The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that given what the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari inherited, restructuring could not have been its priority.
The minister stated this, yesterday, when he featured on “Focus Nigeria” a current affairs programme of African Independent Television anchored by Gbenga Aruleba.
The minister assured all Nigerians to go about their lawful businesses and disregard any threat from any quarters.
He said the government would not be found wanting in the discharge of its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property of all Nigerians wherever they reside.
He added that government would deal decisively with anyone or group that disturb the peace of the nation and constitute a threat to any one or group.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the Commissioner of Police (CP) in Kaduna State to investigate and arrest members of the Coalition of Northern Youth (CNY), who signed and issued the ultimatum to Ndigbo living in the North to vacate the region in three months or face physical attacks.
The Coalition of Northern Youth on June 6, at a news conference in Kaduna, gave a three-month ultimatum to South Easterners living in the North to leave.
It had also ordered Northerners living in the South Eastern part of the country to return to the North.
The group attributed the ultimatum to the constant agitation by the Igbo ethnic group to have their own independent country.
Idris gave the order at a meeting with commissioners of police and other high ranking officers, yesterday, in Abuja.
He warned that no individual or group of persons had the right to ask any individual to leave his or her place of residence in any part of the country.
Idris ordered other state commissioners of police in the North and Assistant Inspectors -General of Police in the various zonal commands to do same.
He said “as Commissioners of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, we have the responsibility to stop this group of persons from carrying out their threats.
“I want us to be at alert to ensure that such persons or group were stopped at all cost from carrying out their threats.
“No individual has the authority to stop anybody from looking for his daily bread”.
He explained that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to live in any part of the country he or she chooses.
Reacting, Minister of Interior, Lt Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (rtd), warned that the Federal Government would deal ruthlessly with anyone trying to destabilise the polity and incite disintegration of the country.
The minister, who lamented the spurious and unwarranted calls for separation, called on all well-meaning Nigerians “to go about their normal activities as government would bring to bear the full weight of the law on any individual or group violating the rights of citizens of the country.”
Dambazau assured that citizens were free to go about their normal businesses and would not be harassed or deterred by any group or persons.
Dambazau advised the “various ethnic groups to desist from flaming the embers of hate, animosity, discord and disharmony and adhere strictly to the teachings of good values of religions and cultures that encourages good neighbourliness, national unity and Integration, and love for one another.”
He also advised youth to avoid being instrument of violence, animosity and disharmony and that they should rather focus their attention and energies on national unity, integration and cohesion.
However, the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, has ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of those behind the call for Igbos to quit the North, warning that government would not tolerate anyone who incites citizens to violence, thereby threatening the peace and unity of the country.
The governor urged the police to investigate, arrest and prosecute the signatories to the communique issued at the end of the coalition of northern youth news conference.
Similarly, leading pan-Northern group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), have condemned the ultimatum on Igbos, and warned the northern youth to retrace their steps, forthwith.
It would be recalled that spokesman of the youth coalition, AbdulAziz Suleiman, who read the ‘Kaduna Declaration’ to newsmen, last Tuesday, called for mobilization “for sustained, coordinated campaigns at state Government Houses, state Houses of Assembly, Local Government Council Secretariats and Traditional Palaces to mount pressure for steps to be taken to ensure enforcement of the directives.
“The North hereby openly calls on the authorities and other national and international stakeholders to acknowledge this declaration by taking steps to facilitate the final dissolution of this hopeless union that has never been convenient to any of the parties.
“From today, June 6, 2017, when this proclamation is signed, the North, a critical player in the Nigerian project, hereby declares that it will no longer be disposed to coexisting with the Igbos and shall take definite steps to end the partnership by pulling out of the current federal arrangement,” he said.
But in a reaction to the condemnation of its call on Igbos to quit the North, the youth group, restated their position, clarifying that it was informed by recent actions of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which violated the rights of northerners in the South-East.
Also reacting, the House of Representatives, yesterday, condemned the ultimatum by Coalition of Arewa Youth to Igbos to leave the Northern region of the country.
Consequently, the house urged security agencies to be on the alert to forestall any breakdown of law and order that may arise as a result of the threat.
