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Failed US Plane Attack: Second Nigerian Quizzed

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From left: Loveday Imeah, Clifford NduWalter and Mrs Stella Inyie Toby pledging their loyalties to service as new Permanent Secretaries in the Rivers State Civil Service, recently.

From left: Loveday Imeah, Clifford NduWalter and Mrs Stella Inyie Toby pledging their loyalties to service as new Permanent Secretaries in the Rivers State Civil Service, recently.

A Passenger on board the same Northwest Airline flight that was attacked on Christmas day was taken into custody in Detroit, United States of America, on Sunday, after becoming disruptive upon landing, according to law enforcement officials.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity as investigation was on-going, said the man was Nigerian and had locked himself in the airliner bathroom.

However, subsequent investigation revealed he was a businessman who took ill during the flight.

Reports said, security and airline personnel were on edge since the attempted terror attack on Christmas, adding that lesser incidents had been reported on other flights arriving Detroit but that incident with the Nigerian youth had sparked the most concerned.

Meanwhile, Nigeria on Saturday ordered a top-level probe after a botched attempt by a young Nigerian to blow up a US plane as it was preparing to land in Detroit, a government statement said.

“The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has directed Nigerian security agencies to commence full investigation of the incident,” the statement said.

Information Minister, Dora Akunyili said Abuja had learnt with “dismay the news of an attempted terrorist attack on a US airline.

“We state very clearly that as a nation, we abhor all forms of terrorism,” she said in the statement.

Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was badly burned as he tried to set off a sophisticated explosive device on a Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 carrying 278 passengers and 11 crew as it began its descent into Detroit on Christmas Day.

He was overpowered by fellow passengers and arrested by US security agents on arrival on Friday.

Media reports said Abdulmutallab, who boarded the plane in Amsterdam, had flown to the Dutch city’s Schiphol airport from Lagos.

“While steps are being taken to verify the identity of the alleged suspect and his motives, our security agencies will cooperate fully with the American authorities in the on-going investigations,” the government statement said.

The would-be bomber is the son of a former chief of the United Bank for Africa and First Bank of Nigeria, Umaru Mutallab, an accountant and businessman.

There was no independent confirmation of the report.

According to other reports Mutallab used to study engineering in London.

Meanwhile, the US government has tightened airline security as it searches for answers to how a 23-year-old Nigerian man eluded extensive systems intended to prevent attacks like his botched Christmas Day effort to blow up a Northwest flight from overseas.

The suspect who claimed ties to al-Qaida was charged Saturday with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner, just a month after his father warned US officials of concerns about his son’s religious beliefs.

Airports worldwide tightened security a day after the passenger tried to detonate a device that contained a high explosive on a flight into Detroit. After that attack, passengers have had to contend with extra pat-downs before boarding, staying in their seats without blankets or pillows for the last hour of the flight and more bomb-sniffing dogs.

Aides to President Barack Obama are pondering how terror watch-lists are used after the botched attack, according to officials who described the discussions Saturday on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt possible official announcements.

These adjustments came after the Justice Department charged that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab willfully attempted to destroy or wreck an aircraft; and that he placed a destructive device in the plane.

An affidavit said he had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body. The affidavit said that as Northwest Flight 253 descended toward Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Abdulmutallab set off the device  sparking a fire instead of an explosion.

According to the affidavit filed in US District Court in Detroit, a preliminary analysis of the device showed it contained PETN, a high explosive also known as pentaerythritol. This was the same material convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid used when he tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes.

The investigation stretched to London, where officers from the Metropolitan Police, the force involved in most of the major terrorism investigations in Britain, cordoned off the street outside a white stone apartment block in a well-to-do area of central London on Saturday. A police spokeswoman said the force was carrying out searches in connection with the incident in Detroit.

University College London said Abdulmutallab was enrolled at the school from September 2005 to June 2008. In Nigeria, the father of Abdulmutallab said his son had been a student in London, but had left the city to travel.

