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Nigerian newspapers headlines Saturday morning



Credit Tribunal To Recover Bank Loans As PMB Signs BOFIA Into Law [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assented to the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020. The new law repeals the extant Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 (as amended) and establishes a Credit Tribunal which will now handle cases pertaining to loan recovery. The Act also addresses the incidence of high non-performing loans within the financial system, which has been a key deterrent to lending by financial institutions.

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the monumental piece of legislation is expected to enhance the soundness and resilience of the financial system for sustainable growth and development of the Nigerian economy. Shehu said,

“The BOFI Act 2020 updates the enabling law in response to developments and significant evolution in the financial sector over the last two decades. “It will increase the appetite of banks and other financial institutions to channel much needed credit to the real sector to support economic recovery and promote sustainable growth. “In this respect, it introduces a credit tribunal to improve loan recovery and address the incidence of high non-performing loans within the financial system, which has been a key deterrent to lending by financial institutions.

“Furthermore, it strengthens the regulatory and supervisory framework for the financial industry and provides additional tools for managing failing institutions and systemic distress to preserve financial stability amongst others”. Shehu further explained that the Central Bank of Nigeria will hold structured engagements with stakeholders across various sectors of the economy on critical aspects of the Act in the coming months. “This enactment of the BOFI Act 2020 is a historic and significant achievement, which is indicative of effective and productive collaboration between the Executive and Legislature arms of Government,” he noted.

FG To Access $750m World Bank Loan For States Meanwhile, as part of windows of opportunity to mitigate the effect of Covid-19, the federal government is in the process of accessing a World Bank loan of $750 million on behalf of the states of the federation. The federal government said the facility is to stimulate the local economy and support vulnerable household’s consumption. Making reference to the windows of intervention in her address at the inauguration ceremony of the Federal Steering Committees of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N- CARES) in Abuja, minister of finance, budget and national planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said the federal government has created several windows of interventions as captured in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) inaugurated by president, Muhammad Buhari on March 30, 2020.

The ESP is, according to her, to among other things respond robustly and appropriately to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, identify fiscal measures to enhance oil and non-oil government revenues and reduce non-essential spending. Speaking on the need for proper implementation of the initiative, Ahmed said: “To ensure that implementation of the N-CARES is in line with the federal government priorities as outlined in the ESP, the Federal Steering Committee, made up of ministers and permanent secretaries as well as a Technical Committee, made up of directors of key ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) has to be in place.

The government has carefully selected you as members of the Federal Steering and Technical Committees because of the important role your MDAs play in the recovery of the Nigerian economy as well as the fulfillment of lifting 100 million people out of poverty.” On the expediency of the inauguration of the committee, the Honourable Minister said, “the inauguration of your committee is expedient given the nature of this emergency intervention; Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa cannot afford to remain in recession; the survival of over 200 million population is germane to all we do and we must address the concerns of the majority of our populace.”


Panic As Yellow Fever Spreads Across States [LEADERSHIP]

As the country grapples with the second wave of COVID-19, some states across the country now have renewed cases of yellow fever to contend with in addition to the pandemic.

Yellow fever, a viral infection transmitted by infected mosquitoes, has reemerged as a public health threat in the country.

Recent reports of more deaths from Yellow Fever across states of the federation have raised fears that a major outbreak of the disease is underway if efforts are not made to stem the tide.

So far, about 76 deaths have been reported in Enugu, Delta and Bauchi States.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed yesterday 76 deaths in three states as a result of the yellow fever outbreak.

The Centre, in its situation report, said it is currently responding to the outbreaks in the three states of Bauchi, Delta and Enugu.

NCDC stated: “On 1st, 2nd and 8th of November, clusters of cases and deaths were reported to NCDC by the State Epidemiologists of Delta, Enugu and Bauchi States respectively.

“74 suspected cases with 35 deaths were reported from Delta State; 70 suspected cases with 33 deaths from Enugu State and 78 suspected cases with 8 deaths from Bauchi state

“From the preliminary investigations, three samples from Delta (6th November), one sample from Enugu (6th November) and eight samples from Bauchi (8th November) were confirmed as yellow fever with PCR at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa

“Between the 1st and 11th of November 2020, a total of 222 suspected cases, 19 confirmed cases and 76 deaths have been reported from these three states.”

