Thursday, February 25, 2010

Glenn Hoddle flies in for talks to land post as Super Eagles manager


Glenn Hoddle is poised to become the new manager of Nigeria. The former England boss flew to Africa last night to meet with the Nigerian Football Federation.

Hoddle, 52, has been concentrating on his Academy in Jerez, Spain, since leaving Wolves in July 2006. The Academy aims to get young players who have been released by clubs back into the game.

But it is thought that the chance to take Nigeria to the World Cup in South Africa would appeal to Hoddle, who could take the job on a short-term basis and then return to Spain to concentrate on his business venture.

Nigeria need a new head coach after sacking Shaibu Amodu after their relatively disappointing showing during the Africa Cup of Nations last month.

The two-time winners were beaten in the semi-finals by Ghana, but were awarded third place after a play-off against Algeria.

The Super Eagles face Argentina, Greece and South Korea in the group stage of the World Cup in South Africa. Hoddle, a former Chelsea, Tottenham and Southampton manager, took England to the second round of the 1998 World Cup before losing to Argentina.

He was sacked by the FA in February 1999 for his controversial spiritual views.
Sven Goran Eriksson, another former England manager, was also on the shortlist for the Nigeria job.

Eriksson has also managed at international level with Mexico and is a free agent after recently parting company with League Two side Notts County.

The Swede was due to meet with Nigerian officials later this week.

Daily Mail

Related stories: Super Eagles World Cup camp opens May 15

Video overview of Group B in the 2010 World Cup

Video - The World Cup comes to Nigeria

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Video report on Bush,Blair, Rice in Nigeria

George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice attend an awards ceremony in Nigeria. CNN's Christian Purefoy reports.

Related stories: Blair in Nigeria to urge fight against malaria

President Barack Obama's speech in Ghana

300 children lose parents to aids in Niger

No fewer than 300 children, whose parents have died of the dreaded HIV/AIDS disease in Niger State, are currently on the support register of the state government.

Director General, Niger State Agency for the Control of Aids (SACA), Alhaji Baba Umaru, disclosed this at the closing ceremony of a two-week seminar for 88 facility staff and community volunteers who were trained on how to handle orphans and vulnerable children whose parents died of the dreaded disease.

According to him, "Presently, there are 300 children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS in our support register. We are working hard to improve on this register to get those that are not yet captured in the register.

"The state Governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, recently directed local government chairmen in the state to adopt some of these orphans to provide adequate care for them. They were also directed to establish orphanage homes in their respective local governments."

He said that government was particularly concerned with the education and welfare of the children, and commended the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) for training the personnel to care for vulnerable children and those orphaned by HIV/AIDS in the country.

The director general explained that the state government appreciated the efforts of the Management Sciences for Health in establishing six comprehensive HIV/ AIDS treatment sites in six local government areas of the state, adding that there were also 18 feeder sites and care centres where prevention of mother to child infection of the disease are being done.

Project Director of Management Sciences for Health in Nigeria, Dr. Paul Waibale, has earlier explained that the community volunteers were drawn from six states of Adamawa, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Kebbi and Taraba states.

He explained that the people were being trained on how to manage the people infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS scourge particularly the orphans and venerable children.

Waibale said that the project was sponsored in the country by USAID to reach out to the over three million children orphaned by the disease in the country, adding that the training was to build the capacity of the volunteers to enable them face the challenges of the orphans and vulnerable children.

"They are our ambassadors in those communities," he said, adding that the objective was to provide quality, prevention and comprehensive HIV/AIDS care and management for all those who have been touched by the dreaded disease.

Daily Independent

Related stories: Goodluck Jonathan worried about prevalence of HIV

Nigeria ranks second in the world in HIV infected countries

Video report of Nigeria promoting marriage between HIV couples to prevent spread of the virus

Man arrested for burying daughter alive

A 25-year-old labourer has been arrested by the police for allegedly burying his daughter alive.

Confirming the arrest of the suspect, the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Charles Muka in a statement in Asaba, Nigeria yesterday, however said that the child who was exhumed shortly thereafter by a good Samaritan has been hospitalized.

According to him "the state police command has arrested one Macaulay Onitcha, male, 25 years of Ekurudu Street Kokori for attempting to murder his four months old baby girl called, Edna Macaulay.

"On 13 February 2010, at about 1230 hours, the suspect who claimed he was unhappy with his wife for refusing to sleep with him, dug a shallow grave and threw the child into the grave and covered the grave with sand.

"Fortunately for the girl child, one Saturday Ekama, saw what Macaulay did and saved the girl.

The suspect who was marching the shallow grave when Saturday Ekama arrived at the scene gave him (Ekama)matchet cuts for trying to save the child. When the child was exhumed alive, she had neck injury and is undergoing treatment at Saint Francis Hospital, Okapra Inland while the suspect is currently assisting the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Asaba in their investigations," he said.


Related stories: Man sets Pregnant Wife on Fire

50 year old man beheads his wife

32 year old man kills 2 year old son over witchcraft

Ribadu urges U.S. to prosecute corrupt locals

Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Malam Nuhu Ribadu said the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President has afforded the United States a second chance to purposefully reinvigorate the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

He said the EFCC under his leadership had left thousands of pages of detailed evidence and intelligence on corrupt officials, who are sitting waiting to be prosecuted.

He urged the US Department of Justice and the FBI to continue the prosecution of corrupt Nigerian officials as the United Kingdom is doing.

Making the request yesterday in a presentation before a US Senate Committee, Ribadu said, "I am overjoyed to hear that in the United Kingdom, the Metropolitan Police is continuing with its case against former Governor James Ibori. It will give most Nigerians cause to cheer that the U.S. also does the same and continue their cases."

He also urged the lawmakers to expand on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, saying that the FCPA allowed for the prosecution of a number of corrupt businesses and sent a wave of panic among those who were previously able to get away with their corruption.

Ribadu spoke on the need for electoral reforms in Nigeria saying the successful election in Anambra was possible because 'President Umaru Yar'adua and his cronies were distracted and unable to meddle in the democratic processes'.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Nuhu Ribadu Testifies before U.S. Financial Services Committee

Video report on the EFCC crackdown on corruption in Nigeria

Riz Khan show focuses on Nigeria's leadership crisis

Umaru Yar'Adua back in Nigeria

President Umaru Musa Yar'adua's long medical sojourn in Saudi Arabia ended early this morning when two planes landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja. While the first plane, an air ambulance, landed at 1.47am, a second one, the presidential aircraft, landed at 1.54am.

As soon as the first plane landed, the small convoy of cars already waiting at the Presidential Lounge drove to the tarmac and came to a stop near it. There were about five cars, one of which was a Ford ambulance recently acquired by the State House.

Soon after the two planes landed, Daily Trust learnt that a large group of security agents and Foreign Ministry protocol officials who moved towards them were chased away by presidential bodyguards. Only a handful of bodyguards and the planes' crew members were allowed near the planes as the president alighted, so it was not clear whether he walked into the waiting cars or was helped into them. The scene was also dark, but the ambulance was seen moving towards the parked planes.