US authorities told The Associated Press that in November, his father, a prominent banking official in Nigeria, went to the US embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss his concerns about his son’s religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, various Nigerian groups abroad have continued to denounce the botched bomb attack on a US plane by the young Nigerian suspect.

In its reaction, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Nigeria condemned the failed attempt by a Nigerian suspect to blow up a US airliner, saying it appeared to be an isolated case. “We are embarrassed by this incident and we strongly condemn the alleged action by this young man,” Lateef Adegbite, secretary general of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, said yesterday.

“But it should be seen as an isolated incident,” he added.

“We do not think that there is any organized Islamic group in Nigeria that is inclined to such a criminal and violent act. We condemn such an extreme viewpoint and action.”

In its view, the All Nigeria American Congress (ANAC) and its constituency of Nigerians in the international community, says it stand together in denouncing the attempted terror attack over the Christmas holidays by Mr Umar Farouk Abdul Muttalab, who according to reports happens to be a Nigerian engineering student in the United Kingdom.

Mr Muttalab’s actions are in no way reflective of our feelings towards our host countries, in fact, we have assimilated well into our new communities and most of us have been model citizens in said communities, ANAC said.

The World Igbo Congress, on behalf of all Igbos in the Diaspora expressed shock by the attempted bombing of Northwest Airline Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. World Igbo Congress condemns this act of terrorism and wishes to dissociate its people from all acts of terrorism and calls on the Nigerian government, the United States of America and all well-meaning peoples of the world to investigate this act in all its ramifications in order to forestall such occurrences in the future.

World Igbo Congress pledges its support for the war on terrorism and calls on all Nigerians to step up all efforts in their direction.

 

Justus Awaji, Abuja

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Buhari Orders Forensic Audit Of NDDC …Slashes Ministers’ Foreign Trips, Estacodes To Cut Cost

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from 2001 to 2019.
Buhari, in statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said the action was taken out of worry over criticisms of the operations of the commission, and after he received governors of nine states that make up the commission, who had called for the repositioning of the NDDC.
The delegation was led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State,
According to the President, what is presently on the ground in the South-South region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organisation.
He said, “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions, especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.
“The President admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands”.
He said, “I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants.”
He, however, said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the NDDC.
Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
He called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up. Briefing journalists after the meeting, Dickson, who is also chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, listed the NDDC states as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo and Ondo.
He said, “Our concern has to do with the stability and development of the Niger Delta. We had a robust discussion with Mr. President who fully understands the challenges that come with development, and he promised to look into the challenges which he’s aware of and we all agreed to work together”.
Present at the meeting were Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Senator Tayo Alasoadura; among others.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has reduced the number and duration of foreign trips for ministers and other categories of government officials in a move described as cost-saving measure to achieve fiscal prudence.
In a statement signed by the Director of Information at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, the President also removed travelling financial benefit known as estacode allowance and cut down the number of persons permitted to travel with the ministers and other government officials for official trips.
The President, however, approved the use of business class for ministers and economy class for lower categories of government officials.
However, approval for such trips must be sought through the office of the SGF or Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the statement added.
The statement read, “In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved, for immediate implementation, additional cost-saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
“Henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are required to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
“For class of air travels, the President has approved that ministers, permanent secretaries, special advisers, senior special assistants to the President, chairmen of extra-ministerial departments and chief executive officers of parastatals, who are entitled will continue to fly business class while other categories of public officers are to travel on economy class.
“Travel days will no longer attract payment of estacode allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.”
The statement added that only trips that would benefit the country must be embarked upon by the affected officials, noting also that ministers and other categories of government officials must not travel more than twice within a quarter of a year except with the permission of the President.
It noted, “On the nature and frequency of travels, all public funded travels (local and foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country.
“Except with the express approval of Mr President, ministers, permanent secretaries, chairmen of extra-ministerial departments, chief executive officers and directors are restricted to not more than two foreign travels in a quarter. The Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.”
Reacting, a financial expert, Mr Momoh Aliyu, has urged state governors to emulate the Federal Government by cutting down their travelling expenses and utilise it for development projects.
Aliyu gave the advice in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja, yesterday.
The expert was reacting to directive by the Federal Government that henceforth there would be slash in travelling expenses of its officials.
Aliyu, who is also the managing director of Cyber1 Systems Network International, explained that the development was a wake-up call to governors, and indeed, all other governments’ agencies in the country.
He said overhead cost of travelling in the budget was alarming and taking chunks of the vote heads.
“The action by the president is an act of setting the pace to other parastatals, ministries and states governments,’’ he said.
The expert said that the Nigerian Government had over the years been criticised of wasting and mismanaging the scarce resources.
He described the development as the right step in the right direction.
“The ministers and other government functionaries should understand the need to be on seat to attend to pressing issues.’’
Aliyu also acknowledged the efforts of the ministry of technology in ensuring e-government systems.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, reacted after President Muhammadu Buhari restricted foreign travels to two per quarter for heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
The government also cancelled first-class air tickets for some category of officials.
However, PDP challenged Buhari to “lead by example by ending the profligacy that pervades his Presidency in order to give validity to his directives to ministers and other functionaries.”
In a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the former ruling party berated the President for approving the appointment of two aides for his wife, Aisha.
The party charged the Buhari Buhari Presidency to explain the “basis and source of Presidential support for the Office of the First Lady, including the appointment of aides, contrary to his promise not to run that office.