According to the report, most of the cases are males, with age ranging from 1-55 years and presented with fever, headache, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting with or without blood, epistaxis, blood in stools/ urine, convulsion and unconsciousness.

The report further stated that “as at epi- week 41 this year, Nigeria has reported a total of eight confirmed cases of yellow fever from 7 LGAs across 4 states with no death among confirmed cases.

To this effect, health experts have called on authorities to act quickly to ensure that accurate public health information is available and accessible to all as the infection could cause serious disease, including fever and jaundice (yellowness of the eyes) and even lead to death.

Executive director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said, “Almost 30 million Nigerians will be protected for life from these campaigns in the coming months with remarkable achievement by our health care workers and communities. We encourage all eligible persons in the state to come forward and get vaccinated.

“Yellow fever outbreaks have re-emerged as serious public health concern since September 2017. The upcoming campaigns will help stop outbreaks and save lives”.

Responding to the recent outbreak of the disease in Delta and Enugu States, the NCDC said that the State Epidemiology Teams were leading the response with support from NCDC, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The NCDC said it has activated an incident management system to coordinate response activities and Rapid Response Teams (RRT)

have been deployed to both states, adding that the Centre and State RRTs were carrying out active case search, risk communications and community engagement as well as ensuring prompt management of cases.

The Centre stated: “On the 2nd and 3rd of November, 2020, NCDC was notified by the State Ministries of Health of Delta and Enugu States respectively, of cases presenting with symptoms indicative of viral haemorrhagic fever. Most cases presented with fever, headache, fatigue, jaundice vomiting (with or without blood) among others.

“As at the 6 November, 2020 three samples from Delta and one sample from Enugu tested positive for yellow fever at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital Laboratory and NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa. More samples are being tested from both states to confirm the causative organism of this outbreak”


Fuel Price Hike: IPMAN Orders Members To Sell At N170 Per Litre [LEADERSHIP]

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has directed its members to sell petrol at N170 per litre, an increase of N10 per litre from the price of N160 per litre.

LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) had adjusted the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, from N147.67 to N155.17 effective Nov. 13.

Speaking with journalists after the emergency meeting in Abuja, the IPMAN public relations officer, Alhaji Yakubu Suleman, said members have been directed to comply with the new price regime He stated: “The National Executive Council called this emergency meeting to agree on a range for pump prices across the country in view of the new realities in the industry, but most importantly, we discussed ways that we can get the government to consider us during other adjustments”.

When asked if they agreed on a particular pump price for petrol, he said, “Of course yes. The new price as approved by the National Executive of IPMAN for petrol is between N168.00 and N170.00., all other factors being equal as we have been doing in the business.

“We have communicated our members through the normal channel of communication and our Engineers are already working on the machines to reflect the new price regime at outlets where there are products to dispense”. In the same vein, Bashir DanMallam, chairman of the IPMAN of Kano, Bauchi, Jigawa and Katsina zone announced the directive at a news conference in Kano yesterday.

He said, “I call on all our members within our branch to immediately change the price of petrol from N160 per litre to between N168 and N170 per litre. “This development came after we received a circular from the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), advising us on the upward review of the price after it reviewed the market fundamentals for the month of November 2020”.

Dan-Mallam assured the public of the association’s commitment to ensure steady fuel supply across the states and beyond. Increase Due To Market Realities – NNPC In response to the development, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday confirmed the hike in fuel price by IPMAN, saying it was due to market realities. NNPC said it was aware of a document widely circulating in the media purporting an increase in the PPMC Ex-Coastal Price and Ex-Depot Price (with collection) to N130 and N155.17 respectively.

It clarified that although there was a slight increase “in the price based on the prevailing realities of market forces of demand and supply, the correct prices, as can be seen on PPMC’s “Customer Express” platform (online portal for procurement of petroleum products) are: Ex-Coastal Price – N128, and Ex-Depot Price (with collection) – N153.17”.

A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, advised marketers to make their purchases through the online “Customer Express” platform (PPMCCustomer. Express/login/authenticate) at the recommended prices.


