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IPOB adamant as sit-at-home call flops in Southeast [THE NATION]

The sit-at-home directive by the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) largely flopped in the Southeast and Southsouth on Thursday, but the group insisted it was a huge success.

Business activities went on normally in the five Southeast states as well as Rivers, despite the directive.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu said the call was to protest “bad governance and economic annihilation”.

He urged the Igbo everywhere to boycott all activities organised to mark Independence Day celebrations.

Kanu, in a statement on Thursday by IPOB spokesman Emma Powerful, said: “The sit-at-home order issued by the global movement on 1st of October 2020 is totally successful in so many states and cities in Biafraland.”

He said all states in the Southeast and Southsouth within ‘Biafraland’, including Abia, Rivers, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Delta states, complied with the order.

He said the compliance with “this order is to showcase our readiness for the speedy coming of Biafra freedom and independence”.

“We thank our people in South Africa, USA, Canada, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Australia and other countries of the world for their resoluteness declared to the world over that we are no longer interested in Nigeria.

“The whole world must understand that IPOB cannot go back to Nigeria,” Kanu said.

But our correspondents observed that, contrary to IPOB’s claim, a majority of residents did not heed the call in Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and parts of Abia and Rivers states.

It was unsuccessful in Imo as many people trooped out for their businesses. Markets, stores and artisans all opened.

Except for banks and government offices that were closed due to the holiday, people were seen moving about freely the capital city of Owerri.

Residents of Enugu ignored the order. It was business as usual.

Our correspondent, who monitored different parts of Enugu, observed that all the markets opened for business while vehicular movement was not restricted.


Floods send 53,000 people to IDP camps [THE NATION]

No fewer than 52,956 persons have been displaced by flooding across Kebbi State.

They are in 175 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, Governor Atiku Bagudu said on Thursday.

Speaking during an Independence Day broadcast, he said: “It should be noted that the figure does not include those displaced persons squatting with their neighbours, relatives and good-spirited individuals in all the areas affected.”

The governor noted that the state’s geographical location and topography put it at the risk of seasonal flooding.

He said: “The 250 kilometres FADAMA plain rice-producing belt was flooded by the overflow of River Rima.

“Where the river joins River Niger is about 312 kilometres. On both sides of it is rice with other crops [which were] flooded away.“

Bagudu said the overflow led to the displacement of most of the villages and towns along the riverbank across 19 local government areas within Gwandu, Argungu and Yauri emirates.

“In some areas, bridges and roads were either washed away or submerged.

“In upland Zuru Emirate, some local government areas encountered heavy rain, which destroyed houses, schools, hospitals and a lot of other social infrastructure.

“Virtually all the local government areas in the state are affected by the heavy flooding. We have experienced such in the past. So, it is not new to us.

“In 2018, there was flooding that affected 14 states, prompting Federal Government’s intervention with N23 billion, seedlings, fertilisers input, among others.

“Certainly, this scale is going to be bigger, but I believe with the right sensitisation many of us can support each other to cushion the effect,” he said.

The governor urged the Federal Government to come up with holistic National Drainage Architecture to tackle the problem.


Nine million jobs coming as AfDB, Microsoft partner govt [THE NATION]

An e-Learning Digital platform designed to create nine million jobs in Africa within the next decade has been initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Federal Government is partnering Microsoft to provide marketable digital skills for youths, a statement from the bank’s website, said.

The platform will leverage the AfDB’s Coding for Employment initiative and build linkages between the public and private sectors.

Communication and Digital Economy Minister  Isa Pantami said the platform would support the development of a large pool of digitally literate and skilled citizens.

Pantami said: “We are championing a paradigm shift that lays emphasis on skills. This is a growing trend across the globe.

“The digital literacy and skills pillar recognises the fact that citizens are the greatest assets in any economy, including the digital economy.”