The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion under matter of urgent public importance by Rep. Oghene Egoh (Lagos-PDP).
Moving the motion, Egoh condemned the relocation threat issued by the 16 Northern youth groups and the stand of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on the matter.
The lawmaker stressed the need for the Federal Government to urgently intervene in order to avert a national crisis.
“As part of the campaign by the IPOB for the actualisation of Biafra Republic, Biafra agitators shut down major towns in the South-East on May 30, 2017.
“It is disturbing that 16 Northern youth groups on June 6, 2017, gave Igbos residing in their states up to October 1, 2017 to vacate the region.
“In its reaction, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) said it received with gladness the ‘quit notice’, and urged the Igbos to return home immediately.
“The two calls created alarming twist which is ominous and dangerous for the good health of Nigerians.
“This motion is not interested in the merit or demerit of Biafra nor is it interested in apportioning blame on those who made the two unpatriotic calls.
“Rather, this is only concern for the nation’s leaders to immediately intervene to stop these agitations from resulting in violence that may consume the entire nation,’’ Egoh said.
He also urged the National Assembly and the Presidency to initiate dialogue with the two groups to avoid damage to the nation.
“While people have the right to their views and decisions about lives, the National Assembly must rise to the occasion we find ourselves and put an end to the confusion that is brewing.
“This must be done by appealing to both parties to withdraw their demands to avoid loss of lives, especially that of innocent children, women and others who are not part of the problem,’’ Egoh warned.
Without debate on the motion, the House urged the Arewa youth and their Biafra counterpart to rescind their decisions.
The legislators called on the Federal Government to urgently wade into the crisis in order to avoid loss of lives and properties.
The National Human Rights Commission and the Committee for the Defence on Human Rights, yesterday, called on the various security agencies to bring to justice the northern youths who asked Igbo to quit the North before October 1, 2017.
The NHRC and CDHR said in separate statements that the ultimatum was a clear violation of the fundamental human rights of every Nigerian to reside, acquire and own immovable properties in any part of the country, as guaranteed under Section 43 of the Constitution.
The statement read, “The alleged quit notice, to say the least, is not only provocative and a serious threat to national peace and security, but a clear violation of the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians to reside, acquire and own immovable properties in any part of the country as guaranteed under Section 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)s.”
Yakasai said this while reacting to the ultimatum given to the Igbos by some Northern youth.
He said, “the quit notice to Igbos by some people in the north and the purported denial of grazing right to Fulani herders in the south are against human rights provisions of the Nigerian constitution, which guaranteed freedom of movement to all Nigerians.”
He also described the denial of Fulani herders from grazing their animals as an infringement on the constitution.
He said, “I read the joint position paper by the Arewa Citizens Action for change. First of all, I believe there is only a Nigerian citizenship, as long as we have a Nigeria. It is a good beginning, but I think we needed a deeper and more serious extermination of our situation, which I believe is overdue.
“It does not matter whether Nigeria will continue as a single political entity or not. We in the north need to have a kind of master plan for our future and the future of our people. It is wrong for us to be living in the way we are without any plan for our development for the present and for our future.”
He, therefore, opined that a meeting should be held for a call for action and with people from different disciplines coming together to discuss how to uplift the society.
But reacting to government and other stakeholders’ condemnation of its call on Igbos to vacate the North, the coalition of Northern youth groups, yesterday, reiterated that it’s call for Igbo to leave northern Nigeria was not a call to violence but to allow Igbo achieve their ambition of having the country.
In a statement issued, yesterday, in Kaduna, and signed by Abdulazeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group carpeted governors Nasir el-Rufai and Kashim Shettima of Kaduna and Borno states, respectively, on their stand against them, saying that the governors were driven by their ambitions to be vice president.
He said the group was “nauseated” by the comments attributed to El-Rufai and Shettima, describing them as “disgruntled northern political power mongers”.
Part of their statement reads: “We restate that we have never called anybody to violence and that people should discountenance the elements of fear and threat introduced by the distortions of merchants of mischief.