Fuel price hike: Nigerians slam Buhari as LCCI, MAN, NACCIMA foresee tougher times [PUNCH]

Following the increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, many Nigerians on Friday slammed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), for the development.

Those who knocked the President included a leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; a former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili; a former presidential aide, Dr Umar Ardo; and a former Director-General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof Akpan Ekpo.

They described the Buhari-led Federal Government as insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, saying the citizens were already dealing with a myriad of issues such as unemployment, poverty, inflation, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, based on the development, associations such as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria have predicted that the times ahead would be tougher.

They said the increased petrol price would worsen inflation and poverty, as well as lead to the collapse of many businesses.

With the latest hike, petrol price has increased by about four times in 2020. It had risen from N121.50–N123.50 per litre in June and N140.80-N143.80 in July and N148-N150 in August.

Following the deregulation of petrol prices in September, marketers across the country adjusted their pump prices to between N158 and N162 per litre to reflect the increase in global oil prices.

However, again on Friday, the pump price of petrol was hiked — after the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the Federal Government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, increased the ex-depot price of petrol from N147.67 per litre to N155.17 per litre.

The PPMC, in an internal memo with reference number PPMC/C/MK/003, dated November 11, 2020, and signed by Tijjani Ali, said the new ex-depot price would take effect from Friday.

The ex-depot price is the price at which the product is sold by the PPMC to marketers at the depots.

In its PMS price proposal for November, the PPMC put the landing cost of petrol at N128.89 per litre, up from N119.77 per litre in September/October.

It said the estimated minimum pump price of the product would increase to N161.36 per litre from N153.86 per litre.

The National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Mike Osatuyi, told one of our correspondents that the over N7 increase in the ex-depot price would translate into an increase in pump prices.

“We are expecting the pump price to range from N168 to N170 per litre,” he said.

Based on the new hike in petrol price, many Nigerians slammed the Buhari-led Federal Government,  as well as the NNPC, whose action of hiking the ex-depot price led to the increase in the pump price.

Speaking with one of our correspondents, Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, described the situation as “a sad story,” saying the Buhari regime had shown that nothing good should be expected from it.

The 92-year-old elder statesman said, “It will worsen the rate of inflation, poverty and seriously affect businesses; you don’t need a crystal ball to know that. We are complaining about one thing, you are doing another thing.

“When we talk about the situation in the country, people like us get irritated because the man (Buhari) is doing everything with impunity. I’m not a happy old man; I’m very sad. Former heads of state have approached him to tell him that this is not how to run a country, can you beat that?

“What else can I say, particularly if you consider our struggle before independence and what we were able to do in the First Republic before the military came to power?”

Also, Ezekwesili said what the petroleum sector was desperately in need of was not the “cosmetic price-fixing measures of this administration that it continues to wrongly call deregulation.”

She said real deregulation and liberalisation of the petroleum sector would result in the same kind of structural change that happened in the telecommunications sector, making it possible for the poorest to have access to mobile phone services when competition among private sector companies terminated the previous government monopoly and the costly inefficiency of NITEL’s provision of telephone services.

“I guarantee Nigerians that the office of the President will no longer be attractive to those whose only interest is to control revenue from oil once we do real deregulation and liberalisation of the sector.

“That’s why they are reluctant to do real deregulation of the sector. They benefit from the government control and stagnation of the petroleum sector even if it brings suffering to the people,” she told Saturday PUNCH via a statement.

On his part, Ardo said the increment in petrol price was in a bad taste. He said it was aimed at making the people poorer, adding that the exchange rate had gone up since the announcement of the new petrol price regime.

He said, “This regime promised to fix the refineries but has refused to even fix a single one since it came to office more than five years ago.

“The regime is not a thinking one. Of course, the action will further add to the problems of the citizenry. Already, the exchange rate has gone up. A dollar now goes for N472. So, how do we cope? The price of electricity has gone up. The poor are in a serious problem. Their purchasing  power has further gone down.”


Lekki shootings: Four generals, others testify before panel today [PUNCH]

After a week’s break, the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate by soldiers on the night of October 20 will resume sitting today (Saturday).

The retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel had adjourned on November 7 when its proceedings were frustrated over inability to form quorum due to the boycott of the sitting by the two youth panel members protesting against the freezing of the bank account of #EndSARS promoters by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Nigerian Army, which had been scheduled to testify before the panel then, was unable to do so.

The panel fixed today for the Nigerian Army to return to give its testimony.

The Nigerian Army has listed three Brigadier Generals and one Lieutenant Colonel, who will testify before the panel.

The top military officers, whose statements on oath have already been submitted to the panel, are  the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo;  Chief of Staff, 81 Division, Nigerian Army, VI, Lagos, Brig. Gen. Nsikak Edet; Commander, 81 Division Garrison, VI, Brig. Gen. Francis Omata; Commander, 9 Brigade, Ikeja, Brig. Gen. Musa Etsu-Ndagi; and Commanding Officer, 65 Battalion, Bonny Camp, VI, Lt. Col. Salisu Bello.

The military said it is bringing before the panel “expended blank ammunition, which was used to disperse the crowd by firing into the air on 20th day of October, 2020; unexpended 7.62mm ammunition ( a detailed explanation of the use of this ammunition will be given at the hearing); an expended live ammunition and also an unexpended live ammunition (a detailed explanation of these ammunition will be given at the hearing); 13 flash drives containing the recorded videos of the Army involvement in the incident and news report from the British Broadcasting Corporation on the incident and other stations.”

SARS brutality victims narrate ordeal in C’River, Ekiti

Meanwhile, victims of SARS brutality have narrated their ordeals in the hands of the personnel in some states.

They spoke during the sitting of judicial panels set up by the state governments.

Also, a victim of police brutality in Calabar narrated how the police broke into her home, arrested her and took her to Lagos in her night gown.

The victim, Scholastica Ojeka, who was a nursing mother at the time of the incident on September 4, 2014, narrated her ordeal  to the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Restitution in Calabar on Friday.

The civil servant told the panel headed by retired Justice Michael Edem that she and her husband had paid a rent of N340,000 for an apartment to a landlord  and moved in only for another man to show up and claim to be the landlord.

Ojeka, who testified under oath, narrated how she was arrested with her baby in her apartment in Calabar on September 4, 2014 by men of the Nigeria Police Force and taken to Alagbon in Lagos.

“We were detained in Lagos until my husband went to the Force headquarters in Abuja to lay a complaint and they were directed to let us go. In fact, one of them while apologising said I didn’t tell her that we had someone in Abuja,” she said.

She demanded the sum of N500m and an apology in a national daily as compensation.

The Chairman of the panel, Justice Michael Edem, adjourned sitting to Thursday, November 19.

Also, Mrs Ogunleye Ajayi, the wife of a late Sgt Musiliu Ajayi of the disbanded SARS, told the Ekiti State Judicial Panel on Human Rights Violations by Police Officers and other Persons that her husband’s death still remained a mystery.

The woman, a mother of four, told the panel that she had yet to know the cause of death of her husband, who left home for work hale and hearty on January 2, 2019 but was dead less than two hours after.

She said under cross- examination on Friday, “My husband, who left home on January 2nd, 2019 by 6.30am, never returned home alive. I received an emergency call from Police Hospital in Ado Ekiti by 8:30am only to get there and find out that her husband was dead.

“There were strange bruises on the dead body of my husband and the motorcycle he rode on was parked at the police station. No assistance has come to me from any person, group of persons or any organisation for  the care of my children,” he said.

The woman, however, sought government assistance on the care, needs and education of her children which she said was now very difficult for her because her husband was the breadwinner of the family.

Her counsel, Samson Osobu, told the panel that three witnesses would testify on the case.

The panel requested for the investigation report from the police on the matter and then adjourned the case for continuation on November 24, 2020.

Meanwhile, the Osun State Deputy Governor, Mr. Benedict Alabi, has suggested how future protests by Nigerians could be organised to achieve results.

Alabi, who spoke in Iwo on the sidelines of an event organised by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress for the adoption of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for another term, said a protest without a leader would be hijacked.


Strike: We’ll explore other options if ASUU remains adamant, says FG [PUNCH]

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has expressed optimism that the prolonged strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities will be resolved by next week when the Federal Government team meets the union leaders again.

