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US To Deny Nigerians Visa Over Polls Violence

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The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, yesterday said that any Nigerian politician found to have been involved in violence during the February’s elections will no longer be eligible for a US visa.
Kerry, spoke shortly after two separate meetings with Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, in closed door sessions, in Lagos.
He noted that the international community was keenly interested in a violence-free 2015 general elections in Nigeria next month, adding that no country would tolerate any violence during or attempts to rig the elections.
US Secretary of State met the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the February election, Maj. Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd), behind closed doors at the US Consulate on Victoria Island.
Kerry also met President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Marina, Lagos, behind closed doors.
But in his remarks later, Kerry said he was impressed with the outcome of meetings with Jonathan and Buhari on how to prevent violence during the polls.
He noted that the international community was keenly interested in a violence-free 2015 general elections in Nigeria next month, adding that any Nigerian involved in violence during February’s polls will no longer be eligible for a US visa.
Also speaking after the meeting, Jonathan assured of the independence of INEC, saying that the May 29 date for inauguration of new administration remains sacrosanct.
Both Jonathan and Buhari recently signed a non-violence agreement but that has not stopped sporadic outbreaks of unrest between supporters of their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Nigeria visit — the first by a US secretary of state since Hillary Clinton in 2012 — was announced on Friday during a speech in which Kerry warned of the dangers of Islamist extremists worldwide.
Kerry has previously described the attack on Baga as a “crime against humanity” while the United States has warned of the threat to Nigeria’s sovereignty posed by the militants, who want to create a hardline Islamic state in North East Nigeria.
Assistant Secretary of State, Linda Thomas-Greenfield has accused Nigeria’s military of being in denial about the threat posed by Boko Haram, which has captured dozens of towns in the last six months.
Nigeria’s ambassador to Washington had accused the United States of failing to provide the weaponry required to end the rebellion and Abuja also ended a US training programme for soldiers to take on the militants.
But Kerry addressed poll-related violence, which has blighted previous Nigerian elections, and which it is feared could erupt again, given the closely fought race.
The US official said Washington expects free, fair and peaceful elections in Africa’s most populous nation.
“This election in Nigeria is being watched by the entire continent and in fact by the entire world,” the official added.
The United States has pressed for the elections to go ahead, despite the raging insurgency.
Some 1,000 people died at the last elections in 2011 during protests in central Nigeria, where the predominantly Christian South meets the mainly Muslim North.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, has been drumming the United States Government’s non-violence stance to the ears of all key players in the political arena, from the president to National Assembly office seekers, and governorship candidates across the country.
In Abuja, the ambassador organized a non-violence lecture series, where President Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari and other presidential candidates signed up non-violence agreement, now called the Abuja Accord.
In Rivers State, the ambassador got the candidates of the APC, Dr Dakuku Peterside; PDP, Nyesom Wike, and Labour Party, Prince Tonye Princewill, to sign a non-violence pledge in Port Harcourt, last Thursday.
But despite the pledge, the APC rally slated for last Saturday in Okrika was disrupted by thugs suspected to be PDP supporters, who shot sporadically and threw dynamites into the venue, already being prepared for the event.

Rivers APC Governorship candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside (right), receiving blessing from General Overseer, Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, during a meeting in Port Harcourt, last Friday.

Rivers APC Governorship candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside (right), receiving blessing from General Overseer, Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, during a meeting in Port Harcourt, last Friday.

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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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