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Mixed Reactions Trail Calls For National Conference

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The call by some South-West and South-South leaders for the convocation of a National Conference,  has generated a chain of mixed reactions amongst a cross-section of Nigerians.

Some of them who spoke with newsmen in Lagos yesterday, agreed that it would be a good platform to discuss issues that would move the nation forward, others argued it was unrealistic.

Our correspondent  reports that the leaders from both geo-political zones met with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Wednesday demanding the convening of a National Conference.

They argued that the National Conference would afford the various components of the country the opportunity to reach a consensus on the terms of their union in an indivisible Nigeria.

The delegations were led by Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi and Chief Edwin Clark of South-West and South-South, respectively.

Gbonigi told newsmen at the end of the meeting that the vast majority of Nigerians were demanding for a new constitution which made a national dialogue imperative.

He noted that the Transformation Agenda of the administration could not succeed unless it was predicated on a stable and secure polity, with happy and contented citizens.

However, Jonathan said the Justice Alfa Belgore-led Presidential Committee on Outstanding Constitutional Issues, would bring up areas of national consensus from the 2006 National Political Reform Conference for the National Assembly’s consideration.

He noted that a larger body could meet in future should there be other controversial issues to resolve.

Our correspondent  reports that the Senate had on Tuesday rejected the call for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), saying the National Assembly remained the only platform for any national discuss.

The Chairman, Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), Mallam Danjuma Mohammed, newsmen  that the SNC would mean taking over the functions of the National Assembly.

“The call for a national sovereign conference actually negates the authority of the elected National Assembly.

“That nullifies it totally. It cannot run side by side with an elected National Assembly except one must go for the other. If you are saying this, you are dissolving an arm of democratic government.

“Beside this, to make matters worse, it’s even a convocation of a sovereign national conference of ethnic nationalities of Nigeria and what they are virtually calling for is a return to 1914. And by so doing, what you are saying is that our national unity for now has to be vitiated, it has to be destroyed.”

Mohammed, however, said if the conference was to be organised, there was the need to do so on the basis of equity given the number of ethnic groups in the country.

“If these people that are making this call really love this country, what they need do is to respect the constitution of this country and respect the elected National Assembly; make your decision and go in there.

“There are windows of opportunity. Mr President just presented opportunity for constitutional review; they can make input in it, if its accepted by the National Assembly fine; if it’s not accepted then they end up a minority view; and they should take it – that is democracy.”

Also reacting, the National Chairman of the African Liberation Party (ALP), Chief Emmanuel Okereke, agreed with Mohammed’s views, saying the country already has in place an elected National Assembly.

“I know there is a need for a national conference, but we have elected people on seat who should look into that matter,” he stated.

Okereke, however, called for consultation and proper dialogue prior to the conference to forestall an unforeseen breakdown of law and order.

However, the Executive Director of an NGO, the CLEEN Foundation, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, argued that the National Assembly as presently constituted was not capable of handling issues that affect Nigerians.

“If you look at it objectively and the way democracy has worked in this country over the past 12 to 13 years, you begin to understand why people are calling for a platform where Nigerian people could have opportunity to discuss in very detailed form, how we want to go forward in this country.

 

“If you look at the latest statistics on poverty level in Nigeria it is actually alarming and this is produced by the National Bureau of Statistics, where as we speak, over 70 per cent of Nigerians are living below poverty level; and this is within a period where Nigeria has made much more money than we have ever made in our history; and you ask where are these monies going to.

 

“So I am actually supportive of a discussion platform where we could sit down, look each other in the face and address our issues.’’

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FG Alerts On Massive Flooding In Rivers, FCT, Others

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The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, has predicted more devastating floods from the end of August to early October in some states of the federation, including Rivers and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Already, the agency said in line with its earlier predictions, Lagos, Nasarawa, Anambra, Abia, Kwara, Kaduna, Rivers, Enugu, Borno and Ondo states had witnessed severe flooding as a result of heavy local rainfalls compounded by poor drainage system.
The Director-General of the agency, Engr. Nze Clement Onyeaso, in an interaction with some journalists in Abuja, yesterday, said all areas earlier identified as flood prone this year as well as those along the Rivers Niger and Benue might likely begin to experience more devastating flooding from the end of August.
“Nigeria is located within the River Niger Basin which is occupied by nine countries namely Benin, Burkina- Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Nigeria is located at the lowest position of the Basin and this means that once the upper catchment of the Basin gets flooded, Nigeria should be prepared to experience flooding. The period of flooding in these upstream countries is August and September of every year,’’ he said.
The DG said his agency was monitoring the development as we approach these critical months, adding that it will also continue to monitor Cameroonian authorities with regards to flood scenarios in the upper catchment of the sub-basin.
Nze warned Lagosians against the practice of dredging and sound filling the Atlantic Ocean, to build what they usually call model cities like those in Lekki and Banana Island, saying such may, in the future, pose serious threats.
As part of the preparation for the expected floods, the DG called on Nigerians, especially the state governments to be fully prepared by ensuring cleaning of blocked drainage system and canals remove refuse, weeds, water hyacinths and floats on water channels.
The agency had earlier predicted that 121 LGAs in 27 states and FCT might experience severe flooding this year.