According to Ebrima Faal, a Senior Director for the bank’s Nigeria Country Department, the new normal had accelerated the demand for digital services and fourth industrial revolution technologies across all sectors.

He said: “From artificial intelligence, the internet of things, social media communication, digital learning platforms, augmented and virtual reality, drones, 3D printing and so much more – the world has undergone a massive disruption.

“The African Development Bank is committed to supporting the Nigerian government to realise a fully integrated digital agenda.”

Ghada Khalifa, Middle East and Africa Director for Microsoft Philanthropies, said that Microsoft was committed to creating inclusive economic opportunities in light of the economic crisis created by COVID-19.

Khalifa said: “We are investing in building the capacity of five million African youths by 2025, and excited about our collaboration with the African Development Bank and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in Nigeria with the launch of the Digital Nigeria platform to provide Nigerians with access to digital skills to meet the demand of the job market.”


Buhari: no going back on petrol subsidy removal [THE NATION]

Petrol price will continue to be dictated by market forces because the government will not go back on subsidy removal, President Muhammadu Buhari indicated on Thursday.

In his broadcast to the nation to mark the 60th independence anniversary, the President said the current N161 per litre pump price is lower than what it is sold for in many oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia.

The remark has dashed the hope of Labour leaders who are pressing for reversal of the subsidy removal policy.

Buhari said: “We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point; Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre; Niger, also an oil-producing country, sells one litre at N346.

“In Ghana, another oil-producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.”

The President thumbed up his administration for doing what “no government in the past did”  despite of lean budget.

He emphasised the need for government and all Nigerians to be ready to take tough decisions and make sacrifices for Nigeria to survive.

In addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue.

“Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.

“In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office, has recognised the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.

“Accordingly, in the last three years, we have introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of our society in the shape of: Tradermoni, Farmermoni, School Feeding Programme, job creation efforts and agricultural intervention programmes.

“No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security.

“In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.

“To achieve the great country we desire, we need to solidify our strength, increase our commitment and encourage ourselves to do that which is right and proper even when no one is watching.”


Gowon, Jonathan join President at ceremony [THE NATION]

Two former leaders – Ex-Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan – joined President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials at the 60th Independence anniversary celebration in Abuja on Thursday.

Jonathan was accompanied by his wife Patience. Buhari’s wife, Aisha, was also at the event held at the Eagle Square.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led other top dignitaries, which include, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad.

Buhari arrived at the venue at about 10 am and was ushered to the soapbox to review a mounted parade. He was thereafter escorted to inspect the guards in a parade in an open van.

The parade comprises members of the Armed Forces – the Army, Air Force, and Navy – as well as para-military forces.

The event was spiced with traditional dances and other performances by a combined military and civilian artistes.

The high point of the ceremony was the Nigerian Air Force display, which was scaled down because of inclement weather.

There was flypast by two Agusta helicopters, both actively involved in combat operations. One of them bore the banner of the theme of the celebration – ‘60 Together’.

The helicopters were followed in echelon by three Alpha jets used for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations such as during ECOMOG, Northern Mali and Niger Delta militant operations.

The jets were followed by Air 39ZA, also involved in operations in the Northeast and Northwest.

The event was closed with the signing of the anniversary register by the President, who was accompanied by his wife, Osinbajo, Jonathan, Gowon; Lawan; Gbajabiamila, the CJN, among others.


PDP, govs tackle Buhari over attack on Obasanjo, Jonathan, Yar’Adua [PUNCH]

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday justified the recent increase in the  price of petrol in the country, saying it made no sense for the commodity to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.

Buhari,  who said this in his nationwide broadcast to mark the nation’s 60th independence anniversary,  gave an indication of further hikes  in the price of petrol and  blamed his predecessors between 1999 and 2015 for near destruction of  the country.

But opposition People Democratic Party and  the PDP governors said Nigeria was not only going backwards, but also more divided under Buhari.

The President,  in his speech,  defended the recent petrol price hike. He said, “A responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.

“Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point.

“Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre. Niger, also an oil producing country sells one litre at N346.In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre.  It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.”

Even with scare resources, I’m doing better than my predecessors, Buhari boasts

He specifically blamed those who were in charge of the country between 1999 and 2015 when he took over, saying they presided over the near destruction of the country.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umar Yar’Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan were in charge of the country during the period Buhari mentioned.

The President said, “No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security.

“Those in the previous governments from 1999  to  2015,  who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticise our efforts. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.”

Buhari also admitted that the nation’s economy under his watch was in  crisis. He, however, claimed the situation was the same with every economy of the world.

The President also admitted the various security challenges affecting parts of the country.

He said, “Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis.

“We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.

Lamenting that Nigerians dwelt on divisive issues, Buhari said, “An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.

“In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.”

Edo election, a confirmation of my belief in credible polls –Buhari

The President said the outcome of the recent governorship election in Edo State confirmed his belief in credible polls.

He said, “I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.

“The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State election should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.

“The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.

“Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognises the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.”

The President noted that Nigeria  grappled with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200 million occupying the same land mass but 52 percent residing in urban areas.


Obasanjo absent as Gowon, Jonathan celebrate with Buhari [PUNCH]

The celebration of the 60th independence anniversary of Nigeria, which took place at the popular Eagle Square in Abuja was unique as a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, and former President Goodluck Jonathan joined the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sign the anniversary register.

They were the only past Nigerian leaders at the event also attended by a former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya; former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo; and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was conspicuously absent at the event.

The event, however, coincided with the 10th year anniversary of the bomb explosion planted by militants under the aegis of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta.

About 12 persons, including security operatives, died in the twin bomb blasts, while 17 others were seriously injured.

The parade, which was made up of the nation’s armed forces and para-military agencies, also witnessed a display of traditional dances and other performances by military and civilian artists.

The high point of the ceremony was the Nigerian Air Force’s display, which had to be scaled down because of poor weather conditions.

The fly-past was led by two Agusta helicopters actively involved in combat operations, one of which bore the banner of the theme of the celebration.

The helicopters were followed by three Alpha jets used for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations.

The jets were followed by Air 39ZA, also involved in operations in the North-East and the North-West.

The low-keyed event had very tight security arrangements as personnel of the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services, Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen mounting guards at strategic points in the arena.

Buhari did not deliver any other address at the event as he had earlier made a nationwide broadcast.

The PUNCH reported that on October 1, 2010, while Nigeria was marking her 50th anniversary, two car bombs went off near the Eagles Square, killing 12 persons and leaving over 17 injured.


Nigerians defy rally ban, protest tariff hike, corruption, others [PUNCH]

Nigerians on Thursday defied the ban on rally as they took to the streets to protest against tariff hike, corruption, hunger and general insecurity while the country marked its 60th independence anniversary.

There was a clampdown on many of the protesters, who were either arrested or brutalised by security agents.

In Abuja, members of the #RevolutionNow Movement, who protested at the United States Embassy in the Federal Capital Territory, lamented the security and socio-economic challenges in the country.

They demanded the resignation of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over increasing insecurity, hunger and corruption.

The campaigners, led by the convener of the movement, Omoyele Sowore, wielded a big banner with the inscription, ‘Buhari has failed,’ and placards, some of which read, ‘Failed leadership has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world,’ and ‘#RevolutionNow.’

The protesters, who also included #BringBackOurGirls activist, Aisha Yesufu, Ariyo Dare-Atoye, Henry Shield, Adebayo Raphael and Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians, among others, criticised what they described as oppression in the land.

Yesufu, in her remarks, said Nigerians must make the nation work, adding that things were becoming unbearable.

Raphael said Nigerians had passed a vote of no confidence in the Federal Government, adding that “under Buhari, our economy is in shambles; under him, hardship has been redefined.”