Yar'adua had been away from the country for 90 days. He had earlier departed Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at 9pm Nigerian time [11pm local Saudi time] last night in a convoy of three different aircraft.

Indications that Yar'adua was about to depart the Saudi Kingdom first became manifest yesterday when a long convoy of royal cars and police escort vehicles were seen at the Royal Guest House in Jeddah, where he had been recuperating for several weeks since he left the King Faisal Hospital in December. At around 7pm Nigerian time yesterday, the convoy drove out to the airport, and two hours later the president's plane departed for Nigeria.

Signs of his return however became more visible as the night wore on, and our reporters saw columns of soldiers with armoured personnel carriers taking positions at Wuse, at the intersection between the Airport Road and Olusegun Obasanjo Way. Our reporters also saw a small convoy of cars sweeping into the airport's presidential wing at about 11pm. It included a Ford ambulance.

Yar'adua's return plans were a tightly-kept secret, as several government officials said last night that they were unaware of the president's impending return. However, there were indications that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan's office got wind of them, because some items on his itinerary for today were hastily cancelled. Jonathan's office had earlier invited media chiefs from all over the country to dine with him in Abuja tonight, but late in the afternoon yesterday, officials called and cancelled the dinner without advancing any reasons. Earlier yesterday, Jonathan held a long meeting with Niger Delta community leaders and state governors, following which he suspended the on-going Niger River dredging project.

Daily Trust also learnt that the 6-man delegation of Federal Ministers that arrived in Jeddah early in the morning yesterday delivered the Nigerian government's letter of thanks to the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal. The letter, addressed to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, thanked him for his generous hospitality to Yar'adua while the treatment lasted.

However, the ministers' plans to fly on to Jeddah to see Yar'adua were aborted when they heard that the ailing president was already on his way to the airport, on his way home. The ministers then quickly changed their plans and are expected to return to the country this morning, in time for today's meeting of the Federal Executive Council, likely to be chaired by Yar'adua himself.

The ministerial delegation, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Chief Ojo Maduekwe, comprised Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, Health Minister Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Petroleum Minister Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, Agriculture Minister Dr. Abba Sayyadi Ruma as well as Attorney General and Minister of Justice Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN. Their trip was at the behest of the FEC, which directed them on Wednesday last week to undertake the trip, officially billed to thank the Saudi King and to see Yar'adua. Many observers however saw it as the first step in invoking Section 144 of the Constitution to declare Yar'adua permanently incapacitated from holding his office.

Yar'adua had been out of the country since November 23, last year when he left for Jeddah to treat an ailment later described as pericarditis, or inflammation of the heart's linings. The president also has a long history of kidney disease. Two weeks ago, when Yar'adua failed to transmit a letter of medical vacation, the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution recognising Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President. He is expected to relinquish the role today with Yar'adua's return.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Video report - Goodluck Jonathan takes over from Yar'Adua

President Umaru Yar'Adua is dead

President Yar'adua hospitalized in Saudi Arabia

Sick Nigeria President Yar'Adua 'to hand over power' 

Video - CNN reports on Nigeria's missing president

Unrest in Nigeria

Christiane Amanpour talks to Wole Soyinka

 Nigerian vice-president to take over from absent president

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video report on saving the last of Nigeria's rain forest

CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on the efforts to save the last of Nigeria's rain forest and the Cross River gorilla. The rarest and most endangered gorilla in the world.

Related story: CNN does special on Lagos

Goodluck Jonathan worried about prevalence of HIV

Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has expressed deep worry over the current prevalence of the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country. He reiterated that the Federal Government will not relent in partnering and co-operating with relevant agencies to stem the health problem.

Meanwhile, over four hundred thousand children in Africa are born with HIV virus yearly, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibe has said.

Receiving in audience UNAID Executive Director, Mr. Michel Sidibe, and the US Global AIDS Coordinator, Amb. Eric Goosby, at the State House, Abuja yesterday, Jonathan said the government is concerned about the HIV/AIDS scourge, particularly, the prevalence of mother to child transmission of the virus.

He emphasized the need to get the correct statistics on the disease and to harness resources from federal, states and donor agencies in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Jonathan appreciated the contributions of both the UN and US government in the fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa and implored them not to rest on their oars.

Earlier, Sidibe canvassed increased funding by African countries of HIV/AIDS programmes noting that 94 per cent of funds for such programmes still come from outside the continent.

He also requested that Nigeria should use its position to influence African Union's Declaration on Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV/AIDS. In addition, he said Nigeria and South Africa should collaborate to put up a preventive message on HIV/AIDS during the 2010 World Cup.

Amb. Goosby on his part said the US remains committed to Nigeria as a partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said his country holds Nigeria in high regard and will sustain its campaign programmes on the scourge.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe also disclosed that 15 percent of HIV positive children born on the continent die before their first birthday due to poverty, ignorance and limited access to treatment. He described the situation as unacceptable especially when developed countries "record zero percent of children born with HIV".

Sidibe disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, at a high-powered meeting with the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin , Minister of State for Health, Dr Aliyu Idi-Hung, Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief( PEPFAR), Professor John Idoko, Director General of the of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), and the US ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders.

According to the UNAIDS Executive Director,15 percent of HIV positive children born on the continent die before their first birthday due to poverty, ignorance and limited access to treatment. He described the situation as unacceptable especially when developed countries "record zero percent of children born with HIV".

While calling on Nigeria and other African countries to adopt the Universal Access approach in implementing strategies to manage HIV/AIDS, the UNAIDS boss explained that the meeting conveyed at the Federal Ministry of Health, on Monday, had become necessary if Africa is to stem the ugly trend where its future leaders are stricken by an incurable disease at birth.

He said that Africa has what it takes to produce its first HIV-free generation by 2015, citing examples of earlier health sector reforms adopted in Abuja, he declared that the Nigerian government played an integral role is the successes recorded in health care delivery and the response to HIV/ADS in some African countries which implemented the reforms locally.

He words: "I am convinced that if we don't engage Nigeria in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa we have failed. This because Nigeria spearheaded a number of health sector reforms in Africa and the world. The process for establishing the Global Fund started here in Nigeria. I am just coming from South Africa where Swaziland, Botswana, have implemented the Abuja Accord, setting aside not less that 15 percent of their annual budget for health care delivery".

Sidibe also warned that African countries must "take ownership of its national response". He said African governments have no option as 94 percent of its citizens receiving Anti Retroviral drugs are being financed by donor countries.


Related stories: Nigeria ranks second in the world in HIV infected countries

 36 year old man rapes 3 year old girl to cure himself of HIV

Video report of Nigeria promoting marriage between HIV couples to prevent spread of the virus

Shell laments unfriendly business environment

Incessant disruption of the operations of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Nigeria's Niger-Delta has become a major source of concern for the management of the oil giant as well as its joint venture partners, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

THISDAY gathered that the SPDC is hard hit by dwindling financial fortunes attributed to generally unfriendly business environment, particularly in the oil-rich region, the highpoint of which is the astronomical cost of repairing vandalised pipelines and other oil and gas installations.

