Akwa Ibom Govt. Partners General Electric To Build Power Training Institute

The Foreign Direct Investment drive of Akwa Ibom State Government, has received a quantum leap as the state government has concluded plans to partner with General Electric Global Operations, for the establishment of a world class training institute to address man power need and boost capacity of Akwa Ibom indigenes in the power sector.

The Executive Director, Government Affairs, General Electric Global Operations – West Africa, Dr. Joyce Shyngle-Wigwe, dropped the hint during an interaction with Government House correspondents shortly after a meeting with Akwa Ibom state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, at his office.

Dr. Wigwe said, “General Electric has watched with keen interest the pace of development in the state as regards infrastructure under the watch of a seasoned entrepreneur governor Udom Emmanuel, and the company has decided to partner with the state in the provision of electricity, health care services and in other development programmes of the administration”.

She explained that, “The company had been involved with the installation of turbines at Ibom Power Plant and has undertaken the rehabilitation of power infrastructure to facilitate speedy transmission and distribution of electricity in the state”.

The Chairman of Ibom Power Company, Engr. Etido Inyang, who facilitated the meeting described the interaction as fruitful, explained that Akwa Ibom Governor has given approval for the state government to collaborate with the firm to boost power generation at Ibom Power Company.

“The collaboration would make the state a Power hub and the first phase of electricity generation would be at 240 Mega Watts while the second 240 would provide a total output of 480 Mega Watt for sufficient power generation”.

Engr. Inyang indicated that the Governor has directed the company to work out a functional modality to actualise the vision and expressed delight at the company’s decision to establish a training Centre in the state.

Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyang, who also spoke said the company would help fast track the development matrix of the state’s administration.

The Chief Operating Officer of the company, Mr Ahmed Zakari, who congratulated Governor Emmanuel and his Executives on the development strides witnessed in the state, hinted that, “The state’s vision on infrastructure and industralisation informed their decision to partner in the development agenda of the state’s administration”.

“The partnership would boost the power sector to enable small and medium scale business operators carry out their businesses and provide employment to the youths of the state”.

Construction Commences At Akwa Ibom Intl. Market

Gov. Emmanuel Visits Akwa-Ibom PDP Secretariat
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel.

A consortium of Chinese Companies have concluded arrangements for the take-off of construction of an International Market at Ikot Ekpene and Eket local government, areas of Akwa Ibom state.

The consortium companies comprises of  China Railway and Airport Construction Company, Yiwu International Market Group, Ande Logistics, Forte Energy and Jaagris Nigeria Limited.

The leader of the Chinese Group, Mr Hou Jang, who spoke through an interpreter, announced this while briefing Governor Udom Emmanuel on the state of preparedness for the project at the Governor’s Office, Uyo.

He stated the readiness of the Chinese firm to collaborate with Akwa Ibom state government in its development programmes and expressed delight at the opportunity given them to contribute to the development of the state, assuring of quality service delivery.

Governor Emmanuel thanked the Chinese companies for their decision to partner with the state in the various aspects of industrialization and other development programmes and assured them of safety, transparent legislation and conducive operational environment for the project execution.

He said,  “I am glad to hear that you are commencing operations on the construction by first week of May and I will do everything possible to ensure a smooth take-off.

“Be rest assured that those things needed to allow you invest and make profit in place. We’ve already promulgated laws to support and protect your businesses, provide adequate security for your safety. As much as we can, we will develop infrastructure to provide market for your investment.

“The state has put in place a technical committee on Foreign Direct Investment to attract investors and provide enabling environment for them to operate. Everything would be put in place to facilitate the commencement of the project by the end of May as promised by the Chinese firm”, the governor said.

The Certificate of Occupancy for Eket project would be ready by the end of April and appealed to the construction company to expedite action on the project execution, adding that the state looks forward to the commencement of commercial operations in the market by September 23 when the state will be celebrating her 30 years of statehood.

Speaking with Government House Correspondents, Stakeholders in the benefiting local government areas, Mr Lawrence Udofa, a member representing Eket State Constituency in the House of Assembly and the Chairman Ibom Power Company, Engr. Etido Inyang, commended the Governor for his investment drive in the state and the take-off of construction of the International Market as promised the people during his election campaign.

