Thursday, May 31, 2012

Anti-Bomb police officer killed in Kaduna blast gets promotion

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammad D. Abubakar, has promoted Sgt Sunday Badang who died while trying to demobilize an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) planted in Uguwan Sarki in Kaduna State metropolis last February to an inspector.

Daily Trust reports that late Sgt Bodang died on February 14 when he went closer verifying the contents of a bag containing explosives that blew him up.

Kaduna State commissioner of police, Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, in a statement by the spokesperson of the command, DSP Aminu Lawan, said the late anti-bomb squad policeman has been posthumously promoted by the IG to inspector.

"The death of the sergeant, which also attracted wide public sympathy, was deeply felt by the IGP, the police management team and the entire spectrum of the force.

This was not only because he died in a very active duty but given the fact that he was highly dedicated, patriotic, zealous and hardworking policeman," the police commissioner said.

He said it was in appreciation of the late sergeant that the IGP earlier donated N500,000 to the family outside the deceased's official entitlement in support of their upkeep.

"All these are obvious indications that hard work, sacrifice and patriotism never go unrewarded. The Kaduna State police command and the family are full of praises for the IGP for this recognition," he said.

Sunday Trust

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Inconsistent electricity supply threatens telecommunication growth in Nigeria

Telecommunications in Nigeria has taken a quantum leap in the past 11 years with active subscribers growing beyond 90 million people. Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group and a former President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, however warns that poor power supply threatens further telecoms growth, Emma Okonji reports

Comparing the growth rate in telecommunications with the recent electric power supply in the country, Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group and a former President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, is afraid that such growth rate will soon begin to decline if the issue of poor electric power supply was not addressed by government.

According to him, Nigeria witnessed in the telecoms revolution, the quantum numerical leap from a paltry four hundred thousand telephone lines, both landline and mobile, to a little bit more than ninety million active subscriber lines.

The leap, he said, was really massive, phenomenal and marked a paradigm shift from the era of the monopoly of NITEL as a national carrier. "We must not forget how we moved within a decade, from endless queues to apply for and get service from NITEL to prompt provisioning of service on demand, from paying as much as N150,000, official plus non-official, to get the mobile service of the famous M-Tel to prompt SIM card activation for service within minutes of payment for the service; from long queues in the business premises of NITEL to make both trunk and international calls. We must not forget so quickly how we used to almost somersault to enter designated cubicle, in business offices of NITEL telephone exchanges to pick connected trunk and international calls," Ekuwem said.

He explained that all is now history, with the impressive growth in telecoms, but warned that government must act fast to overcome the challenge of epileptic power supply that is currently threatening the growth of telecoms in the country.

Achievements in ICT

According to Ekuwem, Nigeria made tremendous growth in the area of Information Communications Technology (ICT) and has translated from main frame computers with punched cards and dummy terminals to personal computers.

"We have desktops, laptops, palmtops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, smart phones and all kinds of exotic and exciting Internet and Internet Protocol (IP) network access devices. We have largely migrated from the era of stand-alone PCs to networked computers in local area network environments with access to full Internet.

"I remember the beginning of Internet access in Nigeria. It was by dial-up on Unix-to-Unix copy (UUCP) platforms. One could not go for speeds higher than 2.4kpbs. Trying to be ambitious by attempting to go for speeds of 4.8kbps and 9.6kbps resulted in difficulties in having a sustained dial-up handshake," he said.

He suggested that the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should jointly set up an ICT museum to enable Nigerians see how the digital world has moved from huge tapes/reels as storage devices through 5 inch floppies, 3.5 inch floppies, CD-ROMs, DVDs, USB flash drives, SD cards to pin-tip size storage devices.

The world has become a global village. Internet service is being provided by legacy Internet Service Providers (ISPs), telecom operators, universities, banks, multinationals, small, medium and large companies, among others. Access to full Internet backbone is largely by Very Small Aperture Technology (VSAT) and broadband submarine optic fibre cables. Thanks to Main One, Glo One, SAT-3, MTN's West African Submarine Cable (WASC), for bringing to the shores of Nigeria broadband Internet. We must give credit to SAT-3 for its pioneering role in this regard, in spite of its high cost and epileptic availability, Ekuwem said, adding that it is not yet uhuru for Nigeria as the country still has a long way to go. The exciting summary that I have painted to you does not make me oblivious of the long walk and the hard work ahead. What I am saying is that Nigeria, in comparison with herself ten years ago has done phenomenally well in the ICT sector. However, Nigeria in comparison with her peers in other parts of the world still has a long way to go. By Nigeria's peers I mean the much talked about Asian tigers. We need to redouble our efforts in ensuring availability of electric power supply, broadband infrastructure penetration of every home and office, human capacity building via formal and non-formal channels, Research and Development in ICT, availability of a critical mass of skilled manpower, encouragement of Nigerian content development, patronage of made-in-Nigeria ICT wares, application of ICT in education, health, agriculture, among others. We need to use ICT to automate processes within the Nigerian economy in order to boost productivity and increase our GDP.

Threats to Telecoms, IT Growth

Ekuwem is of the view that the greatest threat to the growth of telecoms and information technology sectors is the insufficient and epileptic public power supply in the country.

Listing the challenges of ICT, Ekuwem said that without electricity there would be no ICT. "As I often say, electric power supply is to the national economy what food is to the human body. ICT is to the national economy what the central nervous system is to the human body. So our national economy in general and ICT in particular are strong and vibrant to the extent of copious availability of electric power."

That is the number one threat. The second is policy inconsistency or flip-flops or outright somersaults by governments. No nation can develop on a saw-tooth waveform. That is every administration formulates its own ICT policy that may drastically modify or reverse outright the direction or thrust of the preceding administration.

It can also happen that different Ministers of Communications Technology who have served the same administration at different times may have seen ICT matters completely differently. So, we keep starting from scratch all the time. These tendencies very seriously threaten the steady growth of the sector. The third is the availability of critical expertise to drive growth and developments within the industry.

This must include formal training in primary and secondary schools as well as in universities and polytechnics and colleges of education. The syllabuses and curricula must be up to date. The teachers must be smart, the classrooms must be smart, the laboratories must be smart, the workshops must be smart, the libraries must be smart, the halls of residence must be smart; the staff quarters must be smart, the administration must smart and, in fact the entire teaching environment must be smart.

There must be a conscious national awareness that we are teaching, training, developing and equipping our children to compete in the global workspace with the Americans, Europeans and Asians of this world. There is no local standard in ICT and there can be no hiding place for the mediocre in the world of today. Our graduates must be world class.