The persistent disruption of the operations of the oil company also affects the activities of the NNPC, in terms of the depletion of the country's crude oil export quota as well as shortage of gas supply to its subsidiary, Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), which has monopoly of industrial and gas supply in Nigeria.

The Federal Government recently expressed concern over the renewed threat to the nation's power generation capacity due to the shortfall in gas available to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) owing to the problem that has lingered in the Niger-Delta despite the relative success of the amnesty programme.

According to the out-going Executive Vice-President of Shell Africa, Miss Ann Pickard, SPDC has managed to stay afloat in the country by the grace of the generous financial lifeline recently offered by international Shell Group.

Pickard, who is proceeding on transfer to Australia, spoke at the weekend while leading her successor, Mr. Ian Craig, on familiarisation visits to some states in the Niger-Delta region, where the company's investments are located .

She noted that Shell Group had to dish out a whopping $2 billion to SPDC Joint Ventures to enable it stay afloat.

At the palace of the Orodje of Okpe, His Royal Majesty, Orhue I, she commended the people of the region for providing Shell with support over the last several years, noting that over 60 per cent of its scholarship awards were given to applicants from the region.

Pickard however lamented that the business environment had not been quite enabling, particularly in the last four years, saying this had impacted adversely on its operations, adding that paucity of funds had prevented expansion and more jobs creation.

She expressed the hope that the steps taken by the Federal Government through the amnesty and security initiatives would create the right environment for oil and gas business to thrive again in the Niger-Delta.

Also speaking, Craig expressed delight to be in Nigeria and called for a cordial relationship between the host communities and the oil giants.

While welcoming the delegation, the royal father urged the company to employ more personnel from the region , saying its operation is important to economy of the country.

He implored the company to build a flow station in Okpe Kingdom and pledged to always ensure the protection of Shell's facilities in his domain.

Besides, the royal father urged the management of Shell to be proactive, especially regarding environmental issues in its area of operations.

This Day

Related stories: Shell cuts output over attack in Niger Delta

Video - Unrest in Nigeria

Video - Oil War

Shell plans to sell about $5 bln worth of assets it has in Nigeria

Nigerian militants blow up Shell and Agip pipelines

Monday, February 22, 2010

We must achieve 6,000 megawatts - Goodluck Jonathan

Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that government's dream to actualise 6,000 megawatts of electricity had not gone down the drain. He challenged relevant institutions to wake up and ensure the dream was met.

To this end, Dr. Jonathan said government had set a daily target of one billion cubic feet of gas supply for the ministry of petroleum resources, so that complaints of gas shortage should not keep cropping up.

A reliable top presidency source, who confided in reporters said, the acting president had tasked the ministry to ensure that the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), Shell, Chevron and other major gas producers in the country are compelled to provide the required quantity of dry gas.

This, the source said, is to meet the target of 6,000 megawatts of electricity for the country.

According to the source, "The Acting President is very unhappy with the ministry for its failure to generate gas to power the government's 6,000 megawatts of electricity. He has directed that all the gas producers in the country must provide the one billion daily gas target to the power plants," the source said.

Jonathan was visibly angry during last week's meeting of the Presidential Steering Council on National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), when he directed the minister of petroleum resources, Dr. Rilwan Lukman, to summon all the gas producers in the country to a meeting to iron out the grey areas in the one billion gas daily supply arrangement.

His approval of the appointment of an executive director to co-ordinate the operations of the Nigeria Independent Power Project, NIPP, is also, according to the source, another indication that he was dissatisfied with the progress so far made in the power sector.

"I think the time has come for the government to do what is right. Any gas producer who tells Nigerians that it is shutting its plant because it wants to evacuate condensates or maintain pipelines without recourse to due process, should be sanctioned. There should be penalties for this kind of sabotage. We must stop this nonsense perpetrated by these companies. It is either they do business here or they don't," the source added.

Our correspondent gathered that due to the nonchalant attitude of the ministry and other stakeholders, the country only gets about 250 million gas supply, leaving a shortfall of 750 million.


Related stories: Goodluck Jonathan pledges to resolve power crises

Video - Deji Badmus reports on electricity crisis in Nigeria

Video - Nation in Darkness

CNN reports on Nigeria's electricity crisis

NNPC wants military to protect pipelines

Rattled by the shortage of gas and the possibility of further shortfall of power generation by 1,000 megawatts from the current 2,7000mw, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corpor-ation (NNPC) has officially requested that the nation's defence forces assist in protecting oil and gas pipelines from vandalism.

Also, the corporation has taken steps to evacuate wet condensate from Shell-operated facilities to the Warri Refinery to prevent the shutdown of gas plants.

THISDAY had last week reported exclusively that Shell warned that if wet condensate estimated at 472, 000 barrels was not evacuated this week, it might be forced to shut down four gas plants in Utorogu, Ughelli, Oben and Sapele.

Damaged pipelines have resulted in the inability of Shell to transmit condensate produced together with gas from these plants to Forcados export terminal.

If the condensate is not evacuated, thermal plants especially Egbin, Omotosho, Geregu, Olorunsogo, Sapele and Delta would be starved of gas supply, worsening the epileptic power supply in the country.

But Group Managing Director of NNPC, Moha-mmed Barkindo, has in a letter to the Minister of Defence, General Godwin Abbey (rtd) explained the urgency in securing pipelines in the Niger Delta in order to save Nigeria from complete blackout.

In the letter dated February 12, 2010, Barkindo said frequent damages to the Trans-Forcados pipeline (TFP) had serious implications on both electricity supply and petroleum products export.

His letter was served to several government officials including Minister of Petroleum Resources Rilwanu Lukman, Minister of State for Petroleum Odein Ajumogobia, Minister of Power Lanre Babalola, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor of Delta State Emmanuel Uduaghan.

"This is to inform the Hon. Minister of damage to the TFP operated by SPDC. The pipeline which transports crude oil and condensate from various locations in the Niger Delta to the Forcados terminal was attacked and damaged on 7, Feb 2010.

"The Honourable Minister is therefore requested to please note the frequent damages to the Trans-Forcados Pipeline (TFP) and the serious implications it has on the reliable supply of both power and petroleum products to the nation.

"It is therefore requested that appropriate steps be taken to ensure the urgent recovery and security of the pipeline, especially in view of the prospects for disruption to gas supply to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by 21st February 2010," the letter stated.

Barkindo described the TFP as a strategic pipeline for export of crude oil with a capacity of over 400,000 barrels per day to the Forcados export terminal. He added that a shutdown of the pipeline would have a negative impact on the revenue that accrues to the federation.

