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Presidency, Northern Elders Feud Over Chibok Girls, Insecurity

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The crisis of confidence between President Goodluck Jonathan and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has taken a new dimension as the feud over rising insecurity in the North and the abduction of over 200 girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State deepens.
On Monday, the NEF gave the president ultimatum to end the spate of insecurity in the North and produce the abducted girls before December otherwise they would work against him, if he decides to contest the 2015 presidential election.
But the president responded yesterday to the NEF ultimatum, saying that no group can threaten him before he will perform his official duties.
Jonathan said it was wrong for any group to issue a threat asking him to rescue Chibok school girls before he could get the support of any person or group for his 2015 presidential ambition.
President Jonathan, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant to the President, Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said he was already working on how to rescue the abducted girls.
Okupe, in the statement in Abuja yesterday, was responding to a threat by the members of the Northern Elders Forum on Monday, where they issued October deadline for the condition to be met.
The NEF position was made known through two of its members, Solomon Dalung and Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
The northern elders were of the opinion that the military can defeat the Boko Haram terrorists – if, indeed, the government wants to subdue the sect.
Okupe, while faulting the northern elders, said “President Jonathan does not require any threat or ultimatum from any group of persons to be alive to his responsibilities to the Nigerian People.”
He added that the issue of insurgency, especially those ideologically based on Islamic extremism was a global phenomenon, which he said required tact, military capability, serious de-radicalisation techniques and community based counter insurgency programmes to ensure success.
In these areas, he said the Federal Government was making progress.
He said the military and other security agencies were improving on operational capabilities and efficiencies by acquiring more advanced weapons and technologies.
Apart from this, he said the government had also drafted more military personnel to the region to strengthen its fighting power.
Okupe added that the government was equally taking advantage of the offers from international military and intelligence allies to assist in identifying key locations.

It would be recalled that the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Monday identified “lack of a strong will at the level of the presidency, deep-seated corruption, incompetence in governments and in the management of security challenges” as major factors fuelling the Boko Haram insurgency.
The body also advised President Goodluck Jonathan to bring an end the insurgency in all its manifestations and produce the Chibok girls before the end of October, 2014, saying In the event that he failed to do so, Nigerians would be left with the only conclusion that he had forfeited his right to ask for their mandate beyond 2015.
In a communique issued at a press conference in Kaduna, NEF said after a major review of the state of the nation, it resolved to continue to offer ways to resolve the country’s current political, economic, security challenges, and also facilitate the emergence of a more united, secure and prosperous nation out of its present limitations.
The statement was signed by Barrister Solomon Dalung and Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, both NEF prominent members.
It reads: “The security situation in our nation today represents the most serious threat to our individual and collective lives in our entire history. The reality is that the threats posed by what appears to be an insurgency that has many manifestations and defies a clear and consistent identity is growing due to the absence of a clear national consensus over its nature, and it solutions.
“The lack of a strong will at the level of the Presidency to fight it, as well as deep-seated corruption and incompetence in governments and in the management of our security challenges has allowed a band of terrorists to take and hold vast parts of our land and populations hostage, while every citizen lives in fear that they will be its next victim.
“The Northern Elders Forum does not believe that the Nigerian military cannot defeat these terrorists. We also reject the notion that multiple internal security challenges such as attacks on villages, ethno-religions conflicts and banditry springing up by the day in many parts of the north are all a coincidence. Indeed, we are convinced that most of these conflicts are being engineered to weaken the North politically and economically by interests which intend to exploit such weaknesses for electoral benefits.

A youth leader, Mosunmola Umoru (left), presenting an award to Vice President, Namadi Sambo, at the 2014 International Youth Day celebration in Abuja, yesterday

A youth leader, Mosunmola Umoru (left), presenting an award to Vice President, Namadi Sambo, at the 2014 International Youth Day celebration in Abuja, yesterday

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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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