Dare-Atoye stated, “In the last 48 hours, a good number of soldiers have been slaughtered and injured. We are not better than those who have died, so why can’t we come out and protest? The only people enjoying Nigeria are the President and his family. A policeman cannot afford to cater for his family.

“Today, we have passed a vote of no confidence in the president and we want to tell them that this is just the beginning. The revolution of the common man is coming.”

Adeyanju said Nigerians were dissatisfied with the security and economic conditions in the country, stressing that “Nigeria is not working.”

He observed that soldiers, policemen and other security agents had taken over the Unity Fountain, Maitama, where the rally was supposed to hold.

The activist appealed to the US to place a visa ban on the Director-General of the Department of State Services for clamping down on protesters in Osogbo.

The campaigners also sang solidarity songs and berated the government for failing to address the insecurity in the country.

Our correspondents gathered that the protest also held at Area one, Life Camp, Jabi, Kuje, Kwali, Kubwa and Lugbe areas.

Protest in Ibadan despite heavy security presence

In Ibadan, Oyo State, angry youths staged a peaceful protest against what they termed the oppressive rule of Buhari.

The youth, who are members of the #RevolutionNow Movement and other groups, said Nigerians were suffering despite promises made by the President during electioneering.

The protesters were forced to change the venue of their protest to a filling station along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as armed policemen took over Iwo Road, which they had planned to use for the demonstration.

About 10 police cars and patrol vans were stationed around Under Bridge, Iwo Road, while major streets in Ibadan were also manned by the police to prevent protests in the city.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of South-West had on Wednesday said the police would not allow any procession on October 1.

But the protesting youths said the police might have blocked them from using the popular space, they could not stop them from voicing their displeasure on how the country was being run.

The Chairman of #RevolutionNow in Oyo State, Rotimi Ogunlana, told our correspondent that the hardship, insecurity, corruption among government appointees, had become unbearable for Nigerians.

Another leader of the coalition, Akin Asifat, said October 1 was not worth celebrating.

DSS disperse protesters, arrest ten in Osogbo

In Osogbo, Osun State, armed DSS operatives dispersed members of the #RevolutionNow Movement, arresting 11 of them.

The youth, however, regrouped around Olaiya area and marched through major streets in Osogbo, calling for an end to bad governance in the country.


I drugged my victim, collected his N6m – Suspect [PUNCH]

THE police in Niger State have arrested two suspected robbers for stealing the sum of N6m from a businessman in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of the state.

The suspects apprehended by police operatives attached to the Area Command, Minna, following a tip-off.

They were identified as Abdullahi Maikudi 27, of Katsina State; and Rabiu Abdullahi, 23, of Kano State.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Maikudi lodged in a hotel in Tegina, where he met the businessman on September 25, 2020.

He was said to have established friendship with the victim, saying they were from the same state.

Our correspondent gathered that he offered the victim a cup of tea laden with tramadol, which made the buisnessman to sleep within 10 minutes of taking the drink.

Maikudi subsequently made away with his bag containing N6m.

Checks revealed that the suspect fled with the money to Kano State, where he met his accomplice, Abdullahi.

Police operatives traced them to Kano State and foiled their plans to leave the country with the stolen money.

Maikudi told PUNCH Metro that he usually drugged his victims  before dispossessing them of their valuables.

He claimed to have been doing this for over four years.

“All my victims since I started this business, I drug them with tramadol tablets or syrup so that they will fall asleep in 10 minutes and by then, I would have finished my operation. I usually put it in their tea or food,” he said.

The state Police Public Relations, Wasiu Abiodun, confirmed the incident on Thursday, adding that the police recovered from them N3.8m and 410 Cefas.

Abiodun said investigation was in progress, adding that the suspects would soon be arraigned in court.


Labour accuses FG of squandering N1.7tr in 7 years on power sector  [SUN]

The Power Sector arm of Nigeria’s Organised Labour yesterday raised the alarm that the Federal Government  has spent over N1.7trillion  on power sector’s privatisation  over the last seven years with the Distribution Companies and the Generating  Companies as the largest beneficiaries without visible improvement in power generation.