He noted that in the past, it had been necessary to transfer condensate to the Warri Refinery and Petrolchemical Company (WRPC) tanks for export in order to ensure continuity of gas supply to PHCN. However, the corrosive nature of condensate and the acidic water that comes with it have caused substantial damage to WRPC tanks, he explained.

He said that following the repair of the Escravos to Warri crude oil pipeline, crude had been delivered to WRPC, which had now commenced operations.

"At the same time, crude is being further, transmitted to KRPC for commencement of operations. As a result, WRPC is not able to handle further volumes of condensate from SPDC, as this would otherwise jeopardize the operations of both the Warri refinery and the Kaduna Refinery and threaten the sustainable supply of petroleum products to the nation," he said.

While highlighting the challenges posed by vandals and the inability of the existing security apparatus to protect the facilities, the NNPC GMD regretted that the same pipeline was several times attacked in February 2006, including the crude loading platform.

He said the pipeline remained shut down until January 2008 when SPDC completed repairs and inaugurated the line.

Barkindo further disclosed that the pipeline was again attacked in July 2009 and it took up to 16th November 2009 for SPDC to finish repairs. As the company was about to inaugurated the pipeline, it was again blow-up by dynamite and that particular damage was not repaired until February 4, 2010, he said.

He continued: " Just three days after shell had commissioned the line and successfully pumped water, condensate and crude oil, they discovered on the 7th of February 2010, damage to the pipeline caused by dynamite attack."

Meanwhile, Spokesman of NNPC Levi Ajuonuma said in a statement yesterday that the organisation took practical steps at the weekend to avert imminent blackout with the evacuation of condensate from some Shell-operated facilities to the Warri Refinery to facilitate the production and supply of gas to the thermal power stations.

The evacuation commenced last Friday, he disclosed. He stated that NNPC Group Executive Director, Refining and Petro-chemicals, Mr. Austen Oniwon, had confirmed that two vessels were dedicated throughout the weekend for that purpose.

According to him, this would give SPDC a breather of about three weeks within which additional measures could be taken to improve the situation in the medium term.

"Our next proposal to effectively manage the condensate in the medium term is for WRPC to take on cargo of Forcados blend which we learnt has an API of about 28. We can blend 100 per cent of SPDC's condensate and still make it conform to the process in our plants. With these, we can manage the condensate more efficiently and SPDC can operate its facilities on a more continuous basis," Oniwon explained.

Ajuonuma also disclosed that the NNPC management would on Wednesday meet with top management and technical team of SPDC led by its Managing Director and Country Chairman in Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.

He said: "They would "undertake a review of facilities around the western axis to improve the flexibilities of operations and also create alternatives that will extensively address the vulnerability of the Trans Forcados Pipelines".

"The meeting will also seek solution to the issue of persistent sour water management at Shell's Ughelli facility (an effluent from the production process) which the WRPC has been grappling with after being laden with a 'tankful' from SPDC six months ago," he added.

On the problem of condensate, Ajuonuma explained that the problem "has remained intractable due to the damage of the vital SPDC operated Trans Forcados Pipeline system by incessant militant attacks. The alternative option of transferring condensate through the Ughelli Pump Station, UPS to WRPC is not only unsustainable but is fraught with operational, technical and safety concerns".

Meanwhile, Chevron Nigeria limited has indicated readiness to commence supply of 185 million standard cubic feet/day of gas to power plants before the end of next week.

A source told THISDAY that Chevron gas was initially billed to be delivered in the first week of this month but has been shifted to next week.


Related stories: MEND resumes attacks

Nigerian militants blow up Shell and Agip pipelines

Video-U.S. vs China for Nigeria's oil

Video-Oil War

Lagos ranked 5th worst city in the world

The Democratic Peoples' Party (DPA) has urged Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State to tackle Lagos 's placement as the world's fifth worst city by implementing people-centred projects.

"The government must begin to deal with those issues that have made this city to lose its soul. And it will begin by placing individuals at the centre-piece of its policies," DPA said.

DPA said government should tackle several of the city's negative indicators, including double taxation, mediocre education, inadequate housing, bad roads, high tenement and duplicated land use charges, soaring transportation costs, unregulated ground and accommodation rents, untamed high cost of doing business, crime, unbridled corruption and cut-throat transportation.

An international survey of 140 cities by the foreign Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) last weekend ranked Lagos 136th and one of the worst cities where "most aspects of living are severely restricted." The study had considered each municipality's performance based on the indices of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The party, in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, recalled that in 2008 Lagos had similarly been rated as the "costliest city in Africa " by the Mercer 2008 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, and said the studies provided unassailable proof that the government had failed to tackle issues that mattered, especially those capable of improving living conditions.

The party feared that such unsavoury international rankings would discourage investment, provoke capital flight, hurt businesses and advance crime and corruption.

"The government always rushed to the media to trumpet its few accomplishments, but the average Lagosian knows the truth, that this government has done very little to improve life, environment and welfare, despite the colossal sums budgeted yearly. We have always known and we have always pointed out that all the government's claims to achievements are mostly media hype and razzmatazz. Now an independent assessor has come out with new facts that justify our crusade that Lagos has been shortchanged particularly in the last three years," DPA said.

DPA accused the Fashola administration of failing to place Lagosians at the heart of its programmes.

"It is a pity that the government prefers to accommodate flowers, trees and shrubs than cater for the welfare and wellbeing of human beings. In Mosafejo Oshodi, for example, the government demolished stores that for decades provided livelihood for hundreds of businessmen and women and replaced them with paving stones and flowers, without any compensation plan or rehabilitation," DPA lamented.

It described it as shame that Lagos fell behind such African cities as Dakar in Senegal (130th position with 48.3 per cent) and Douala in Cameroon (134 with 43.3 percent). Johannesburg in South Africa is the leading African city, polling 92nd position with a score of 69.1 per cent.

According to the EIU, Lagos, which scored 39 percent, shares the bottom five slots with cities like Port Moresby (38.9 percent), Algiers capital of Algeria (38.7 percent), Dhaka Bangladesh, (38.7 percent) and Harare, Zimbabwe (37.5 per cent).

Pointing out that the average Lagos-based business or individual had to unilaterally source his own security, motorable roads, electricity, good education for children, healthcare, water and other necessary infrastructure, DPA said: "We only hope that the survey will gear up government functionaries who have so lost touch with reality that they say that anyone who cannot stomach the official hardheartedness of Lagos should migrate out of the state."

Daily Champion

Related stories: Minister wants Abuja in the top 20 cities in the world

Video - CNN does special on Lagos

Documentary on rebranding Nigeria

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hollywood film begins pre-production in Nigeria

Governor Segun Oni of Ekitit State in collaboration with the HekCentrik Productions(UK) is facilitating a pre-production visit to Nigeria to explore filming locations for kayfabe films thriller, "Sole Redemption."

