One of the pillars of the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda is the generation and supply of 6,000 megawatts electricity to Nigerians for both domestic and industrial uses by the end of December, 2009. The Federal Government’s goal in this respect is to increase the power generation capacity from the present level of about 2,500megawatts, to at least, 6,000megawatts to be able to bridge the yawning gap in the power generation and consumption equation. To achieve this objective, the government declared state of emergency in the power sector, and made significant budget allocation to some strategic power generation infrastructure projects across the country.
One of such projects is the Mambilla hydropower project. In addition to this are a host of power generation projects under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states, among others. The NIPPs are expected to add steam to some of the state government-driven power generation projects and other private sector initiatives, in a concerted effort to meet the Federal Government’s target of 6,000megawatts by the end of this year.
Rivers State is one prominent state in the federation that has taken a giant leap to ensure self-sufficiency in power generation, transmission and distribution to consumers. Kwara State is another, which only recently commissioned its power generation facility near Ilorin, the state capital. But let’s look at Rivers State as an example.
With three power stations at Eleme, Tans Amadi and Omoku, the government has intensified efforts to check intermittent power cuts from the supply lines of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to electricity consumers in the state. The government’s strategy is to increase its independent power generation capacity by about 350megawatts, which is conservatively the capacity, needed to meet the electricity requirements of all residents of the state, including industrial consumers. The huge investment in this sector clearly points to the seriousness the administration attaches to stable power supply as an elixir to speedy socio-economic growth and development of the state. When this is achieved, the state can then begin to reap the fruit of sustainable development.
Of course, the stability of the power situation means the vibrancy of the entire system, progress and prosperity of the people. Thus, the result of a stable power supply environment would translate to employment generation and capacity development for all employable, full industrial capacity utilisation, improved productivity, quality and cheaper goods and services. Other benefits include reduction in crime rate and violence, trimmed poverty level, enhanced human capacity development and education, higher purchasing power, fluid society, and an environment enmeshed in peace, mutual happiness and concord. This is what the Rivers State Government wants to accomplish by its massive investment in the power sector.
This is also what the Federal Government wants to achieve across the country with the litany of national power projects dotted all over the states. In an effort to strengthen the Federal Government’s drive for 6,000megawatts electricity by the end of this year, the private sector, especially those operating in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, have also committed huge resources into projects to scale up the national power generation capacity. The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria is one of such companies with a number of power and gas generation infrastructures in the Niger Delta. One of its strategic infrastructures is the Afam VI Combined Cycle Power Project (AVICCPP) located in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Afam VI Power Project has two components: An integrated power facility and a gas plant. The power facility has a nameplate capacity of 650megawatts, which is an increase of 20 per cent of current national power generation capacity. On the other hand, the Okoloma gas plant has a nameplate capacity of some 240 million cubic feet of gas per day, which will feed the Afam VI facility as well as the Nigerian Gas Company network of pipelines to domestic and industrial users in the country. The gas facility will also boost the current national capacity by 20 per cent.
While the power facility is currently supplying 450megawatts electricity to the national grid, managed by Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the gas plant is now feeding the nameplate capacity to NGC pipeline, which is now boosting national gas supply level to both domestic and industrial users. Now, the steam turbines are being synchronised to manage the waste heat from the plant to generate a further 200megawatts of very-low emission electricity, to be fed into the national grid before the end of the year. These facilities are now waiting for President Yar’Adua’s official commissioning to add fillip to the realisation of a key aspect of the 7-Point Agenda. These are significant feats that deserve commendation.
Perhaps, it is because of the impact of the facilities on the national quest for self-sufficiency in power generation and supply, as epitomised in President Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda, and the need to recognise Shell’s commitment to the Federal Government’s aspirations, that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia, visited the Afam VI facility two weeks ago. The minister’s visit to this important facility is significant in many ways. It crystallises the value the Federal Government attaches to the quest to raise the national power capacity, and stabilise electricity supply to millions of Nigerians.
Ajumogobia’s visit and nod to the project obviously signifies that the next step will soon be taken by the Federal Government to officially commission the facility. His report to the Minister of Petroleum, Dr Rilwanu Lukman, and indeed, to President Yar’Adua will, therefore, set the stage for the next government step toward the celebration of yet another milestone in the quest to address the ugly power situation in the country.
The minister’s assessment of the facility and his expression of excitement at the extent of work done by the company to contribute to enhancing the energy supply equation in Nigeria are clear vindication of the commitment of Shell to key into all meaningful and development-driven government initiatives. His expression of satisfaction with the project shows that the government’s drive to achieve 6,000megawatts by the end of this year has received a boost.
