PMB Names Train Stations After Osinbajo, Tinubu, Saraki [Leadership]

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday renamed some train stations across the country after prominent Nigerians.

President Buhari named the Kajola Station in Ogun State after the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

This came days after the president named the Agbor Station Complex after former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who disclosed this in a statement by the ministry’s director of press, Eric Ojiekwe, added that some other railway stations along the Lagos-Ibadan corridor and others on the Itakpe/Ajaokuta/Aladja-Warri were also named after some deserving Nigerian citizens.

The statement noted that the deserving citizens have contributed to the progress and development of their respective communities and the nation at large.

According to the statement, for the Lagos-Ibadan line with extension to the Lagos Port Complex at Apapa railway station, the beneficiaries are, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Apapa Station; Mobolaji Johnson, Ebute Metta Station; Babatunde Raji Fashola, Agege station; Lateef Jakande, Agbado Station.

Others are Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, Papalanto Station; Prof. Wole Soyinka, Abeokuta Station; Segun Osoba, Olodo Station; Ladoke Akintola, Omio-Adio Station; Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ibadan Station and Chief Alex Ekwueme, Operation Control Centre.

For the Itakpe-Ajaokuta/Aladja-Warri Railway, the names are Alhaji Adamu Attah, Itakpe Station; Dr. Olushola Saraki, Ajaokuta Station; Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Itogbo Station; Brig. Gen George Innih, Agenebode Station; Anthony Eromosele Enahoro, Uromi Station; Chief Tom Ikimi, Ekehen Station and Brig. Gen Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia (rtd), Igbanke Station.

Others according to the statement include Brig. Gen David Ejoor, Abraka Station; Micheal Ibru, Opara Station; Alfred Rewane, Ujevwu Station) and Chief Mike Akhigbe (Railway village, Agbor).

 

FG, Teachers Finally Agree On Schools’ Reopening [Leadership]

Graduating students in secondary schools across the country can now heave a sigh of relief as the federal government and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday resolved to reopen schools to enable the students write their final exams.

Specifically, the federal ministry of Education directed all secondary schools in the country to reopen for exit classes on August 4, 2020.

By the directive, Junior Secondary School (JSS) 3 and Senior Secondary School (SS) 3 students now have two weeks within which to prepare for both the senior and junior West African Examinations (WAEC) due to start on the August 17, 2020.

A statement signed by the director of press of the ministry, Mr Ben Goong, noted that this was the unanimous decisions reached at a virtual consultative meeting between the ministry of Education, commissioners of Education of the 36 states of the federation, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), the proprietors of private schools and chief executives of examination bodies.

The statement said it was agreed that the exit classes should resume immediately after the Sallah break, from August 4, 2020 to enable them prepare for the WAEC examinations scheduled to commence from the August 17, 2020.

The statement noted: “The meeting also resolved that a passionate appeal be made to the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and public spirited Nigerians for assistance to schools across the country to enable them fast track the preparations safe reopening, as agreed.

“Another meeting is to be convened on Tuesday between the Federal Ministry of Education and Chief Executives of examination bodies namely, NECO, NABTEB and NBAIS to harmonise their examination dates, which will be conveyed to stakeholders expeditiously by the Federal Ministry of Education”.

S’East Govs Ask Teachers To Undergo Compulsory COVID-19 Test

But governors of the South East geopolitical zone have said teachers in the country must undergo compulsory COVID-19 test before resumption of schools.

Chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, disclosed this at the Government House in Abakaliki, the state capital, while briefing journalists on the outcome of the virtual meeting of the forum on Sunday.

Umahi said the forum also reviewed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and resolved that school infrastructures will be reviewed to support the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocols pending when the federal government decides on when it is safe to reopen schools.

Urging the Igbo people to continue to comply with the COVID-19 protocols, the governor said eastern states will commence COVID-19 testing on every household, targeting people of 65 years and above.

