NCC, NIDCOM fight dirty [Sun]

  • Pantami, Dabiri-Erewa in verbal exchanges

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Pantami, and chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, have taken their fight on the use of office spaces in the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) building to the court of public opinion via Twitter, with the latter describing the response to her accusations of forceful eviction of her staff by the minister as lies.

While replying a tweet by TheCable on the NCC’s reaction to her accusations, Dabiri-Erewa tweeted: “Hmm. Dia is God ooooooo @DrIsaPantami @NgComCommission. We have moved on. But the holy Prophet Mohammed (Pboh) abhors lies (as contained in your response) especially as we mark the end of Ramadan.”

Pantami, while responding to a tweet by SaharaReporters “#PressPlay: Nigeria’s Communication Minister, @DrIsaPantami, Asks Gunmen To Chase @AbikeDabiri, other NIDCOM staff from office complex In Abuja,” tweeted “THIS IS A FAT LIE FROM HER: The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directives to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, & I have no one.”

But, Dabiri-Erewa, in  responding to the minister’s tweet, linked her ordeal to being a woman.

“An Islamic scholar should not lie Hon Minister. (Phd)You did that to me cos I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since Feb. But pls release all our office equipment. Public office is transient. @DrIsaPantami.”

Head of the media and public relations unit of NIDCOM, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, in a statement, said the commission, being an agency of government ought not to be treated in a dehumanising manner by the minister.

“The minister’s claim that the space was allocated for years is definitely false as NIDCOM is just one year in existence. We must, however, thank the chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who, despite all these, was determined to ensure that the work of the commission did not suffer in any way, through her doggedness and dynamism. As stated in the chairman’s remarks as the commission marked its one year in office, the minister’s arrogance and utmost humiliation of a government agency is totally unwarranted. However, the commission has since moved on, and put the ugly incident behind it as it looks forward to settling into any available office space after the COVID-19 lockdown,” Balogun said.

He added that the minister should acknowledge the fact that NIDCOM was not occupying the office spaces in the NCC for personal use by staff, but rather for official governmental functions.

He said Dabiri-Erewa was on an official assignment with President Muhammadu Buhari in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on February 9, 2020, when staff were given one week by Pantami to pack out, but within 48 hours of the notice to quit they were forcefully evicted by security operatives attached to the complex on the orders of the minister on February 11.

The commission claimed 39 items were still under lock and key in the NCC commission and appealed to be allowed to move those items out.


South East govs reject IGP’s community policing composition [Sun]

  • Direct state Assemblies to enact security laws

South East governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo has rejected the implementation of community policing programme of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, in the region.

Consequently, they have directed the states’ Houses of Assembly in the zone to enact security laws in line with the South East Joint Security programme.

Arising from a meeting of the South East Governors’ Forum yesterday at the Enugu Government House, which was also attended by the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Forum said the IGP reneged on the agreement he earlier reached with them during South East Security Summit.

In the said summit held in February, the IGP had agreed with the zone on many things, including that the governors would be involved in the recruitment of personnel for the community policing.

But, in a communique at the end of the meeting and read by the Chairman and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, the governors said: “On the community policing, the recent communication from the IGP to our governors on community policing composition is not in keeping with the agreement we reached with him during his last visit to the South East.

“We cannot begin implementation of it until the programme reflects our earlier agreement and the IGP to revert to our initial agreement reached at Enugu.”


Sack of TCN boss pits SGF against CoS [Sun]

  • SGF under fire over new directive to ministers •Labour threatens showdown if former MD is returned

The sack of the former managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr. Usman Mohammed, appears to have pitted the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, against the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and organised labour.

Labour has alleged that the SGF queried the sacking of Mohammed, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Office of the CoS.

Gambari, in the letter titled “Re: Aligning the Transmission Company of Nigeria with the Presidential Power Initiative” addressed to the Minister of Power, said: “Further to your submission on the above subject, kindly be advised that the President has approved the immediate removal of the current managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Usman Gur Mohammed, directed that Sure Abdulaziz be installed as acting managing director pending your submission of a substantive list for the board and executive management of the TCN.”

But immediately the TCN MD was sacked, the SGF released a circular on what should be the procedure for the removal of heads of public agencies in the country, in what was considered a response to the sack of the TCN boss without his consent.

Mustapha, in the circular, condemned the “arbitrary removal” of chief executive officers (CEOs) of government agencies and parastatals given the attendant impact on the stability and service delivery of the agencies.”