We must popularise ICT and make it part of our culture and social fabric. There must be Research and Development in ICT by relevant government agencies and institutes as well as private organisations. Insufficient availability of competencies in ICT can threaten the industry.

The fourth threat is non availability of a manufacturing base in ICT; be they factories, assembly plants, software companies, technology integration companies, among others. These are part of the factors for growth, development and sustainability in the industry. They build confidence and provide platforms for job and wealth creation for global competitiveness.

They are veritable platforms for imagination, innovation, creativity and productivity. A strong manufacturing base in ICT will provide spin-offs into manufacturing capacities in other sectors of the national economy. After all, the need for automation of processes in the economy will logically affect all sectors of the economy with ICT providing the leap-frog platform.

The fifth threat is non patronage of locally made ICT goods. By local I do not in any way allude to the connotation of inferiority in the quality of finished products. I mean sheer geographic locality. That is all. There must be a commitment on the part of governments in the country to encourage our entrepreneurs to fabricate, manufacture, assemble and integrate technologies.

They can only do these with passion and enthusiasm if they have ready markets. We must kill this mindset of "whatever is imported is better". No, it is untrue. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti used to call it "colo mentality". We must know that buying made-in-Nigeria goods creates jobs, keeps jobs, strengthens the Naira and increases our foreign reserves.

Let ownership of factories and assembly plants become the new status symbols and not the number of containers of goods that one has imported into the country. Let containers be used for export and not for import.

The sixth threat is low level of awareness or knowledge of the power of ICT in national economic transformation. I commend the presidency for its transformation agenda. However, they must, as a matter of fact, know that ICT is a powerful national socio-economic transformation tool. How can we talk about the Asian tigers without ICT?

The Asian tigers leveraged ICT for rapid national economic transformation. So, this awareness cuts across the need for the application of ICT in automating processes in the national economy to boost productivity and increase our GDP. There must be mass broadband awareness campaign across the entire length and breadth of Nigeria.

You do not miss what you are unaware of. How can ICT be used to boost productivity in education, health, agriculture, law enforcement, national security, government, judiciary, tourism and hospitality, national defence, transportation? Make ICT common place and productivity will be common place.

Addressing the Challenges

Suggesting the way forward, Ekuwem wants government to compel Power Holding Authority of Nigeria (PHCN) to step up electric power supply and encourage more private sector investments in the country, especially in the area of telecoms and IT.

According to him, "government has done a lot to attract private investments in the ICT sector and should be commend. As I said at the beginning, the industry is investor friendly. International mega telcos who were reluctant to invest in Nigeria in 1999/2000 are living today to regret their decision. Those who came have reaped bountiful dividends from their investments. However, few issues like ICT policy, electricity supply, and patronage of made-in-Nigeria ICT goods must be adequately addressed."

"Government has a big role to play in growing of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in ICT. We need a government guaranteed SME fund to finance outbursts of creativity and the innovative spirits of Nigerians. We need to establish ICT parks to grow and nurture start-up and spin-off ICT companies to maturity for translation to industrial parks and autonomous locations.

"The international brands like Cisco, HP, Dell, Sony, Samsung LG, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and ZTE must be persuaded to establish factories, assembly and product development centres in Nigeria. The Nigerian market is huge and it is the largest in Africa. They cannot, for whatever reasons, be benefiting from our rich market from other lands", he said.

This Day

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Malls boost Nigeria's economy

Nigeria's retail sector, which accounts for 17 per cent of the local economy, has seen a favourable change over the last years. The growth and relative stability of the nation's economy over the past years has also significantly contributed to the expansion of the country's middle class.

Investment conditions, interpreted as transparency measures, favourable economic climate and appropriate regulation/taxation are also playing an important role in the development of Nigeria's retail sector.

The 2003 ban on a wide array of imported goods that included clothes, shoes, selected foodstuffs, among others, by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration intended to stimulate local production, saw a good number of Nigerians flying to Dubai and to other regional commercial centers to do their shopping.But, all that has been gradually reducing, in favour of Nigerian-based retail shops that have gained in diversity and in sophistication and that have also benefited from increasing public affluence.

While the country cannot be said to be undergoing a consumer revolution, it is drifting towards such a revolution with shopping malls springing up in every nooks and crannies.

A cross section of people who spoke to LEADERSHIP said this development would be a healthy one especially in the area of affordable products and creating thousands of new jobs.

They however, added that it would make business tough for local retailers who may find it a bit difficult to compete favourably under this new arrangement.

"Many local retailers with small shops and unattractive shops and stalls will find it rather tough to compete with mighty malls like Palms, Shoprite, Spar etc., which prices and business environments are geared towards maximum consumer satisfaction and unforgettable shopping experience," Mr. Cornelus Nweke a shop owner in Wuse Market said.

" It is therefore imperative for small retailers to start bracing up for the challenges that are inherent in the construction and running of these mighty shopping malls and a consumer revolution. Any attempt by them to ignore this emerging trend may sweep most of them out of business especially with goodies like affordable consumer items for low-income earners, air-conditioned havens and variety of amusements that would be offered by these shopping malls," he added.

Lured by the country's growing population, increasing purchasing power of the elite and limitless investment opportunities, foreign and local investors are falling over themselves to set up new ultra-modern shopping malls.

Malls are springing up everywhere in places like, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna etc.

South Africa's Shoprite Holdings Limited is said to be the most aggressive of the international retailers operating in Nigeria. According to sources, the company planned to open as many as 700 outlets across the country.

Nigerians are also eagerly anticipating the entrance of three global retail giants; Wal-mart of the United States of America, Carrefour of France and Tesco of the United Kingdom.

Walmart is the world's largest public corporation when ranked by revenue, and the largest retailer in the world.

Carrefour is the second largest retail group in the world in terms of revenue and third largest in profit after Wal-Mart and Tesco.

Tesco Plc, on the other hand, with Cheshunt, United Kingdom as its headquarter, is the third largest retailer in the world after Wal-Mart and Carrefour.

Other important malls in Nigeria include The Lagos City Mall, the Silverbird Galleria in Lagos, Ceddi Plaza and Grand Square in Abuja.You also have The Tinapa Mall in Calabar, Cross River State.

Upcoming mall projects include the Ikeja City Mall in Lagos, The Polo Park Mall in Enugu State, a planned shopping centre in Ilorin, Kwara State and Spar International among others.

On what the entry of these multinational giant retail groups portend for Nigeria, an economist based in Abuja,Dr.Samson Adamu, said: "They will transform Nigeria into a proper modern economy; attract more foreign direct investments; expand the manufacturing sector; increase supplies of goods and services in order to meet the induced increase in demand; create new and quality jobs; improve living standards and influence further development of the capital market."