 

Again, Capt Hosa Okunbo Debunks Link With Diezani [Leadership]

Billionaire businessman, Captain Hosa Okunbo, has for the umpteenth time distanced himself from any business dealings with former minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

Captain Okunbo was reacting to allegations making the rounds in the media about his purported business dealings with the former minister, especially in respect of the controversial offshore processing agreements (OPAs) popularly known as oil swap involving the former minister and her cronies. Captain Okunbo, a decorated former commercial pilot, is the chairman of Ocean Marine Security Limited, an offshore asset protection company, rendering services to major oil companies in Nigeria, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The former minister had been under investigations since the outset of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2015 as the US Department of Justice listed her and two other businessmen, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, as persons of interest in a civil complaint filed at a District Court in Houston, Texas, detailing how the duo laundered millions of dollars on her behalf which were used in buying properties in the U.S. and the UK in return for oil contracts.

There were reports that more names involved in the multi-billion dollar deal would be revealed as investigations continued.

However, some online media outfits had been concocting names of prominent Nigerians purportedly involved in the deal including that of Okunbo.

Despite his several rebuttals, his name still keeps coming up in a case he had no hand in.

But refuting the allegations, Captain Okunbo said, “All the co-travellers of Diezani are either in exile or in court with her. I have never written a statement in the EFCC or any anti-corruption agency to date.

“If, indeed, I was with Dieziani, will I still be doing business in the NNPC where I am a champion for service delivery?”.

He traced the root of the misinformation to a report published by an online news medium in 2015, to which he said he similarly issued a strongly-worded rebuttal.

“I had believed that the media would end such malicious reports but sheer laziness and unprofessionalism on the side of some bloggers have sustained the misrepresentation of the contract that formed the basis for the first publication,” he stated.

 

DSS warns on plans to destabilise country [Nation]

  • DHQ to officers: no mutiny

Soldiers have been warned by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) against engaging in mutiny or revolt against constituted civil authorities.

The warning came on a day the Department of State Services (DSS) warned on plots to destabilise the nation.

The DHQ restated that all officers and men of the military swore to an oath of allegiance to be totally loyal to the civil authority of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and protect the Constitution.

Defence Media Operations Coordinator Maj.-Gen. John Enenche issued the warning on Monday in a statement.

He reminded them that the oath of allegiance translates to unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and full subordination to the civil authorities of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to a publication in one of the national newspapers (not this newspaper), captioned ‘Nigeria Needs a Rawlings Now – NDP’.

“In this publication, the National Chairman of National Democratic Party (NDP), Chidi Chukwuanyi, said ‘the state of corruption in the country calls for the replication of the Ghanian experience under former President Jerry Rawlings in Nigeria’.

“While the Defence Headquarters does not wish to join issues in anyway, it is instructive to observe that this unguided utterance targeted at the Nigerian Military is inciting and instigative.”

Gen. Enenche said that what Chidi Chukwuanyi is calling for is a combination of unpopular acts of insurrection and mutiny, which cannot be taken for granted by the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

“Consequently, I am directed by the high command of the Nigerian Military to let the general public know and remind personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria that all officers and men of the Nigerian Military swore to an oath of allegiance to be totally loyal to the civil authority of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and protect the constitution. This translates to unalloyed loyalty to the President Commander in Chief and full subordination to the civil authorities of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That all officers and men of the Armed Forces of Nigeria are to continue to abide by the constitutional provision, in Section 217 sub section 2 (c) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, ‘to suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authorities to restore order. Any act to the contrary is unconstitutional.

“That all officers and men of the Nigerian Military are further reminded of offences contained in Armed Forces Act CAP A 20, the laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which include among others; Mutiny in Sections 52 and 53, which if committed are punishable.”

 

More NDDC contracts beneficiaries on Akpabio’s list [Nation]

Top government officials are Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contract beneficiaries, a document by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio has shown.

This is besides the senators and House of Representatives members on the list communicated to House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila by Akpabio.

The document also contains project descriptions, local government areas, proposed contractors, contact details (including phone numbers), project sources and dates of award’.

The beneficiaries, according to the document, include two former Delta State governors, top Federal Government officials, the police, other security agencies, the judiciary, traditional rulers who got contracts worth billions of dollars over the years.