This is even as it slammed President Muhammad Buhari for comparing Nigeria’s pump price of petroleum products with Saudi Arabia and others.

The General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Mr Joe Ajaero, at a media briefing yesterday in Lagos said with such investment the power generation ought to have tripled to 20,000MWbut have rather remained at 4,000MW, it attained before privatisation.

He warned Nigerians never to believe the government and the investors in the sector that the increase in tariffs would improve power efficiency.

He said, “Increasing tarrif doesn’t mean increasing or improvement in service when power generation remains constant. Seven years after, we are still on 4,000 megawatts, despite rising population. At least they supposed to have been adding 1,000 megawatts every year. It is unfortunate that Nigeria Government privatised at N400 billion and now spent N1.7 trillion supporting DisCos and Gencos investors who have not been able to add anything to the sector. The Federal Government has 40 percent of investment and these investors have 60 percent, but they are not bringing anything and are still calling shots in the sector.”

He said Nigerians should query the Federal Government why the sector’s privatisation has not been reviewed as the law permits the take over by the government with just $1 should the investors fail to develop the sector.

He said the DisCos signed the contract that is dubious, hence they kept charging Nigerians for their inefficiency. “For instance, 90 percent of transformers supplied by the DisCos are overloaded with no relief plan and one of the agreement is to be changing transformers but because they want to maximise profit, they refused to do so”, he said.

Ajaero therefore said privatisation policy is out to destroy the economy of the nation and to milk Nigerians, adding that since the Distribution Companies took over the assets, nothing meaningful has changed in terms of improving on the facilities they met on ground like power plants and turbines.

He noted that what the government has spent in seven years was colossal, while it failed to put money to support the former Nigeria Electricity Company, stating that government only spent N200 billion and Nigerians were better then in terms of service. According to him, it is a fraud for government to charge Nigerians at International rate when the country have sources to generate power from coal, water and even gas which he said unfortunately is being billed in dollars despite being produced locally.

NUEE boss therefore pleaded with Nigerians not to pay for inefficiency of the system. The union also charged government to hand over  power sector to them for proper management.


Protests rock Abuja, Lagos, Osogbo, Benin, Oyo [SUN]

Members of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), organisers of the RevolutionNow, made good their threat to protest, yesterday, in spite of stern warn and security beef up, across the country including Abuja, Oyo, Lagos, Osun and Edo.

The Coalition for Revolution (CORE), organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest, had vowed to hold mass action against poor governance despite warns by the police.

The protest was first staged in August 5, 2019. Another one was held one year after in 2020. The protest which incurred the wrath of security agencies and the presidency, was held across major cities in Nigeria.

In Lagos yesterday, no fewer than eight persons were arrested when security operatives clampdown on protesters, who stormed Ojota and Maryland, demanding a better society. A photojournalist with The PUNCH, Kayode Jaiyeola, covering the event, was was beaten with a baton which left him bleeding on the head.

Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said the police officer involved in the “irresponsible act” has been arrested and disarmed.

“The man that was doing his lawful duty and the police assaulted him, we will take care of it. Once again, apologies for that. But you know me, I don’t tolerate all these things and will never. There is no reason to justify what the police did. What he did was an assault, brutality and incivility. I won’t cover that.Be rest assured he will face disciplinary action.”

He said the medical bill of the journalist will be borne by the police.

In Osogbo, operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) attacked protesters who converged at the Nelson Mandela Park, Old Garage, Osogbo. They were first dispersed with teargas around 9 a.m. After they regrouped, armed SSS officials again stormed the scene, whisked away no fewer than 11 to the office of the SSS where they were briefly detained for over one hour.

Pedro Omolola, claimed she was repeatedly slapped by security officials while her colleagues were severely injured.

