India willing to work with Nigeria- Ambassador Mahesh Sachdev

Looking into the Nigeria-India relations on the basis of the 2nd India-Africa Academic Conference,Diplomatic Channel had Indian High Commissioner; Ambassador Mahesh Sachdev comment on the bilateral relation between India and Nigeria so also Africa.

Jonathan assures no interference in Bayesla’s politics

President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the people of Baylesa state of non-interference of his administration on the governance in the state, even at the party level.

Mr. President made this declaration shortly after the conclusion of the People’s Democratic Party congress, held over the weekend at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital. He also urged the newly elected state executives of the party to run an all-embracing leadership.

According to the president, “I assure that I will not involve myself in the politics of this state, because I am elected to see to the welfare of the entire country in Abuja. So I will leave the running of the state to the governor and his team.”

The President, an indigene of Otueke in Bayelsa, flew into the state to participate in the ruling party’s state congress ahead of its national convention in Abuja. The president was ensued in a political battle with the last governor of the state, Timipre Sylva.

Dr. Jonathan said that he was pleased by the manner with which the exercise was conducted and charged the newly elected executives of the PDP in the state to ensure maximum unity, following the process of transformation of the party.

Earlier in his valedictory speech, the former state chairman of the PDP, Deacon James Dugo, thanked the party members for their support during his tenure and urged them to give the same to whoever emerges as the new chairman after the election.

Also speaking, the newly elected governor of the state, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson congratulated the new party’s leadership in the state, describing them as ‘lucky ones’ as their tasks will be lighter than those of their predecessors; pointing out that they will enjoy the support and partnership of the executive arm of government.

He also, charged them to hold the balance of the party under all circumstances.

In his acceptance speech as the newly elected chairman of the party in the state, Mr Samuel Enokoba, expressed his gratitude for the confidence deposed on him by the state PDP and promised to discharge his duties accordingly.

Jonathan takes part of blame for failed attempt to rescue European expatriates

President Goodluck Jonathan said on Thursday that he would take some of the responsibility for a failed hostage rescue attempt in which an Italian and a British man died in Sokoto.

The President who disclosed this in an interview with CNN said the Nigerian authorities had worked with intelligence agencies from Britain and other countries in the failed rescue operation.

“We worked with the international intelligence system. If there was success, there would have been a collective glory. Since we did not quite succeed, well, we all take responsibility.”

“So I cannot say I will not take part of that responsibility. Yes, I do. I’m the President of the country.”

Kidnappers last Thursday killed two European expatriate Franco Lamolinara and Chris McManus while a raid to free them was under way, according to British government sources briefed on the matter.

The case drew criticism from the Italian government, who questioned the British authority on why Rome was not consulted before the operation, which was launched by Nigerian forces with support from Britain.

Britain said it had not been possible to inform Italy of the operation until it was under way because of the fast moving situation on the ground and the “imminent and growing danger” to the hostages’ lives.

President Jonathan said the raid on the hide out of the Kidnappers was initiated after conversations between the captors were intercepted.
The hostages had been moved several times and there were fears they would be taken out of Nigeria, he said.

The President said that the escape of one of the alleged kidnappers during an arrest the day before the failed rescue attempt also raised fears that McManus and Lamolinara would be killed.

He said he was not aware of any demand for a ransom, or of any ransom payment having been made.

“In this particular case, no family member informed security agencies that they (the captors) had reached out to them for ransom,” he said.

Court gives Jonathan, Army Chiefs more time to defend fuel subsidy removal case

 

The protest that led to the probe.

A Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has fixed the 3rd of April for hearing in the suit filed by Save Nigeria Group(SNG) against the Federal Government over an alleged violation of its members rights in last January’s protest against the removal of fuel subsidy.

The SNG filed the suit against President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika.

Others listed in the suit are the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke.

Presiding Justice Steven Adah on Monday, adjourned the matter after the counsel representing the President, the IG and the AGF, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun, informed the court that he was yet to file his counter-affidavit to the suit. He attributed the delay in his response to the applicant’s mode of commencement of the suit.

Counsel for the applicants, Ms Flora Ogbuitepu however asked for the court’s permission to move her application without the respondents’ counter-affidavits being in the court’s file.

She said the respondents had been served with the processes of the suit on the 8 & 9th of Febraury 2012, and their failure to respond within five days, as provided by the court rules, implied that they were not willing to oppose the suit.