The list did not state the amount of the contracts given to the beneficiaries.

In the accompanying letter dated July 23, 2020 Akpabio said: ”It has always been known that the two chairmen of the committees on NDDC in both chambers yearly exhibit unusual influence to the exclusion of committee members and even the management of the NDDC in appropriating funds to details embellished in the budget after passage of line items at the plenaries.”

In the House, about 30 members would be appearing before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges over the allegations bothering on execution of over N100 billion in the controversial 2018 emergency projects awarded by the NDDC.

Gbajabiamila had during Thursday plenary referred the minister’s letter   to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges for further investigations.

 

NMA kicks as govt asks exit class pupils to resume Aug 4 [Nation]

  • DAWN, teachers, parents hail decision
  • WASSCE to begin on Aug 17

The Federal Government on Monday said this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) will begin on August 17.

It asked schools to reopen for graduating pupils effective August 4 to enable them undergo two weeks revision.

But doctors said they feared for pupils’ safety because of the unbating COVID-19 pandemic.

They said the government is not sufficiently prepared to ensure that pupils do not contract the virus.

President of the NMA Prof. Innocent Ujah, told The Nation that while the children should not be kept at home forever, it is also unwise to expose them to danger.

He said: “At the moment we have not been told what new thing they have done – either the government, the private schools or the proprietors, to ensure the safety of the students. It is only the living that goes to school.

“Nobody knows the course of COVID-19, but then we need to be prepared. We must be very cautious and we must temporise (avoid making a decision or committing oneself in order to gain time).

“If the students are going to school, how are we prepared to ensure that they are protected from COVID-19? We need to be told in clear terms.

“The same parents that have been crying that their children should resume school will be the same people to criticise the government – that the government has not put anything in place and their children are dying.

“At that stage, the government will be brought to ridicule. So, we need to be very careful and balance our agitations in such a way that it does not unduly affect our children.”

The NMA chief noted that safety protocols are being violated by many Nigerians and political office holders.

Ujah added: ”Adults are not complying with the basic guidelines and protocols on hand washing, use of sanitizers, face masks and social distancing. Even those that are supposed to be the leaders are not observing it.

“Therefore, it is clearly obvious that we have failed in the social distancing component of the protocol.

“The NMA is saying that we need to be cautious and temporise. However, the government has taken a decision and the government will carry the responsibility of whatever happens to the children.

“Both Federal and state governments must be prepared to take on responsibility for whatever happens to any of them.”

Spokesman of the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE), Ben Gong, said the agreed dates were part of the resolution reached after a consultative meeting with commissioners of education, Education Secretary, Federal Capital Territory, and other stakeholders.

He said: “Secondary schools in the country are to reopen as from the 4th of August, 2020 for exit classes only.

“Students will have two weeks within which to prepare for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations due to start on the 17th of August, 2020.

“These were the unanimous decisions reached today (yesterday ) at a virtual consultative meeting between the Federal Ministry of Education, Commissioners of Education of the 36 states, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), the proprietors of private schools and chief executives of examination bodies.

“It was agreed that the exit classes should resume immediately after the Sallah break, from the 4th of August, 2020 to enable them to prepare for the WAEC examinations scheduled to commence from the 17th of August, 2020.

“The meeting also resolved that a passionate appeal be made to the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and public-spirited Nigerians for assistance to schools across the country to enable them fast track the preparations for safe reopening, as agreed.

“Another meeting is to be convened tomorrow (today) between the Federal Ministry of Education and Chief Executives of examination bodies namely, NECO, NABTEB and NBAIS to harmonise their examination dates, which will be conveyed to stakeholders expeditiously by the Federal Ministry of Education.”

The NUT said it was ready to return to classrooms.

Its Secretary-General, Mike Ene, told our reporter that the union expects the government to provide safety materials.

He said: “We are ready to return to the classrooms provided that they do the needful – fumigate the schools, provide protective materials, which all the commissioners assured us during the meeting will be done.”

The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) hailed the decision.