He stated emphatically that no minister had the power to unilaterally remove CEOs of agencies without going through the disciplinary procedure approved by the President for erring heads of agencies.

“When an act bordering on serious misconduct against a chief executive officer is reported, it shall be the duty of the supervising minister through the permanent secretary to refer the matter to the governing board for necessary action. The board shall, in line with due process, issue him/her a query requesting an explanation with respect to the specific act(s) complained about; the board shall forward its findings and recommendations to the minister for further consideration and necessary action; upon receipt of the submission from the minister, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation shall without delay cause an independent investigation and advise Mr. President on the appropriate course of action.”

But some stakeholders in the power sector alleged that the SGF’s directive was specifically targeted at the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, wondering what interest Mustapha had in the power sector.

A competent source told Daily Sun that President Buhari had directed all correspondences to be channelled through his Chief of Staff, insisting that Mustapha’s action was a direct affront on the orders of the President.

“It is important to note that this removal of the TCN MD was a directive of the President, which was passed through the minister of power, and the minister is the person that the President sent to the power sector to go and do the necessary reforms in the sector, with a view to improving the power situation of the country.

“The SGF is asking and actually asserting that the President did not follow due process by issuing a memo and a circular to all the ministers, insisting that none of the ministers has power to remove or recommend the removal of any of the heads of parastatals under their ministries,” said the source that preferred to remain anonymous.

In the same vein, the labour movement expressed shock on the circular, saying the aim was to restore the former TCN MD to office. In a letter to President Buhari, signed by the general secretary, Umar Abubakar Dubagari, labour declared that the unions in the power sector would go on strike if the sacked MD be reinstated.

“Your Excellency is hereby notified of pending labour action by our union and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the unlikely event that the circular restores UG Mohammed to TCN and if the wrongful termination of our president is not reversed immediately,” the letter read.

The Senior Staff Association of Electrical and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) recently protested the sacking of its president, Chris Okonkwo, a general manager and career officer by the former TCN MD. The union questioned the SGF’s circular, demanding to know why it was issued on the same date that the President approved the removal of Mohammed.

“Why did the circular seem to make the ministers helpless and dependent on SGF to act in the ministries? How could it be explained that the circular is not a reaction to and an act of insubordination to the President and his Chief of Staff?” the union queried.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 21 stakeholder-civil society groups, drawn from the National Power Sector Stakeholders’ Forum (NPSSF), also urged the President to call Mustapha to order for what it described as the usurpation of the statutory powers of cabinet ministers.

The group warned that the desperate and vexations actions of the SGF were capable of derailing the vision and eroding the legacy of the Buhari administration.

A communique signed by its national coordinator, Mr. Musa Dawop, called on the President to investigate the special interest of the SGF in power ministry.

The group stated that many stakeholders were aware that, since the sacking of the former TCN MD, the SGF has been working round the clock to bring him back.


Kano, Katsina, Borno Muslims shun Sultan, PTF, storm prayer grounds [Punch]

Bauchi states on Sunday shunned a directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji  Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which stated that there should be no large gatherings at Eid prayers.

Our correspondents, who monitored prayer grounds in the states, observed that there were massive gatherings with the majority of the faithful not observing the PTF’s protocols such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.

Recall that states, including Kano, Katsina, Borno and Yobe,  last week relaxed the Federal Government’s lockdown and allowed religious organisations to hold their congregational activities. They gave  Muslims the go-ahead to hold prayers at Eid grounds to mark the end of 30 days fasting.

But the  Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs,  led by the Sultan,  on Wednesday contradicted the state governments.

In a statement by its Deputy Secretary General, Prof Salisu Shehu,  the NSCIA said massive gatherings at one Eid ground in a big city should be avoided. “Rather the Eid could be performed in area mosques to avoid unmanageable crowds,”  it stated.

On Thursday, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, also led by the Sultan, directed Muslims to observe Sallah prayers at home

In a statement  by its Secretary General, Dr Khalid Abubakar, the JNI said, “Eid-el-Fitr congregation on the outskirts of towns and cities should be temporarily suspended.”

It also directed that “Eid-el-Fitr prayer be observed at home with family members or alone in case there isn’t anyone with him or her, at home.”

At the press briefing of the PTF on Thursday, its Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha,  advised against large gatherings of people during the Sallah celebration.