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Monkeypox Hits Rivers, 12 Others As NCDC Records 81 Cases In Nine Months

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has revealed that Rivers State is among 12 others hit by fresh cases of monkeypox in the country.
Expectedly, Lagos State leads cases of monkeypox viral disease in the country.
Experts state that monkeypox is a viral disease related to smallpox and transmitted to humans through fluid exchange by rodents and primates.
In its latest report on the disease, NCDC states that overall, Nigeria has 81 total reported cases of the disease, with 39 confirmed cases spread across 13 states comprising Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, and Enugu.
Others are: Cross River, Oyo, FCT, Bauchi, Zamfara, Borno and Plateau states.
The NCDC latest report, which detailed the monkeypox case distribution by states spanning January to September, 2019, and titled, ‘Nigeria Monkeypox Monthly Situation Report,’ with Serial Number 9, and released for the month of September, stated that there were 15 new suspected cases for the month under review, and five new confirmed cases.
It, however, said there was no reported death in all of the cases.
The report indicates that Lagos currently has the highest number of monkeypox disease with 29 total reported cases and 11 confirmed cases over the period.
Delta follows, with 14 reported cases and 10 confirmed cases.
Rivers State has 15 reported cases and seven confirmed; while Bayelsa has nine reported cases with six confirmed.
In the epidemiological summary, the NCDC states: “Nigeria continues to report sporadic cases of monkeypox after the index case was reported two years ago (September, 2017).
“In the reporting month (September, 2019), 15 new suspected monkeypox cases were reported from five states — Lagos (5), Rivers (2), Akwa Ibom (3), Zamfara (1), Delta (1), Imo (2) and the Federal Capital Territory (1).
“Five of the 15 suspected cases were confirmed positive for monkeypox in three states — Lagos (3), Rivers (1) and Akwa Ibom (1).
“Five of the suspected cases tested positive for chickenpox, while others are for further evaluation. No death recorded in the reporting month.”
The report added that a total of 81 suspected cases have been reported so far in 2019, of which 39 confirmed cases were recorded in nine states (Bayelsa, Lagos, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Anambra, Cross River, and Oyo); and one death.