Its President, Haruna Danjuma, said the association was ready to provide what is needed to keep pupils safe.

He said: “We are very happy to hear from the Federal Government. It is now left to us to prepare and meet up with the guidelines. We are very much okay and we are happy with that.”

The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission also praised the Federal Government for reconsidering its stand on reopening of schools.

 

NUT insists on PPE, others as SSS3 pupils resume Aug 4 [Punch]

  • WASSCE starts August 17, teachers union undertakes to monitor schools
  • Only COVID-19 protocol compliant exam centres will reopen — Minister

The Federal Government on Monday said the Senior Secondary  School 3 pupils will resume on August 4 in preparation for the West African Senior  School Certificate Examination, which is starting on August 17.

The Federal Ministry of Education’s Director of Press and Public Relations,  Ben Bem Goong, who disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Exit classes to reopen August 4,’ said the decision to recall the pupils was taken during a virtual meeting involving the ministry and commissioners of education in the 36 states of the federation.

The ministry said on resumption on August 4,  the pupils would have two weeks within which to prepare for WASSCE.

Although the Nigeria Union of Teachers and the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, supported the reopening of final year classes, they insisted that state governments must provide running water and personal protective equipment.

Recall that  schools in Nigeria had been shut since March following the outbreak of coronavirus.

But the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had, at its press conference on June 29, said the SSS3 pupils in preparation for WASSCE would resume.

But the Federal Government, after the Federal Executive Council meeting on July 8, said it had suspended the plan to recall graduating pupils for WASSCE because of the COVID-19 spread.

Despite the Federal Government’s decision to delay the resumption of the pupils, states, including Oyo and Cross River, had recalled their SSS3 pupils.

The Federal Ministry of Education, in its statement on Monday, said the  virtual meeting was held to take a decision on WASSCE.

According to the ministry, the meeting was attended by the NUT, the proprietors of private schools and chief executives of examination agencies.

It stated, “It was agreed that the exit classes should resume immediately after the Sallah break, from August 4, 2020 to enable them to prepare for the WASSCE scheduled to commence from August 17, 2020.

“The meeting also resolved that a passionate appeal be made to the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and public spirited Nigerians for assistance to schools across the country to enable them to fast-track the preparations safe reopening, as agreed.”

Govt meets NABTEB, others today

“Another meeting is to be convened tomorrow (Tuesday) between the Federal Ministry of Education and chief executives of examination bodies namely, the National Examination Council and  the National Business and Technical Examination Board to harmonise their examination dates.”

DAWN hails FG on school reopening for WASSCE

In its reaction, the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria lauded the Federal Government for reversing its earlier position on reopening of schools for final  year pupils in secondary schools.

The Director-General of DAWN, Seye Oyeleye, in an interview with journalists on Monday, said the South-West states were ready for reopening of schools.

He said, “Our position on the FG’s reversal and agreeing to reopen schools on August 4,  is that it should be seen as a victory for dialogue which is always the hallmark of a federal system that works.

“We have always maintained here in the South-West region that such a sensitive matter was never going to be solved by an executive fiat from the central government.

“But rather once we have conflicting proposals on the way forward particularly regarding the WASSCE exams it becomes a necessity for the federating states to sit down at the table to discuss and reason together.”

Principals seek face masks, PPE for pupils, teachers

On its part, ANCOPSS  appealed to the Federal Government to provide  PPE for both teachers and pupils.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on the telephone, the National President, ANCOPSS,  Anslem Izuagie, said there was nothing on the ground as regards the PPE.

He, however, said the association was in support of reopening of schools for the SSS3 only.

He stated, “We appeal to the government to provide all the PPE.  We are in support of the resumption for the certificate classes to write their exams. For now, there is no PPE. I want to believe government will play their part. I believe before the 17th of August, they must have provided everything because they can’t tell us to go and write exam without providing the PPE.”

Make PPE, running water available in all schools – NUT

The NUT Secretary General, Dr. Mike Ike-Ene, in an interview with The PUNCH, appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that  running water and the PPE were provided for pupils and teachers.