He, however, said if the matter was not resolved by then, he would explore the provisions in the labour law and other channels. Government had previously appealed to the union to call off the strike.

The union had on March 24 2020 embarked on an indefinite strike over the failure of the Federal Government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of Action between them as well as the lingering disagreement over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System that ASUU rejected.

Speaking on Politics Today on Channels Television on Friday, the minister said the government had met six of the union’s nine demands and that they would meet again next week with the hope of ending the prolonged strike.

He stated, “Even if countries go to war, at the end of the day they come to the negotiation table. I’m inviting them (ASUU) next week. We are doing side meetings on our part and we are collating everything. I’m collating responses from the Accountant General of the Federation’s Office and everybody who has something to do with this matter.

When asked if it meant that the lecturers may not return to the classrooms in the next one or two weeks, he said, “I’m not looking at that (long) period. I’m an optimist on this matter. By next week, we will conclude this matter. There are so many options left. We have the labour laws and I have options left to me in the labour laws. I have other channels.”

The minister, who said his children had also been at home as a result of the strike, explained that government had agreed to give the University Transparency Academic Solution, the payment platform proposed by ASUU, a trial. He however said the feedback he got from the National Information Technology Development Agency, the agency mandated to follow-up the trial with ASUU, showed they had just concluded the first phase and that the second phase to assess the functional requirement of UTAS had not been done.

He added, “UTAS has yet to be ready but government will not discourage them. And we have told them there is no need using the same old method of strike to make demands since such had been deployed since 2017.”

On the revitalisation fund, he said government had agreed to release N30bn out of the N40bn demanded by the union as the payment for November 2019 and September 2020, adding that the remaining N10bn would be staggered.

“A committee that looked into the Needs Assessment of universities held a workshop on how funds could be generated came up with the recommendation that other things could be done to raise funds, because revitalisation cannot be done through the budget, especially when the country is running a deficit budget,” Ngige added.


AFCON qualifier: Angry fans slam Rohr, Eagles after poor performance [PUNCH]

Super Eagles fans have slammed the national team coach Gernot Rohr and his team following their lethargic performance against Sierra Leone in Friday’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Samuel Stadium, in Benin City, Edo State, Saturday PUNCH reports.

Nigeria let a dominant four goal lead slip in a 4-4 draw with Sierra Leone in Benin City.

A double from Alex Iwobi and strikes from Napoli’s Victor Osimhen doubled the Eagles’ lead. Iwobi made it three just before the half-hour mark before Samuel Chukwueze scored the fourth goal.

The game, which ended 4-4, meant the Eagles have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five games, with their last coming in the AFCON third place match against Tunisia.

Fans have been left furious by the team’s inability to win in their last three games. They also believe the team have reached an all-time low under Rohr and should be ashamed of their performance for the Eagles.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that fans outside the Benin stadium chanted ‘Super He-goat’ while others pelted the team bus with sachet water as the team bus departed the stadium.

“When we say Gernot Rohr is the wrong man for the job people, will think we just love to yab. There is no excuse for this show of shame,” Faulkner Joseph tweeted after the game.

“Maduka has shown to us that he’s not ripe to be Super Eagles number one goalkeeper. A sound coach will not leave Daniel Akpeyi out of team and bring a player who is yet to find his feet to replace him. See why Rohr isn’t the best Nigeria. Sunday Dareplease use your office to sack Rohr now,” Olawale Quadri wrote.

Popular musician PRAIZ tweeted, “Problem follow Eagles enter pitch. How do you go from 4-0 to 4-4,”he queried.

A Twitter user with the name Idris Elbar said, “The Super Eagles were acting like Goliath, but Sierra Leone came back twice as tall. I think Messi is the motivation for the Nigerian team because their bottling game is.”

Wale Adetona said, “My five-year-old nephew knows better to park the bus worst-case scenario in such a situation when it was 4-3. But because Rohr cannot roar.”

“When you train against strikers like Dare, Pinnick and Shaibu these are the kind of defending you get.#RohrOut,” @migiduk wrote.

An angry Mubarak Uthman tweeted, “It’s annoying. I streamed this match live inside a village in Gwoza.

“Data wasted. Honestly, that right back guy is no way better than Aina.