Kano residents shun physical distancing, wearing of face masks

In Kano State, The PUNCH’s correspondents reported that Muslim faithful trooped out as early as 8:30am to observe the   Eid-el-Fitr prayers at the various Eid praying grounds without complying with the physical distancing order.

It was observed at some Eid grounds that while some worshippers wore face masks, others refused to abide by the order.

However,  worshippers were asked to wash their hands and use of sanitisers by the people mandated to enforce hygiene rules.

But some worshippers entered the prayer grounds without washing their hands and using sanitisers.

Some of the Eid praying grounds visited included  Umar Bin Khatab Juma’at mosque, the Central Eid prayer ground located at Kofar Mata and Mahaha Eid prayer ground near the Kofar Na’isa, all in Kano metropolis.

Some Muslim leaders in the state commended Ganduje for allowing Muslims to observe the Eid prayer despite the Federal Government’s directive.

Some of the Muslims leaders, who spoke to The PUNCH, in separate interviews, argued that the permission granted to Muslims by Ganduje was an opportunity for them to pray to God to end the pandemic.

The  Chief Imam of Sasif  Friday Mosque in the Gama area in the Kano metropolis, Sheikh Mohammed  Yahya, said their decision to observe the Eid prayers despite the danger was borne out of the fact that Eid ground was one of the places where prayers could be answered.

Another Muslim leader, Sheik Abubakar Umar, said their decision to obey the state government order was informed by the fact that Muslims could use the occasion to seek God’s intervention.

In Katsina State,  Muslims also observed prayers at Eid grounds to mark the end of 30 days fasting.  Many of those who thronged the prayer grounds did not observe social distancing neither did they wear face masks.

The Emir of Katsina, Dr Abdulmumini Usman, was at the Kofar Guga Eid prayer ground where he and many Muslims in Katsina observed prayers to mark the end of fasting.

Borno massive crowd makes social distancing difficult

The Eid prayer attended by the Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, was held at the Ramat Square.

Although efforts were made to maintain social distancing, it was difficult to implement in areas where there were no government officials because of the crowd that thronged the prayer ground.

Only  dignitaries wear masks Bauchi, others shun social distancing

In Bauchi State, the directive of the PTF and the Sultan was ignored as residents failed to observe social distancing at Eid prayers.

The state Governor, Bala Mohammed, religious and traditional leaders had, at a meeting in Bauchi last week,  agreed that religious gatherings should resume in the state.

One of our correspondents observed that the Eid-el-Fitr prayers were not held at prayer grounds, but at Juma’at mosques.

But at the Bauchi Central Mosque, where Mohammed, top government officials, the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu and other traditional chiefs in the Emirate prayed, there were thousands who participated in the prayer.

In the mosque, it was noticed that only the prominent personalities observed social distancing and wore face masks.

But the situation was quite different outside the mosque. The PUNCH observed that social distancing was not observed by the worshippers outside. The majority of them did not wear face masks and observed other protocols set by the PTF.

Some of them after the prayers, shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with friends and loved ones.

In Zamfara State,  prayers were performed mostly at Juma’at mosques and prayer grounds.

The issue of face masks was completely neglected, as only very few people were seen wearing them

Many people interviewed by The PUNCH expressed happiness with the action taken by the state governor to ease the lockdown as against the Federal Government directive of “stay at home.”

An Islamic cleric, Malam Sani Gusau, said, “Governor Bello Matawalle deserves commendation for easing the lockdown during the Sallah festivities”.

In Sokoto State, Muslims prayed at Juma’at mosques instead of prayer grounds.

Except for top government officials and traditional rulers, many of those who were at the mosques did not wear face masks. Also, there was no adherence to social distancing in the well-attended prayers at the mosques.

The Sultan was among dignitaries that prayed at the Sultan Bello Juma’at mosque.

Kwara, Ogun, Oyo Ekiti Muslims hold prayers at home

In Kwara State, Muslims complied with the PTF and the Sultan’s directive, as they held Eid-Fitr prayers in their various homes.

The Muslims including the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, gathered in small groups in their compounds to observe the two rakat prayers.

In Ekiti State, there were no Eid prayers at prayer grounds to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting.

A Muslim, Hajia Monsurat Adewumi, said she and others prayed in their different homes.

Also, Muslims in Ogun State shunned their prayer grounds for the Eid prayers marking the end of 30 days fasting.

