AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: PMB Engages World Leaders On Safe COVID-19 Vaccines [LEADERSHIP]
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday tasked world leaders on COVID-19 vaccines, saying Nigeria will continue to partner with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing, as well as the uninhibited supply of safe and effective vaccines to all.
Buhari who stated this while delivering Nigeria’s national statement via video-message on the first day of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly debate pledged Nigeria’s commitment to working with member states in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general wellbeing.
At this year’s General Assembly with the theme, ”The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism- Confronting Coronavirus Through Effective Multilateral Action”, the Nigerian leader described the theme as most appropriate and timely.
He noted that it captures the common desire for a renewed and revitalised organisation in need of multilateral approaches to the many challenges facing the world.
A statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying: ”As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us: they count on us.
”If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.
”The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds”.
President Buhari noted that in the quest to provide a future of hope and prosperity for all Nigerians, his administration had embarked on measures to ensure national resilience.
”We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development for the period 2020-2025 and 2026-2030. ‘We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria,” he said.
On confronting the Coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian leader who stressed the need for effective multilateral actions expressed concern that the pandemic has devastated the world economy, straining the capabilities of the health systems of many countries, including Nigeria.
FG, Labour Meet Today Over Planned Protest [LEADERSHIP]
A federal government delegation will today meet with organised Labour in a bid to persuade both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to halt their planned strike and protest against the hike in fuel price and electricity tariff.
A short message issued by the director of press at the federal ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Charles Akpan, noted that the meeting will be hosted by the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
TUC president, Quadri Olaleye, also confirmed to our reporter that labour would attend the meeting.
Olaleye, in a short message sent to our reporter, said, “Yes, we received the invitation for 3 pm meeting tomorrow (Today) and we shall be attending.”
LEADERSHIP recalls that the government had on September 15 met with Organised Labour, a meeting which ended in a deadlock.
At the September 15 meeting, minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, led the government team, which included his minister of state, Festus Keyamo (SAN0; minister of Power, Mamman, minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN); minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva among others.
The labour team was led by NLC president, Wabba; president of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye; secretary-general of the TUC, Musa Ozigi-Lawal; president of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Festus Osifo, and the president of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria, Williams Akporeha, among others.
The federal government team at the meeting sought the understanding of the labour centres over the deregulation of the oil sector as well as the electricity tariff increases.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, at the meeting said, “Subsidy was not sustainable. Some of the past governments didn’t have the political will to remove it. We know that rise in prices will bring some pains to Nigerians. We are the first to admit that. We have thought of alternatives.”
Govs Move To Avert Labour Strike
Meanwhile, the threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to resort to industrial action to force the federal government to rescind its decision on thed hike of oil and electricity prices in the country, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) will hold an emergency meeting to seek ways of settling the rift and finding a mutually agreed soft landing on amicable grounds.
According to a statement by the head media affairs of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello- Barkindo, all governors are expected to attend the meeting as the matter is considered to be of urgent national importance, which needs to be quickly resolved in order not to worsen the already bad situation of Nigerians as caused by the Corona Virus pandemic.
According to the DG of the Forum, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru, the meeting which is the first NGF emergency virtual teleconference starts at 6pm.
FEC Okays $1.96bn For Kano-Niger Republic Rail Project [LEADERSHIP]
The federal government yesterday approved the contract for the construction of the 248-kilometre rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic at the cost of $1.96billion, inclusive of the 7.5 per cent value added tax (VAT).
The government also approved N12.088 billion for section two of the Ohafia-Arochukwu Road in Abia State.
Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa in Abuja yesterday.
The rail contract was initiated in February 2018 and is designed to connect three Nigerian states in the North; Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States, as well as seven senatorial districts.
The rail line, which will start from Kano, is to pass through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic and when completed, would assist in the supply of crude oil from Niger Republic to the refinery being built in the border town between both countries.
According to Ameachi, another contract was approved for the Ministry for the construction of design, manufacturing, supply, testing and commissioning of a railway crane for the purposes of clearing rail tracks in situations of accidents.
He said, “Two memos for the Ministry of Transportation, the first one, the award of contract for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and commissioning of one railway crane of 150 ton capacity for emergency and recovery of rolling stocks. This is to sort out situations of accident on the track,” adding, “It is for a total cost of N3,049,544,000.
“The second one is the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Maradi rail line in Niger Republic and to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa, for a total cost of $1,959,744,723.71, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT.”