Engr. Inyang said,” The state government has allocated about 25 hectares of land for the construction of the market which is to be sited along Calabar-Itu highway in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area”.

Bayelsa Assembly Urges More Security Presence At Boundary Communities

The Bayelsa State House of Assembly has taken another step to stop the lingering boundary dispute between the people of Nembe in the state and Kalabari in Rivers state.

The State Assembly passed a two point resolution which urged the state government through relevant ministries, department and agencies to work closely with members of the National Assembly from the area and the National Boundary Commission to quickly resolve the boundary disputes.

The lawmakers also directed the executive arm to mobilise adequate security to the Oluasiri area of Nembe and adjoining riverine communities in the area to protect the people from frequent attacks by armed men from Rivers State.

The resolutions followed a motion raised by Mr. Iniyobiyo Obiene representing Nembe constituency 3 in the State House of Assembly and unanimously adopted by the lawmakers as read out by the Speaker, Mr Konbowei Friday Benson.

Mr. Obiene, had told his colleagues that the people in the two oil-bearing communities, Oluasiri in Nembe and Soku in Kalabari were fully aware of the boundary and wondered why the Kalabari people would want to step out of the boundary.

“Given the fact that Oluasiri, Robert Kiri, Ekulama I, Ekulama II, and their environs are border communities cum settlements that bids the eastern boundary of Bayelsa state, it is true that these communities are in the volatile area prone to threats and attacks from their Rivers state neighbours even in the presence of security men deployed to the area by their government.

“Regrettably, our government has not been able to send security personnel to the area to ensure protection of lives and property of our people living there.

“This is evident in the kidnapping of one Charles Demi along Oluasuri waterways in December 2012, the destruction and burning of Ijaw-Kiri in the same year, the attack on one Mr.Amaebite Obiene and his colleagues at Sand-Sand village among others”, Obiene stated.

The lawmaker who said the hostilities in the disputed area had led to waste of lives, expressed worry that residents live in fear of intimidation and frequent harassment.
According to him, “Recently during the Phase II of the Enumeration Area Demarcation exercise conducted by the National Population Commission (NPC), in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, there were serious security threats.

“As the exercise proceeded to our border communities with Rivers state such as Robert Kiri, Belema I, Belema II, Ekulama I, Ekulama II, Ijaw-Kiri and Soku in the Oluasiri axis, there were attacks on our people which led to serious setbacks on our part. Mr. Speaker, if nothing is done urgently, the ugly scenario will replay itself in the census proper, scheduled to take place in 2018”.

In another development, the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Konbowei Benson, has reacted to media reports that the House did not hold a public hearing as well as consult widely before passing the State Education Tax bill recently signed into law by Governor Seriake Dickson.

The Speaker said the relevant committees held public hearings and reached out to key stakeholders to get their inputs into the bill.

He said the education tax law was a good thing to have happened to the state in the quest to protect the future of millions of Bayelsa youths.

The Speaker insisted that the lawmakers were working for the collective interest of the state and would continue to support other arms of government to fast track development in the state.

Syria Crisis: Thousands Evacuated From Four Besieged Towns

Syrian Government says the operation to move people away from four besieged towns in the north western region has begun.

According to AFP reports, the people evacuated from Foah and Kefraya, two government-held towns, have arrived in Rashideen, west of Aleppo.

Similar operations have also begun in rebel-held Madaya, near Damascus.

In March, the United Nations described the situation in the towns as catastrophic, with more than 64,000 civilians trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation.

Many people are reported to have died as a result of shortages of food or medicine.

Officials said more than 30,000 people would be moved.

NFF Inspects Uyo Stadium For AFCON Qualifying Matches

Federation Cup, NFFAn inspection team led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green, has expressed satisfaction with the current state of the playing turf of Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

The stadium is slated to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier between Nigeria and South Africa in eight weeks time.