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Teachers’ Professional Exams

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The idea of subjecting teachers in the service of the Federal Government to write a professional examination is generating some controversies. It may be considered as a damage-control strategy, because, if the right thing had been done, then, there would be no need to invite a fire brigade. Establishment of a Teachers Registration Council was meant to professionalise the job of teaching, which is an international practice. In some countries, a teacher, including proselytists, must have a licence before undertaking such activities.
The necessity for regulation of various professional or career practices is quite important. In the case of the education sector, the need is even greater because of the wide implication involved in mind-control activities.
Mind-Control activities include teaching, proselytism, writing to inform, educate and influence the perception of the masses, etc. Hypnosis must be excluded, even though it is a wide-spread malpractice, perhaps, not quite recognised by the relevant authorities.
A situation where those who teach, including some professors, can afford to speak such grammar as “those of us who teaches…” indicates the existence of fundamental inconsistencies somewhere. The inconsistencies arise from the absence of justice, selectiveness in terms of merits lack of vigour and discipline in recruitment, appointment and promotion of staff in public establishments. Damages crated at such grassroots levels result in the use of fire-brigade strategies when the effects begin to fester.
Without going into the damages which application of “Quota System” in appointments and promotions in Nigeria, public services had caused, we see the unpleasant results everywhere now. Neither would conducting of examinations for teachers and other civil servants solve the problems. A situation where people can be appointed and promoted without regard to merit and competence, and then placed in strategic and sensitive positions, what comes about cannot be anything to wonder about.
Anybody who knows the true situations in Nigerian public services, especially after the Civil War (1970), would be surprised at the resilience and ability of the nation to absorb shocks and jolts. The damage-control measure of administering examinations to teachers should not stop with teachers alone, but must be holistic and comprehensive, if it must yield positive results. If the exercise is done with sincerity and justice, what would emerge is that incompetent persons have been shielded for too long in the public services. No sector is free from the virus.
Having been an external examiner, one is aware that the shielding process of incompetent persons by god-fathers is widespread even in universities. Are we not aware that some powerful persons make phone calls to shield, protect or give undue advantages to candidates whom they sponsor? Sponsored social mobility is known to undermine merit and justice.
A healthy appointments and promotions process should be able to throw up the best and most competent candidates, rather than the use of sponsorship to install incompetent persons in public establishments. As it is in the public services so also it is in elective and political processes. It is a situation where people who place emphasis and value on merit and justice have lost confidence in what goes on under the pretext of “screening process”.
Whatever errors and injustices there may have been in the past, we can still have a turn-around for the better. The first lesson in that process is the application of the doctrine of positive discrimination, which is a process of bias-free identification and classification of people, ability-wise. What is known as occupational misfit arises from a mis-match between personal ability and competence vis-à-vis position occupied in an economy. The value of guidance/counselling in an economy lies in bias-free process of identification of personal abilities. Wheat must be separated from chaff!
A second lesson worthy of application in getting the best out of human abilities is current training programme which can simply be called knowledge update. No professional is so competent that regular knowledge up-date would not be necessary. Being an organist as an adolescent, and several years away from the music hobby, one finds it difficult now to know a quaver from a minim; neither can the fingers do what they knew best in the past.
The joy of knowledge or professional competence lies in its regular application and up-date. One there is laxity or relenting of efforts and continuity, these must always be a decline in competence and performance. No individual, organisation or nation has progressed by standing still or placing incompetent hands in strategic and sensitive positions. Similarly, wherever emphasis is placed on certificate rather than practical and visible competence, decline would follow. Nigerians have been known to fake certificates which they cannot make.
Of more importance in the case of declining productivity in Nigeria, is the complacent attitude of the elite class. Watch and observe what members of the elite class say and do in their leisure hours and what excites them most. The emptiness and oppressively narrow sphere of interest and superficiality of their value orientation would be found to be quite pathetic. A society where wealth replaces eternal values and where immediate personal gains replace joyful services and productive labour decline comes soon.
Similarly, a situation where pity wears the garb of meretricious self-righteousness, education would wear a similar garb of window-dressing. Nigerians would do better investing in a process of conscientization rather than setting examination for teachers. Would there not be any malpractice in such examination? Would the examiners not sell scores and grades for something else? We should know where the shoes are pinching.

 

Bright Amirize

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