Another protester, Aliu Gbadebo, decried police molestation, saying, “No civil country uses police against its people.”

In Abuja, former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, led protesters who marched through Area 1 roundabout and chanted different songs. They held placards with different inscriptions.

The protest, according to Sowore was to demand reversal of anti-people policies implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

“These harsh policies that have burnt a burdensome hole into the pockets of the Nigerian people are coming at a time when citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that was also mismanaged by the Buhari’s government further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems.

“It also comes at a time when there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism and the right to associate and congregate peacefully and protest,” he said.

Among others, CORE demanded the reversal of the hike in the price of petrol from N148 to N151, an end to state-supervised and approved impunity under the watch of President  Buhari and the sacking of all service chiefs due to their “proven incompetence in finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed and is still claiming the life of Nigerians daily.”


Gowon, Jonathan join Buhari for Nigeria  at 60 celebration [SUN]

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and former President Goodluck Jonathan, were the only former Nigerian leaders that joined President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Eagle Square to celebrate the nation’s 60th Independence Anniversary in Abuja, yesterday.

Both former leaders were also on hand when the president signed anniversary register during the ceremony.

Other notable personalities at the event were the former Chief of General Staff, General Oladipo Diya and former vice president Namadi Sambo.

The over three-hour ceremony also had in attendance top members of the administration, the Diplomatic Corps and other invited guests.

Before the commencement of activities to mark the day, President Buhari inspected the guards in parade in an open car to give them the opportunity to show their respect and loyalty to him.

The parade was made up of the nation’s armed forces including the Army, Air Force and Navy as well as the para-military forces (Prisons, Immigration, Customs), fire service, road safety, civil defence) legion, labour  and National Youth Service Corp’s (NYSC).

There was also combined silent drill/mass band/civilian display with the theme: 60 Together (a display of traditional dances and other performances by a combined military and civilian artistes.)

The high point of the ceremony was the Nigerian Air Force display, which had to be scaled down because of poor weather conditions.

The fly past was led by two Agusta helicopters, both actively involved in combat operations, one of which bore the banner of the theme of the celebration.

The helicopters were followed in echelon by three Alpha jets used for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations such as ECOMOG, Northern Mali, Niger Delta operations.

The jets were followed by Air 39ZA also involved in operations in the North East and North West.

The Air Force explained that the fly past was less elaborate than planned because of low clouds at the Eagle Square.

The event closed with the signing of register, three hearty cheers led by parade commander and national salute accompanied by 21 artillery volleys.


Anger trails Buhari’s Independence Day speech [SUN]

Prominent Nigerians and groups, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Middle Belt Forum and Northern Elders Forum, have expressed disappointment at the Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari.

They criticised him for justifying the increase in fuel price, not accepting responsibility for challenges facing the country, and always passing the buck. They regretted that the president failed to proffer solutions to the challenges confronting the country.

PDP described the economic assertions, in the broadcast  as a huge slap on the sensibilities of Nigerians.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary,  Kola Ologbondiyan,  charged President Buhari to wake up to reality and take urgent steps to address alleged divisive tendencies and poor economic policies of his administration.

The party said it was worrisome that the broadcast did not  address demands by Nigerians that the president should rejig his security architecture to inject new blood that will effectively confront  security challenges.

The opposition said Buhari ‘s attempt to justify recent hike in the pump price of fuel by comparing the equivalent of N168 per liter cost in Saudi Arabia was a morbid joke.

It stated the  3,000 Saudi Riyals, an equivalent  of    N305,113 minimum wage in Saudi Arabia is ten times higher than the ‘paltry’  N30,000 in Nigeria.

“Is Mr. President not aware that on the average, a person working in Saudi Arabia earns around 4,230SAR (N430, 267) to 16,700 SAR (N1,698,693) per month?  Our party charges Mr. President to always check his books before making such offensive comparisons including the price in Egypt where monthly average earning is around N222, 841 (9,200 EGP) against our N30,000.