Muslim faithful in Oyo State also stayed at home to pray as against the usual practice of congregating on prayer grounds.

I observed prayers at home because of COVID-19, says Buhari

In Abuja, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), said on Sunday that he observed the Eid-el-Fitr prayers at his State House residence because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that his decision was in compliance with the measures put in place by the PTF which prohibited mass gatherings.

Buhari was joined at the prayers by family members, including his wife, Aisha, and son, Yusuf.

In a brief interview after the session, Buhari urged Muslims to reflect on the lessons of the period.

He said, “I held Eid prayers at home today with my family, in keeping with the protocol of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 against mass gatherings, as well as the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country.”

COVID-19 reduces developing and advanced countries to same level – Buhari

The President, after the Eid prayer, called on farmers to double their efforts in producing more food for the country by taking advantage of the rainy season.

He stated “I hope the rainy season would be bountiful, so that we get a lot of food.

“I wish the farmers will go to farms and save lives so that we can produce what we need in sufficient quantity so that we don’t have to import food.

“In any case, we don’t have any money to import food. So we must produce what we are going to eat.”

Buhari noted that COVID-19 was so devastating that it had reduced developing and developed countries to be on the same level.

He stated, “Nigerians can see that COVID-19 has reduced us, both the developing and developed countries, to the same level. In fact, we have fewer casualties than they have.”

Abuja central residents pray at home

Muslims in the central part of the Federal Capital Territory prayed at home as they completed the mandatory one-month Ramadan fast.

In obedience to the PTF and the Sultan’s directive, The PUNCH observed that all prayer grounds in the FCT were under lock on Sunday.

No congregational prayers were also held in mosques visited by our correspondents.

Some open spaces usually converted to praying grounds in Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse II, and Jabi among others were also deserted.

It was noticed that fun spots where faithful always celebrated such festivals were closed for business on Sunday.

During a visit to the popular Millennium Park located close to the Unity Fountain in Maitama, one of our correspondents sighted only guards who left the main gate partially closed.

Nyanya, other satellite town dwellers storm Nasarawa for  prayers

But the FCT inhabitants living close to Nasarawa State, stormed prayer grounds in the North-Central state to perform their Eid prayers.

One of our correspondents observed that many Muslims left their homes in Karu and other areas which share boundaries with Nasarawa State early in the morning with their prayer mats for the religious exercise.

The majority of the worshippers sighted at Nyanya and Karu were without face masks and also ignored social distancing.

Some of them, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said they decided to leave Abuja for Nasarawa because the  FCT administration had not relaxed the current lockdown to allow congregational worship.


Buhari’s aide, others fault N1m fine against British airline [Punch]

  • FG reports carrier to UK authorities

Nigerians, including a senior special assistant to the President, on Sunday, criticised the N1m fine slammed on a British carrier, FlairJet, by the Federal Government, describing the amount as meagre when compared to the offence committed by the airline.

For violating some sections of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Regulations, FlairJet was made to pay a total penalty of N1m by the Federal Government.

It was also gathered that the carrier had been reported to stipulated authorities in the United Kingdom.

Last Sunday, a Legacy 600 aircraft belonging to FlairJet with registration G-ERFX was impounded by the Federal Government at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos for carrying out commercial flight operations despite the ban on such flights in Nigeria.

After impounding the aircraft, the Federal Government quarantined the pilots and crew of the carrier for 14 days, and declared that all necessary sanctions against the British aviation company would be applied to the fullest.

Providing updates on the government’s actions against the carrier, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced on Sunday that FlairJet was found to have violated some sections of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Regulations.

Sirika, who disclosed this via his official Twitter handle, further noted that the carrier was made to pay the fine of N1m.

The minister added that the airline was also reported to the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UK High Commission.

He said, “FlairJet were found to violate our Civil Aviation Regulations IS 1.3.3(a) Table 2(IV)7(a) and IS 1.3.3 (a) Table 2(VIII)(4).

“The maximum penalty for each is N500,000:00K. We caused them to pay and reported their callous misdemeanor to UK CAA, MFA and the UK High Commission.”

But the minister’s tweet was greeted with diverse reactions from his followers, who they wondered why the penalty was so low.

Some of them also stated that there was a possibility for the company to disobey again, since the fine was very meagre.

Responding to Sirika’s tweet, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Office of the Vice President, Ajuri Ngelale, said, “I only wish it was N50m per violation.”

