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RSG, Religious Bodies’ Synergy: Christian Youth Hail Iwo

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Members of the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWCAN) Rivers State chapter, have commended the Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Religious Matters, Bishop Winston T. Iwo, over what they described as pragmantic leadership that has promoted harmonious relationship between the state government and religious bodies in the State.
The State Chairman of YOWCAN,  Ekiye C. Ekiye made the commendation while speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt recently, adding that since assumption of office as Special Adviser on Religious Matters, the various religious bodies had been impacted positively.
According to him, one of such programmes introduced by the Special Adviser was the State Carol Festival Night, adding that the protgramme had brought enormous spiritual blessings to the state and the Christian community in particular.
“During the 2016 edition of the programme, over 14,000 persons including non-resident, attended the programme. “To us, we think  such a gesture needs to be commended. Today, the programme has received international recognition and acceptance’, he stated.
Ekiye who also expressed happiness on the attention being given to the on-going construction of the State Ecumenical Centre by Governor Nyesom Wike, said such a gesture underscores the confidence the governor had placed on the Bishop.
He lauded the governor for the appointment of Bishop Iwo into the position, adding that the youth wing of CAN in the state was i n total support of his appointment.

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Nimet Forecasts Three-Day Sunshine, Thunderstorms

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The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted sunshine and thunderstorm from Monday to Wednesday across the country.
NiMet’s weather outlook released yesterday in Abuja, forecasts sunny skies on Monday with a few patches of cloud over the northern cities and prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Taraba later in the day.
According to the forecast, sunny skies with patches of clouds are expected over the North Central region with prospects of morning thunderstorm over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa, Kogi and Kwara States.
“Later in the day, isolated thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kogi and Benue States.
“The southern region is expected to be cloudy with spells of sunshine with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Oyo, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo and Lagos States.
“ In the afternoon/evening periods, isolated thunderstorms are expected over parts of Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Ekiti, Ogun, Imo, Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Rivers, Lagos and Bayelsa States,” it said.
NiMet also anticipated sunny skies on Tuesday with few patches of cloud over the northern states with prospects of isolated thunderstorms envisaged over parts of Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and Kaduna States during the afternoon and evening hours.
It envisaged the North Central region to be sunny with patches of cloud during the morning hours.
The agency also envisaged isolated thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi, Benue, Kwara and Niger States, later in the day.
“Cloudy atmosphere with intervals of sunshine is expected over the inland and coastal areas of the South, with chances of morning thunderstorm over parts of Cross River, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers States.
“In the afternoon/evening periods, isolated thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Rivers and Bayelsa States ,” it said.
It predicted a sunny atmosphere on Wednesday, with patches of cloud over the northern region, during the forecast period.
“Sunny skies with patches of clouds are expected over the North Central region with chances of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Plateau, Kogi, Nasarawa, the Federal Capital Territory and Benue States, during the afternoon/evening periods.
“ Cloudy atmosphere with intervals of sunshine is expected over the inland and coastal areas of the South with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia.”
Other states to experience cloudy atmosphere, are “Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Cross River, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States, later in the day.”
NiMet urged the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds might precede rains in areas where thunderstorms were likely to occur.
The agency also urged airline operators to get updated weather reports and forecasts from its office for effective planning in their operations.

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Return On Investment In Nigeria Mouth-Watering-Tinubu