The 10-day trip which commenced since last week will see the team visiting majority of the local governments in Ekiti, in addition to areas in Osun, Ondo and Lagos Island. This project, HVP leant is significant as it will be the first Hollywood motion picture to be shot in its entirety in sub-Saharan Africa, and will also see several recognizable Hollywood actors and production personnel fly into the country for the two month- long filming.

According to Niyi Towolawi, CEO of HekCentrik and writer/director of the movie, "Twisted" , "it has been hard convincing the producers and investors that Nigeria is a viable location for a production of this scale, and it's rewarding to shoot films in Nigeria, rather than on a fabricated set or western location elsewhere. We are able to influence how Nigeria is represented and portrayed to the world."

The film, Towolawi noted, offers to correct a lot of those wrongs through factual storytelling and by casting skill. The ensemble cast led by British born Oris Erhuero, an acclaimed Hollywood actor of Nigerian parentage are already on location in Nigeria. The director of the film, Christopher M. Anthony is also very excited about capturing the serenity of picturesque hills, waterfalls and Nigerian landscape that will compliment the story.


Related stories: Interview with the Father of Nollywood

Nollywood in Retrospect-Video documentary

Hollywood making Fela movie

Nollywood will win international award

CNN covers the Nollywood industry

Google maps Nigeria

Global IT giants, Google, have started a training programme with Nigerian application developers on how to fully utilize and get more conversant with Google applications especially the Google Maps. The three day event themed, G-Nigeria, opened at the Afe Babalola Hall, University of Lagos, on Thursday.

The programme could be a positive development for Information Technology in Nigeria, and is meant to serve as a medium for Google to show its presence in the Nigerian market and to the Nigerian public. Subsequent days of the programme would include marketing professionals and computer science students.

Yesterday’s seminar aims at showing developers how to fully utilise the Google maps, such that it would benefit users and their businesses, like advertising their business on Google maps; how to create their own maps and find locations and navigation. Part of the training also involves how to cite local businesses on the maps, for customers who are sourcing for products and services in the user’s locality.

At the training session were several key Google officials including Nelson Mattose, Vice President Google Engineering Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Christian Miccio, Product Manager Google Maps EMEA. Mr Mattose in his keynote spoke of the strategies Google would use to improve IT in Nigeria, which include increasing access to the Internet, engaging in more training and improving access to computer products.

Developing applications

Mr. Miccio, in his lecture, taught participants how to develop applications for Google maps. He taught how to effectively use the application, and how it could benefit the users business.

He also showed how to integrate Google maps on personal websites and finding locations through navigation.

Nyimbi Odero, Google’s West Africa Lead, earlier told journalists, “We’re very excited about the launch today and we hope this is just the beginning for Google Maps in Nigeria and across Sub-Saharan Africa. Google Maps isn’t just searchable digitized maps helping you to find a local place, service or product - our goal is to make information with a geographical dimension available to everyone and to allow users to update the maps and develop on top of them. We believe more accurate, representative local information can greatly improve the breadth of information available about a given area and in turn can help efforts to bolster tourism and business investment.”

He explained that the activation of the Google map will show detailed maps of many Nigerian towns including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other areas which will now be accessible on any web browser or also through Google Maps on mobile. The mobile version would be particularly useful for navigation.

Google already has strong Google Maps presence in Sub Saharan Africa including Kenya and South Africa.


Related story: Two awards for Nigeria at UN's ICT confab 

Blair in Nigeria to urge fight against malaria

Former British prime minister Tony Blair on Saturday called for concerted efforts to combat malaria in Nigeria which accounts for a quarter of the one million malaria deaths annually in Africa.

"Malaria has no barrier and does not discriminate. When we think of malaria we think particularly of children and women, and how to prevent it becomes particularly imperative," Blair said at a training workshop sponsored by his Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

Some 75 million Nigerians, or half of the population, get infected with malaria at least once a year while children under the age of five (around 24 million) suffer up to four bouts each year.

The workshop held in Nigeria's administrative capital Abuja focused on the use of bed nets to help prevent contracting malaria which is a mosquito-borne disease.

The Nigerian government plans to roll out 62 million bed nets in a country where nearly 300,000 people succumb to malaria each year.

Around 97 percent of the 150 million Nigerians are at risk of infection, says Roll Back Malaria, a global initiative aiming to eradicate the disease.

The British premier from 1997 to 2007 lauded Africa's largest Muslim and Christian alliance, the Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association (NIFAA), for its role in combating malaria.

"This model of inter-faith action can be readily adopted to join the state and public sector in other developing countries if government and funders are willing to provide external support to make this a reality," said Blair

"That is at the heart of my own faith foundation. When faith communities collaborate and work together for justice and human development there is a pay-off. That is, things get done and then respect and understanding between them grows," he said.

Blair who arrived in Nigeria on Friday at the start a west African tour that will also take him to Liberia and Sierra Leone, will attend an award ceremony in Abuja on Sunday, organised by privately owned newspaper This Day.


Related stories: Video report on the fight against malaria

Video report on Nigeria promoting marriage between HIV couples to prevent spread of the virus

Health insurance in Nigeria

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nigeria to manufacture cellphone handsets and hardware

A Nigerian-based company, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), has announced plans to start producing mobile handsets and computer hardware in less than two years.

Ahmed Rufai, the CEO of the company, who announced this in Abuja, said that the company had completed and commissioned a locally made Printed Circuit Board Micro Electronics Centre, manned by NIGCOMSAT engineers.

According to him, the centre would focus mainly on the production of printed circuit boards- which is the basis for electronic systems – for computers and handsets, adding that it will have diverse implications on the electronics industry.

“Imagine if all the basic electronics we use are produced in Nigeria. Everything you are holding today is imported. But our projection is that in less than two years, we will have standard handsets produced locally.

“We are also talking to some local computer assembly companies to use our mother boards produced here”, he said.

Currently, said Rufai, the centre has the capacity to produce 500 handsets a day and can also produce good quality motherboards for computers. He added that within the next two years they will be able to perfect the products, adding: “What we have here is the prototype. We just want to show the concept and prove that it can be done.”

He said that NIGCOMSAT engineers have been trained to produce these boards, utilising the best international standard to bridge the gap in the ICT industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.

He also said that the technology is a spin off from the Know-How Technology Transfer and Training of over 100 Nigerian engineers in China, UK, US and the United Arab Emirates.

“It therefore affords these talented engineers the opportunity to look at this aspect of engineering, which is rare on this continent”, he said.

The NIGCOMSAT CEO explained that this technological intervention is crucial to the achievement of Nigeria’s vision to be amongst the top 20 economies of the world in the year 2020, and the realization of the present administration’s seven-point agenda, since technology is the driver of every economy.

Furthermore, he said the revenue prospects for printed circuit boards is high, as China has an annual production capacity of six million valued at $80billion (N12trillion), which if replicated in Nigeria will have a great impact on the socio-economic life of the nation.

“It will not only impact on our technological advancement, but also, the socio-economic effect will be positively felt especially in the area of job creation for the youth”, said Alhassan Bako Zaku, Minister of Science and Technology, while commissioning the project.