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Rivers Police Confirm Killing Of Disbanded OSPAC Leader In EMOLGA

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The Rivers State Police Command has confirmed the killing of one Alex Uwazuruike Isaac, the leader of disbanded OSPAC in Umudioga community in Emohua local Government Area of the state, last Tuesday.
The spokesperson of Rivers State Police Command, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed this in a telephone interview with The Tide, said the dismembered body of the victim has also been recovered and deposited in the mortuary for preservation.
The police spokesperson further stated that the police has restored normalcy in the community while the Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, has ordered for full investigation into the incident.
It would be recalled that gunmen suspected to be cultists, last Tuesday, invaded Umudioga community, and killed Alex Uwazuruike Isaac, who was said to be the leader of the disbanded OSPAC, a local vigilante group in the area.
A native of the community, who pleaded anonymity for fear of the unknown, disclosed that the gunmen, who were armed with sophisticated assault rifles, stormed the community in the afternoon and went for their target.
The source further revealed that the gunmen shot Isaac dead before beheading and dismembering his body, and later paraded the head of their victim in the community while urging natives not to panic as they came for the deceased and not for the community.
The Tide gathered that some other members of the disbanded OSPAC have already fled the community as a result of the killing of their former leader and fear of being attacked by the cultists who are hunting members of the defunct OSPAC in the area.
It was learnt that many suspected cultists were arrested and killed in the community while others fled during the reign of the deceased OSPAC commander in the community in 2019.
The Tide further learnt that the killing comes barely three weeks after the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Council, Dr Chidi Lloyd pronounced the dissolution of all vigilante groups in the LGA, and asked communities that make up the council area to submit five names of natives who would be screened and admitted into a new security outfit to be established and funded by the council in no distant time.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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JAMB Fixes Mop-Up UTME For 18,000 Candidates, Aug 6

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has rescheduled examination for more than 18,000 candidates who experienced biometric verification challenges and those who genuinely missed the just-concluded Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as a result of a clash with this year’s National Business and Technical Examinations Board examination.
The mop-up UTME is scheduled for Friday, August 6, 2021, in some selected locations across the country.
JAMB Spokesperson, Fabian Benjamin, made this known in a statement, yesterday, titled, ‘Mop-Up UTME Holds Friday, 6th August, 2021…JAMB’.
The statement read, “Following detailed investigation and careful analysis of the highly-successful 2021 UTME, and with due consultation (resulting in gracious concession) with the National Examination Council (NECO) concerning the timetable of the council’s on-going SSCE, JAMB has scheduled a Mop-up UTME for Friday, August 6, 2021, in some selected locations across the nation.
“About 18,000 candidates slated for the examination are being notified through both text messages on their designated phone numbers and their JAMB profiles. In addition, the candidate can check using their registration number on http://www.jamb.gov.ng/2021mopup.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no candidate whose result has been duly released will be rescheduled for another examination.
“The rescheduled candidates are in the following categories:
“Candidates who could not be initially scheduled for examination owing to their inability to timely procure and supply their mandatory NINs or profile codes until after the close of the registration exercise and, therefore, had to purchase Bank Drafts (as against the usual vending of PINs) after the scheduled period for the examination and were later registered.
“Few candidates who encountered peculiar biometric verification problem, or who failed biometric verification on the examination date (and were recaptured) but were not allowed to partake in the examination. (Adequate screening arrangements have been made to re-verify such claims and any candidate found to be involved in any form of impersonation will be identified for prosecution).
“Candidates who were unable to sit for the UTME owing to the clash of timetables of the UTME and the then on-going NABTEB examinations and whose particulars have been verified and supplied directly to JAMB by NABTEB.
“Candidates who have been ascertained by JAMB to have experienced genuine rescheduling/technical problems as was the case in 30 of the 760 centres used for the examination.
“The rescheduled candidates are to print fresh examination notification slips containing the venue and time of the examination. The slips are to be printed from the JAMB website https://www.jamb.gov.ng using the candidates’ registration number from Sunday, August 1, 2021.
“The board strongly advises candidates to avoid supplying their vital information, including registration number to fraudsters who abound especially in cybercafe(s), tutorial centres springing up almost everywhere in the nation as a result of the illicit activities of examination syndicates. CBT centres approved by JAMB which are consistently monitored are relatively more secured for printing examination notification slips by candidates who cannot print such on their own.”

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