During his briefing, minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the minister of state for Petroleum Resources, said the finance ministry presented two memos, which were approved by FEC.
He explained that the first contract would be for the procurement of 1,800 units of laptop computers for three Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) training schools, at the cost of N351,540,000.
The second contract, costing N197,843,100, would be for NCS cash management software.
The minister stated: “On behalf of the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, I want to report also that she got two of her memos approved. One is for the procurement of 1,800 units of laptop computers for training school and computer-based test examinations at three Nigeria Customs Service training schools in Gwagwalada, Lagos and Kano for the sum of N351,540,000, with a completion period of six weeks.
“The major advantage of this particular contract is that it saves the department a lot of money in hiring consultants for training and other services.
“The minister also got another approval for N197,843,100 for the expansion of the Nigeria Customs Service’s cash management’s software in compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). This is also going to enhance the efficiency of the Department of Customs”.
For the Petroleum ministry, he said, “On behalf of the minister of state for Petroleum Resources, a memo was presented today asking for approval for the augmentation of the contract for the construction of Petroleum Technology Development Fund corporate headquarters office in Abuja, for the sum of N3,773,784,399.48, therefore raising the initial approval for the contract to about N14 billion.
“However, the important thing about this particular contract is that the building has since been completed, it has since been in use and we inherited this augmentation from 2012, but since governance is a continuum, we are honouring it, but this headquarters building has been completed, the contractors have been magnanimous while all these arguments about the augmentation was going on, they were magnanimous enough to complete the project and many international conferences have been held in that building”.
Petrol, electricity: Labour lists conditions to halt strike [THE NATION]
LABOUR will attend Thursday’s meeting with the Federal Government on the hike in petrol price and electricity tariffs with a load of conditions:
The meeting, the second in one week, is to address the concerns of Labour.
After last week’s meeting, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) leadership were mandated to meet with their executives ahead of Thursday’s parley.
However, both Labour organisations served a notice of industrial action from Monday unless the government reversed the hike in prices.
TUC President Quadri Olaleye said: “We are going to attend (the meeting). I have also compared notes with my colleague Comrade Ayuba Wabba.
“We will maintain our position on the reversal of fuel price and the electricity tariffs increase. We will also come up with some other conditions which will be in form of solution to the economy. We should not be talking only about reversal, we should be talking about prevention of future unilateral decisions.
“ Although, we are attending the meeting, we are fully mobilised nationwide ahead of the planned strike. All affiliates of TUC and NLC are fully mobilised.
“More than 45 civil organisations and activist groups will join us in the protest/strike.
“We are also on sensitisation of the general public which include market people.”
NLC Deputy President Joe Ajaero also said the NLC would attend the parley.
“If you make a demand and you are invited to a meeting you will go there.
“It is the people that are inviting you that will put something on the table. You were there at the last meeting; there was nothing on the table.
“If what they put on the table meets your demand and the demand of your people, you will agree. If they don’t, you continue with your action.
“However, mobilisation continues. It is just a few people that will attend the meeting.
“Mobilisation across the country is on. The meeting doesn’t disturb the mobilisation.”
Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige, who told The Nation on Tuesday that the planned meeting would hold as part of the “continuous dialogue”, argued that it will not be in the interest of anybody “if the economy is shut down”, adding “all of us will lose, Nigeria belong to all of us.”
Spokesman of the ministry of Labour Charles Akpan reaffirmed today’s meeting with the labour leaders.
He said: “The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with the organised Labour.
“The meeting is scheduled to hold on Thursday, 24th September 2020, at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa by 3 pm.”
Governors have also joined the efforts to stave off the planned strike.
They have slated a meeting for Thursday in Abuja.
“Ahead of the threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to resort to an industrial action to force the Federal Government to rescind its decision to hike oil and electricity prices in the country, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) is holding an emergency meeting of all the governors to seek ways of settling the rift and finding a mutually agreed soft landing on amicable grounds.
“All governors are expected to attend the meeting as the matter is considered to be of urgent national importance, which needs to be quickly resolved in order not to worsen the already bad situation of Nigerians as caused by the Coronavirus pandemic,” Asishana Okauru said.
The government got the backing of the Ijaw Forward Movement (IFM) which chided Labour for proposing an industrial action.
IFM National Coordinator Alfred Kemepado, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said it was high time Labour stopped their old tactics and focused on economic realities that would improve the fortunes of the country.