He commented that “in the area of education, the microelectronic centre will also serve as a learning ground for our undergraduates to receive hands-on training and firsthand experience in electronics manufacturing, as the centre is fully equipped to meet their educational needs.”

The minister said the centre will also serve local manufacturers and reduce production time and costs- as before now, they had to import the circuit boards for the manufacturing and assembling of local electronic products – thereby moving Nigeria from a resource to knowledge based economy.

IT News Africa

Related stories: Chinese denial puts Nigeria telecom sale in doubt

Adebayo Ogunlesi, 56, acquires London Gatwick Airport

Video - investing in Nigeria

Video - CNBC coves investment in Nigeria

Chinese denial puts Nigeria telecom sale in doubt

China's No. 2 telecoms carrier China Unicom on Thursday denied any involvement in a $2.5 billion bid for Nigeria's former state telecoms monopoly, putting in doubt what would be the African country's biggest privatization.

The Nigerian government body overseeing the long-troubled privatization of Nitel announced on Tuesday that a consortium involving China Unicom was the preferred bidder with a bid far higher than any of others or than many had expected.

"There's no involvement of this project from the parent company, the listed company or any subsidiary of the company," Unicom spokeswoman Sophia Tso said in an emailed statement.

The National Council on Privatization said New Generation Telecommunications Ltd had become the preferred bidder for Nitel, which Nigeria has struggled to sell since liberalization in 2001 made it uncompetitive against rivals.

The government made no immediate comment on Unicom's statement.

"If this is true, it discredits the Nigerian authorities and the privatization processes itself," said analyst Thecla Mbongue of Informa telecoms and media group.

"It's not the first time they have tried to sell Nitel, which obviously doesn't send a good signal to investors."


Besides Unicom, the National Council on Privatization said the consortium included Minerva Group of Dubai and local company GiCell Wireless Ltd. No details on various members' holdings in the consortium were given.

An official at GiCell Wireless in Abuja said the company was involved in the bid for Nitel, but gave no further details.

There was no comment from Nigeria's privatization agency, the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa to become the biggest telecoms market in Africa with more than 62 million subscribers and is one of the fastest growing in the world, making it a potentially attractive country for foreign players.

But early reports of Unicom's participation in the Nitel bid had surprised many, as the company has little experience in overseas mergers and acquisitions. Unicom's state-run parent owns about 20 percent of PCCW, Hong Kong's former telephone monopoly, but has made few if any forays outside Greater China.

Chinese telecoms carriers in general have been receptive to selling strategic stakes to other major global carriers, but have largely focused operations on their own lucrative home market, the world's largest with about 750 million subscribers.

The reserve bidder in the Nitel sale was Omen International Ltd (BVI) with a bid of $956 million.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Adebayo Ogunlesi, 56, acquires London Gatwick Airport

A Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi, has acquired the London Gatwick Airport as the new owner. The Gatwick deal is a £1.455 billion agreement with BAA Airports Limited.

Ogunlesi, 56, is the chairman and managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent investment fund based in New York City with worldwide stake in infrastructure assets.

According to the report, Ogunlesi, the son of an 86-year old professor of medicine has presided over a great number of sweet deals that made him the envy of his peers abroad even if his forays into the brisk world multi-billion dollars deals are barely talked about in his home country.

GIP will be investing through Ivy Bidco Limited, a limited liability company registered in England, established for the purpose of making the acquisition.

Bidco will pay cash consideration of £1,455 million for the entire share capital of Gatwick Airport Limited on a cash-free, debt-free basis.

 Ogunlesi says the acquisition of Gatwick is a landmark deal for GIP and adds another quality asset to his firm's rapidly expanding portfolio.

He said, "we see significant scope to apply both our strong operational focus and our knowledge of the airports sector to make Gatwick an airport of choice."

 He began stacking up his big deals profile when he joined the top-shelf New York law firm, Cravath, Swain & Moore. It was at the law firm that he jumped at the chance to advise First Boston (which later acquired Credit Suisse in 1997 to form Credit Suisse First Boston or CSFB) on a hugely lucrative Nigerian gas project.

The success of that deal landed him his first big pay move to First Boston. For First Boston, he worked on project finance, brokering deals in which lenders finance assets like oil refineries and mines and are repaid with revenues generated by those enterprises.

Based in New York City and traveling to emerging markets, he built CSFB's project-finance business into the world's best, in part by encouraging corporations and governments to tap public debt markets in addition to commercial lenders.

His teacher while at King's College, Lagos, J. Namme, said that Bayo, as he is fondly called, loves getting things done. Perhaps, the London Gatwick Airport acquisition best underscores his desire to get things done and in the big way too. The Gatwick deal illustrates his global influence in infrastructure assets deals.

  Ogunlesi has lived in New York for 20 years and is active in volunteer work. But he also cultivates his ties to Africa. He informally advises the Nigerian government on privatisation. And last summer Manute Bol, former NBA center, visited Ogunlesi in his Park Avenue office, seeking donations for a charitable foundation in former basketball star Manute Bol's homeland, Sudan.

Ogunlesi walked Bol around the hallways, introducing him to junior staff. It was just another day in the Bayosphere.

 Prior to his current role, he was executive vice chairman and chief client officer of Credit Suisse, based in New York. He previously served as a member of Credit Suisse's Executive Board and Management Council and chaired the Chairman's Board. Previously, he was the Global Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse. Since joining Credit Suisse in 1983, Ogunlesi has advised clients on strategic transactions and financings in a broad range of industries and has worked on transactions in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Ogunlesi attended the prestigious King's College, Lagos. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He was a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School.

Ogunlesi, whose father was the first Nigerian-born medical professor, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and then earned law and business degrees from Harvard. In the US, he is known as the Nigerian who clerked for late Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, who they say was unable to pronounce his name and quickly dubbed him Obeedoogee. Colleagues and friends call him Bayo.


Related stories: Video report on Nigerian oil tycoon Kase Lawal

Aliko Dangote makes Forbes rich men's list

Billionaire Aliko Dangote denies interest in Arsenal investment 

Globacom strikes five-year sponsorship deal with Manchester United

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Patient Feedback launches

In an effort to improve the quality of healthcare delivery in Nigeria, the Federal ministry of Health collaborates with GSM service providers to launch an initiative called Patient Feedback System.

Related stories: Health insurance in Nigeria

Government failing to provide pension for the elderly

Why fuel scarcity persists

FORMER Group Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr Chris Ogienwonyi has attributed the persistent fuel scarcity in the nation to the alleged failure of the Federal Government to employ capable hands to man the oil industry.

According to him, "when I was there as number two man in the NNPC, fuel products were everywhere in this country. When I left last year, up to April last year, there was fuel everywhere. I think we should ask Rilwanu Lukman who became Minister and wanted to make NNPC better, why the persistent crisis.