Micheal Ekele wrote, “Our coach lack game management we saw it clearly at the last world cup his substitutions is worse.”

Despite the draw the Eagles still lead Group L with seven points from three games while the Leone Stars who they face on Tuesday for the reverse fixture in Freetown – have two points from three games.


Southwest PDP crisis deepens as Fayose faction sets up parallel committee [THE NATION]

The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest escalated on Friday, following the setting up of a parallel zonal reconciliation committee by the Fayose faction.

The party now has two reconciliation panels that are not on the same page. Two days ago, a zonal faction, led by Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, set up the reconciliation committee headed by former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Rising from a factional zonal meeting in Lagos, the aggrieved chieftains also charged the new committee to pursue reconciliation with vigour and sincerity.

The six-member reconciliation panel, headed by Femi Babalola, an engineer, was mandated to unite party chieftains in the zone within a reasonable time.

Other members of the committee are Chief Kolapo Ogunjobi, Ahmed Okandeji Mustapha, a lawyer, Chief Idowu Odeyemi and Chief Tunde Akindehin.

Also, a separate committee, headed by Chief Bola Olu-Ojo, was set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the woeful performance of the PDP in Ondo State during the recent governorship election. It has one month to carry out its assignment.

Other members of the second panel are Mike Ogunlade, Dr. Lere Oyewunmi, Otunba Femi Carena and Mrs. Mujidat Balogun.

According to the communique issued at the end of the factional meeting, “this panel must examine all issues relating to election planning, management and prosecution; identify all lapses and make useful recommendations to prevent such shoddy performances in the future.:

It added:” The Panel’s report will be submitted to the National Working Committee (NWC) for further actions.

Signatories to the committee are Bisi Kolawole (Chairman, Ekiti State), Sikirulai Ogundele (Chairman, Ogun State), Deji Doberty(Chairman, Lagos State) and Elder Sunday Akanfe(Deputy State Chairman, Osun State), and zonal caretaker committee members-Dayo Akintan, Mustapha Sikiru Banana, Martins Abiloye, Prince Nekan Olagbegi, Mrs. Funmi Ogun, and Wahab Owokoniran, Mrs. Fadeyi Ayo Awolowo.

“The communique reads: “We take due notice of the efforts of the National Working Committee geared towards sustaining our great party and extending its frontiers across the nation and commend it for its dedication and commitment to the Party.

“We particularly congratulate them for the victory of the Party in the last gubernatorial election in Edo State.

“We also commend and congratulate Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who was the Chairman of Edo State Campaign Committee and his team for their competence, commitment, dexterity and successful management of the Edo State election.

“We also pointedly underscore the fact that the approach and attitude to the prosecution of their assignments was the required catalyst for the Party’s success.

“We also congratulate the people of that State for voting the PDP.

“That we note very sadly the abysmally woeful performance of the Party in the last gubernatorial election in Ondo State. We declare that it is disappointing that we lost that election so colossally in a State where we won the presidential election, two Senators and three House of Representative seats in 2019.

“This loss runs contrary to the trend of recent success attained in such elections in (a) Oyo which we successfully won in 2019 (b) Osun which we won outstandingly but was irresponsibly hijacked by the APC-controlled Federal Government through criminal abuse of privileges and (c) Ekiti that was hijacked.

“Therefore, it is resolved that a Five man Panel is hereby set up to study, assess and identify factors responsible for this unprecedented woeful performance in Ondo State and submit its report within a month.

“We also note that a group of people are beginning to introduce intra-party violence within the zone. This ugly development which poses the capability to destroy amity, unity and comradeship within the party must be checked at once.

“In view of this, the National Working Committee is hereby encouraged to take stringent actions against identified sponsors of such actions.


FG to borrow $750m from World Bank for states [THE NATION]

The federal government is planning to borrow $750 million on behalf of states to stimulate local economies in Nigeria.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, made this disclosure in Abuja on Friday at the inauguration ceremony of the Federal Steering Committees of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N-CARES).

According to the Finance Minister, the Nigerian Government “is in the process of accessing a World Bank loan of $750 million on behalf of the states to stimulate the local economy and support vulnerable household consumption”.

In going to borrow the money, the federal government is considering the causes and consequences of civil unrest and COVID-19 in the country.