Another Twitter user, @akinolafestus, said, “Very unfortunate! This company will want to disobey our law and regulations again. Come to think of it, the airline will think it is better to pay the fine and operate the commercial flight and reap cool profit.

“Some of our laws need review to reflect present realities.”

Chike Mgbeadichie said, “How is this a penalty? This is just a slap on the wrist. But again, the Nigerian government versus the UK’s is like a rat versus a lion. We are puppets.

“If the situation were to be reversed, I am sure the penalty that would have been slammed on Nigeria could cause the company to fold.”

Nigerian airports have been under lockdown to commercial flights for more than about two months as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Sirika had announced the seizure of the FlairJet aircraft on the grounds that the impounded aircraft had no approval outside humanitarian operations, but was caught operating commercial flights.


Office invasion: Minister, Dabiri-Erewa fight dirty on social media [Punch]

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on Sunday traded words on Twitter over the forced eviction of NIDCOM staff from their office at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

While Dabiri-Erewa, in a series of tweets, accused Pantami of being disrespectful to women, the minister, who tweeted back, called the NIDCOM boss a liar.

The scuffle between the duo started after the former House of Reps member, in a video posted on NIDCOM Twitter page, accused Pantami of ordering armed men to chase away her workers from their office.

She noted that the office was given to them by the Nigerian Communications Commission, lamenting that the working tools of the staff had been locked up.

She said in the video, “In one year, we don’t even have an office. The office we got, given to us by the NCC, we were actually driven away by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami. Within two days he drove us out with guns and what happened? The place was given to us by the NCC.

“You know we all help each other, NCC as an agency of government, said there is a place you can use to settle in. And just as we settled in, I was in Ethiopia when I got a call. I thought that it was a joke. I came back from Ethiopia on Thursday, this happened on Tuesday, by Friday when I went to the office, guns, armed men had taken over the place. I thought it was a joke; but here is the thing, I’m a government employee, so is he. It’s government business. Do I go on the street and start fighting. No. So, I said I would take the moral higher ground.

“I have complained officially, but we let it be. He wants the place, let him take it. And that place is still there, a whole floor is still vacant. As I speak with you all our items are locked up. I don’t have a computer; I don’t have printers, everything has been locked up.”

However, the minister, in a tweet to the video, called Dabiri-Erewa a liar.

“This is a fat lie from her. The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directive to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, and I have no one,” he wrote.

The NIDCOM boss, while quoting Pantami’s tweet, said he chased the workers away because he did not respect women.

“An Islamic scholar should not lie. Hon minister (Phd), you did that to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since February. But please, release all our office equipment. Public office is transient,” she wrote.

She then posted a video of the stranded NIDCOM workers who were being addressed to stay calm.

“To refresh you sir, despite your denial; the secretary of the commission seeking calm after staff resumed for work and denied access to the 5th floor office of NIDCOM based on your instruction. Turned back by armed men! Haba!!!!” Dabiri-Erewa added.

Pantami retweeted supports from some of his followers, who urged him to take legal action against Dabiri-Erewa for defamation of character.

He also shared a statement from the NCC, which had also absolved him of blame in the matter.

The agency’s Director of Public Affairs, Henry Nkemadu, said NIDCOM was not forced out of the complex.

“The NCC has not withdrawn the offer, but had hiccups arising from the preparation for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Communications and Digital Economy Complex and launch of other projects relating to the mandate of government.

“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the NDC (NIDCOM), the Director General, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had not visited the complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.

“As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the complex.

“Therefore, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex,” the statement said.


Southeast governors, IG clash community policing plan [Nation]

The South East Governors Forum has expressed dismay that the Inspector General of Police allegedly reneged on its agreements on practice and composition for establishment of community policing in the zone.

The Chairman of the forum and Ebonyi Governor, Chief David Umahi made the disclosure at the end of its meeting in Enugu on Sunday.

The chairman said that the recent communication from the IG, Mr Mohammed Adamu, did not conform with the initial agreement reached with him during his visit to the Zone.

‘The South East Governors and their leaders request the IGP to revert to our initial agreement reached on Community Policing at Enugu.

“The forum agrees that all South East States House of Assembly should commence the process of enacting the state security laws in line with the South East Joint Security Programme.

“In the circumstance, we cannot begin implementation of it until the programme reflects our earlier agreement,”  he said.