He added : "Retailers are critical economic agents who help to create demand because of their affinity with both the consumers and producers. In fact, retail sales are an important economic indicator because consumer spending drives much of the economy. Imagine the number of people and companies involved in producing, distributing, and selling the goods used on a daily basis like food, clothes, fuel, and so on.

"The development of the Nigerian retail market is contributing to improve local employment and training; it is also increasing tax collection of state and government authorities who are starting to realise the importance of formalising retail and shopping activities; it is generating additional demand for agricultural products; and it is showing local and foreign investors that Nigeria offers great business opportunities that with time and maturity should materialise in attractive returns."


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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Super Eagles need more foreign professionals

Ex- International, Jonathan Akpoborie has said the Super Eagles need the experience of foreign professionals to excel.

He said this when speaking at the National Team's camp in the Metropolitan Hotel, Calabar on Tuesday morning.

While noting that the home-based professionals have the quality, he insisted that Keshi needs more Euro-based professionals to add experience to the team.

"I have watched the team keenly and objectively and I think it's very encouraging but I think we still need more foreign based professionals in the team because of their experience."

He added that "I don't have any person in mind but I trust that Keshi has the experience to call up those that will add value to the team."

Time to blend

The former International called on Nigerians to give the Super Eagles time to blend.

Akpoborie, who was at the camp to encourage the players spoke said he was delighted at what he has seen in the national team, urging Nigerians to give the Stephen Keshi led technical crew room to excel.

He said he sympathises with Nigerians' desperation for victory in all international engagements but warned that it is a new dawn and the crew and players must be given time to blossom.

Sunday Trust

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Video - Nigeria's youth addicted to smoking

Many Nigerians have little doubt about the enormous influence of tobacco companies.

With a pack of cigarettes costing around a dollar, experts see the problem worsening unless government acts quickly and decisively.

Al Jazeera

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President Goodluck Jonathan declares things are getting better

President Goodluck Jonathan Monday took stock of what has been achieved within one year of his administration. His conclusion: Nigeria is making progress in spite of the numerous challenges confronting her.

A major highlight of his address to mark Democracy Day was the renaming of the University of Lagos after the late Bashorun MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of annulled June 12, 1993 election, who died in military custody while trying to claim the mandate.

The school will now be known as the Moshood Abiola University of Lagos, although students of the institution protested the name change immediately after the broadcast.

Jonathan identified the problems of the country as insecurity, unemployment, lack of will to develop the potentials which abound in the country, insatiable appetite for imported good "and the propensity of few of the elite class to resort to foul language and violence in their quest for power".

But he assured Nigeria that the country was being steered in the right direction.

He gave a sector-by-sector assessment of economy, promising that in no distant time, visible changes that will touch on the life of the average Nigerian would be felt.

The president said the credit rating of the country has been stable in the face of global downturns which has adversely affected other economies.

He said for the first time in Nigeria, the external reserves this month hit an all time high of $37.02 billion while commitments to foreign direct investment into the country have hit N6.6 trillion which described as an indication of the confidence that investors globally have in the economy.

“There are challenges, yes, but we are working hard to address those challenges. And, by God’s grace, we will succeed. My confidence is bolstered by the results which we have achieved in different sectors within the last twelve months. Our democracy is stable. Its foundation is strong and firm. Its future is bright.

“We need a lot more introspection, even as we look forward. We must take steps to heal the wounds of the past and work together, as a people with a shared destiny under one flag. We must strengthen our collective memory, draw strength from our history, and build bridges of unity to take our country to greater heights,” Jonathan charged.

He noted that his administration was strengthening agencies to fight corruption and had already moved to amend the laws to enable them discharge their functions with more effect, adding that checks instituted by his administration had led to saving N100 billion from wasteful spending while efforts are on to sustain the fight.

On the ports and business environment, Jonathan said that reform has led to reduction of agencies at the ports from 14 to seven while new measures have led to reduction in the time goods were cleared from months to seven days.
He added that the aim was to attain 48 hours clearing period which was the global standard. The ports, he saidd, now work 24 hours a day.

“I want to reassure all Nigerians that this administration remains committed to waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption. In the last one year, we have taken specific steps to reduce opportunities and avenues for corruption, and to strengthen the capacity and integrity of our institutions.  For example, our ports reform programme has reduced the number of agencies at the ports which hitherto frustrated the speedy clearance of goods at the ports.

We have also cleared the stretch of trailers and lorries blocking the Apapa Expressway. We have put an end to the fertilizer and tractor scam that once dominated the agricultural sector. Our review of the pension payment system has also blown the whistle on corrupt practices which are now being addressed.

“Within the last one year, we set up a committee to identify leakages and waste in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I am confident that the implementation of the recommendations of that committee will help to eliminate corruption channels within the system, and improve the efficiency of the public service. In January, we announced a policy of deregulation in the downstream sector, but this was misunderstood by naysayers and reduced narrowly to a fuel subsidy removal initiative, whereas the policy was designed to completely eliminate the grand corruption in the downstream sector, and create the necessary incentives for private sector investment.

“We have strengthened the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Both agencies are being re-positioned for more effective service delivery. We will continue to strengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies for optimal performance.  We will also need the support of our courts. The courts have to do more,” he explained.

Jonathan who paid tributes to the Nigerian military for subjugating themselves to civil authority unlike in some smaller African countries which has now seen to an unbroken 13 years of civil rule and a further proof of the confidence in democracy in spite of the perceived differences.

In an apparent justification of the naming of University of Lagos after Abiola, he said: “When General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over the baton of authority to President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999, it was a turning point for Nigeria. We did not arrive at that turning point by accident.

Many Nigerians laid down their lives for the transition to democracy to occur.  Some were jailed. Media houses were attacked and shut down. But the people’s resolve was firm and unshakable. 

This is what we remember. This is what we celebrate. On this day, I recall especially the martyrdom of Chief M. K. O.  Abiola, whose presumed victory in the 1993 Presidential election, and death, while in custody, proved to be the catalyst for the people’s pro-democracy uprising. The greatest tribute that we can pay to him, and other departed heroes of Nigeria’s democracy, is to ensure that we continue to sustain and consolidate our democratic institutions and processes, and keep Hope alive.”

He appealed to Nigerians to have faith in his leadership as he was committed to making the necessary changes that will turn the fortunes of Nigeria, pointing out that he promised Nigerians free and fair elections in 2011 and achieved it which had repositioned the country in the comity of nations and will likewise deliver on any of the promises he has made to the nation.