Green, alongside NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme inspected the magnificent facility, nicknamed “Nest of Champions” which hosted the 2017 AFCON qualifier between the Super Eagles and Tanzania in September 2016, as well as the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying battle between the Eagles and the Fennecs of Algeria five months ago.

“We are delighted with the state of the playing turf and other facilities at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, I can tell you that the pitch is just as it was when the Super Eagles played Algeria in the World Cup qualifier in November 2016.

“The fact that Julius Berger has also started some work on the turf is even more re-assuring. They are adding manure, and afterwards will do cutting and rolling, and they have the benefit of the weather at this period. By the time we host South Africa on June 10, the pitch will be one of the very best anywhere in Africa”, he said.

The visit to the capital of Akwa Ibom state was to ascertain the condition of the playing pitch and indeed other facilities at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, as well as the level of commitment of the State Government to hosting the big match.

After the inspection, the team reported, “Every inch of the field is covered by grass and the grass is lush green. Julius Berger (the company that built the stadium) has commenced work on the field for the purpose of bringing it to the best standard possible.

“Every other facility is in good condition. The condition of the field, as it is now, is good enough for matches to be played on it.

“The Akwa Ibom State Government has continued to show desire and commitment to hosting the match.

“However, in order to maintain the lush green state of the pitch, the inspection team has advised that no activity be carried out on it until ongoing work is completed and the 2019 AFCON qualifier between the Eagles and the Bafana Bafana is played”.

The “Nest of Champions” will also play host to the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches between the Super Eagles and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions on August 2017 and between the Super Eagles and the Chipolopolo of Zambia on October 2017.

NAF Intensifies Search For Ghana/ISIS Group In Benue State

Nigerian Air Force, Bombing, BornoThe Nigerian Air Force, on Thursday launched a seven day air surveillance and bombardment operation code-named “Operation Smoke Out”.

The operation is to check the activities of wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza and possible existence of ISIS/Boko Haram group in Benue state, as recently announced by the Department of State Services.

The Air Officer Commanding of the Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal, Nurudeen Balogun, said there are no official intelligence on the existence of ISIS/Boko Haram in Benue state, Operation Smoke Out, is targeted at all known criminal elements involved in the Zaki Biam killings and the ISIS group if it exists.

The Air Officer listed Agatu, Katsina Ala and Zaki- Biam in Benue state as well as Wukari in Taraba state as the flash points for the operation, the operations will include other security agencies, while the Benue state government tasked indigenes on intelligence sharing.

The Air Officer briefs journalist on the component of the operation said,

“We are working with other security agencies to make sure we put a stop to this menace and so some air assets including, aisle assets and gunships and some fighter airplanes will be operating in the next seven days, conducting intensive operations, both day and night to make sure that we solve the problems”.

Governor Samuel Ortom who was represented by his Special Adviser on Sports and Youth Development, Professor Jonathan Uever, expressed confidence in the military to end the Benue violence.

“The Benue state government has a lot of confidence in the operations of the military and with the briefs we have received from the Air Officer Commanding, we know that it is going to be well and the people will sleep with their eyes closed, especially in the areas they showed us that they will carry out the operations”.

The Air Officer Commanding said, although there are no official report of ISIS/Boko Haram cell in Benue, the operation is designed to root out all criminal elements.

The acting commanding officer of the 101 Air Defense Group, Mohammed Baba-Ari, in a briefing with pilots and mission commanders, listed key troubled areas like Agatu, Katsina Ala, Zaki Biam and Wukari forest in Taraba state.

“The major restive areas include Agatu, Zaki Biam, Katsina Ala and Logo local government areas among others. Also a forest stretching between Benue and Taraba states is the suspected enclave for the vandals perpetrating these acts”.

The Operation Smoke Out follows last weeks approval by the Chief of Air Staff, to commence counter terrorism operations with air power in a joint security operation with ground troops of other sister agencies.

Nasarawa State Govt. Commences Payment Of Gratuity

Courtesy: en.wikipedia

The Nasarawa State Government, has commenced screening for payment of gratuities for eligible pensioners in the state.

The two days screening is supervised by the State Head of Service, Thomas Ogiri.