“In comparing our costs with other countries such as Ghana, Chad and Niger where purchasing powers of citizens are much more higher, did Mr. President reflect on the cost of house rent, education, healthcare and average dependence on fuel for daily survival by ordinary citizens as obtainable in Nigeria?

“If the flawed assertions as evident in Mr. President’s speech are a direct reflection of how policies are formulated in his administration, then one needs not wonder why our economy is in doldrums.”

In its reaction, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere wondered why the president rather than address the challenges facing the citizens and the country chose to justify the recent increase in the pump price of petrol.

Its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said: “In the midst of what Nigeria is going through at 60, the president is justifying the increase in pump price, comparing fuel pump price in Nigeria with Ghana and the rest of them. Has he forgotten the promises he made to Nigerians in 2014 on how he will fix the country’s refineries? How prices of petroleum products will become cheaper? Only for him to be telling us these kinds of things after five years in office? I don’t believe he has done anything.“

He dismissed the accusations against past administrations between 1999 and 2015, saying the accusations were baseless as the incumbent administration has not done anything to improve the situation.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Ndigbo, Uche Achi-Okpaga described the president’s speech as mere window dressing, saying he (Buhari) just wished Nigerians a happy 60th independence anniversary because he did not address any issue.

He also disagreed with the president’s position that after the war, the country forged ahead with focus on the 3R of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation.

Chairman, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and former vice chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said Buhari’s administration has failed.

The visibly angry professor of agronomy said he had little or nothing to say about the government because he had made his position known over the years.

“Well, as I speak to you, I am in Bauchi, I am not in Zaria. But I don’t have much to say because I have made my position known long ago about this government. It is a failed government,” he said.

President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Porgu, described as unfortunate the statement that past leaders between 1999 and 2015, who almost destroyed Nigeria were criticising his administration. He lamented that in spite of the colossal failure of Buhari’s administration, he still chose to criticise his predecessors.

He noted that when former president Obasanjo took over from Abdusalami Abubakar in 1999, crude was selling at $9 per barrel, the lowest ever but that did not deter Obasanjo, rather he pulled the economy up by bringing in competent hands to work with him.


Ortom, Ndukuba score political leadership low [THE GUARDIAN]

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said that political leaders have completely failed Nigerians after 60 years of independence from colonialists.

At an inter-denominational service organised by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at IBB Square, Makurdi, Ortom said if he were permitted, he would apologise on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari for the abysmal failure.

His words: “Nothing is working in this country. Benue would have been consumed, if not for the grace of God and his mercies upon our lives because we trust in him. In other states, the security situation is worse than what we are seeing here.”

Similarly, Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Bishop Henry Ndukuba, said that the political leadership has deviated from the visions of the founding fathers.

He, however, stressed that those who fought for the nation’s independence were selfless and considerate for one another while those who took over from them only saw the power and glamour.

Speaking at a special service to mark the 60th independence anniversary yesterday in Abuja, Ndukuba noted that there was something fundamentally wrong with the crop of leadership in the country today.

ON his part, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has appealed for aggregation of common strength to achieve unity.Ganduje made the appeal at the march past organised by the state government to commemorate the nation’s 60th independence anniversary at the Kano Pillars Stadium, Sabon Gari, Kano.

He stressed that while reflecting on the nation’s journey in the last 60 years, “there is every reason to glorify the Almighty God” for keeping the country together, even in the face of challenges.

HOWEVER, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria of Nigeria (HURIWA) has said that nepotism, lack of political will and poor governance rendered the nation incapable of being identified as a developed country despite abundance of human and mineral resources.

It, however, called on Nigerians to atone for the many misdeeds of the political and military elite that destroyed the nation.

In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA backed the advocacy by millions of Nigerians for the convocation of a national dialogue across the country by the different levels of governments for Nigerians to re-formulate the most workable systems and terms of continued existence as a political entity.