Kemepado, who is the immediate past Secretary-General of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, said Labour should have known that the trend of importing and subsidising petrol was killing the economy and would one day be phased out.
He said any attempt to go ahead with the strike and possible protest would compound the problems of the people.
Kemepado regretted that Labour and other organisations, which were supposed to be working for national interest had been politicised.
He said anything other than ending the era of importation of refined petroleum products and attaining self sufficiency in the sector amounted to promoting poverty and underdevelopment.
The Ijaw leader said labour should cancel its proposed strike and mount pressure on the government to fix all the refineries and encourage private individuals to go into the business of refining.
He said: “Labour should not take advantage of increase in prices of petroleum products to cause more hardship for poor Nigerians. Every organisation that is supposed to be working hard to get Nigeria working has been politicised.
“OPEC released data about sometimes last year that from about 2015 to 2019 that the Nigerian government spent about $260 billion which is about N130trn importing petroleum products. Same period, OPEC also released data that the government got about $206 billion from the export of same petroleum products. This means between import and export instead of us making profit, we had a deficit of $58 billion about N30 trillion.
“During this period knowing that from the Jonathan administration when fuel was up to about N97 and Oshodi and other parts of Nigeria were locked down, labour should have known that we are on a trajectory. We are on a journey that will be counterproductive to the advancement of national interest if we failed to totally deregulate that sector.
“They should have known that the constant practice will only export jobs out of this country and import poverty. Labour and other organisations were here when the petroleum product was raised to about N147 per litre. Nobody spoke about it. There was no demonstration and there was no strike.
“Now it is about N151 or maybe to a free fall or free rise and you are all tryin to come and demonstrate. The valid question is what were you doing as labour all these period? Were you waiting for this thing to happen so that you can go behind and negotiate with the federal government and take your share?
“The right thing for labour and any meaningful Nigerian to do in the wake of all these things is to interrogate the system. They should asked NNPC valid questions. They should have mounted pressure on NNPC to know the timeline and when the practice of importing refined produts would end.
“Labour should focus on real issues of how we can fix our refineries that are getting people paid and promoted without producing anything. They should talk to the federal government on how to give incentives, maybe tax holiday and grants to private actors to build modular refineries so that we can refine petroleum products for our use and also create the jobs that we need.
“We can refine so much that Nigeria will be self-sufficient and we will begin to export to our foreign countries. That is what labour should be thinking about and not waiting for any decision of the government so that they can be factored into the negotiation process where something can get to them. It is not working for Nigerians. We are getting tired of this tactics”.
Police dismiss IPOB Oct. 1 sit-at-home call [THE NATION]
THE police on Wednesday dismissed the call by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for a sit-at-home on October 1.
Ebonyi State government urged residents to ignore the order and go about their normal business.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it had nothing to do with the call.
IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu said the directive was to protest “bad governance and economic annihilation”.
In a statement by IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, Kanu urged the Igbo everywhere to boycott all activities organised to mark the Independence Day.
The statement said: “We, the global movement of IPOB, wish to announce to all Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world that Biafrans across the globe shall observe a sit-at-home in Biafraland in public protests to mark October 1, 2020.
“We, therefore, enjoin all Biafrans and every conscious Nigerian, especially those ethnic nationalities reeling from the triple blow of terrorism, bad governance and economic annihilation, to boycott every government organised ceremony designed to eulogise the failure that Nigeria has become.
“This is the time to let the world know how disastrously intolerable human existence is in Nigeria.
“If you want to see an end to terrorism and organised mediocrity, now is the time to register your anger by ensuring that you and your household sit-at-home on October 1, 2020.
“Do not risk the life and well-being of your children by allowing them to gather in groups in the open where terrorists may find it easier to blow them up or kidnap them.
“This order is to highlight our position and resolve as Biafrans that we are no longer interested in propping up a crumbling state.
“The leadership of this great movement in conjunction with supporters of Biafra freedom across the globe has concluded every arrangement to let the whole world know and understand that we are no longer part of this shambolic monument to terrorism and failure.”
The group said it remained committed to “the full and irreversible restoration of Biafra sovereignty and independence for all oppressed ethnic groups in Nigeria”.
Ebonyi State government urged the people to go about their normal activities on October 1 as IPOB has no legal basis to compel anyone to stay home.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Emegha, said: “Who is IPOB to tell people to sit at home? That is the height of craziness on their side.
“How can you tell people who have a family to sit at home? To do what? Will you come and put food on their table?
“In the first place, we don’t even know if there is anything like IPOB existing in the state.
“People should disregard the said statement and go about their normal business on that day.”
Court faults Buhari on judges appointment [THE NATION]
A FEDERAL High Court in Abuja has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari for sending the names of 11 lawyers to the Senate for screening as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In a judgment on Wednesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the President acted in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution when he forwarded the names from the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the Senate.
Justice Ekwo said the only instance where the President can forward NJC’s recommendation to the Senate, in respect of a High Court judge’s appointment, is when it relates to that of the head of the court, like the Chief Judge.
The lawyers are: Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, Christopher Opeyemi, Mohammed Idris, Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Adebowale and Hamza Muazu.
The judgment was in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2020 filed by Oladimeji Ekengba against Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Senate, the President of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the NJC.
Justice Ekwo said: “The issue is straightforward. It is whether the first defendant (the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) acted in compliance with the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to have sent the names of the 11 persons recommended for appointment as judges of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja to the Senate for confirmation.
“Looking at the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I find that there is no power or authority, express or implied, given to the first defendant (the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) to send names of persons recommended to him for appointment as judges to the Senate for screening.
“All that the first defendant needed to do was to send the names of the appointees to the seventh defendant (the NJC). The requirement for confirmation by the Senate would only have been necessary and constitutional if the seventh defendant recommended a person to the first defendant for appointment as the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as provided for in Section 256(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“To state it clearly, the act of the first defendant, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) sending the names of the 11 persons appointed by him to the Senate for confirmation was done in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
Justice Ekwo proceeded to grant two of the reliefs sought by Ekengba . One is a declaration that, by the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution, the President “cannot abdicate his duties and responsibilities to the Senate for appointment of persons as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.”
The judge equally declared that the names of the individuals nominated by the NJC for the appointment cannot be subjected to the screening and confirmation. He held that forwarding of the names to the Senate was contrary to and in breach of Section 256(2) of the Constitution.
He added: “As can be seen, this judgment affects only the act of forwarding the names of the appointees to the Senate, which was done in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It does not affect the swearing in of the appointees.”
N37b refund missing under Yari, says Zamfara govt [THE NATION]
WHAT happened to the N37 billion refunded to Zamfara State on the projects it implemented in its domain on behalf of the Federal Government?
The whereabouts of the cash has pitted the Governor Bello Matawalle administration and that of his predecessor and former Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Abdulaziz Yari.
According to Finance Commissioner Rabiu Garba, the government has alerted security agencies to track the whereabouts of the cash refund on federal projects undertaken by the state.
But former Finance Commissioner Muktar Idris, who searched under Yari said the government was shadow-chasing as he insisted the refund was remitted into the state account.
At a news conference in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, Alhaji Garba alleged that the immediate past administration might have misappropriated the money.
The commissioner claimed the amount was initially quoted at over N47 billion as the funds disbursed by the Yari administration to reconstruction and rehabilitate 14 federal roads in the Northwest state.
He said: “We understood that the cost of the verified projects at the Federal Ministry of Works stood at over N37 billion.
“But when we asked for refunds of the said amount, it was confirmed by both the Federal Ministry of Works and the Debt Management Office that the amount had been paid fully.
“On further investigation, we gathered that the money was collected by the Director-General of Nigerian Governors’ Forum and one lady who also worked in the same place on instructions from former Zamfara government.
“We wonder how people who are not indigenes of the state nor have they ever worked for the state should collect such a colossal amount on behalf of the government and people of Zamfara.”
He assured that the Matawalle-led administration will do everything possible to recover the money “so that we can use it in the development of the state”.
But reacting in a chat with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the former Commissioner of Finance under Yari’s government, Alhaji Muktar Idris, absolved the administration from any wrongdoing.
Idris said that the immediate-past administration constructed the roads at the cost of over N60 billion and claimed the same amount from the Federal Government.
Buni, Bello meet Ize-Iyamu [THE NATION]
ALL Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CENCPC) Chairman and Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni yesterday held a close-door meeting with the Edo State governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in Abuja.
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello was also in attendance at the meeting, which took place at the Abuja residence of the Chairman.
It was Ize-Iyamu’s first outing after last Saturday’s election which he lost to incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The agenda of the meeting was unknown. But, sources said Buni and Bello persuaded Ize-Iyamu to accept the outcome of the poll.