"Nigerians are the better judge. If you compare last year and this year, you will see the difference. I tell you one thing, the issue of leadership comes in. If you put round pegs in round holes, things will move. But if it is the opposite, you will get what we are getting today" he stated.

Ogienwonyi stated this in an interview with Vanguard in Benin City , shortly after he formally joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in his ward in Abudu, Orhionmwon Local Government Council of the state. Vanguard learnt that the former NNPC Director will soon declare his intension for the 2012 governorship race in Edo state.

On how the people of the state would vote in 2012 despite the efforts being made by Governor Adams Oshiomhole to revamp the decayed infrastructures in the state, Dr Ogienwonyi asserted, "The next dispensation will be issues of personalities.

If you check round now really, people do not vote for parties because they all have similar ideologies and the manifestoes are basically the same thing.

"But what is going to make the difference is the calibre of people. The next dispensation will be people oriented. You will see wonders in 2012. People are going to vote on personalities. In the sense that when you are really in the private or public sector, what did you do?

Who are you, what is your pedigree? It is not going to be time for mediocres. Mediocrity is out and people will vote accordingly, not PDP or AC," he stated.


Related stories: Video - Nigeria's fuel crisis

Video - Oil War

Shell cuts output over attack in Niger Delta

Chinese firm buys Nitel for $2.5 Billion

New Generation Telecommunications Limited, a consortium led by China's second largest telecoms firm China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd was yesterday declared the preferred bidder of the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) after it bided $2.5 billion (N373 billion) during the second round of the bid opening in Abuja.

In the first round, the firm had bided $333 million (N50 billion), but drastically upped it in the second round. Apart from China Unicom, New Generation Consortium is made up of an indigenous telecoms firm, GiCell Wireless Limited, as well as Minerva Group based in the United Arab Emirates.

The bid was for 75% of the old state telephone monopoly, which has however been left moribund for many years since the coming of mobile phone companies into Nigeria in 2001. New Generation's bid also came with a bank draft of 30% of the bid price. The acquisition does not include NITEL's debt obligations, estimated to be in billions of naira. Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which organized the bid, Dr Christopher Anyanwu, announced federal government's commitment to pay the debts from the transaction's proceeds.

The nearest bid to the preferred bidder's was $956 million (N142.4 billion) by Omen International Limited (BVI), which earned for it the position of reserve bidder. The result was announced by the acting chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation, Prof. Taiwo Osupitan.

The bid opening, which was broadcast live by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), featured five companies after Globacom was declared disqualified for not following the rules specified by BPE.

Following the advice of the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC), BPE had announced at a pre-sale conference of NITEL held last month that all existing telecom operators in Nigeria with GSM license wouldn't be allowed to buy M-TEL alongside NITEL, as that would cripple competition in the industry. Glo didn't adhere to this rule, the NCP ruled.

The transaction is now awaiting final approval of the NCP, which is chaired by the Vice President.

An elated team leader of the New Generation Telecoms Consortium, Usman Abubakar Gumi, said Nigerians should prepare for a new dawn in the Nigeria telecoms industry. He said his technical partner Unicom China has an estimated 250 million subscriber base with over 500,000 base stations. He said NITEL's 600 base stations is mere child's play compared to Unicom China's. He said, "We are committed and are going to pay within the stipulated time set aside by the BPE. Our bid was not hypothetical but real. We know NITEL is worth more than that."

Telecom giant MTN Nigeria had bided $25 million (N4billion) for SAT-3. It refused to alter the bid in the second round, which made it to eventually lose out to the bid by New Gen Consortium for the whole of NITEL and its components. Other bidders were Brymedia Consortium ($551million) and AFZI/Spectrum Consortium ($376 million).

This effort marks the fifth time the federal government is trying to sell NITEL. After a botched sale under controversial circumstances during the Obasanjo administration, NITEL was sold to Transcorp Plc for $500million (N63 billion) with a commitment to the federal government to turn its fortunes around within a year or face revocation. NITEL's fortunes however after Transcorp's takeover.

Following the non performance of Transcorp after one year, the federal government invoked the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement (SSPA), calling on the company to step down as core investor for a new one to be selected. The 51% shares to be given to the new core investor would be contributed by the federal government and Transcorp. This took place in December, 2007.

n July of 2008, the BPE, with the approval of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) appointed BNP Paribas to provide advisory services towards the search for a new core investor. According to the BPE, the transaction was to be completed in February, 2009. But that was not to happen. A consortium of banks including UBA, Union bank, Intercontinental and Wema Bank, among others, had claimed ownership of NITEL upon hearing of plans to sell it to out to a new owner. The group said Transcorp borrowed about N75 billion from it to finance the NITEL purchase, which was yet to be paid back. The federal government last year paid back the loan after a final revocation of Transcorp's holding.

The staff of NITEL and MTEL are currently owed salaries of over 20 months but the BPE boss promised they would be paid from the proceeds.

The journey to privatise NITEL has been a long and arduous one. It started in 2000. It was stopped in 2002 when IILL, the core investor failed to pay the $1.317 billion it offered. In 2003, Pentascope was appointed by government to run a three year contract to prepare the sleeping giant for sale but this failed following alleged embezzlement and incompetence. In 2006, Orascom of Egypt offered $256.53 million but this was rejected by the federal government on the grounds that it was far below NITEL's market value, before the coming of Transcorp on November 14, 2006.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Video - U.S. vs China for Nigeria's oil

China invests $6 billion in Nigeria

Government approves deal with Chinese firm for housing and power generation in Abuja

Video report of Nigerians rioting in China

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Super Eagles World Cup camp opens May 15

Super Eagles 2010 FIFA World Cup training camp is to flag off on May 15 at the Richards Bay in South Africa although the Hampshire Hotel in Durban will be the team's base for the duration of their first round games.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) delegation led by president Sani Lulu Abdullahi, who was in South Africa at the weekend inspecting the venues and finally picked the Hampshire, a new, 107-room hotel which does not open its doors until the end of February. The squad will leave for Durban on June 6, six days before the Super Eagles play Argentina in their first game of the Mundial.

Also on the inspection trip were executive committee member Taiwo Ogunjobi, general secretary Bolaji Ojo-Oba, head of marketing Adama Idriss and media officer Idah Peterside.

The Nigerian team appears to have fallen in love with Durban. The Super Eagles camped in Durban to prepare for the 27th African Cup of Nations in Angola where the two-time cup winners ended up with the bronze that has now truncated Coach Shaibu Amodu's dream of leading the team to the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the NFF has restated that their arrangements for the Super Eagles to play Paraguay in an international friendly on March 3 are still on course, despite reports that the South Americans will be playing Ghana on the same date.

NFF Secretary General Bolaji Ojo-Oba said yesterday that the Glass House is aware of the reports linking Paraguay with Ghana, but said they had received reassurances from the Paraguayans that their arrangements with Nigeria were still in place.