On the remaining leg of addressing electoral violence, he said his cabinet had taken decisions on the recommendations of the White paper on the matter and will soon expedite action on Electoral Offences Tribunal as a way to check the violence which attends elections.

On the security challenges, he said things took the nation by surprise but stated that he has built and will continue to improve the security infrastructure of the country so that the security agencies would be better able to deal with the situation, adding: “I want to reassure you that we are making progress. But we can also do a lot more. We must. And we will.”

He enumerated measures he is taking on the economic front, particularly reforms in the agricultural sector where he aims to make Nigeria not only self sufficient in food production but as net exporter of finished and processed agricultural good.

“Today, progress has been made. The country’s credit rating is positive, in contrast with many nations being downgraded.  In 2011, our economy grew by 7.4 per cent. As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchange reserves had risen to $37.02 billion, the highest level in 21 months. We have stabilized and improved our fiscal regime. We brought the fiscal deficit down to 2. 85 per cent of GDP from 2.9 per cent in 2011. We reduced recurrent expenditures from 74 per cent to 71% and reduced domestic borrowing from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billion in 2012. We cut out over N100 billion of non-essential expenditure and increased our internally generated revenue from N200 billion to N467 billion. 

“For the first time in over a decade, we now have a draft Trade Policy which provides a multi-dimensional framework to boost our trade regime and facilitate the inflow of investments. We have generated over N6.6 trillion worth of investment commitments. The total value of our trade is also much higher than the value estimated the previous year due to deliberate government policies. To facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, we have a policy in place to make visa procurement easier for foreign investors, with safeguards to prevent abuse.

“The goal of our administration is to ensure that every Nigerian can find gainful employment. Given my dissatisfaction with the prevailing unemployment situation in the country, our administration has embarked on an ambitious strategy of creating jobs and job-creators through the launch of several initiatives mainly targeted at the youths and women.

“In October 2011, we launched the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria Programme, designed to encourage entrepreneurship and provide grants for small and medium scale enterprises. Over 1,200 Nigerian youths have benefitted from this initiative.

We have also launched the Public Works Women and Youth Empowerment Programme, which is designed to employ 370, 000 youths per annum, with 30 per cent of the jobs specially reserved for women. Let me make it clear here that our YouWIN programme is designed to nurture and mentor young entrepreneurs to become major players, employers and wealth creators in business.

“We are gradually reducing the footprints of government in business activities through privatization, liberalization and deregulation based on our recognition that the private sector should be the engine of growth in our economy. To ensure that the private sector is well positioned for this task, our administration has embarked on key structural reforms in the Power Sector and at the Ports.

“To improve reliable power supply, our administration is judiciously implementing the Power Sector Roadmap, which is at an advanced stage, to fully privatize power generation and distribution while reducing the cost of electricity to rural households and the urban poor.

“The commitment of this Administration to the provision of regular and uninterrupted power supply remains strong and unwavering.  We all agree that adequate and regular power supply will be the significant trigger to enhance this nation’s productive capacity and accelerate growth.  It is for this reason that I remain optimistic that the reforms we have initiated, the decisions we have taken so far and the plans we intend to faithfully prosecute will yield the desired results,” he said.

While insisting on the privatisation of the power sector, he reasoned that it was right for them to repair all the power stations and the transmission lines before handing over to private investors through strict adherence to the privatisation policy of the regime.

“Our approach is two-pronged:  First, is the immediate repair of power plants, as well as transmission and distribution infrastructure in the short term.  The second is the building of institutions and the provision of enablers to attract investors. We have revived and are accelerating the completion of the National Integrated Power Projects. We are also building about 4000km of transmission lines and hundreds of substations.

We have completed the design for the construction of both Mambilla and Zungeru Hydro power plants which will add about 3, 000 MW to the national grid.

“By mid 2010, the national power output was about 2, 800 MW. By the end of 2011, we reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW. A National Gas Emergency Plan has also been launched to redress the problem of gas supply which arose essentially due to poor planning.

“For long-term power availability, we have strengthened a number of key institutions such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Bulk Trader, the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, and others.  We are also working with the World Bank to provide guarantees for gas and power providers.  The signing of MOUs with World Leaders in power equipment – General Electric of USA and Siemens of Germany as well as US and China Exim Banks for financial investment, is a clear indication of the level of confidence which the world investment community has in our power sector road map.

“In the Oil and Gas Sector, our Administration has charted a new course that will ensure enduring transparency and accountability. We are re-drafting the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to ensure it meets the aspirations of all Stakeholders given the current realities and future expectations in the global energy landscape. Work on the PIB will be concluded in June 2012 and formally submitted to the National Assembly. Additionally, Special Task Forces dealing with Governance and Control, Petroleum Revenue and National refineries are finalizing their work to ensure probity across the oil and gas sector, and self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

“In the Downstream Sector, the Nigerian Content Development Act, since inception in 2010, has boosted the local production of line pipes, in-country fabrication tonnage and engineering support services. As a result, retained in-country spend has grown from approximately US $1bn to a current estimate of US$4bn, and over US$3 billion Foreign Direct Investment has been brought in for upgrading and building new yards, altogether generating over 120,000 direct and indirect jobs,” he explained.

He said the policy of the agriculture was “directed at promoting local production, substituting for imported foods, and adding value to our locally produced crops. We are recording successes already. Government’s policy to ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2015 is already paying off. New rice mills are being established by the private sector to mill locally produced rice.

Ebony Agro Industries located in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State has rolled out its high quality parboiled rice. In Kano, Umza rice mill has taken off and can hardly meet demand, while in Benue State Ashi rice has hit the market. Consumers are buying more of Abakaliki and Ofada rice too”.

This Day

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Police detonate explosives hidden in television set

The police in Kaduna, Tuesday, detonated an improvised explosive device, IED, concealed in a television set and planted at Katsina roundabout on Ahmadu Bello Way.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Jinjiri Abubakar, who confirmed the incident, said the explosive was planted around 4 a.m. and was found around 6 a.m.

"An IED concealed in a television set was found this morning after it was planted around 4 a.m. and based on intelligence report, we got to know of it.

"Our men arrived there around 6 a.m. and they successfully detonated it and there was no casualty recorded."

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reported that the noise of the explosive attracted residents of the area who ran out of their houses for safety.

The commssioner said that residents of the area got to know about it after the police had cordoned off the area and the noise that followed the detonation attracted some residents.

He appealed to residents of the city to volunteer information to the police for prompt action to tackle the insecurity challenges in the state.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Video - Nigeria's mobile phone service issues

Dropped calls, crossed lines or no coverage at all are among the problems facing Nigeria's mobile phone users.