Listing demands of the union, he said, “Disinfecting schools, fumigation, provision of consumables and non-consumables, running water through buying of tanks; these are the things we clamoured for.

“We want to appeal to the Federal Government to ensure that all the commissioners of education all over the country provide all that is needed to keep both teachers and pupils in safety during the period of revision and the exam.

Commissioners boasted they were  90% ready – NUT secretary

“Most of the commissioners at the stakeholders’ meeting today all boasted that they had 90 per cent of everything needed to provide safety measures for the teachers and pupils, but we want to remind them that talk is cheap.  It is important they do the needful. The reality is all these things should be ready so that both students and teachers will be safe. This is one of the reasons we agreed to writing the examination.”

He added that the NUT national officials would  monitor all schools to ensure government’s commitment  to its promises.

Only COVID-19 protocol compliant exam centres will reopen – Minister

But the Federal Government on Monday evening gave further clarifications on its statement on the reopening of final year classes August 4.

It said resumption of the SSS3  pupils would depend on the state of preparedness of each of the exam centres.

The government also told private universities to wait for directives before reopening.

The Minister of State (Education), Emeka Nwajiuba, made the clarifications in Abuja while answering questions from journalists during the press conference of the task force on COVID – 19.

Nwajiuba said, “What we have said is that the schools that will be reopening are schools that are centres for these exams only in respect of the exiting classes. Primary schools and all other classes are excluded from this decision.

“We arrived at this decision having met with all the stakeholders. Part of what they will update us with on Friday will be for them to report back, their state of preparedness. The state of preparedness of each of these centres will inform how they open.

“I am in discussion with the Minister of Environment. Wherever we see gaps in the state of preparedness, we will address. If it is not possible, we will not allow them (pupils) to use them (the centres).

“But all the state governors, commissioners of education, all the other stakeholders, including the Association of Private School Owners, have all given us their commitment that they will try to resolve these, and provide for the teachers. WAEC will also provide for their invigilators and make sure that this conduct is seamless.”

Private varsities can’t resume now – FG

The minister said he had received a letter from private universities, adding that he had asked the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Prof. Abdulrasheed Abubakar, to investigate their claim.

He said, “I am in receipt of the letter, we have received it at the Ministry of Education. I have asked the Executive Secretary of the NUC to investigate their claim. When we get a response and the state of how they are at the moment, we will reverse our position on that.

“However, we are aware that many of the private universities and a few of our public universities are able to continue with their online engagements. We are encouraging them to continue to do that. We are looking at all the suggestions they have made.”

Candidates, invigilators, others must wear face masks, WAEC insists

When contacted, the West African Examinations Council’s spokesman, Mr. Demianus Ojijeogu, referred one of our correspondents to a press conference addressed by the Head of the Nigeria National Office of WAEC,  Patrick Areghan, on July 7.

Ojijeogu said the position of the council on COVID-19 protocols during exams had not changed.

Areghan had said, “Schools must provide wash-hand buckets with running water, soaps, hand sanitisers and thermometer hand-gun to check the temperature of all concerned.  All examination functionaries, including the council’s staff on distribution; supervisors; invigilators, inspectors; candidates and school officials will be required to wear face masks, wash and sanitise their hands daily and throughout the duration of the examination.”

He also said the council would ensure  social distancing in the examination halls by making sure that candidates sit two  metres apart.

 

DSS alleged planned subversion, threatens clampdown [Punch]

The Department of State Services said it has uncovered plans by some persons and groups to destabilise the country.

The DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, in a statement noted that some prominent personalities and socio-cultural groups had resorted to “divisive acts through inciting statements aimed at pitting individuals, groups and ethnic nationalities against another.”

The statement titled, ‘DSS warns against plans to destabilise the country, ‘ was made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday night.

The service said it was aware of the evil plans and their sponsors.

The secret police warned that it would no longer “tolerate the orchestrations by subversive and unscrupulous elements to cause a breakdown of law and order in the country.”

It said it was working with relevant authorities and sister security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the sinister objective was not achieved.