“We wholeheartedly endorse the moves made variously by our leaders to allay those fears and urge people to be peaceful and law-abiding while at the same time resolutely insisting on having the right thing done by allowing the Igbo to have and move to their dream country in accordance with the universal fundamental right to self-determination.
“We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.
“We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognized international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualization of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbo out of the present federation”.
Suleiman claimed that despite the “distortion” of their earlier statement, the feedback they got was that their message resonated with “peace-loving Nigerians who have been tormented and menaced by the irredentist proclivities of the Igbos and are overwhelmingly desirous to put an end to it”.
He said the group “are particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai and Kashim Shettima, who in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice presidency, chose to side with the secessionist Igbos against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians. “
RSG’s Medical Scholarship Producing Quality Health Professionals, Wike Affirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says the medical scholarship offered to Rivers students by his administration was a deliberate policy intended to produce well-trained professionals that would enhance quality healthcare delivery beyond the state.
The governor made the explanation at the 4th Matriculation ceremony of PAMO University of Medical Sciences, Elelenwo in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Friday.
Wike stated that in the last three years, 100 Rivers students were awarded scholarship yearly to study medicine and other related courses at PAMO University, which was creating access to education for most indigent students.
He said the state government was impressed with the Founder and Pro-Chancellor of PAMO University, Dr. Peter Odili, for the establishment of the institution that has developed within a very remarkable time to be a centre of excellence in medical education with adequate capacity to produce medical doctors, pharmacists, medical technologists, and other healthcare professionals for the state and the country.
Wike said that such initiative by Odili, and indeed, any Rivers indigene, was worthy of support from the state government.
To this end, he announced additional N500million grant to enable management of the university to put in place the necessary educational infrastructure.
“We have decided to further support the growth and development of this university with yet another grant of N500million only. As we all know; the promise of education is better life just as no healthcare system can be effective without adequate number of qualified and skillful medical doctors and other related professionals, which our state, Nigeria and the world over are in dire need of.
“This was the reason we instituted the special scholarship scheme to cater for not less than 100 indigenous students of this university yearly for five consecutive circle of admissions with effect from the very first set of students.
“This special scholarship programme has covered four admission circles and benefitted 490 Rivers State students who are pursuing various medical courses in this university from inception to date.”
Wike observed that if Odili, a former governor of Rivers State, did not establish PAMO University, all the students that matriculated, last Friday, and others who were already at different levels of their studies, would not have had the chance to pursue their educational dreams due to the admission crisis that continues to plague and frustrate the immediate transition of most youths from secondary to tertiary education.
The governor enjoined all the 490 Rivers State students, who are benefiting from the scholarship and others, to be diligent and committed to hard work in order to achieve academic success.
In his address, the Founder and Pro-Chancellor of PAMO
17, 000 Teachers Write Qualifying
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sony Echono, has harped on the need for quality delivery in the education sector.
Echono gave the charge at the 2021 Batch ‘A’ Professional Qualifying Examination for teachers, organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) in Abuja, last Saturday.
The TRCN conducted the examination for 17, 141 candidates in 43 centres across the nation.
He said that the Federal Government, in its effort to ensure an improved education system in the country, had put modalities in place to ensure quality delivery.
He said that one of the modalities was ensuring that teacher sat for the professional qualifying examination before qualifying to teach.
“With time, if you do not have this certification you are not a teacher. You do not have the right to practice.
“We have commenced the process of enforcing and implementing the policy that only qualified teachers would be allowed to teach in our schools across the country.
“We are starting with all the government schools then we move to private schools.
“Right now we are discussing with state governments and school proprietors to ensure this is done.
“This is because the single largest investment one can make for the future generation is ensuring that they get quality education,” he said.
He said that the introduction of technology in the sector, particularly in the writing of the teachers’ qualifying examination had ensured an improved process.
The permanent secretary stressed that, “this year there is additional innovation in terms of Information Technology (IT).
“We now have an application where even the process of verification of identity is done electronically.
“Our ultimate goal in education is to collaborate with relevant agencies.
“We have been doing this with the Ministry of Communication and other agencies that require data.
“We want a situation where from the point where a child registers in any primary school in this country up to death, you have your record.