Now the government is getting tough on the biggest operators, accusing them of putting
profits ahead of service.

Al Jazeera

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Video - Nigeria's rusting shipwreck problem

Hundreds of shipwrecks litter Nigeria's rivers and coast, causing environmental damage to marine life and fishing villages.

The abandoned vessels are also being used in illegal oil smuggling but with former owners difficult to trace and a tangle of government bureaucracy, little is being done to clean up the mess.

Al Jazeera

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Nigerian Mr. Victor Olisa becomes London's first black police commander

A Nigerian, based in the United Kingdom (UK), Mr. Victor Olisa, has made history as the first black commander for Baxley Local Council in London.

Until his appointment, Olisa was a Chief superindent with the London metropolitian Police.

Olisa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)“Policing runs in the family and I have always wanted to be a police officer and ethnicity does not affect that.”

Olisa, whose grandfather was a police officer in Nigeria, said his focus was on the job rather than on being the “first black’’ adding that his ethnicity never affected the way he carried out his duties.

He said: “I consider myself first and foremost a police officer. If (being black) is an advantage, then brilliant; If it’s a disadvantage, I will have to deal with that, I can’t hide it.

“I am impeccably against anyone who uses racist language or behaves in a racist manner. This will not be allowed under my watch.

“I believe that everyone should be treated with dignity wherever they come from.’’ 

Olisa, 52, born in Warri, Delta State, is one of the three chief superintendents from black minority ethnic background working for the Metropolitan Police.

He started his career in Surrey Police in 1982 before transferring to the City of London Police in 1990 as detective inspector in the Fraud Squad.

After a stint at the Home Office, he moved to the Metropolitan Police in 2006 as a superintendent in Southwark Council before his recent appointment.

The Nation

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Gunmean behead four policemen in Nigeria

Invaders suspected to have come from neighbouring community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State have murdered thirty-four people, including the clan head of Ntan Obu community and four policemen.

A police source said the invaders who also went round the community in the night slaughtering almost everybody that came on sight, beheaded the clan head whose name was not mentioned.

According to our reporter the suspected invaders from Ikpanya community in Ibiono local government area of the state attacked their victims in the night and left their dead bodies littering the Eniong beach river.

Confirming the story, the state police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Hogan Bassey told The Moment in an interview that 'we can't give exact figure now because we just discovered another person found dead now, we are still investigating'.

Chairman of Odukpani Local Government Council, Chief Steve Asuquo commenting on the incidence told The Moment that it was a sad omen for the Local Government Area to see the entire community wiped out by an invading community in the twenty first century.

He said the current incursion by the people of Ikpayan in Ibiono Local Government Area was the second time.

The council boss also said the remote causes of the crises has been lingering for decades over the struggle of the people of Ikpanya for land that he claims belong to Ntan-Obun Community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State.

He also said the land dispute had been prolonged for quite a number of years leading to litigation and expressed shock that even after the Supreme Court Judgment that ruled in favour of Ntan-Obu community and Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State, the people still went ahead to take the laws into their hands said Asuquo.

The Moment

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Nigerian Bank Nexim sells Nollywood at Cannes International Film Festival

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank is partnering the Nigerian Film Corporation in a co-sponsoring arrangement at the on-going 65th edition of Cannes International Film Festival, in France.

The NEXIM team is at the festival to seek co-financing/co-production opportunities in support of the Nigerian motion picture industry.

At a special session held on Wednesday, in conjunction with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the NFC, the bank enjoined exhibitors to explore areas of synergies between producers and film makers. It was also an avenue to showcase the abundant opportunities in the Nigerian movie industry.

Highlights of the Bank's participation include a paper presentation led by Mr. Awami Mohammed, the Bank's Assistant Manager, Credit Insurance and Guarantee Department, issues on Co-financing/Co-production opportunities for the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry was exhaustively discussed. The festival provides a platform for the Bank to interact with International Financial Institutions and fund arrangers as it regards Film Finance.

The Nigerian Film Corporation, has since 2007, secured a pavilion at the Marche du film (Film Market) of the festival to provide a home for Nigerian Industry practitioners and stakeholders to showcase their works.

Thus, to enrich Nigeria's participation at this year's edition of the prestigious film festival, hence its partnership with the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Co-financing, Co-production opportunities, and appropriate Tax Regime/Incentives for the Nigerian filmmakers.

Mohammed who represented the Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Roberts Orya explained that NEXIM is a wholly government-owned financial institution with the broad mandate that include the provision of Credit Facilities in both local and foreign currencies; Export Credit Guarantee & Export Credit Insurance; Business Development and Financial Advisory Services; as well as Trade and Market Information.

He emphasized that NEXIM's activities in support of the movie industry is such that the bank considers the creative arts and entertainment industry as a very important sector with sustainable growth and foreign exchange potentials that would generate, sustain employment as well as create wealth and continuous pool of talents.


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Boko Haram planning mayhem

The Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri, Borno State yesterday alleged that the dreaded Boko Haram sect has concluded plans to distort public order and peace on Democracy Day in the state.

The task force in a press statement by its spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said, "members of the group intend to attack identified locations in Maiduguri metropolis and environs."

He warned members of the sect and others that are planning to breach security to have a rethink as "the JTF will deal ruthlessly with any one or group that come out trying to jeopardize the security achieved in the state so far."

Musa said: "The task force is determined to see to it that lives and property of law abiding citizens are protected and that the state returns back to the path of peace and harmony soonest."

He advised the members of the public to go about their lawful activities without panic as the JTF is up to the task of warding off any threat to peace and security.

This Day

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Friday, May 25, 2012

70 Chinese migrants arrested by Nigerian immigration authorities released

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has confirmed that around 70 Chinese citizens who were arrested by Nigeria’s immigration authorities, have been released.

On Tuesday, nearly 100 Chinese nationals were detained in Nigeria, accused of living and working illegally in the country. The Chinese embassy has met with officials from Nigeria’s foreign ministry and its immigration department, to lodge a representation.

China urges Nigerian authorities to make sure of the safety of detained Chinese nationals and ensure their humane treatment.

Hong Lei, Spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, "The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria and General Consulate in Lagos have paid great attention to the incident and made prompt inquiries concerning the case. For those Chinese who have been confirmed to have stayed and worked illegally and are facing repatriation, the Chinese embassy will continue to offer consular assistance for their legal rights and safety."


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Nigeria deports 25 Chinese

United States says Nigeria's judiciary system is corrupt with impunity

United States has said that despite the fact that the nation's law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, government does not implement it effectively, "and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity".

The US also said though the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, the Nigerian judiciary "remained susceptible to pressure from the executive and the legislative branches, and the business sector".