He is not the only one that has expressed such feelings. Members of the Senate Committee on Gas, led by their Chairman, Sen Osita Izunaso also visited the facility last year, and thumbed up Shell for embarking on the magnificent project. They, indeed, rated the project as one of the best in the world not just because of the quantum of power and gas it was designed to generate to bridge the national gap, but because of the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technologies deployed in its construction. These technologies would ensure operational efficiency, quality power and gas generation, low emissions of greenhouse gases and near zero adverse impact on the environment, which also addresses the climate change concern similar facilities elsewhere have exacerbated. Thus, the government would be solving too many problems with just one power project in Afam.
In fact, the Afam integrated power and gas project, awarded in 2005, took less than three years to achieve first electricity supply to the national grid in 2008. The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria began starting up the Afam VI power facility and the Okoloma gas plant in Rivers State, barely one year ago. Now, the facility is supplying electricity to millions of Nigerians in the Niger Delta and elsewhere as well as supporting the nation’s economic growth by enhancing the energy supply chain to lubricate the already rustic system.
The Afam VI power project is the largest of its kind in the country, and would generate the much needed electricity to facilitate access to power supply for many Nigerians who have had shortages in the supply chain for decades. Apart from offering consumers more reliable electricity supply, the facility would also provide a cleaner low-emission alternative to the diesel and petrol generators now widely used when blackouts occur.
The Okoloma gas plant is another facility put together with modern technologies to remove liquids present in gas when it comes out of the ground, a process necessary before it can be used in the gas network or to generate electricity. This advanced technology design, experts say, is less costly and more reliable to operate than the older technologies which add chemicals to segregate or unitise the gas from the ground. The integrated plants have solved more problems for Nigerians: Reduction in gas flaring in the area, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases, increased access to electricity and gas to many domestic and industrial users.
It is important to note that the achievement of 6,000megawatts electricity supply to Nigerians by the end of this year, under the 7-Point Agenda, would mean a lot of things to the country. It would mean more employment opportunities for the teeming youths, and improved productivity at the industrial and manufacturing levels. This would unleash economic vibrancy, reduce crime rate, poverty level, stabilise the homestead and encourage more Nigerians to be happy with the system, enhance social interactions, and strengthen peace and sustainable development in the nation. All these would tilt the pendulum to a stable democracy, and a society of happy, law-abiding people.
That is the goal of the Yar’Adua administration, which the 7-Point Agenda strives to address, particularly the power aspect of the programme. And the Afam VI power project fits into this as an instrument for addressing the challenges facing the government. That is why Ajumogobia is excited with the project as it directly impacts the objectives of the Yar’Adua government. This also reflects the mood of Shell management, which was palpable in Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, SPDC managing director’s expression during the minister’s visit.
Sunmonu had said, “this is an extremely important project for Nigeria. The Afam VI and Okoloma plants are making a real impact on the quality of life of millions of people. We are proud to support the government in its efforts to provide more energy for Nigerians”. This is no doubt true. And it is a good commentary in a country where most government policies and decisions have tended to annoy the people rather than excite them. At least, this one excites the minds of many, because the road to 6,000megawatts electricity supply to Nigerians looks shorter now than before.
Towards Improved Children Protection Services
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), abuse or violence in all its forms is a daily reality for many Nigerian children and only a fraction ever receive help.
The National Child Welfare Policy of 1989 defines a child in Nigeria as anybody who is 12 years or below; however, a draft decree put into law now sets the age of the child in Nigeria as 18 years or below.
Violence Against Children (VAC) is defined as constituting all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence, exploitation or for commercial purposes of which result poses harm to a child’s health, survival or development.
It takes different forms, including physical, psychological and sexual; often times, it also takes the shape of disciplinary measures. In recent times, children are even used as human bombs and in any combat or non-combat roles in the conflict in north-east Nigeria.
Studies also show that six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence, one in four girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence. Often times, the children who reported violence receive little or no form of support. In all of these, the physical, mental, social and even economic burden of VAC is enormous.
Identifying the huge consequences of VAC, world leaders in 2015 made a commitment to end all forms of violence against children by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the same campaign tagged “End Violence Against Children by 2030,’’ on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016.
Following the launch and with increasing incidence of different forms of VAC, including rape, trafficking, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), there have also been various clamours to end VAC in the country, of which requires a holistic approach.
A study by UNICEF, the first of its kind in Nigeria, shows that about half of Nigerian children reported some form of physical violence by a parent, adult relative, community member or intimate partner prior to attaining the age of 18.
The studies, “A Financial Benchmark for Child Protection, Nigeria Study, Volume 1’’ and “The Economic Burden of Violence Against Children’’ were based on data gathered from 2014 to 2016 and the survey done in 2018.