In a short ruling, Justice Adah granted more time to enable the respondents regularise their filings.

The SNG, convened by Pastor Tunde Bakare, is asking the court to award the sum of N100m against the respondents as damages for an alleged violation of its members’ rights by deploying troops to stop its protest on January 16, 2012.

It also wants the court to order the respondents to publish an apology in at least three national newspapers.

However despite confirmation that all the respondents had been served with the processes of the suit, the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff are yet to be represented by counsel in court.

Solve insecurity by creating more jobs – Labour minister

The Minister of labour and productivity, Emeka Nwogu on Tuesday said that unemployment is the cause of restiveness and insecurity in the country.

The minister said this at a forum organised by the National Defence College for mapping out policy options to curb insecurity in the country.

He said that despite the high level of profits declared by multinational companies operating in Nigeria, “the proportion of Nigerians living in poverty is increasing every year.”

Mr Nwogu said that these revelations “reflect the growing frustration and angers of millions of Nigerians youths, whose hopes and aspirations could wrongly be expressed through violence and crime.”

The Minister advocated massive jobs creation as a recipe for internal security, peace and stability of the nation.

Speaking at the event, the commandant of the Defence College, Rear Admiral Thompson Lokoson, said though it was too early to assess recent government initiative for employment generation, previous efforts in that direction have failed to produce the desired results.

He said it is alarming that an estimated 100 million Nigerians live in poverty while 40 million are unemployed.

He said that the current waves of insecurity sweeping across the country could be “partially attributed to lack of job security.”

The commandant said that like most governments, actual job creation must become the preoccupation of the present administration especially considering that previous efforts are yet to yield any tangible results.

Other security experts and participants at the gathering suggest that the first step must be to identify and address youth restiveness arising from joblessness and broaden the base of policy initiation and implementation by involving private, public and security outfits towards a successful resolution.

The United States’ also on Monday urged the government to focus on developing the northern part of the country as a way of combating the Boko Haram insurgency in that part of the country. The US government further promised to support Nigeria in crushing the restiveness in the North.

Reports from news agencies showed that critics have accused the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan of relying too heavily on security measures in the fight against Boko Haram and that his government is not addressing the underlying economic problems that provided the conditions for militancy in the north.

Recently, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a northerner and native of Kano, raised controversy when he said that the north was underdeveloped because the federal government was not allocating a fair share of the country’s petrodollar earnings to the region.

Supporters of President Jonathan, a southerner, have countered Mr Lamido’s assertion that the federal government is neglecting the north, saying that Jonathan inherited a heavy legacy of long years of neglect of social and economic development of the north by northern leaders themselves who have held power in Nigeria longer than leaders from any other part of the country.

Why we can’t build refinery in Nigeria-Shell

The outgoing Executive Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Malcolm Brinded on Friday said the company cannot build a refinery in Nigeria because there are surplus refineries across the world.

Mr Brinded, who is in-charge of the Upstream International unit of Shell, said this in an interview with the State House correspondents, after a farewell visit to President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.

The out-going Shell Director, who led a delegation to the State House, Abuja, said rather than build new refineries, the company was divesting from those it had interest in around the world.

“With respect to downstream, two comments there. Shell is divesting from refineries all over the world because there is a surplus of refineries; we no longer own any refineries even in the United Kingdom.

“I will also say because of the surplus of refineries available in a way, one has to look very closely whether building new refineries is a good investment for anyone not just for Shell but for countries involved.

“In today’s world, not looking at the past but where we are today, there is surplus of refinery capacity which essentially means many refineries in the world run at a loss.

“Which also means one can get refined products back again and pay very little for it to be refined,’’ he said.

Mr Brinded said that building refineries was no longer profitable and that informed the company’s decision to invest in the gas sector.

According to him, Shell would continue to invest in the development of the gas sector.

“I do believe that investment in the downstream sector, especially gas sector in Nigeria, as I touched on, is very important,” he said.
On the concentration on exporting gas rather than supporting domestic supply, particularly government’s drive to develop the power sector, he said, “yes if you look at our reinvestment over recent years, particularly the involvement and the building of Afam power station, the construction of the Baron UBA and it’s supply to local power and now as we look at the next round of projects, we tend to be involved in the development of the local gas sector for use in power, commercial, industry and so forth. If I look back 10 years ago, we might have done more, but today, I completely agree is a very important sector for the country and is important sector for Shell in this country.”

