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Reps Probe Aviation Minister …As Pro-Oduah Protesters In Enugu Get N4,000 Each

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The House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation has rescheduled the public hearing on the alleged purchase of two BMW cars at the cost of N255 million by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority from October 29 to October 30, 2013.
A statement issued by the clerk of the committee, Malam Abubakar Chana, in Abuja last Monday said the shift was to allow enough more time for the invited agencies to put their documents together.
“This is to notify all stakeholders and the general public that the two-day Public Hearing of House Committee on Aviation on the purchase of two BMW cars by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) earlier slated for Tuesday 29™ October, 2013 has been postponed to Wednesday 30th October, 2013.This is to allow ample time for the invited agencies to put there documents together,” the statement declared.
The House had summoned the Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, to appear before it on October 29 and clarify her role in the controversial purchase of the two BMW cars allegedly procured for her use.\
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has disclosed that no single airport has been fully certified in Nigeria as airworthy.
At a public hearing by the Senate Committee on Aviation, last Monday, participants got a shocker when the agency further disclosed that as long as the existing laws on aviation do not put an age limit to aircraft being licensed to fly in Nigeria, NCAA would have no option but to keep registering aircraft irrespective of age.
Speaking at the Senate Aviation Committee public hearing yesterday, Director of Aerodrome Services, Mr. Joyce Nkemakolam, who acted as the NCAA Director-General after the sack of Mr. Harold Demuren, did not mince words in saying that none of Nigeria’s airports possesses full airworthy certification.
In his response, the NCAA Director-General, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, argued that there was currently no law banning the use of old aircraft in the country, saying if an end was sought to the trend, the National Assembly should pass a law to address it.
While condemning the action, Senator Ali Ndume said, “in this time and age where aircraft use high technology, you are approving AOC for an aircraft which is 43 years old. It is an insult to fly Nigerians in an aircraft that is 43 years old. It doesn’t make sense”.
In a related development, three days after some youths staged protest at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu in solidarity with the embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, fresh indications have emerged that the protest was allegedly sponsored by the Ministry of Aviation.
Contrary to the claims that the protesters were Igbo youths, a source told The Tide that they were students of the Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu.
According to the source, trouble started when the organizers refused to pay the students the agreed amount.
One of the protesters who spoke under anonymity told our correspondent that they were initially promised N10, 000 each, adding that “after the protest, they took us to the Enugu Press Centre, where we were given only N4,000.
“This was quite against the earlier agreement we reached. They shortchanged us so much and we are not happy about that”.
Further investigations by The Tide showed that a particular non-governmental organisation based in Enugu was earlier allegedly approached by one of the minister’s aide to organise the protest with the sum of N1.5 million but the director declined.
It was gathered that a prominent media worker based in the South-East later accepted to organise the “fake protest.
“He went to the IMT, got some students and had a deal with them. The students didn’t even know why they were at the airport, neither could their supposed leader say the platform under which they were protesting.
“Somebody had to whisper Igbo Youths from behind”, the source added.

President Goodluck Jonathan (right), receiving the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for African Development Excellent Award from Mr Yuval Rabin, the first son of the former Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem last Sunday. With them is the President, Yitzhak Rabin International School, Dr Blessing Ogini (left).

President Goodluck Jonathan (right), receiving the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for African Development Excellent Award from Mr Yuval Rabin, the first son of the former Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem last Sunday. With them is the President, Yitzhak Rabin International School, Dr Blessing Ogini (left).

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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