigeria or signing sales contract with Nigerian companies, they must start building manufacturing –not mere assembling- plants in Nigeria. We can no longer continue wasting our hard-earned money (apologies to looters) to improve foreign economy while ours wreck. You want to sell to Nigerians?

Come to Nigeria!

The importance of our Technical colleges cannot be overemphasized. Government must draw up a workabletemplate for Nigeria industrial revolution. Our country has a huge volume of an untapped innovative brains wasting away in banking halls and government parastatals as a result of desperation to make ends meet. Our Polytechnics and Technical Colleges should not be a face saving haven for people who could not get admission into universities but an institution where innovative and creative minds are trained and pushed to take over the world. Nigeria needs to model the frame works of Polytechnics and Technical Colleges into something more sophisticated than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

It is time for a Nigeria identity, brands forged in the fires of Ladipo, Aba, Nnewi, OwodeOnirin, Agbara. We need brands that will compete side by side with the Louis Vuitton, Adidas, Nike and others. All these can only be possible when we develop our local talents, train, motivate and encourage the dreams and madness of ourcountrymen and women; for it is out of madness that the greatest innovations in the world are made.

But all these will be useless if government policies do not encourage such. The federal government must create an enabling environment for investors to come into the country. The days of unnecessary bureaucracy and bottleneck approach it is known for must come to an end. While it is important that every investor pay a premium for certification before commencing business operations, it won’t cost us anything to overlook such fees in exchange for a more beneficial future. Lands and tax waivers are also essential to encourage companies investing in an unknown terrain all for the greater good.

Finally, we will be wasting our time talking about economy, the survival of Nigeria and development of local productions if we do not have a sensible and well implementable Labour law. Currently, Nigeria has one of the cheapest labour in the world. While we may want to run a capitalist economy it should not interpret to erasingcommon sense and natural justice.

The corporate slavery re-christened ‘contract staff’ should be looked into as a matter of urgency. There is nothing cool in being a slave in one’s country all in the pursuit of happiness. Most acclaimed employed Nigerians today are contract staff earning way less than the effort and energy they put in to work.

The National Assembly must enact a labour law that represents and protect Nigerian workers first before any other. Companies must be made to sign an undertaking to not only ensure that 80% of their workforces are Nigerians but also draw up a training blueprint that will enable Nigerians possess the right skills to take over from expatriates in the next three to five years.

Boladale is on twitter @adekoyabee

Nigeria Spends N20.2tr On Fuel Imporation In Five Years

The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that the country spent N20.2 trillion to import petrol, diesel and kerosene between January 2010 and September 2015.

Figures jointly compiled by both the NBS and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) released at the weekend indicate that N12, 529, 746, 397, 978. 48 was spent on the importation of 102,374,588,480.91 litres of petrol (Premium Motor Spirit).

An amount of N6,450,576,065,479.43 was spent to import 16,679,065,103 litres of diesel (Automotive and Gas Oil).

Between January 2012 and September 2015, N1,271,500,290,241 was spent on the importation of 9,448,409,070 litres of kerosene.

The Nation

CHAN: Super Eagles To Face Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles By 2pm

It will be the battle of the Eagles today at the Stade de Kigali in Rwanda as Nigeria’s Super Eagles B tackle Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles in the second match of Group C.

An outright win by Nigeria will move them into the quarter –finals of the 4th African Nations Championship, to join hosts Rwanda and DR Congo who have qualified from Group B and Group A. Angola team have been eliminated already.

Centre referee for the Nigeria-Tunisia match will be Joshua Bondo from Botswana. He will be assisted by Oamogetse Godisamang, also from Botswana and Mothibidi Stevens Khumalo from South Africa.

Kick off for the crucial match will be 3pm Rwanda time, which is 2pm Nigerian time, according to CAF online. Niger and Guinea will play at 7pm.

Bronze medallists of the last edition, the Eagles started the championship with a 4-1 romp over Niger Republic and are expected to start on Friday from where they left off on Monday.

A hat –trick by Chisom Chikatara and one by Osas Okoro condemned the Mena to a poor start in the campaign, and shot the Eagles to top spot, after Tunisia and Guinea battled to a 2-2 draw.
The North Africans won the 2011 edition of the competition in Sudan five years ago.

Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa is expected to start, with Etim Mathew, Kalu Orji, Stephen Eze and skipper Chima Akas in the defence, and Paul Onobi, Usman Mohammed and Ifeanyi Mathew in midfield. Osas Okoro, Chisoma Chikatara and Prince Aggrey are likely to be in attack for Nigeria.

A win will guarantee Nigeria’s place in the last eight, ahead of their last Group C match against Guinea in Gisenyi on Tuesday.