On the issue of oil spillage, he said most of the spills were caused by bunkering.

“I think the first thing is to distinguish between operational spills which shouldn’t happen and the spills that come from bunkering and theft, which of course we will be pleased to see absolutely stopped.

“Our focus is on cleaning up spills whatever the course, but of course we feel we must prevent the spills that come from our own operations. We are looking and addressing how we can we make sure that the way we remediate and clean up spills is done to the highest international standards and especially how can we give confidence to local communities that the attribution of the spills have been correctly done. And we are making moves to bring in more independent observations of that process of how we determine cause of spills.”

Late Biafra warlord laid to rest

The Saint Michaels Catholic Church in Umudim, Nnewi in Anambra state, South-east Nigeria was on Friday filled to capacity as eminent Nigerians gathered for the church service/requiem mass for the late Biafra warlord and Igbo leader, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu.

President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Dame Patience Jonathan were among those in attendance at the funeral service. Other dignitaries present at the service were the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme and Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.

Also present at the funeral ceremony were the governors of Delta state, Emmanuel Uduaghan; Liyel Imoke, the governor of Cross River; the Anambra state governor, Peter Obi and the Abia states governor, Theodore Orji.

The Deputy Speaker House of Representative, Emeka Ihedioha, Chief of Army staff, Major General Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika and Senator Chris Ngige were also present at the funeral service.

Mr Jonathan in his condolence message extolled the virtues of the late Biafra leader. Calling him ‘our leader’, ‘our brother’ and ‘Ikemba’ the President praised the late leader in his five minute speech.

“I am here with my wife to pay respects to our leader Ojukwu whose life symbolises service to the people. May his soul rest in peace,” he wrote in a condolence register opened at Ojukwu’s home.

The President on his facebook page said he is “personally touched by the depth of sadness at the passing of this philosopher, officer and gentleman”.

“It is remarkable and moving that his awesome life is a source of celebration by every strata of the Nigerian society,” Mr Jonathan wrote.

He said “in death Dim Ojukwu has consolidated and strengthened the nationalist philosophy agreed by all patriots that there was indeed “no victor and no vanquished”.

Ojukwu’s body was later interned in a mausoleum within his family compound, bringing to a climax the week long burial ceremony of the late Ikemba of Nnewi.

The government of Anambra state joined other states in the South-east region to declare a work free day to honour the great leader and pay him the last respect. Shop owners of Igbo decent around the country had their shops locked up today in memory of their leader.

Ojukwu died aged 78, on 26 November last year, in London, after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his widow, Bianca and many children.

His funeral, already once delayed, has seen a revisioning — or at least a remembrance — of Nigeria’s bloody civil war in a country where an almost collective amnesia about the event still exists. President Goodluck Jonathan has repeatedly mentioned Ojukwu and his legacy, something previous unheard of. Ojukwu’s coffin also has been transported around the country under a military honor guard.

For his family, that honor means a lot after seeing much of the family’s wealth confiscated at the end of the civil war and Ojukwu living in exile for more than a decade.

“He was a passionate man who wanted very much to leave his footprints in the history of his country,” his brother Lotanna Ojukwu reportedly told a news agency.

The roots of Biafra came from a 1966 coup in Nigeria, a former British colony that had gained independence only six years earlier. The coup, led primarily by army officers from the Igbo ethnic group from Nigeria’s southeast, saw soldiers shoot and kill Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, as well as the premier of northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello.

The coup failed, but the country still fell under military control. Northerners, angry about the death of its leaders, attacked Igbos living there. As many as 10,000 people died in resulting riots. Many Igbos fled back to Nigeria’s southeast, their traditional home.

Ojukwu, then 33, served as the military governor for the southeast. The son of a knighted millionaire, Ojukwu studied history at Oxford and attended a military officer school in Britain. In 1967, he declared the largely Igbo region — including part of the oil-rich Niger Delta — as the Republic of Biafra. The new republic used the name of the Atlantic Ocean bay to its south, its flag a rising sun set against a black, green and red background.

The announcement sparked 31 months of fierce fighting between the breakaway republic and Nigeria. Under Gen. Yakubu “Jack” Gowon, Nigeria adopted the slogan “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” and moved to reclaim a region vital to the country’s finances.