“You can update it but you will not change your identity,” he said
He added that the database of all qualified teachers had been compiled as part of efforts to ensure only qualified teachers were allowed to teach.
According to him, there are qualified teachers that are not employed across the country, adding that no state had an excuse to keep unqualified teachers in their schools in view of that.
Echono assured teachers of the government’s commitment to ensuring better welfare for them.
He said, “One thing the Federal Government has done is to approve a new welfare package for teachers and this has been encouraging.
“People now want to return to teaching because the remuneration will be higher than the civil service scale and tenure longer than what the civil servant has.
“We have commenced the implementation of this.
“We are working closely with the Head of Service and the Salaries and Wages Commission in computing rural allowances, science allowances, hazard allowances and all of that.
“This is to ensure that teachers get their reward on earth and not in the hereafter.
“We are also working out modalities to ensure that teachers with special needs get required facilities to teach effectively.”
The Acting Director, Certification and Licencing, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Dr Jacinta Ametepe Ogboso, said the process was seamless across the centres nationwide.
She said that TRCN conducted the examination for 17, 141 candidates in 43 centres across the nation.
She added that of the 17,141, about 1, 300 candidates wrote the examination in Abuja.
“The examination went smoothly from all the centres, thanks to the use of technology.
“The technology is helping with accreditation online, helping with crowd control and impersonation.
“In terms of the number of registered candidates and performance, there is much improvement.
“It is a Computer Based Test (CBT) and when it was introduced there were challenges but today there is much improvement,” she said.
The acting director disclosed that the professional qualifying examination was always conducted in two or three batches, adding that the next batch would likely be in October.
Narrative Of Unsafe N’Delta, A Conspiracy Theory, Wike Alleges
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has accused international oil companies (IOCs) of being part to a conspiracy theory that the Niger Delta was unsafe in order not to relocate their corporate headquarters to the region.
The governor observed that so long as this kind of negative narrative geared at perpetuating injustice was not addressed, the country’s corporate existence and stability would continue to be threatened.
Wike made these assertions at the official commissioning of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) corporate headquarters, sitting on 126,060 square meters of land, in Port Harcourt, the River State capital, last Wednesday.
The NLNG head office is located at Amadi-Ama, on Peter Odili Road.
Wike noted that for several years, multinational oil companies and some vested interest groups have been promoting the negative narrative that Niger Delta was not safe to legitimise their sheer refusal to relocate their corporate head office to the region.
“If Rivers State is not safe, why will NLGN be operating in Rivers State, and have its headquarters in Rivers State? So, those proponents of insecurity, please, try to have a second thought. This state is safe. If the state is not safe, you cannot construct this edifice”, the governor said.
Wike commended the NLNG management for taking a bold step towards strengthening its relationship with the people of Rivers State.
He stated that NLNG’s presence in Port Harcourt City spoke volumes of the company’s respect for Rivers State people, adding that the decision by the company to construct its head office in the state showed that Rivers State was safe for business.
“I am here because NLNG has shown a lot of commitment and support for the host communities and the state. The company has done well and has set an example for other companies to emulate.
“I am happy with what the company has done for the host communities during the construction of the building. That is what is expected. It has a very good relationship with its hosts in Bonny, and in other parts of the state, and I believe it will continue to enjoy a hitch-free business in the state,” Wike said.
The governor said it was morally offensive for oil companies to continue to exploit oil and gas in the Niger Delta and locate their headquarters elsewhere in the country.
According to him, the claim that the Niger Delta was unsafe is not tenable.
“Understand that this conspiracy theory against the Niger Delta is a temporary thing. I can assure you, one day; everybody will come back to their operating base. Nobody can change it.”
Wike challenged the multinational companies to prove if Lagos and Abuja don’t have security issues as the rest of the country, today.
He maintained that the idea of flying in oil workers from Lagos to work in the Niger Delta, and then, fly them back, was detrimental to the nation’s economic wellbeing.
The governor commended NLNG for showing the right example by relocating its corporate headquarters to Rivers State, which is its operational base, and assured the management that the state government would continue to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Wike further thanked the company for funding the 40kilometers Bonny-Bodo Road project of which the Federal Government was expected to provide counterpart funding.
He said that it was unfair for the Federal Executive Council to approve over N780billion for the Abuja-Kano Highway, but refuse to provide counterpart funding of just N60billion for the Bonny-Bodo Road project.
“There is so much injustice in the country, and if you don’t correct it, there will continue to be problems. Injustice brings insecurity, whether you like it or not. When a people feel they are not part of the sharing of our national cake, what do you want them to do?”, Wike asked.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NLNG, Tony Attah, said the iconic edifice was intended to convey the company’s bold presence in Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta region.
According to Attah, the building and commissioning of the corporate head office, was in line with its vision of being a global LNG company, helping to build a better Nigeria.
He stated further that the corporate head office has made the company more visible, adding that the office was an unequivocal statement that NLNG remains a committed partner to the people of Rivers State in the sustainable development of the state.
“Nigeria LNG’s resolve to relocate its corporate head office from Lagos, where it was established from inception of its operation was a well thought-out decision that, among other things, demonstrates our strong bond of friendship with Port Harcourt and Rivers State, even as we reinforce our commitment to stand tall as a Nigerian brand in the global marketplace.
By this action, we also attest that Rivers State is not just the ‘Treasure Base of the Nation’ but the home of uncommon hospitality, which we have come to enjoy and reciprocate at every opportunity.
“Beyond building a head office for our business, the beautification of this once remote locality was also in our hearts when we started this project. Earlier in August, 2018, we had opened a part of this complex – an ultra-modern Transit Lounge – to enable a smooth and comfortable sail between our operating base on Bonny Island and the state capital.
“The construction of the facility was actually our first major step at transforming the shoreline, and since then, we have intensified our usual efforts at making the creek a viable waterway for meaningful human activities. Today, we can pride ourselves, even if modestly, as a beacon of modernity in this axis of Port Harcourt. But equally important, we hope that our presence will trigger positive developments in real estate and ancillary businesses in the area.
“The commissioning of this complex is coming at such an auspicious time in the life of Nigeria LNG, a time when we have astutely proven our self as an excellent and reliable player in the global LNG market, with 20 years record and still counting. Our doggedness towards achieving even more success in both the international market and the domestic energy sector has prompted the commencement of our Train 7 project, which has been avidly socialized among all critical stakeholders,” he said.
He stated that one of the signs of the company’s commitment to the people of Rivers State in the sustainable development of the state is the N120billion Bonny-Bodo Road, which NLNG was partly funding.
Attah added that some progress has been achieved in one of the most significant CSR initiatives by any single entity in the country, and that the 40-kilometre road would boost economic activities and ultimately better the lives of thousands of Nigerians in Rivers State.
He expressed delight that the company was driving Nigeria’s gas revolution and investing huge resources in human capacity development in its host communities.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; thanked the NLNG for playing a very crucial role in the country’s gas expansion project.
According to him, for decades, the NLNG has demonstrated commitment to the country’s aspiration to be a leading gas producer in the world.
Former managing director of NLNG, Chima Ibeneche, said he initiated the move to relocate the NLNG corporate headquarters from Lagos to Port Harcourt because it was just the right thing to do.
As part of the commissioning, the governor was led on a tour immediately after the ribbon-cutting by the Chairman of NLNG’s Board of Directors, Dr Edmund Daukoru; together with the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Tony Attah; Deputy Managing Director, Engr. Sadeeq Mai-Bornu; and other members of the company’s Senior Management Team.
The head office is a four-storey complex with cluster buildings occupying 76,000 square metres of land, and equipped with one board room, 121 office spaces, 51 meeting and huddle rooms, smart and ergonomic workstations, a library, a press centre and a crèche.
Other features of the office include a transit lounge for the company’s jetty, warehouse, a dedicated fire station, gym, two banking halls, an ATM gallery, and ample green area.
The governor had in 2015 flagged-off the construction of the building at its ground-breaking ceremony.
NLNG is owned by four shareholders; namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%); Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%); Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France (15%); and Eni International N.A. N. V. S.àr. l (10.4%).
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