According to the source, the meeting also discussed the way forward for Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Edo APC after the election.
In an advertorial two days ago, the APC, through the caretaker chair, conceded victory and congratulated Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The party described the outcome of the election as a victory for democracy.
Kano-Niger Republic rail line: PDP, CSOs, others attack FG as FEC approves $1.96bn project [PUNCH]
The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a $1,959,744,723.71 contract for a rail line that would link Nigeria to Niger Republic.
The approval was given at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, told State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that the money approved for the development of the proposed rail line linking Kano-Dutse-Katsina-Jibia and to Maradi in Niger Republic was inclusive of Value Added Tax.
The rail line is designed to connect three Northern states – Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states – as well as seven senatorial districts.
The 248-kilometre line is expected to aid the transportation of crude oil.
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and some civil rights groups took a swipe at the Buhari regime, saying the project was a misplacement of priority in a country facing intractable problems of insecurity and harsh economic conditions arising from hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff.
Besides the rail project, Amaechi disclosed the council also approved the award of contract worth N3.049bn for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and inauguration of one railway crane for the purposes of clearing rail tracks during accidents.
The minister said, “The first approval for our ministry is the award of contract for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and inauguration of one railway crane of 150-ton capacity for emergency and recovery of rolling stocks.
“This is to sort out situations of accident on the track. It is for a total cost of N3,049,544,000.
“The second one is the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Matadi rail line in Niger Republic and to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa, for a total cost of $1,959,744,723.71, inclusive of 7.5% VAT.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said the council also approved N745.2m to be spent on engaging additional forensic auditors for the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The minister said the approval brought the total number of forensic auditors engaged for the commission to 16.
He explained that they would be working with the lead forensic auditor in nine states of the Niger Delta which he said had been divided into 16 lots.
“The council also considered and approved the need to attach relevant investigative security agencies to each of the team to ensure transparency and also to be sure that whatever comes out is acceptable to not just in Nigeria but to the international community,” the minister added.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the council approved N12.088bn for the construction of Section II of the Ohafia-Arochukwu Road.
“This section comprises Umuahia/Bende/Ohafia Road in Abia State and it was approved for the construction at N12.088bn comprising a distance of 45 kilometres to complement Section I which was previously awarded in 2018, that is the section from Bende/Arochukwu to Ohafia which is 19.27 kilometres,” he said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the council approved the augmentation of the contract for the construction of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund’s headquarters in Abuja in the sum of N3.773bn, therefore raising the initial approval for the contract to about N14bn.
Mohammed added that FEC also approved the procurement of 1,800 units of laptop computers for three Nigeria Customs Service’s training schools at the cost of N351,540,000.
Buhari mourns as Kogi tanker explosion claims schoolchildren, family of five, others [PUNCH]
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday, said he was disturbed by the petroleum tanker explosion that claimed 23 lives earlier in the day in Lokoja, Kogi State.
Most of the victims of the tanker explosion, which occurred in the Felele area of Lokoja, along the Lokoja/Abuja Highway, were schoolchildren and students of the state-owned polytechnic located a short distance away from the scene.
A man from Okene was said to have lost six children to the inferno, while a family of five was wiped out in the accident that some referred to as the worst in the year so far.
The victims included five students of the Kogi state Polytechnic and three nursery pupils, who were on their way to school.
Also, pupils from the Baptist Academy, whose number had yet to be ascertained, were among those killed.
Also killed was a businessman, identified simply as Samson, alongside his wife and three children.
Samson was said that be dealing in sewing machines and wanted to drop off his children at school as had become his daily routine before opening his shop.
The 33,000-litre tanker, which was laden with Premium Motor Spirit and belonged to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was said to have suffered brake failure around 8am and rammed into five cars, two motorcycles and three tricycles, killing all the occupants.
Buhari said the tragedy represented “another disturbing and saddening incident in the litany of tragedies that have befallen our country.”
Buhari’s position was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled: ‘President Buhari mourns victims of Lokoja tanker explosion’.
Shehu quoted the President as expressing worry over the frequency of what he called “large-scale tragedies” in the country.
Yoruba nation will secure freedom without bloodshed –Akintoye [PUNCH]
The President-General of the Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said on Wednesday that the over 55 million Yoruba people in the South-West would get freedom by having the sovereign Yoruba nation without breaking the law of Nigeria or shedding blood.
Akintoye stated this at the YWC House in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, during the celebration of the anniversary of the Kiriji War, which happened over 130 years ago.