Despite several pushes by Biafran troops, Nigerian forces slowly strangled Biafra into submission. Caught in the middle were Igbo refugees increasingly pushed back as the front lines fell. The region, long reliant on other regions of Nigeria for food, saw massive food shortages despite international aid.

The enduring images, seen on television and in photographs, show starving Biafran children with distended stomachs and stick-like arms. Many died as hunger became a weapon wielded by both sides.

Nigeria’s Igbo people have since been largely marginalized in the country’s politics, despite being one of the nation’s top ethnic groups. Many hope for that to change in the upcoming 2015 presidential election, as there’s been discussion about the nation’s ruling party picking an Igbo as its candidate.

Senate orders FRSC to stop issuing new number plates and drivers’ license

Senate on Wednesday ordered the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to stop issuing new vehicle number plates and driver’s license.

The order follows the adoption of a motion on new number and driver’s sponsored by Senator Dahiru Kuta of Niger state and 19 others.

The Senators during the consideration of the motion on Wednesday described the new vehicle number plates issued by the commission as illegal noting that act that set up FRSC does not empower it to issue number plates.

“The commission was not established principally as a revenue generating agency for states or Federal Government,” Senator Kuta said while promoting the motion.

He said the new driver’s license which the FRSC launched in 2011 “is now issued for N6, 000 as against the N3, 000 while the new number plates have suddenly jumped from N5, 000 to an astronomical N15, 000,” he added.

Senator Smart Adeyemi from Kogi state said the cost of the new number plates is too exorbitant for motorists and is illegal.

He said that the “FRSC has abandoned its mandate, it was established to ensure safety on highways, but what the FRSC is trying to do now is to render other government agencies redundant.”

The Senate President, David Mark while ruling on the motion said the new number plates by FRSC was an imposition of additional burden on Nigerians.

“Let them not impose additional expenditure on the people and their primary objective was not to generate revenue,” he said.

Similarly, the House of Representatives had in last November asked the FRSC to stop the issuance of new vehicle number plates and driving licence.
The House had directed its Committee on FRSC to investigate the “rationale, necessity and circumstances” for the commission’s decision to replace the existing number plates and driving licence.

The FRSC had set a deadline of August 2012 for Nigerian drivers to obtain the new driving license and number plates which were last year commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the FRSC the upgraded license and plate numbers are interlinked and will be connected to each driver, in order to help the FRSC track all road offences and monitor the driving behaviour of all vehicle owners.

Jonathan condemns bombing in Jos, vows to expose attackers

President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned Sunday’s bombing at the Headquarters of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Jos which left at least three people dead and several others injured.

The President’s message was contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati.

In the statement, the President spokesman said, “It is with great sadness that President Goodluck Jonathan received the news of the suicide bombing, today, at the Headquarters of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Jos, Plateau state, and the mindless acts of reprisal that followed the incident.

Mr President conveys his sympathies and condolences to the victims of the odious acts. Those who seek to divide us by fear and terror will not succeed. The indiscriminate bombing of Christians and Muslims is a threat to all peace-loving Nigerians. Mr President will continue to stand firm to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians while ensuring that the relevant institutions move against those who disregard the sanctity of life in the pursuit of sectarian ambitions.

Government is gradually and firmly bringing justice to those behind these attacks and exposing their identities and dismantling their terror infrastructure. Those behind similar acts of terror in recent times have been arrested and are being investigated with a view to prosecuting them accordingly, as a deterrent to others. President Jonathan appeals to all residents of Plateau state to remain calm and be law abiding”.
As we mourn with today’s victims, let it be known that efforts are being redoubled to win the war against terror.

Jonathan to join other leaders in UK to discuss Somalia’s problem

President Goodluck Jonathan will on Wednesday travel to the United Kingdom, to attend the International Conference on Somalia, scheduled to hold at Lancaster House, London, on Thursday.

This was disclosed in a press statement signed by Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.

The London Conference is a one-day meeting where some of the world’s most powerful people will sit down in one room and try to co-ordinate the international approach towards Somalia. Head of governments or their representatives from more than 50 countries and international organizations will focus on seven key issues, including terrorism, piracy, humanitarian assistance and, crucially, what Somalis could do after the transitional government’s mandate expires in August.

According to the press statement the “President Jonathan will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, and return to Abuja on Friday morning.”

Mr Abati also said that the President Jonathan will be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru and the National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi.