President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the appointments of four persons to head some key agencies in Nigeria’s aviation sector.
The approval was made public in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Sabiu Zakari.
The affected agencies are: Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, as well as the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Captain Fola C. Akinkuotu, who is a seasoned transport pilot, flight and aircraft maintenance engineer, airline chief executive and a trained aviation industry regulator, has been appointed the Director General of NAMA.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Abuja, and a professor of geography with specialty in Environmental Application of Remote Sensing, Sani Abubakar Mashi, becomes the Director General of NIMET.
According to the statement, Captain Abdulsalam Mohammed is the new Rector at NCAT, while Mr Akinola Olateru is the Commissioner for AIB.
Captain Mohammed is an alumnus of NCAT and a renowned civil aviation trainer and examiner with accreditation by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Federal Civil Aviation Administration.
Mr Olateru, on his part, is an engineer of international repute, a trained air accident manager and a certified safety officer with aircraft maintenance engineering licences in Nigeria, USA and the United Kingdom.
As Nigerians join their counterparts across the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Christian leaders have stressed the need for them to uphold the virtues of the Christianity.
At the Cathedral of Saint Michael Anglican Communion in Kaduna State, the parishioners celebrated Christmas with praise and thanksgiving.
The Bishop of Kaduna Archdiocese, Most Reverend Timothy Yahaya, expressed optimism that Nigeria would overcome her numerous challenges if only the citizens start to do things right.
He appealed to the leaders to govern with love and patriotism, just as Jesus Christ showed love to mankind.
Bishop Yahaya, however, decried the evil practices of looting of public funds, bad governance and high rate of poverty in the country.
He asked political leaders to give the people hope instead of disappointment and to use the Christmas celebration to show love and care to the masses just as Jesus did.
The cleric commended the anti-corruption war by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in which some stolen public funds from corrupt public officers were recovered.
However, he noted that the war should not be one-sided, but should be holistic starting from 1960 till date.
Bishop Yahaya further suggested that the way forward for Nigeria was for leaders and the citizens to shun corruption, nepotism and hatred and begin to see themselves as one people bounded by one destiny.
God Is With Us
Meanwhile in Benue State, Nigerians have been advised to look up to God for protection and preservation for the protection of mankind.
The Parish Priest of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Nyiman, Father Moses Aonduveer Iorapuu, gave the advice during an interview with Channels Television on the significance of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The clergyman asked Nigerians and government to wait upon the Lord who he said is with them in all situation as “exemplified in the name Emmanuel, meaning God is with us”.
In Nigeria’s capital, the Primate of Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, asked Nigerians to shun all forms of discrimination and embrace spirit of love, sacrifice and giving.
Reverend Okoh stated that the country can only experience meaningful development when its citizens live in unity,
Clergymen in other states also asked Christians across the country to be imbibe the lessons of the season.
The Nigerian government has appealed to commentators and analysts to refrain from making statements that can jeopardise the release of other Chibok girls who are still in captivity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, made the appeal on Sunday in Abuja at a special thanksgiving Church Service and reunion of the 21 recent released girls with their families.
The Chibok girls were released on Thursday after over two years in the custody of Boko Haram terrorists.
“They are many reckless analysts and commentators who are not helping the situation. We still have many of our children in captivity. Therefore, we have to be careful with the kind of comments that we make. We must not make comments that will make the release of these girls difficult or impossible,” he said.
Mr Mohammed, who quoted from the Scriptures – those who are with us are more than those who are with them- said those who doubted the sincerity and commitment of the present administration to the safe release and the reunion of the abducted Chibok girls with their parents were disappointed.
“When the President said that the Boko Haram saga will not be closed until all the girls abducted have been released and reunited with their families safely, those who doubted did not believe us so we thank God this day has come,” he said.
A New Life In Freedom
A statement by a spokesman for the Minister, Segun Adeyemi, said Mr Mohammed appealed to the parents of the girls who have not been freed to continue to exercise patience.
“This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that very soon another batch bigger than this will be released. I want to assure you that these negotiations are ongoing even as we speak,” he stated.
The Chairman of the Parents of the Abducted Chibok School Girls, Yakubu Nkeki, re-echoed the Minister’s plea by appealing to the people to stop spreading rumours, particularly on the Social Media, that would put the lives of the girls at risk.
He debunked some reports alleging that 18 of the 21 freed girls were pregnant even as he denied that the girls were radicalised by Boko Haram.
Mr Nkeki thanked President Buhari for summoning the courage and the political will that eventually led to the release of the abducted girls.
In her testimony, the spokesperson of the released girls, Miss Gloria Dame, who recalled their ordeal in captivity, thanked God and all those who made their safe release and reunion with their families possible.
Miss Dame, who spoke in Hausa, prayed that God would ensure the safe release of the other girls still in captivity.
“We never thought we will ever see this moment but God has made it possible for us. I want to appeal to all of us to fast and pray for the safe release of those left behind,” she said.
Dr. Shiktra Kwali, who delivered the sermon at the thanksgiving service, told the girls that as they start a new life in freedom, they should not allow the experience of the past to weigh them down.
He further urged them to remain steadfast in serving the Lord, who has not forsaken them even in captivity.
Several ministers of God, including the President of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), Reverend Joel Bilili, offered prayers for the girls.
The high-point of the occasion was the reunion between the parents and their daughters.
Tears flowed freely as parents took turns to identify their daughters, while one woman simply strapped her daughter to her back in happiness.
The ceremony ended with an identification parade, as each of the freed girls identified her parents who in turn made brief comments, with many of them praising President Buhari for ensuring the safe release of the girls
Nigeria’s Presidency has described the release of 21 out of the over 200 Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists as ‘a show of faith’ on the part of the insurgents.
Mr Femi Adesina, who is a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, clears the air on the release which had triggered rumours that it was a swap deal between the Nigerian government and the terrorist group.
He told Channels Television on Friday that the development was a confidence building step that would lead to bigger things.
“I have heard and read so much about what we gave and what we didn’t give.
“This is just a confidence building step that will lead to bigger things.
“In the past, there have been many of such meetings that would have led to releases but along the line, discussions broke down.
“Maybe they (the terrorists) trust the (new) process and they believe that they do this as a show of their trust and faith and believe.
“For now, what we have been told is that there was no swap and the girls were released just as a show of faith, a confidence building measure and I think it is good enough for us to believe,” he said.
He stated categorically that the release was not a swap, but was achieved through the collaborative efforts of the security agencies, a friendly European country and a renowned International Humanitarian Organisation.
The group said in a statement that the “wonderful development” confirmed what was known about the effort of the government to rescue the Chibok girls.
They added that while they await further details, they salute the work of Nigeria’s security services at the front lines and the tireless efforts of members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the Civilian JTF.
Final screening for the would-be employees of the Cross River Garment and Textile Factory has been concluded across the 18 Local Government Areas of the State.
The exercise, which took place simultaneously in Ikom for the Central Senatorial District, Ogoja for the people in the Northern Senatorial District and Calabar for the Southern Senatorial District, saw excited applicants trooping out in their thousands for the exercise.
Addressing the mammoth crowd at the UJ Esuene Sports Stadium in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, Coordinator for the Southern Senatorial District and Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Rosemary Archibong, disclosed that Governor Ben Ayade remained committed to his promise that those who will work at the factory will be mostly women, with widows given special consideration.
According to her, the Governor, knowing the plight of most widows across the state, decided that 80% of those to be employed in the garment factory should be widows that are still energetic to carry out routine work to earn income to support their children.
Some of the applicants were optimistic that they would be employed and finally have sustainable income to cater for their families.
The wife of the Nigerian President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, will commission the factory.
The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, says the state is 99% ready for the commissioning of its garment and textile factory as well as the Calabar Monorail which is expected to be done by President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha Buhari in the coming weeks.
Gov. Ayade, who disclosed this after an on-the-spot inspection of ongoing work which is at its peak at the Garment factory, said that the President was quite enthused with the project and has offered to be in Calabar with the first lady.
The Governor hinted that the garment factory which is the biggest in Africa, would be fully automated and expected to employ about 3,000 people, with 80% of them being women.
He said skewing the employment in favour of women, especially widows was informed by the fact that they have been neglected, “they are people that have lost their loved ones, they have kids without income, and are the most vulnerable in the society today”.
Gov. Ayade described the President as someone who identifies with anything good irrespective of party lines and ethnic background.
Also speaking, a Director with Lilleker (Nig) Ltd, the firm handling electrical installations at the garment factory, Mr Thorpe Steward, said that everything was in a state of readiness for commissioning.