Zainab Ahmed stated that: “the consequences will be too high if we ignore the root cause of rising civil unrest in our country. We must, therefore, fashion out ways of ensuring that post Covid-19 is not injurious to the Nigerian people and the economy.”

The Finance Minister noted that “the federal government has created several windows of interventions as captured in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to, among other things, respond robustly and appropriately to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, identify fiscal measures to enhance oil and non-oil government revenues and reduce non-essential spending”.

Speaking on the need for proper implementation, Ahmed stated that “to ensure that the implementation of the N-CARES is in line with the federal government priorities as outlined in the ESP, the Federal Steering Committee, made up of ministers and permanent secretaries as well as a Technical Committee, made up of directors of key ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) has to be in place”.

According to her, the government has carefully selected the “members of the Federal Steering and Technical Committees because of the important role your MDAs play in the recovery of the Nigerian economy as well as the fulfilment of lifting 100 million people out of poverty.”

On the expediency of the inauguration of the committee, the Finance Minister said, “the inauguration of the committees “is expedient given the nature of this emergency intervention; Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa cannot afford to remain in recession; the survival of over 200 million population is germane to all we do and we must address the concerns of the majority of our populace”.


Row over NDDC’s purchase of vehicles for forensic auditors [THE NATION]

The decision of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to hand over operational vehicles to firms conducting the commission’s forensic audit has drawn the ire of a group of activists from the region.

The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, on Thursday handed over additional tools, including 10 Hilux vehicles and five buses, to the auditors at the new permanent headquarters of the Commission in Port Harcourt.

Pondei stressed that the forensic audit was not a witch-hunt to any individual or group, insisting that when concluded, it would reposition the commission.

Pondei said: “The forensic audit was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the activities of NDDC from inception 20 years ago to August 2019. It is on that note that the lead forensic consultant was appointed and 16 field forensic auditors procured to handle the process.

“We are here to hand over more tools to the auditors to assist them in the ongoing forensic audit of the commission.

“We hope that at the end of the day, the forensic audit will unravel a lot of things that have gone wrong in the Commission.

“It is not a witch-hunting process but just for us to truly know the state of things and recommend a way forward and make sure that the Commission delivers on its core mandate.”

But the activists under the auspices of Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA) queried the purchase of operational vehicles for auditors who had been hired and paid by the commission.

Spokesperson for NDDC, Darlington Nwauju, noted that in February 2020, the Federal Executive Coumcil (FEC) approved N318 million for the lead consultant (Messrs Olumuyiwa Basiru).

He said in August 2020, another N722 million was approved by the FG for eight field auditors to support the lead consultant besides the N641 million paid to Clearpoint Communications to help the NDDC identify its own projects.

He said: “Our attention has been drawn to the handover of 16 operational vehicles to the lead forensic auditor appointed by the NDDC and 15 other sub-auditors.

“We deem this as disturbing, given the fact that the forensic audit remains a defining moment in the history of the Niger Delta, and is capable of causing a positive turnaround in the operational capability and delivery capacity of the interventionist agency.

“The NDRA is sad to note that more than 12 months after Mr. President ordered the forensic audit of the NDDC, the whole process has become increasingly opaque, suspicious and doubtful.

“We are appalled that the NDDC would embark on purchasing operational vehicles for auditors who should be working independent of the apron strings of the management.


Cracks in PDP over Umahi’s plans to defect to APC [THE NATION]

There are cracks in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over plans by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Although the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, and some other concerned members of the party are worried about the likely effects of Umahi’s defection on their party, some other prominent leaders of PDP are unperturbed.

Some of them were even said to be mounting pressure on Secondus to allow the governor to leave the PDP.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party may however be held next week on the decision of the governor and other issues.

A member of the State House of Assembly, Chris Usulor, declared that he would not follow the governor to the APC.

Some PDP leaders are disturbed that Umahi has been holding secret sessions with the APC leadership, including the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling party.

They are also said to be angry that the PDP machinery was allegedly used in Ebonyi State to “work for APC during the 2019 presidential election.”

But a few leaders asked the party leadership to engage the governor and give him the benefit of the doubt.

It was gathered that the advice informed the recent visit of the PDP NWC members from the South-East to Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.