Teledensity rises as active mobile subscribers hit 203.5m [THE GUARDIAN]

Nigeria’s teledensity has risen by 2.2 per cent from 104.4 per cent to 106.6 per cent, even as 4.2 million new telephone lines had been connected for the country to hit a 203.5 million subscribers’ base.

Teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every 100 individuals living within an area. It varies across nations, and between urban and rural areas within a country.

The August subscription data released on Wednesday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) also showed improvement in Internet usage, with over two million new people coming on board. The figure rose from 146 million in July to 149 million in the month under review. Broadband also shot up, as penetration hit 43.3 per cent, and some 82 million Nigerians now benefit from high-speed Internet.

The statistics equally revealed that Emerging Market Telecoms Service (EMTS), operating as 9Mobile, amassed more subscribers, acquiring four million fresh customers between June and August. With a market penetration of 6.09 per cent, the telecommunications company now boasts of 12.4 million users.

The battle for the second largest operator’s position subsisted between Globacom and Airtel. Interestingly, the newest data rated the latter higher, having 54.8 million subscribers and 26.96 per cent market reach. On the other hand, Globacom had 52.9 million users, and 26.1 per cent penetration

MTN remained the largest operator both by penetration and market share. As at August, the South African telecoms firm had a 40.9 per cent penetration, and served 83 million Nigerians.

However, a GSMA report titled, “The Role of Mobile Technology in Building Nigeria’s Digital Economy”, put the unique (actual) mobile subscription at 97.5 million, and projected the figure to hit 130 million by 2025.

The body, which represents the interest of over 800 companies across the globe, noted that the growth in adoption of digital services by government, businesses, and consumers was impacting lives positively on a daily basis in the most populous black nation.

According to it, mobile technology is playing an increasingly central role in the country’s economy and, for the majority of Nigerians, “mobile broadband is the first and only technology for accessing the Internet, and opening the door to a whole new world.”


ASUU faults Ngige’s comments on FG/ASUU impasse, insists on strike [THE GUARDIAN]

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Benin Zone, has described the comment by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on the impasse between the Federal Government and the union as half-truth and misleading.

According to ASUU, Ngige had in an interview on national television on September 29 impressed it on Nigerians that the impasse was all about the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS).

In a statement issued in Benin City yesterday, the Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Prof. Fred Esumeh, alleged that the minister had, during the said television interview, claimed that government had at his insistence been paying salaries of the unionists up to date despite the IPPIS crisis, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-induced lockdown and the strike.

The don urged the public to disregard the comments, describing them as essential part of the minister’s grandstanding and deliberate ploy to misinform and deceive the public on the critical issues that informed the current strike by the union.

He said: “It is far from the truth to say that our members have been paid up to date. Consequent upon government’s insistence on implementation of IPPIS and its accompanying complications, our members are being owed three months’ salaries, while in some universities our members have not received salaries for six months.”Esumeh stressed that until government addressed the issue at stake in a comprehensive fashion, ASUU would continue with the strike.

MEANWHILE, Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, has won the 2020 Carleton University and Canadian government’s grant for the Gendered Design in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programme.

The polytechnic won the grant valued in millions of naira to construct an eco-friendly generator for low-income female artisans in Nigeria, with Mrs. Ese Esther Oriarewo and Dr. Obokhai Kess Asikhia as primary and co-primary investigators in the project.

The Gendered Design in STEAM programme at Carleton University, funded by Canadian government’s International Development Research Council (IDRC), was awarded to 20 research teams in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with 19 other teams domiciled in universities.

Rector of Edo Poly, Prof. Abiodun Falodun, said the institution would continue to prioritise Research and Development (R&D) as one of its core mandates,.

He noted that the inclination to research was in furtherance of the target set by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration for state-owned institutions to pursue innovative, technology-driven methods to solve society’s problems.










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