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Despite economic uncertainties and the initial hurdle that trailed President Bola Tinubu’s visit to Qatar, the Nigerian President made attempts to woo investors in his host country yesterday, telling them there is nowhere in the world where one will find return on investment at the level of what is obtainable in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria boasts of a massive market of over 200 million skilled workers, who are always industrious and ready to work.
His marketing of Nigeria to the Qatari government preceded the signing of historic agreements between both nations, opening a gateway for leveraging the potential of mutual cooperation in pivotal sectors of education, enterprise development, investment promotion, youth empowerment, mining, tourism, and sports.
Tinubu while meeting with His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, on Sunday in Doha, said Nigeria’s greatest strength lies in the people.
“Our strength lies in the capacity of Nigerian youths. They have energy, talent, and self-belief. They are quality partners for Qatari industry.
“They are educated and reliable, and they are proactively seeking to add value wherever they are. A few cannot give a bad name to the many. Nigerian youths are ready to be unleashed for the mutual benefit of both nations.
“We have seen clearly the rapid pace and thorough quality of Qatar’s development process. It is impossible not to be moved by what you have accomplished. The leadership in the country has proven its mettle, and we are here to gain deeper insight.
“We face some short-term turbulence at the moment, but we have a government today that reflects the dynamism and talent of the Nigerian people.
“We are implementing the right solutions. This team works collaboratively with each other and our partners. Nigeria is ready for serious business,” the President stated.
Prior to the signing ceremony at the Qatar Presidential Palace, Tinubu assured his host of Nigeria’s preparedness to welcome investors into the country, noting the ongoing reforms that favour innovation, return on investments, and multiculturalism.
On his part, the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, emphasized that Qatar is open to Tinubu’s investment push, recalling that he traveled to Nigeria in 2019 owing to his belief that Nigeria is an important and strategic ally on its own and within the context of its role in regional affairs.
“I have no doubt about the great capacity of the Nigerian people. Everywhere in the world, they are known for their brilliance and hard work. We only need to ensure that this is happening inside of Nigeria rather than outside.
“The investments we have made around the world have been very fruitful. This is because we take our time and study opportunities before we invest the common wealth of our people. It is not my money. The money we invest belongs to the future generations of Qatar.
“Mr President, I am very encouraged by your actions and your passion to create new opportunities. We are very open to this, and follow-up is everything at this point.
“The will is there for both of us, but we must follow up. I will send a team of officials to Nigeria after Ramadan, and we will advance discussions on what some of the actionable investment opportunities are,” the Qatari leader said.
Tinubu immediately named the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, as the team leader of the government team that will interface with Qatari authorities in investment identification and implementation moving forward.
Recall that a memo had emanated from the Qatar Embassy stepping down a business meeting between Tinubu and the leader of the host country before it was retracted.C

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Disclose Nigeria’s Loan Agreements Since 1999, SERAP Tells Tinubu

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to disclose the agreements and spending details of loans obtained by the administrations of Nigeria’s past presidents since May 1999.
SERAP also urged Tinubu “to direct appropriate ministries, departments and agencies to provide our organisation with copies of the loan agreements obtained by the governments of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.”
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the organisation’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, yesterday.
SERAP is seeking “the spending details of any such loans as well as the interests and other payments so far made on the loans.”
SERAP ‘s request covers the tenure of four Nigeria’s past democratically-elected presidents who ruled for eight years from 1999 to 2007.
Obasanjo’s administration was succeeded by the late Yar’Adua (2007 – 2010); followed by Jonathan (2010 – 2015); and then the immediate past president, Buhari, whose administration ruled from 2015 – 2023.
The organisation stated that “widely publishing the agreements would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it and to demand accountability for the spending of the loans.”
SERAP lamented that the details provided may help to explain why “despite several billions of dollars in loans obtained by successive governments, millions of Nigerians continue to face extreme poverty and lack access to basic public goods and services.”
This latest demand by SERAP is coming two weeks after it gave the Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, and other 35 state governors one-week ultimatum to provide the loan agreements and spending details of the loans obtained by their states and the FCT.
As contained in the latest sub-national debt – domestic and external debts, which were released by the Debt Management Office as of December 30 and June 30, 2023, respectively; The Tide learnt that “for the sub-nationals, Plateau got N16.32bn; Rivers borrowed N7.07bn; Zamfara, N14.26bn; and the FCT under the leadership of Nyesom Wike borrowed N6.75bn from domestic creditors,” amongst others.
However, in its response, the Zamfara State Government refuted the DMO’s report that it borrowed N14.26 billion, adding that it has “never applied for loans or approached the state Assembly or National Assembly for such a request.”
Also, the Kaduna State Government, through the Ministry of Finance, denied procuring a fresh $17.69m loan.
“We did not borrow the said amount or any other amount as reported. The claims are entirely false and fabricated,” said the state Commissioner for Finance, Shizzer Bada.
However, SERAP demanded that Tinubu should establish an “independent audit on the spending of the loans obtained by the governments of the former presidents,” and make its results available to the public.
“Democracy requires accountability and accountability requires transparency.
“Nigerians are entitled to information about what their government is doing in their name. This is part of their right to information,” SERAP said.
The statement noted that publishing the agreements and details of spending of the said loans “would demonstrate” Tinubu’s “oft-expressed commitment to openness in government and to promote accountability,” adding that it would also “improve public accountability” in the MDAs.
Quoting the DMO, SERAP said that “the total public domestic debt portfolio for the country is N97.3 trillion ($108 billion). The Federal Government’s debt is N87.3 trillion ($97 billion).”
It said that the interest paid on loans by the FG in 2015 was $5.5 billion; in 2016, $4.4bn; in 2017, Nigeria paid $5bn as interest; in 2018, $6.5bn was paid; while $6.2bn was paid in 2019.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest,” the organisation said.
It noted that Tinubu’s administration “has a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how any loans obtained by the Federal Government are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to Nigeria is a state party.
“The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities,” the statement concluded.

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