The retired don said, “We have been saying we will have the Yoruba nation. The Yoruba World Congress is committed to helping the Yoruba nation to secure its position in the comity of nations.”
Stressing the significance of the struggle, he said, “When we first started the process, we had a total of 45 organisations, but now, we can boast of a total of 107 different organisations.
“They do say that I don’t compromise; it is not every time. But once we say we will take a common stance, I don’t know how to betray. We will get the Yoruba nation free without violence; we will not break the laws of Nigeria. If there is anyone who wants to be violent, we will tell them, no.”
On the proposed rally fixed for October 1 by some youths, he said they reserved the rights to stage the rally, but warned against violence.”
The leader of the Movement for Oduduwa Republic, Mr Akin George, stressed on unity among the Yoruba.
He said, “We can’t fight the enemies if the home front is divided. We may have misunderstanding, but it should not lead to a quarrel.”
Other dignitaries at the celebration were High Chief Lekan Balogun, the Otun Olubadan who represented the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji; the Convener, Yoruba Koya, Otunba Deji Osibogun, among others.
Life not about winning only, says Oshiomhole [PUNCH]
FORMER national chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, on Wednesday night said life was not all about winning.
The former labour leader, who spoke for the first time on the outcome of last Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, which his party lost to the Peoples Democratic Party, said that losing was also part of life.
In a video recorded in his personal gymnasium, the former governor of Edo State was philosophical as he posited that life was about winning some and losing some.
“In life, you work hard and leave God for the outcome. You do your best and trust God to bless your efforts. I feel good, I feel strong, thank God. In life, you win some and you lose some but life goes on,” he said
Oshiomhole added that he was aware that “a lot of people will be thinking now, ‘oh, Comrade must be down’. But I’m not down. When God says you are not down, you are not down and I am not down.”
UK lawmakers write Commonwealth over insecurity in Nigeria [SUN]
Worried by the rising spate of insurgency and farmer/herder crisis in Nigeria, some members of the House of Lords, the British upper legislative chamber, have petitioned the Commonwealth.
The lawmakers, in a letter dated September 14 and addressed to Patricia Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, said the failure of the Federal Government to protect Nigerians was a breach of its obligations under the Commonwealth Charter.
The letter was co-signed by 18 lawmakers.
Referencing a report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, the lawmakers said thousands of civilians have been killed and “elements of the Nigerian government may be complicit in violence.”
They asked that a probe be carried out into the killings and at the least ensure “adequate protection and aid for those suffering the loss of family members and the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.”
The letter read: “We write to highlight urgent concerns about escalating violence in Nigeria, where attacks led by Boko Haram, Fulani herders, and other Islamist militia continue in northern and central-belt states, with reports of increasing violence in the South-East.
“The state’s failure to protect its citizens is a clear breach of its obligations under the Commonwealth Charter in respect of human rights.
“There is now an urgent need to ensure adequate protection and aid for those suffering the loss of family members and the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.
“And to end impunity by ensuring that complaints related to human rights violations are promptly, independently, and impartially investigated and those responsible are held to account after fair trials.”
The parliamentarians further asked that the issue be raised with the Commonwealth ministerial action group.
“We write, therefore, to ask whether you are able to respond on behalf of the Commonwealth and to raise these urgent concerns with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group. We would be very willing to meet in person (or perhaps more practically online via zoom) to discuss how we might proceed.”
If UN fails to mobilise against COVID-19, it would’ve failed the world –Buhari [SUN]
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night addressed the 75th session of the UN General Assembly debate, where he declared that should the global body fail to mobilise and guarantee effective response to COVID-19 pandemic, it would have failed the world.
In a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said the humanitarian body would have failed those that look up to it to provide direction during crisis of pandemic magnitude.
Buhari, who delivered Nigeria’s national statement through a video-message, on the first day of the debate, also spoke on his administration’s efforts in addressing poverty and ensuring respect for human rights.
This year had as its theme:“Future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism- confronting coronavirus through effective multilateral action.”
President Buhari used the occasion to canvass uninhibited supply of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all.He also pledged Nigeria’s continuous partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing of the vaccines.
“As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us; they count on us. If the UN system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the UN would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.
“The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds,” Buhari said.
The president expressed concern on the level of devastation the pandemic had done to the world economy, including straining the capabilities of the health systems of many countries, such as Nigeria, and how the country is coping with the situation.