These verdicts were contained in a new report titled: "Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011", which was submitted to the Congress Thursday by the Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton.

The report lamented that, "Official corruption and lack of will to implement court decisions also interfered with due process. The law provides for access to the courts for redress of grievances, and courts can award damages and issue injunctions to stop or prevent a human rights violation. However, the decisions of civil courts were difficult to enforce."

In the report, US also noted last year's suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Ayo Isa Salami, by the National Judicial Council (NJC) over his refusal to apologise to the NJC and the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (NJC), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, and his compulsory retirement by President Goodluck Jonathan, who acted under his constitutional authority.

The report however noted that, "The case raised questions regarding the partisan nature and level of independence within the judiciary."

Giving details of the case, the report said: "Salami had accused Katsina-Alu of interfering in the proceedings of the 2007 Sokoto State gubernatorial court case. In an attempt to settle the dispute, the NJC set up three panels to investigate the disagreement.

"The panels declared neither justice was at fault, declared the issue resolved, and requested that Salami apologise to the NJC and Katsina-Alu. The Nigerian Bar Association reached contrary findings, and Salami refused to apologise."

It specifically noted that, "Massive, widespread and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security forces."

While noting that the government brought few persons to justice for abuses and corruption, it said despite the arrest of several high-ranking officials by the EFCC, allegations continued that the agency's investigations targeted individuals who had fallen out of favour with the government, while those who were in favour continued their activities with impunity.

On the anti-corruption crusade of government, the report said that since 2005, the EFCC prosecuted 26 nationally prominent public officials and recovered N1.7 trillion ($10.5 billion).

It however noted that "only four of these officials - former Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun, former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Edo State Governor Lucky Igbinedion, and PDP chieftain and former Nigerian Ports Authority chairman Olabode George - were convicted", while the courts granted bail to all the others.

The report also identified the harsh and life threatening conditions in Nigeria's prison and detention centres as one of the human rights problems in the reporting year, adding, "Most of the country's 234 prisons, built 70 to 80 years earlier, lacked basic facilities."

It said the prison system included 11 maximum security prisons, 80 satellite prisons, 10 farm centres, eight zonal offices, and six directorates - all of which held prisoners and detainees.

Quoting statistics released by the Nigerian Prison Service last year, it said the country's prisons held 48,124 inmates, with individual prisons holding as much as 500 per cent of their designed capacity.

Citing examples, it said Owerri Federal Prison had a capacity of 548 prisoners but held more than 1,635, Ogwuashi-Uku prison in Delta State, with a capacity of 64 prisoners, held 358 inmates, while Port Harcourt Prison, with a capacity of 804 prisoners, held 2,594.

The report said other serious human rights problems identified included arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged pre-trial detention; sporadic abridgement of citizens' right to change their government due to some election fraud and other irregularities; infringements on citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and movement; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women; child abuse; and female genital mutilation.

It said other serious human rights problems included killing of children suspected of witchcraft; child sexual exploitation; ethnic, regional, and religious discrimination; trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution and forced labour; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; vigilante killings; forced and bonded labour; and child labour.

It however identified the abuses committed by Boko Haram, which was responsible for killings, bombings, and other attacks throughout the country; abuses committed by security services with impunity, which included killings, beatings, arbitrary detention, and destruction of property; and societal violence - including ethnic, regional, and religious violence, as the most serious human rights problems during the reporting year.

On the importance of the report, Clinton noted that Congress mandated these country reports more than three decades ago to help guide lawmakers' decisions on foreign military and economic aid.

She said: "Today, governments, intergovernmental organisations, scholars, journalists, activists, and others around the world rely on these reports as an essential update on human rights conditions around the world."

It was also noted in the report that, while political leaders influenced the judiciary, particularly at the state and local levels, also identified understaffing, underfunding, inefficiency, and corruption as problems which continued to prevent the judiciary from functioning adequately.

It further gave a harsh verdict on operators in the judicial arm as it said: "Judges frequently failed to appear for trials, often because they were pursuing other sources of income and sometimes because of threats against them."

Apart from that, it noted that, "court officials often lacked the proper equipment, training, and motivation to perform their duties, with lack of motivation primarily due to inadequate compensation."

The report also said: "There was a widespread perception that judges were easily bribed and that litigants could not rely on the courts to render impartial judgments. Citizens encountered long delays and alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favourable rulings."

Assessing civil judicial procedures and remedies, the report noted that although the constitution provides for independent judiciary in civil matters, "the executive, the legislature, and business interests, however, exerted undue influence and pressure in civil cases".

This Day

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nigerian government opposes US plan to add Boko Haram to terror watch list

Nigeria has voiced its opposition at the US government's plans to include Boko Haram on its terrorist watch list. Nigeria's ambassador to Washington Ade Adefuye and the country's National Security advisor, General Abdrew Azazi, formally requested that the United States not include Islamist militant group Boko Haram in its watch list of foreign terrorist groups posing a threat to the US or its global interests.

They made their request at the end of a series of meetings with senior White House officials. Nigeria fears that including Boko Haram in the US watch list could make it more difficult for Nigerian citizens to travel to the US and further affect bilateral trade between the two countries.

Nigerian authorities said they would manage to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram, as they did in the past with other terrorist or rebel groups operating in the country. Over the past few days, President Barack Obama has come under increased pressure from the US Congress to include Boko Haram in the terrorist watch list.

A group of US Senators and House Representatives also wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, criticising the Obama administration for acting "too slowly" on this issue and claiming that "ten years after 9/11, we cannot allow bureaucratic stovepipes and interagency turf battles to prevent us from protecting the US homeland and US global interests".

The letter mentioned some recent attacks carried out by Boko Haram against Christian churches in Nigeria and against the UN headquarters in the capital Abuja (August 2011) in which 25 people were killed. Early this morning, a group of Boko Haram militants attacked a police station in the town of Sokoto, in north-western Nigeria, killing a police officer and a civilian. Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara was killed in a failed rescue attempt in Sokoto on March 8, after being held hostage by Boko Haram militants for 10 months.


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Boko Haram attack church at Kano University - 20 confirmed dead

National assembly opposes same sex bill

The National Assembly is strongly opposed to the passage of a bill that will allow same sex marriage despite threats by some Western nations, Chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights Beni Lar (PDP, Plateau), has said.

Speaking when she received a delegation from Holland at the National Assembly yesterday led by the Dutch Ambassador for Human Rights, Veer Lionel, Lar said condemnation of the anti-gay bill by some western countries in the name of human rights was uncalled for.

He said Nigerian should not be sanctioned because of the anti gay bill by cutting or stopping aids.