"We are aware of the rumours that they want to play Ghana. we contacted them as soon as we saw it, and they assured us that that was not true," Ojo-Oba told Sunday night. "We will definitely play Paraguay on March 3 in London."

"They are sending the contract over to us on Monday. We will look at it, and if all goes as agreed, we will sign it and return it to them."

A venue is yet to be picked for the game, according to Ojo-Oba, who says the Paraguayans are handling those arrangements.

"They are the ones taking care of that part of the arrangements and speaking with the English FA."

Ojo-Oba's position appears to be given credence by the international fixture list on the FIFA website. A week ago, Paraguay versus Ghana was listed as one of the friendly games for March 3, but has now been taken off the calendar.

Nigeria have been drawn with Argentina, Greece and South Korea for the World Cup in June.

This Day

Related stories: Nigeria qualify for 2010 World Cup

Football Legend Pele predicts Africa has a great chance of making it to the World Cup Final

Video overview of Group B in the 2010 World Cup

The World Cup comes to Nigeria

Riz Khan show focuses on Nigeria's leadership crisis

A constitutional leadership crisis threatens to tear Nigeria apart.

With the elected president, Umaru Yar'Adua absent since November the parliament has handed power to Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president. 

The guests invited to give their insight are former Nigerian anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, Nigerian human rights advocate Hauwa Ibrahim and Emira Woods, co-director of foreign policy at the institute for policy studies.

Related stories:  Nigerian vice-president to take over absent president

Video - Christian Amanpour talks to Wole Soyinka

Video - CNN reports on Nigeria's missing president

Video - unrest in Nigeria

Video - Nuhu Ribadu testifies before U.S. financial services committee

Monday, February 15, 2010

Goodluck Jonathan pledges to resolve power crises

ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan  has said the Federal Government was determined to make electricity available for all Nigerians.

He stated this when he received Mr. Samuel Jonah, Director of Jonah Capital Companies; a pan-African mining investment group, in State House, Abuja.

Dr. Jonathan affirmed that improved power supply will fast-track wealth creation for the citizenry and assured that Government is working round the clock to address the sector.

He noted that Government is aware of the yearnings of Nigerians for improved power supply and expressed Government's resolve to alleviate the strains being experienced by small and medium scale enterprises with regards to adequate power supply. "The power sector will be addressed and Government is totally committed on this," he stated.

The Acting President welcomed initiatives towards exploring alternative sources of electricity generation, saying "we will encourage what is best for the country".

Earlier, Jonah, who is also a distinguished member of the Honourary International Investors Council (HIIC), congratulated the Acting President on his assumption of office. He said his company is ready to partner with Government on coal exploration as an alternative energy source to boost electricity generation in the country. He said discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development on the best way forward in this regard.


Related stories: Video report - Goodluck Jonathan takes over from Yar'Adua

Video - Nation in Darkness

CNN reports on Nigeria's electricity crisis

Video - Deji Badmus reports on electricity crisis in Nigeria

Firm plans to use solar power to light up Nigeria

Tension in Borno over Al-Jazeera Boko Haram video

Borno is tension-soaked after Al-Jazeera released a video showing persons in police uniforms ordering the killings of unarmed civilians in the Boko Haram sectarian crisis.

Over 1,000 people were believed to have died and properties destroyed.

The footage obtained by Al-Jazeera shows that many of the deaths occurred once the fighting was over in Borno, Yobe, Kano and Bauchi states in July and August 2009.

Al-Jazeera, a renowned international cable network based in Qatar, released the video about the August 2009 mayhem early last week. The video clippings also revealed how persons suspected to be policemen were discussing how not to shoot one of the victims in the head so they could take away his hat.

Claims by Al-Jazeera that elements of the police and army staged a follow-up operation in which house-to-house searches were conducted and individuals were apparently selected at random and taken to a police station have caused stir in Borno, forcing security agencies to beef up security across the state and warning people against violence.

Borno government and the state police command declined comment, but many have accused the Al-Jazeera of deliberately spreading mischief and wanting to incite violence in the country.

While the video clips of the shooting of arrested persons by the police rented the Al-Jazeera airwaves during the week, many in Borno state continued to react in mixed feelings as memories of the ill-fated Boko Haram massacre in opposition to westernisation flooded back to torment victims and their relatives.

Though the situation in Maiduguri, the state capital, has remained calm as the police have since been on security surveillance, many residents fear the video could stir the hornet's nest.

The fear is worsened by the January ethno-religious crisis in Jos, the Plateau State capital, where hundreds were killed.

Most people contacted from within the government circle declined comments on the Al-Jazeera video clips, but hinted at the possibility of Borno Government investigating the cable network "to ascertain why they chose to broadcast the video clips of crisis eight months after the people of the state have gotten over their traumas. This is a mischief that is unbecoming of a reputable media outfit like Al-Jazeera."

The state deputy governor was quoted in the Al-Jazeera broadcast as defending the alleged actions of the police and the military during the religious strife.

According to him, the military and the police who are being paid with tax payers' money can only protect the citizens and not shooting them.

That emerged as family of the late Baba Fugu Muhammed, the father-in -law of the fallen Boko Haram leader, Muhammed Yusuf, sued President Umaru Yar'Adua, Borno State Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ogbonna Onovo, for allegedly ordering the summary killing of their aged father during the massacre eight months ago. Baba Fugu was said to have been killed by the police on suspicion that he was a chief financier of his son-in-law's atrocity.

"They killed our innocent father on unfounded suspicion that he sponsored the sect," eldest son of the slain father-in-law, Alhaji Babakura Fugu, told Sunday Independent.

"That is why we are approaching the court as defender of the weak. They not only killed my father, they also destroyed our expansive family house, rendering our mothers homeless. This is cruel, and we won't let it go unchallenged," Babakura added.

Babakura said his father had earlier on told authorities of Yusuf's unbecoming behaviour and later voluntarily reported to the police station after he was accused of bankrolling the sect. "But rather than act on the information my father gave them, they ended up killing him," he stated.

In the suit filed before a Borno State High Court 3, he and his siblings accused Yar'Adua, the Attorney-General, Police Chief and State Governor of complicity in the extra-judicial killing of their father and destruction of their properties.

Presiding judge in the case, Justice Mohammed Mustapha, has granted them exparte motion to serve all the accused the notice of summon.

Anayo Adide, counsel to the litigant, said the President is sued for issuing the order that led to the alleged extra-judicial killing of people in the state, while the state government is joined in the suit for ordering the destruction of the Fugu family compound.

"The IGP is considered a major culprit for allowing police to shoot their father alongside many others in what was extra-judicial murder that is punishable under our law. The Federal and State Attorneys General were joined in the suit for allowing the breach of constitutional rights of the people during the Boko Haram scuffle," he added.

Daily Independent

Related stories: Video and transcript of Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf interrogated before his execution

Video report on the widows of Boko Haram militants

 Video report on latest counter attack by Nigerian security forces on radical Islamist group Boko Haram

Residents worry about their future in Jos