The statement read, “The service reiterates its commitment to the internal security of Nigeria and will, within the confines of the law, decisively deal with planners of the mayhem.

“Law abiding citizens are urged to go about their normal business and disregard the antics of agents of destabilisation.”

The DSS advised Nigerians to avail security agencies with useful information about the activities of criminals and groups intent on instigating violence in the country.

 

$1.2bn Azura activation agreement signed by Buhari govt – Document [Punch]

Fresh fact has emerged that the Partial Risk Guarantees that activated the Power Purchase Agreement between the Federal Government and Azura Power Plant was signed in August 2015.

The Senate had last Wednesday expressed concern over the monthly payment of $30m by the Federal Government for power and resolved to assemble local and international experts to review the agreement.

It said the payment had become statutory because of the Share Purchase Agreement signed by the Federal Government with Azura and ACU gas plants.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Gabriel Suswam, who presented a report titled “Addressing Nigeria’s power sector problems” for debate at plenary, had said the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), signed power agreements with Azura to generate 450MW of electricity.

But a top Presidency official told journalists in Abuja on Sunday that the PPA preceded Buhari’s regime, having become operational in April 2013.

However, some documents on the agreement sighted by our correspondent on Monday, including one tagged ‘Key milestones from inception to date’ showed that while the PPA was executed in April 2013, the signing of the partial risk agreement tagged “Execution of World Bank Partial Risk Guarantees” was signed in August 2015 by the Buhari’s regime.

“That risk guarantee which enabled the agreement to take effect was signed in August 2015 under Buhari,” an official familiar with the agreement told our correspondent on Monday.

Our correspondent is in possession of two circulars raised by the then AGF, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), stating his objection to the agreement as drafted.

While one of the circulars dated July 24, 2014 was addressed to the then Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the second circular dated December 23, 2014 was addressed to Jonathan.

In the letter to Jonathan titled “Re: Legal opinion to Azura with respect to the put-call option agreement,” Adoke notified the then president that he had written to Okonjo-Iweala to inform her that he could not issue a legal opinion on the matter as requested by her.

He listed why he could not issue the legal opinion to include that the PCOA was executed without regards to his legal opinion of July 24, 2014; and that the PCOA failed to incorporate the indemnity clause as directed by government circular number SGF/OP/1/S3/X/737 dated August 11, 2014.

He wrote, “I wish to respectfully inform Your Excellency that I am unable to write the legal opinion to the effect that the Azura PCOA conforms to the extant laws and policies of government.

“This is because of the liability issues that may attend the execution and implementation of the PCOA if necessary precautions are not taken to safeguard the interests of government.

“May I humbly request Your Excellency to direct the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to ensure that the recommendations made to her in my legal opinion of July 24, 2014 are duly incorporated in the Azura PCOA to bring it in conformity with extant laws, policies and circulars of government.”

 

COVID-19: FG plans summit to verify  herbal cure claims [Sun]

The Federal Government has announced plans to invite all researchers and herbal medicinal practitioners in the country to a summit to verify claims of their having a cure for COVID-19.

Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, stated this when a pharmacist and herbal medicine practitioner, Dr. Ben Amodu, visited him in Abuja, yesterday.

He said renowned scientists in the country would be given the opportunity at the summit to subject their herbal products  to clinical trials and toxicity tests to validate if they could cure COVID-19.

He, however, did not disclosed the date for the meeting.

Onu  bemoaned the fact that many drugs used in the country were imported even when there were abundant medicinal plants that could be harnessed for pharmaceutical purposes.

“Such medicinal plants and their products could also be exported, thereby helping to diversify the economy and create more jobs for Nigerians,” he said.

He said Nigerian scientists should to take the lead in finding solutions to the COVID-19.

The minister reaffirmed government’s commitment to support indigenous herbal medicine research efforts for commercialisation and diversification of the country’s economy.

Managing Director of Halamin Herbal Products, Dr. Ben Amodu a researcher on communicable and non-communicable diseases, claimed that his product ‘SABVID-19’, can manage various diseases, including   COVID-19 and other respiratory related diseases stating that clinical trials and tests on the products carried out in Canada, showed 89 per cent effectiveness to combat cancer.