As a follow-up, the National Chairman of PDP and NWC members also had audience with Umahi in Abuja to “persuade him to have a rethink” of his proposed defection.

It was learnt that members of the NWC were shocked that Umahi was demanding automatic zoning of PDP 2023 presidential ticket to the South-East.

Secondus and others refused to make any commitment to the governor.

They told the Umahi that the party would resolve the zoning for the next polls after the submission of the report of the Governor Bala Mohammed Committee on the review of 2019 polls.

They said the committee was still working at the time the NWC had audience with Umahi in Abuja.

Some of the NWC members and leaders of PDP felt embarrassed that Umahi was hiding behind ethnic guise to feather his political nest.

A top source said: “Some of our leaders including a former President of the Senate, former Senators and ex-governors have had a meeting with Secondus to ask Umahi to go ahead with his move to APC.

“The affected leaders claimed that Umahi’s exit from PDP would enable the party to reorganise itself in Ebonyi State.

“They alleged that Umahi had been romancing with APC as the case with 2019 poll when President Muhammadu Buhari secured 25 per cent in Ebonyi State instead of the projected 2 per cent.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “These PDP leaders have done their homework, and from the situation analysis, the governor is of a minority group in Ebonyi because he is of Abia descent.

“Those who control the politics of the state are of Enugu descent. He is no threat to PDP.

“He is also from the same area with one of the founding fathers of APC, ex-Governor Ogbonnaya Onu, who is well-respected.

“Umahi will meet his match in Onu, who is the present Minister of Science and Technology.

“As part of the 2019 poll deal with APC, we knew one of Umahi’s brothers was proposed as a minister from Ebonyi State, but President Muhammadu Buhari retained Onu.

“So, let him go to APC to face fresh political hurdles.


How southern leaders bungled true federalism, state police -Tunde Bakare [SUN]

The senior pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church, Tunde Bakare, has opened up on his growing up, his conversion from Islam to Christianity and his foray into activism and politics. He spoke with few journalists at his Lagos office as he celebrated his 66th birthday and talked about what led to his conversion and how he emerged as President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 presidential elections. He also spoke on other national issues.

What was your growing up like?

I was born inside my father’s house in Abeokuta on November 11, 1954 at 11 am. My parents were Muslims, my father was a chieftain in Islamic religion and so was my mother. My grandfather was the first Chief Imam of Igbore/Sodeke Mosque. I grew up in what I would describe as declining wealth. My father was a wealthy man but because he was an old man when I was born. I was the 22nd and the last child. The house I was born into was built in 1922, a storey building, it is still standing there. I would say I was born into a declining wealth and raised in abject poverty.

My father died before my third birthday and I didn’t feel it at the beginning because of the intervention of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who gave free education. When my father died in 1957 I was taken  to Sokoto with my mother to go stay with my uncle and when school was about to start I was returned to Abeokuta again. As a little child I spoke Hausa language but then forgot it because there is no one to speak the language with on my return to Lagos.  But my mother still spoke Hausa till she died and President Muhammadu Buhari was shocked when he met with my mother in our hometown in her house and she spoke clear ascent Sokoto Hausa to him.

My father had a farm in the north and south. He was a kola nut merchant in the south and a cotton merchant in the north. He will, shift kola nut from the south to the north and brought cotton down to the south and export abroad. That was how he made his money. My uncle was Seriki Yoruba in the Sokoto Caliphate. We had history but I saw poverty.


It’s not easy keeping my virginity –Olive Utalor [SUN]

Fast rising actress, Olive Utalor, has what it takes to keep a man in marriage.

The role interpreter, who celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago, hinted Inside Nollywood that her virginity would be presented as a special gift to her husband on their wedding night.

“My husband will be so proud of me for keeping my virginity till marriage. You can see I have all it takes to keep a man. It’s not easy keeping my virginity till this time, I’m so proud of myself. And I am not scared of marriage as an actress. I was raised to face challenges squarely.

When I make any commitment, I put all my best in it, because to me, failing is not an option. Besides, marriage is a union of two people coming together to pledge their love for each other, and promise to stand together through thick and thin. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I know

my marriage will flourish,” she ascertained










Nigerian Communication Commission