The study on the Economic burden of VAC, reveals the cumulative loss of earnings as a result of productivity losses across diûerent types of violence against children to be N967 billion ($6.1 billion), accounting for 1.07 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This amplifies the urgency to act on reducing or outright stopping of VAC. However, achieving this will involve increasing efforts on Child Protection Services; efforts that will include awareness on prevention strategies, the implications of VAC and the consequent penalties as even cheaper options.
Ms Juliane Koenlg of UNICEF, Abuja, said that the most important thing is still to increase the awareness on the prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria which is high.
“It is a huge problem, especially on its impact on health and economy in Nigeria; the child needs protection. “If we look at child protection services, we are looking at preventive.’’
“It also has consequences on the educational attainment which we have seen in economic growth productivity loss due this consequence.
“Nearly N1 billion is lost due to creativity loss, while N1.4 trillion is lost to VAC.’’
A child rights advocate, Ms Ifeoma Ibe, says governments must be committed to reducing VAC in Nigeria.
According to her, at the economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) First Ladies Forum in October 2017, the 15 member states, of which Nigeria is among, agreed to adopt a range of measures to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation.
“We must strengthen our national child protection systems to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and exploitation against children.”
Lending her voice, Rachel Harvey, Regional Adviser of Child Protection, UNICEF, had at the launch of the campaign to end VAC by 2030 in 2016, said that the Federal Government must adopt proactive measures against violence through quality services.
According to her, child protection services must be staffed by trained professionals to help children recover from their experiences.
“Also, perpetrators should be held accountable for their actions by strengthening the capacity of the justice sector. Children and the general public must know that violence against children is unacceptable and know where to seek help when they become victims,’’ she said.
Shedding more light on the problem, Harvey said: “The Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey found that adults who have suffered violence as children, are much more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence.
“Failure to end VAC also impacts the country as a whole; it leads to substantial economic losses and constrains development. Ending VAC has been linked to sustainable growth not only by the international community, but through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to her, it involves religious leaders, NGOs and the media as they have fundamental role in breaking the culture of silence on violence that children suffered.
Aside from the efforts of governments and what the laws stipulate, many stakeholders believe that VAC can be stemmed right from the homes.
This is especially as the National Child Welfare Policy of 1989 specifies that “parents and the society at large, are under an obligation to provide their children with proper education and to protect them from exploitation arising from early marriage, employment and their negative influence that infringe on their rights’’.
A child protection specialist with UNICEF, Mrs Sharon Oladiji, agrees that Nigeria has many laws protecting children in the country, but the laws are not adequately implemented.
She calls for the creation of family courts vested with jurisdiction to hear cases that would help protect the child and prevent trafficking.
“We have good laws, but what we have suffered is implementation; government should also provide the establishment of voluntary homes to take care of children that are suffering,’’ she said.
She tasked parents on their responsibilities of proper upbringing of children in order to reduce the rate of child rights violation in Nigeria.
“If a child is well brought up, issues of molestation and abuse will not occur. “When you raise a child well he goes out to become a good person, when a child has problems in the home he goes out and demonstrates it,’’ she says.
Also, Mrs Eliana Martins, of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Lagos State branch, believes that parents have critical roles in reducing VAC through the proper upbringing of their children and wards.
“Instilling good morals in the upbringing of children will help to mould a child’s personality for a more responsible adulthood. If you teach your children good values, definitely they will imbibe these values as they grow up and the women, especially have to rise up to this task.
Mr Denis Onoise, a child protection specialist, UNICEF, reiterated the need for “Call to Action’’ by governments and stakeholders to add child protection budget line to national chart of accounts.
He said that based on studies, currently, only 14 per cent of child protection expenditure in Nigeria was devoted to critical prevention services.
According to him, there is also need to formalise an End VAC National Act Plan and establish VAC helpline.
“These will improve the delivery of child protection services across the country,’’ Onoise said.
Ihechu is of the News Agency of Nigeria.
Insecurity, Traditional Rulers And Community Policing
The hue and cry about insecurity in Nigeria reached an alarming crescendo when the daughter of Afenifere’s leader, Reuben Fasoranti, Olufunke Olakunrin was killed by suspected herdsmen at Ore junction, Ondo State on July 12.
The ensuing reactions were charged, emotional and combustible.
President Muhammadu Buhari swiftly offered a soothing response; he directly commiserated with Fasoranti and reassured Nigerians of Federal Government’s commitment to the protection of lives and property.