As early as 8:00am on Thursday, beneficiaries of the first phase of payment of gratuities and death benefits to families of deceased civil servants trooped into the Lafia city hall with relevant documents.

Speaking in an interview, Thomas Ogiri said only those whose names were published on certain newspaper are qualified for payment.

He also gave reasons why names were published saying that the government has nothing to hide from its citizens.

“We did it deliberately because this is a transparent government so nothing to hide.

“The governor ordered that it should be published so that we can see it in the newspaper publication, there is no point you come to this point without knowing how much you are going to earn”.

He further expressed satisfaction with the exercise and called on the beneficiaries to be patient adding that they will all be screened within two days.

On their part, the beneficiaries expressed gratitude to the government approving the release of their entitlements.

CACOL Lauds Anti-Corruption Bills To Strengthen EFCC

EFCC Tasks Women On Anti-Corruption WarThe Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has commended the steps being taken by the House of Representatives, on four consolidated bills seeking to strengthen the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as the fight against corruption surges on.

This was revealed in a statement issued on Monday by the CACOL Media Coordinator, Mr Wale Salami.

Speaking on behalf of the centre, the CACOL Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran said: “It is indeed impressive to see to the House taking practical steps to disencumber the fight against corruption.

“We had always called for amendments to some of our laws which apparently are not restrictive enough to deter or debar people from engaging in corrupt practices.

“Some of these laws actually pamper corrupt tendencies and encumber the progress of the anti-corruption drive leading to corruption criminals wriggling through the labyrinths of the judicial and enforcement systems to evade justice willfully”.

The bills before the House are seeking to strengthen the EFCC in combating economic and financial crimes, shield the agency from undue interference by the Presidency and for its financial autonomy.

Part of what is expected to form the amendments, is that convicts of corruption crimes shall serve an imprisonment of a term not less than 20 years, as well as have their loots, accounts or investment forfeited to the government.

The Chairman further stated that: “At this period when the Senate has become a house of tragic comedy based on the pro-corruption character of the leadership and a large chunk of the membership of the Upper Chamber, it is indeed refreshing to see the House of Respresentatives (HOR) attempting to focus on matters worthy of attention.

“We call for expeditious actions towards the enactment of the bills into law.

“We add that President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that stolen funds so far recovered by the government are not looted back by the incurably corrupt elements that are clearly still lurking around in very powerful positions in the present government.”

CACOL had consistently called for life imprisonment for convicts that stole any amount above 1 billion Naira, and that such big thieves should be made to work diligently for their own upkeep while in prison via whatever skills they possessed previously or have been able to learn behind the bars.

“For us, 20 years maximum imprisonment is not enough, particularly for those corrupt elements who remained recalcitrant and impenitent during trials, those that consciously made the country to expend undue energy, resources and time before their conviction.

“They should be used as objects to educate the young, the youth and all, when they go on excursion to the prisons.

“Seeing former corrupt leaders in such situation will certainly serve to deter the potentially corrupt. And assets traced to such convicts should be deemed to be proceeds of corruption and confiscated by the Nigerian state”.

Although Mr Adeniran commended the war against corruption thus far, he added that recovered funds should not be stolen, rather they should be channelled back to the original projects or purposes for which they were meant.

“In cases where the original projects have been fixed, such funds should be put in Treasury Single Account (TSA) and used for other important needs of the nation.

“It would be a double tragedy if recovered funds or loots end-up getting re-looted. The processes involved in the recovery must be made transparent and accountable,” he stressed.

Federer To Skip Clay Court Season

After wins at Indian Wells and Miami, Roger Federer says he will skip the clay court season to rest, but will probably play the French Open.

Federer who has moved up to world number four following his win, defeated Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-4 for his third title of the year.

The 35-year-old Federer becomes the tournament’s oldest men’s champion.

He also won the Hard-Court event in 2005 and 2006.

Nigeria’s Cultural Heritage Has Huge Export Potential – Ooni of Ife

The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II

The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, has described Nigeria’s cultural heritage as a huge export potential, capable of igniting economic rejuvenation.