Amodu solicited partnership with the government to help develop more cures for diseases ravaging the world.

 

NDDC probe: Nwaoboshi, Manager fire back at Akpabio [Sun]

Barely 24 hours after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, named some senators and members of the House of Representatives involved in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contract racketeering, some lawmakers have protested.

According to Akpabio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Peter Nwaoboshi, got paid for 53 unexecuted projects. He also named James Manager who headed the same committee in previous Assemblies.

Reacting to the accusation, Nwaoboshi described the accusation as false. He said Akpabio’s accusations were false and have no bearing with the truth.

He said: “Mr Akpabio alleged that I was awarded contracts for 53 NDDC projects. I wish to state unequivocally that this allegation has no bearing with the truth and challenge Mr Akpabio to send so-called list to anti graft and other security agencies if he can substantiate the apparently baseless allegation. Indeed I would have made further comments but for the fact that the matter is currently before two competent courts of law.

“However, suffice it to say that this unsubstantiated allegation is in line with Mr Akpabio’s well known agenda to continuously blackmail me so as to keep diverting public attention away from the sen’ous mismanagement of the NDDC by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) under his supervision and under the guise of a phantom forensic audit that has no operating time line.

“My advise to Mr. Akpabio and the IMC is to focus their energy on explaining to Nigerians how they spent a whopping N81.5 billion within a period of five months.

“Mr Akpabio and his IMC should apologise to the Niger Delta people in particular and Nigerians in general for this grand wastage arising from their crass incompetence. As a realist, I am confident that a day will come when Mr. Akpabio and his IMC will have a date with the law.”

Manager on his part said: “My tenure as chairman of Niger Delta committee in the Senate effectively ended in 2015. Ever since then, I have never visited NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt or any of its branches.

“NDDC never awarded any contract to any company owned by me. I do not know of any company owned by me, that has ever gone into bidding of Government jobs anywhere in the world. This may come to many as a surprise but this is the gospel truth.

“Those who are alleging to defame me must be aware of the consequences. In the interest of the gullible innocent public, the authors led by the said Dr Cairo Ojugboh or any other person should provide some things.”

 

Arthur Eze: Obiano bares fangs, suspends Ukwulu monarch [Sun]

The battle for the next Anambra governor in 2021 and recent moves by oil magnate, Arthur Eze, got messier yesterday as the state government announced the suspension of a traditional ruler of Ukwulu community, Peter Uyanwa.

Uyanwa, the Ezedike of Ukwulu, until now, has been the chairman of Anambra Central Traditional Rulers Council (TRC). Though a staunch supporter of the Governor Willie Obiano administration, but drew the ire of the government when he kicked against zoning the governorship to the South.

He also recently hosted meeting of some traditional rulers in his palace which Arthur Eze attended and made some scathing deep remarks against the Obiano administration.

Announcing Uyanwa’s suspension, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, who erroneously said Ukwulu, Njikoka Local Government Area instead of Dunukofia in a terse statement, said the suspension “followed a series of petitions against the traditional ruler from many people in Ukwulu and elsewhere, who want to forestall an impending crisis in the community.

“The Anambra State Government has decided to suspend Uyanwa as the Igwe of Ukwulu for one year with effect from Friday, July 24, 2020, in the first instance. His Certificate of Recognition as Igwe is also withdrawn with immediate effect.  Consequently, Uyanwa can no longer function as chairman of Anambra central TRC.’’

The commissioner said the actions were taken in the public interest and that the appropriate security agencies had also been notified of the latest development.

Uyanwa, when contacted, said he remains in his palace and would speak at the appropriate time, noting that he did not commit any crime under the law.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Ndubisi Nwobu, in a reaction advised Obiano not to drag the traditional rulers into the murky waters of politics.

While condemning the purported suspension, Nwobu said such actions are undemocratic and blamed the governor for allegedly compelling the traditional rulers to sign a public statement supporting zone even when he is aware that such decision lies on the people.

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