In the aftermath of Olakunrin’s death, alongside other incidents of killings, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, ordered killer herdsmen to leave South-West now or face serious confrontation. The organisation said that a lot of people had been killed due to the activities of killer herdsmen between 2015 and 2019.
An Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the quit order was because of the killing of Olakunrin.
Determined to assuage feelings and find lasting solutions to the reoccurring security challenges, Buhari directed the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to confer with traditional rulers and get their input vis- a-vis adopting community policing.
Consequently, on July 20, Osinbajo held separate consultations with the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, and the Awujale of Ijebu Kingdom, Oba Sikiru Adetona, all Ogun monarchs.
Osinbajo was accompanied to Ajayi’s palace by Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun.
“As you know, there are many significant security concerns all over the country, and there are concerns also in the South-West. So, I am here on the instruction of the president to consult with the traditional ruler, the governor and others on what to do to beef up security and to generally improve the security architecture.
“Of course, you know that Kabiyesi is not just a traditional ruler, but a very important part of the government. That is why we are here; to talk to him and agree on few modalities for beefing up security; and ensuring that we are fully conscious of all that is going on, just to be sure that peace and security reigns here and across the country.’’
Osinbajo expressed optimism that by God’s grace, Nigeria would overcome all its problems and set itself on the path of peace and prosperity. The vice president, who also visited the palace of the Awujale of Sagamu, said the monarch was one of the most important voices in the South-West.
He said they had discussed on the important steps to take in order to improve the security architecture generally. According to him, the monarch has given a lot of insight; his own views, on what needs to be done, how to go about it, and what has been done already.
“But very importantly, he showed his commitment to ensure that there is peace and security, and that everybody lives in peace with one another and maintains the highest level of security.
“We are consulting with many of the traditional rulers across the country, but there are concerns in the South-West now. The president has spoken about the role of traditional rulers in maintaining peace and security in their own localities. As we know, they are the closest to the grassroots; the closest to their communities.
“One of the critical things we expect from our community policing efforts is some integration between the traditional rulers, the community and the police; and efforts they are making to improve intelligence; and we need to understand what is going on.
“We need to know who is where, and what exactly is happening all around, so they can be transmitted to the more formal security agencies, such as the police and the army, depending on where and what the situation is,” he said.
In the same vein, Osinbajo, on July 23, met with Osun monarchs at Osun Government House, Osogbo. The vice president, after the meeting, said that community policing was one of the methods that may be adopted to improve security.
In his contribution, Osun Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Benedict Alabi, applauded the Federal Government’s efforts in nipping the security challenges in the state in the bud.
“On behalf of the government and people of the state, we appreciate President Buhari’s administration for being pro-active and for showing interest in the security of our people in the state and in the South-West,’’ he said.
Buhari also held a consultative meeting with South-West Obas on July 31 at the Presidential Villa. Buhari said that the vice president had already begun consultations with some Obas and he had been receiving feedbacks and observations.
He said that the consultations were important because traditional rulers formed a critical part of governance structures, especially in their respective communities, where they felt the pulse of the people being the closest to the populace.
The president said that the dynamics for safeguarding security kept changing and stressed the need to adopt modern, technological and people-centred methods in achieving the goals. Buhari said that as the traditional authorities in their communities, government and the security agencies would be relying on them to monitor the communities. The president also announced other measures government intended to adopt to tackle security challenges.
“Some of these interventions include an expedited commencement of community policing, a robust revamping of police intelligence gathering capacity and the significant boosting of the number of security personnel in our local communities.
“This, in specific terms, will include recruiting a lot more police officers and doing so right from their local government areas, where they would then be stationed in the best practice of community policing.
“Working with the state governments also, we intend to beef up the equipping of the police force with advanced technology and equipment that can facilitate the work of the security agencies.
“I will be issuing directives to the appropriate federal authorities to speedily approve licensing for states requesting the use of drones to monitor forests and other criminal hideouts.
“We also intend to install CCTVs on highways and other strategic locations, so that activities in some of these hidden places can be exposed, more effectively monitored and open to actionable review.
“ We will equally continue to bring in our military when needed to complement the work of the police, including possible deployment of troops on certain highways on a temporary basis, and the use of the Air Force assets to bomb hideouts where criminals are located,’’ he said.
On his part, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who spoke on behalf of the Obas, said that the president had agreed to fast-track the monitoring of the forests in the region with the use of technology such as drones. He said that policemen and officers would be recruited among people born and living in the various communities in the region.
“We can use that strategy to avert tension going on now in the South-West,” he said.
Deserving no less attention was the recent kidnap of a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and four others, along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and the killing of a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Paul Offu along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State. The incidences, among others, buttress the call for drastic and effective measures to be adopted to tackle insecurity across the country.