Responding, Mr. Lionel said they were in Nigeria to dialogue with the committee on human rights in Africa and how to promote it.

Daily Trust

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Nigeria deports 45 Chinese

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Kano State Command yesterday arrested 45 Chinese nationals for engaging in economic scavenging in the popular textile market of Kantin Kwari.

In addition to the mass arrest, the NIS also said it was set to repatriate the arrested Chinese nationals to their country of origin.

The state Comptroller of Immigration, Dr. Emmanuel Brasca Udo Ifeadi, said the move was a national issue directed by the Controller General of the Immigration service and stated that it was for Kano, Lagos and Ibadan where Chinese nationals were engaged in textile trading.

Addressing journalists in his office, the controller said: “Out of the arrested Chinese nationals, 11 of them are women and it’s an exercise to make the economy of the country getting healthier, but only with quality foreign expatriate that can be allow but those that economic scavengers will be deport back to their country.”

Ifeadi said: “Chinese nationals are selling textile in market, but that of Kano is worrisome, so the comptroller General feels that enough is enough and its going to be a continuous exercise until when they economic revive.”

He said those arrested will be send back to their country, adding that:“Its continuous exercise, all those foreign nationals trading in the market who are causing economic havoc to our country will be  arrested and deport back to their country.

“For Chinese to come to our country and be selling textiles in our market we will not allow it and we will continue checking them, arresting them and deport them back to their country.”

He said: “Chinese select basic areas in the country, but basically the exercise three major areas of Kano, Lagos and Ibadan their activities is worst, so we will fish them out and repatriate them.”

Emmanuel added that the Chinese national invaded the Kano market, but the government decided to stop them from trading in the market and deport them back to their countries.

This Day

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Nigeria to generate 30 percent of electricity with coal in 2015

The Federal Government said it would utilise coal resource across the country to generate 30 percent of electricity by 2015.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Muhammad Sada, made this known in Lokoja when he visited Governor Idris Wada, said a statement yesterday by the ministry's spokesman, Marshal Gundu.

He said everything was being done in the sector to achieve that through collaboration with investors and stakeholders.

Sada was on a working visit to the coal mine of Eta-Zuma Group West Africa Limited at Okobo in Anpka Local Government Area of Kogi State.

"We are ready to partner with anybody who has the wherewithal towards the actualisation of that mandate. We can talk to such persons and they can talk to us," he said.

Responding, Wada said the state was ready to partner with the Federal Government, Eta-Zuma Group West Africa Limited and other investors for the development of the solid mineral endowments in the state.

Daily Trust

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Empowering women is smart economics - Okonjo Iweala

Empowering girls and women is not a threat but one of the smartest social and economic decisions that a nation can make, Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.

She made the remark in Abuja at a National Gender Policy Dialogue jointly hosted by the World Bank Nigeria and the Department For International Development (DFID).

She said that the World Bank gender report argues that empowering girls and women is a resource that adds to a nations GDP growth.

She said "We talk about natural resources and sources of growth, what this report is telling us are that girls and women are sources of growth for the economy. So it's actually a matter of vital economic growth of this country that we focus on girls and women.

"I am saying in addition to the fact that we are 80.2 million women in this country but because men are used to hearing this, we have got to find a better way to deliver this powerful message that its more than about our being half of the population of this country but it's about the fact that a country will fall behind if it does not see its girls and women as a growth opportunity for the economy."

She explained that any serious discussion about Nigeria's future must entail discussion about girls and women on the role they play and the barriers they face in making the future a good one for the country.

Women have made progress in the country but the fact still remains that they lack behind men in many areas she said, adding that gender inequality have direct effect in economic growth, poverty reduction and the welfare of the next generation.

"We have just heard that figures on female mortality and education level particularly in parts of our country are not at par with what you find in any of the poorest countries of the World and that's why we find it shocking and unacceptable,"

She said that her ministry is targeting to launch a special competition strictly for women in the You Win programme where about 80,000 to 100,000 entrepreneurs are being targeted.

Daily Trust

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Video - United Nations promotes cooking stove revolution in Nigeria

A UN-backed scheme to provide safe, energy-saving stoves to the poor of Nigeria aims help curb the thousands of deaths caused each year by inhalation of toxic fumes or burning from firewood blazes.


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Nigerian Football Federation congratulates John Mikel Obi on UEFA win

The Nigeria Football Federation has congratulated Nigeria international midfielder John Mikel Obi for winning the UEFA Champions League title with English Premiership club Chelsea in Munich on Saturday night.

NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari said yesterday that Mikel Obi is a pride to the Nigerian nation, and deserves plaudits from all and sundry not only for his club's victory, but for his personal commitment and high performance in the campaign.

Maigari said: "We are all very proud of Mikel Obi, and we congratulate him for this sweet victory. More gladdening is the fact that he was not a docile member of the team, or a bench-warmer. He was very active and played his part brilliantly in ensuring a magnificent triumph for Chelsea.

"The whole nation should praise the young man. He fought hard and showed dedication all through the campaign and in the process, lifted our country's name high in international football," said Maigari.


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University professor dies watching Champions League final

A week after the sudden death of the Vice Chancellor of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Babatunde Sofoluwe, another lecturer from the varsity's department of Creative Art, Chief Bassey, has died.

Bassey, a senior lecturer Faculty of Arts, was said to have died in his office Saturday night after watching the UEFA champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich football clubs.

A top management source, who confirmed the demise to Daily Trust, declined to give further details, saying it would be too early to ascertain the actual cause of the death.

"Except there is a medical report or an official statement from the management, it may be too difficult for me to say precisely whether his death has anything to do with match or otherwise," the source said.

Bassey's profile on the University's website, showed that he has authored and co-authored four books as a Senior Lecturer in the department of Creative Art. Prominent among such books include, Creative Art, Definitions, Material and The beginning, UNILAG in the eye of a visual artist.

Daily Trust

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Chelsea's John Mikel Obi left out of World Cup qualifiers

Nigeria have left Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi out of their squad for a series of World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next month.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has called for Mikel to declare his readiness to feature for the team.

Mikel has yet to play for the Super Eagles since Keshi took charge of the side in November, but the coach insisted that the Chelsea ace remains very much part of his plans.

"Mikel is in my plans but we will give other players an opportunity aswell," said Keshi on Thursday.

"We need to give players from the local league a chance. After all, how many knew about such players as Uche Kalu, Ejike Uzoenyi or Godfrey Oboabona before now?"

Austin Ejide, Fengor Ogude, Efe Ambrose, Elderson Echiejile and John Utaka have all been recalled in a group of 11 players based overseas, which also features Wigan Athletic forward Victor Moses.