On COVID-19, the governors urged Igbos nationwide to stay safe and obey all directives to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to him, the forum have directed all Igbos living outside Igbo land to obey all existing COVID-19 orders, Presidential directive on inter-state movement, World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said they should obey the Nigeria Centre of Disease and Control (NCDC) hygiene protocols, presidential Task Force and directives of South East Governors and directives of all Governors where they live.

The governor said that the forum agreed to further engage the NCDC to scale up testing of Coronavirus in South East States.

The governors commended President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Works and the Governor of Anambra, Willie Obiano on the extent of work at the second Niger Bridge,” he said.

On the economy, Umahi said the forum agreed to set up committees at the various states to work with Federal Government, World Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) on repositioning the economy in the zone.

He said they would work in their various programmes lined up to rejig the economy, especially in areas of Agriculture, Small and Medium Enterprises and solid minerals.

The Chairman said it agreed also to hold a virtual meeting with the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the issue of linking South East State capitals with pipeline.

This, he said, should be done along with the pipeline programme of the Federal Government running from Imo to Lagos State.

Umahi disclosed that the forum agreed that Ohaneze should submit a working document in their next meeting on setting up of South East Stabilization Fund.

The forum also commended President, Minister of Aviation, the Governor of Enugu State and other governors of South East and the Committee headed by Mr Chris Okoye on the extent of work at Akanu Ibiam International Airport.

“We assure our people that with the progress of work at the site, we are hopeful that the Airport will reopen soonest subject to COVID-19 Federal Government Programme, “ Umahi said.

The governor he said that the next Executive Committee meeting of the South East Traditional Institution shall be hosted by Ebonyi State.

NAN reports that Governors of Imo, Hope Uzodinma and Enugu State attended the meeting while Gov Okezie Ikpeazu Abia was represented by his deputy, Mr Ude Oko-Chukwu and Anambra State governor, represented by his deputy, Mr Nkem Okeke.

Other notable personalities at the meeting were Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty Nnaemeka Achebe, Oh Anezi President General, Nnia Nwodo and some traditional and religious leaders.


Impact of COVID-19 frightening, says Buhari [Nation]

  • President: no money to import food

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said the coronavirus pandemic has brought Nigeria and other countries to their “knees”.

He described the impact as “frightening” and urged Nigerians to continue to take precautions.

President Buhari spoke with reporters after Eid prayers with his family at the State House, Abuja, to commemorate the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

He said the pandemic had adversely affected the economies of the developed and developing nations, leaving Nigeria with no money to import food.

The President, however, urged Nigerians to obey all the guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He said: “Nigerians can see that the COVID-19 has reduced us, both the developing and developed countries, to the same level.

“In fact, we have fewer casualties than they have. So, it’s a very frightening development.

“I advise Nigerians to be very careful and take the advice of the Ministry of Health.

“The ministers of health have been doing very well, speaking and educating the citizens on the deadly virus. So, we should be very careful.”

President Buhari urged farmers to make the most of the rains to increase food production.

“I hope the rainy season would be bountiful so that we can get a lot of food.

“I wish the farmers will go to farms so that we can produce what we need in sufficient quantity so that we don’t have to import food.

“In any case, we don’t have any money to import food. So, we must produce what we are going to eat.”

First Lady Hajiya Aisha Buhari prayed that God would forgive the sins of those who died from coronavirus and grant them Aljanah Firdausi (Paradise).

“We must thank the almighty Allah for the successful completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan, despite the current difficult circumstances we found ourselves.

“I wish to thank the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC for their efforts in combating the pandemic,” she said.

The Eid-El-Fitr prayer was observed in line with the protocol against mass gathering issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Social distancing protocol was observed during the two rakaat prayers.


Buhari, family members observe Eid prayer inside Aso Villa [Nation]

President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his family on Sunday observed the Eid-El-Fitr prayer at the presidential quarters in line with the protocol against mass gathering issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protocol of social distancing was also exhibited during the two-raka’at prayer.

President Buhari on May 22 pledged to conduct his Eid prayers with his family at home as directed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who is also the President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI),

The President said, “for the first time in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the people’s spiritual, social and economic lives.

”This year’s fasting period was particularly challenging for Muslims because they had to forgo many important aspects of their daily worship, including the routine congregations for prayer and the recitation and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an as well as traveling for the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah.

“It is not easy to give up many of these important duties and activities, but it became imperative to do so in order to control or limit the spread of this deadly disease.

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