Ooni Ogunwusi said this at Ile-Ife during the joint celebration of Alafere, Oya and Ijugbe festivals which attracted a huge crowd of participants from within and outside Ile-Ife, especially the Bariba and Nupe people in Niger and Kwara states of Nigeria.

The African foremost monarch who is the spiritual leader of Yoruba race stated that the celebration is to give glory to God Almighty who he described in Yoruba language “Oba ti a ko ri, ti a n ri ise owo e”, meaning “The unseen God but whose impact is being felt always”.

The Ooni wondered why cultural festivals and heritage are not getting necessary attention from citizens of the country, saying this has been affecting the growth of the local festivals and culture in the country.

He also expressed displeasure that foreigners were beginning to appreciate the African culture, mysteries and festivals than indigenes of the continents.

“Our heritage is so strong. All the things that we are celebrating may be strange to a lot of people living in Nigeria and Yorubaland but in the Western World, I just returned from the UK where I met with the British Royal Family and visited the British Museum, they don’t joke with our culture. All these things are so important to them.

“They traced the origin of mankind to Africa and all these facts are displayed in their libraries and museums. They believe in the potency and power of all these festivals. It is about time for us (Africans) to nurture what we have.

“We should celebrate what nature has given to us. Our culture is a very huge export potential and tourism is one of the biggest trades in the world. It is bigger than a lot of investments that you can think of because it has a lot of people’s movement.

“With tourism, people are able to establish a common heritage and ancestral background”, Ooni said.

He called on government at all levels to improve the level of infrastructure, noting that the government needs to support the drive to project the Yoruba culture to the world.

“It is about time for us to focus on tourism by improving our infrastructure and for us to package these entire heritages. Most of the heritage and festivals are very timely and yield benefits.

“The government should pay serious attention to our heritage. We are blessed here because our tourist centres and attractions are natural.

“We don’t need to create any form of artificial tourism. They are very natural tourism potentials and that is why we need to display them.

“We hope that at one point, the government will appreciate us.” He added.

South Africa Parliament To Debate Zuma’s Future

S.A Parliament Speaker, Baleka Mbete

The Speaker of South Africa’s Parliament, Baleka Mbete has said the request from the opposition party to hold a “No confidence” vote on President Jacob Zuma would be considered.

The Speaker who is also the National Chairperson of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), cut short her trip to ensure the opposition requests were given the appropriate consideration.

Previous no confidence motion filed against Zuma failed as the ruling ANC has a commanding majority.

There has also been a growing backlash against Zuma from within his party and its allies after a string of missteps which culminated with the firing of the Finance Minister that rocked markets.

Analysts say the sacking of the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan last week may trigger damaging credit downgrades from ratings agencies, which would drive up the government’s borrowing costs.

NUAHP Suspends Ongoing Strike

http://www.healthcare-ng.com/

The Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) have decided to suspend the on-going strike, having considered the poor citizens of Nigeria who cannot afford to seek medical treatment abroad, with the intervention of House of Representative Committee on Health and the Court order.

The union comprising of pharmacist, physiotherapist, medical laboratory scientist, radiographers and imaging scientists among others embarked on the strike on March 6, 2017 following, the inability of the Federal government to meet up with its demands.

It will be recalled that on February 13, 2017 the south east arm of the union embarked on a peaceful protest asking the Enugu state Commissioner for Health, Mr Samuel Ngwu to take their message to the Minister threatening to go on strike should the Federal government fail to address their needs.

The union since then is demanding that the government should provide adequate manpower in the sector, basic working equipment for diagnostic treatment of patients, provision of consumable like drugs, address the skipping of Cohess 10 and adjustment of Cohess salaries since 2014, and the payment of arrears incompliance with industrial court order on July 22, 2013 among others.

The union President, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna told journalist in Enugu that the union is however giving the Federal Ministry of Health a window of four weeks to do the needful to avert the effect of pending services for the good.

“Despite the fact that we have not gotten the things promised by the government, the National Executive Council of our union agreed to suspend the ongoing strike.

“I however call on members of the union all over the country to suspend the strike and resume work immediately, while they wait for further directives”, the union president said.