Nigeria will name another squad of 18 players from the domestic league, who are due to fly out this weekend for a friendly in Peru.

The Super Eagles will host Namibia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier on June 3 in Calabar, before travelling to Malawi as the qualifying series continues the following weekend.

They are also due to host Rwanda in a second-leg qualifier for the 2013 Nations Cup to be hosted by South Africa.

Overseas-based players called up by Nigeria

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille/FRA), Austin Ejide (Petach Tikva/ISR)

Defenders: Joseph Yobo (Fenerbache/TUR), Efe Ambrose (Ashdod/ISR), Elderson

Echiejile (Sporting Braga/POR)

Midfielders: Fengor Ogude (Valrenga/NOR)

Forwards: Ike Uche (Granada/ESP), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Sone Aluko

(Rangers/SCO), John Utaka (Montpellier/FRA), Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic/ENG)


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Heineken takes five lucky winners to Champions League Final in Germany

Five football fans have won the chance to watch the UEFA Champions League final at the Allianz Arena Stadium in Munich, Germany later in May, courtesy of the sponsors Heineken.

In a draw conducted at the Heineken Champions Planet in Lagos, Adewole Abiodun, Caleb Richards, Patrick Nneaemaka, Fomsi Samuel and Busari Adiktat emerged as the winners.

The ceremony was conducted by the Sales Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Hubert Eze. It featured Nollywood actor, Desmond Elliot, ex-Nigeria international, Victor Ikpeba and the Senior Brand Manager Heineken, Jacqueline van Faassen, all of whom picked the winners one after the other.

All the five lucky consumers on Heineken sponsorship to Munich, Germany to watch Saturday's final match of the UEFA Champions League are sharply divided between Chelsea FC and Bayern Munich.

The England FA Cup champions, Chelsea, will take on former European champions, Bayern Munich at the 75, 000 Allianz Arena which incidentally is the home ground of the Bavarians, to determine the winners of the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League season.

Expectedly, there have been divergent opinions on where the cup will go to. At the end of hostilities on Saturday, of the five lucky football fans that Heineken is sponsoring to Germany to watch the match live, only Adewole Abiodun is throwing his weight behind Chelsea to win the cup they missed in 2008.

Although most of the visitors and consumers that have visited the Heineken Champions Planet over the years have affection for English Premiership clubs but the rivalry among competing teams is always visible and the travelling consumers seem to have toed the same line of partisanship.

Abiodun insisted that he will root for Chelsea all through the duration of the match.

"Honestly am still savouring the excitement of being among the five lucky winners on Heineken sponsorship to the final in Munich and my going there is to support Chelsea, the 'Pride of London' but if it goes the other way round, that is the beauty of football," he said.

However, the only lady in the team to Munich who is a 'die hard' Manchester United fan, Adikat Busari, said she will go all, the way with Bayern Munich since most of her Chelsea friends will not allow her to rest.

"How do you want me to feel if Chelsea win on Saturday? In as much as I wish both teams well but my friends will never let me rest knowing fully well that my team did not win any trophy this season while Chelsea had won the FA Cup, so let them be contented with that," she opined.

The Senior Brand Manager Heineken, Jacqueline van Faassen, noted that the 'friendly' hostility among the travelling consumers is what makes the UEFA Champions League the most glamorous and prestigious club competition in the world.

"The UEFA Champions League over the years has generated millions of followership and one of the main reason is that every passionate football fan will always have something to aspire to even when his or her team is no longer in contention for honours.

"The friendly rivalry is also very visible at the Heineken Champions Planet going by what happened in the out-going season. Many Manchester United fans still follow the competition passionately even after their club had been eliminated in the group stage team," she said.

Since 2007, Heineken premium international lager beer, has consistently sponsored its Nigerian consumers' to the final of the most prestigious club competition, the UEFA Champions League, and this year will be no different as , five lucky winners will enjoy an all expenses paid trip to Munich, Germany.

The lucky five are expected to leave for Munich on Thursday night by KLM to watch Saturday's final.

PUNCH   This Day

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16 Nigerians facing execution in Indonesia

The Senate will not attempt to shield any Nigerian found guilty of criminal activities in foreign countries, Senate President David Mark has said.

Responding to the concern expressed at the plenary session by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Mathew Ifeanyi Nwagwu (PDP, Imo) that 16 of the 300 Nigerians reportedly serving jail terms in Indonesia would soon be executed, Mark said the Senate would not intervene in the matter.

Mark, however, stressed that the Senate would not allow any Nigerian to be unfairly treated in foreign nations.

"We will not defend any Nigerian who breaks the laws of foreign countries. If they break the laws there, they should face the consequences. This is a warning to other Nigerians abroad. They cannot continue to tarnish our image".

The Senate president, however, did not expressly uphold Senator Nwagwu's suggestion that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru be summoned over the issue.

"We may invite the minister if you want," Mark said.

Daily Trust

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Man who murdered parents and siblings sentenced to death by hanging

Kano High Court Tuesday convicted one Bello Garba Bello, to be hanged to death for killing his parents and three siblings, two years ago at their family house along Zoo road by Gandun Albasa quarters in Kano metropolis.

The presiding judge, Justice Halliru Abdullahi said he was satisfied with the evidence tendered before him that the accused had actually committed the five count charges of homicide for which he was charged.

Justice Abdullahi also declared that the five victims were killed as a result of various degrees of multiple injuries inflicted on them contrary to section 221 of the penal code.

The prosecution counsel, Shu'aibu Sule, said the accused had confessed to have committed the offence in a written statement he made to the police on September 15, 2010.

He presented seven witnesses before the court, including the younger brother of the accused, Farouk, whose testimonies corroborated the charges against the defendant.

THISDAY in Kano recalled that Bello Garba Bello was said to have murdered his father, Garba Bello, an officer with State Security Service (SSS); his mother, Habiba; and three siblings Khalifa, Murja and Hafsa on the night of September 13, 2010.

The defense counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji had tendered a 17 page written address before the court explaining the circumstances leading to the death of the five persons and exonerating the accused from the charges preferred against him.

According to him, the statement written by Farouk implicating the accused was inadmissible as the witness was below the age of 14 and that Bello Garba, had earlier written a statement on September 14, 2010

exonerating himself before he was forced to write another one on September 15, 2010 confessing to have committed the offence.

Our correspondent recalled that the incident which occurred on the night of September 13, 2010 at the residence of Garba Bello Number 175, Zoo road in Kano municipal had generated public out-cry and sympathy as it was the first homicide case of its kind ever witnessed in the state.

This Day

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