Undoubtedly, bringing traditional rulers into the security architecture will enhance intelligence gathering and effective community policing that will reasonably address the nation’s security concerns.
Okoronkwo, writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Boosting Nigeria’s Cassava Competitiveness
The Presidential Initiative on Cassava, launched in 2003 during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was designed to promote cassava as a viable foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.
Then President Goodluck Jonathan sustained the programme by launching the cassava flour initiative. The progamme was meant to bring to the fore, the potential of cassava cultivation and to encourage Nigerians to consume cassava bread made from cassava flour.
The initiative was commended as it would help reduce the cost of bread, because of the high cost of wheat, as Nigerians currently cherished and consumed bread made of wheat. Stakeholders are worried that cassava bread is yet to become popular, while the desired production level of cassava is yet to be achieved.
They blamed the development on poor attitude of farmers to cassava cultivation and lack of technology and the needed infrastructure to churn out cassava flour and called for viable policy to strengthen cassava cultivation and processing to encourage farmers to cultivate cassava.
Cassava Compact Leader, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Mr Adebayo Abbas, who spoke on the need to strengthen cassava policy, stated that cassava remains one of the most consumed food crops in Africa. According to him, the potential market for cassava products is large and growing.
Abbas stated that Nigeria is the highest cassava producer in the world, producing a third more than Brazil and almost double the production capacity of Thailand and Indonesia.
He stated that cassava had been recognised to become agro-industrialised across the African continent to achieve key poverty reduction and economic growth target.
According to him, Africa imports annually about 50 million tons of food, such as rice, wheat, maize and sugar, worth over 35 billion dollars and such food imports have been projected to increase to nearly 100 billion dollars by 2025. He said such increase in food imports is a risk to the balance of trade for most African countries and it also represents a unique opportunity for crops such as cassava.
“Cassava grows well in the continent because it can replace up to 80 per cent of our food imports, especially in processed forms such as flour, native and modified starches, sweeteners and beverages,” he said.
Abbas stated that for cassava to become an important carbohydrates source in Africa, the triangle of productivity, processing and rural infrastructure must be met. According to him, farmers must have access to technologies to raise cassava productivity from the current 10 to 15 million tons per hectare in many African countries to 20 to 25 million tons.
Abbas said that incentives for investment in processing would be achieved through the development of robust supply chains and government’s policies that reduce transaction costs for processed cassava. He noted that rural infrastructure is as important in cassava farming as technology or investment in cassava processing.
The National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Mr Segun Adewumi, called on the Federal Government to review cassava policy in order for the commodity’s value chain to penetrate the international market. To him, the cassava industry has gone beyond growing for consumption and if properly harnessed would generate huge foreign exchange.
He stated that the government and other stakeholders must cooperate to ensure that Nigeria’s cassava penetrate the international market. Adewumi said that many players are interested in cassava farming but the environment has not been conducive, especially the issue of price.
The Chief Executive Officer, Psaltery International Company, Mrs Yemisi Iranloye, also called on the government to promote the cassava business, through the review of government’s cassava policy to meet international standards. Iranloye stated that the present cassava policy for starch and cassava flour have been there since 2005.
She said that the policy had not been reviewed, noting that the last policy was made when there were not many players buying cassava products in Nigeria and there was no standard in the cassava business. According to her, the policy had been in place when there were no big processors, stressing that there was need to review the cassava policy.
She added that just as the review of cocoa, palm oil and other farm commodities’ policies, cassava is now used to produce food grade starch sold to breweries, packaging and confectionary industries. Iranloye said that the starch industry had a lot of challenges, adding that it must be encouraged in order to compete in the international market.
“Most times, when there is price drop in the international market, the multinationals often expect the price to also drop in Nigeria.’’
She, however, noted that the case is not always the same when the price goes up in the international market, but negotiation is however ongoing to get to the desired destination.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Muhammed Umar, said that the Federal Government raised the production of cassava from 36.8 million MT in 2013 to 54 million MT, and also developed efficient value-added chains for high quality cassava flour.
He said that the ministry was working with a Malaysian firm to establish one cassava starch processing plant of one ton per hour capacity in each of the six geo-political zones. This, according to him, will complement the 2-3 tonnes per day plant earlier established.
“Also, in the current fiscal year, provision has been made to equip Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), with tissue culture laboratory with modern equipment to enhance rapid provision of quality and disease resistant cassava planting materials,” he said.
As requested by players in the cassava business, the Federal Government should strengthen its cassava policies to enable the country generate reasonable foreign exchange from export of cassava products.
Ogunshola and Olaifa write for News Agency of Nigeria.
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