YABATECH declares 22-day holiday for elections

The Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, has directed its full-time and part-time students to proceed on a 22-day holiday to enable them to exercise their civic rights during next month’s general elections.

This was contained in a bulletin by Head, Public Relations Unit of the college, Mr Charles Oni.

According to the bulletin, the holiday will start from February 11 and end on March 4.

It also stated that hostels and lecture theatres would be under lock and key throughout the period.

The bulletin quoted the Rector of the college, Dr Margaret Ladipo, as appealing to the students to comport themselves during the holiday.

Mixed reactions, however, trailed the announcement, as some students said the holiday would disrupt the second semester academic calendar.

Others commended the management for being safety conscious and allowing students, who are not residents in Lagos to travel for the elections.

Miss Ronke Adeyemi, a National Diploma, Science and Laboratory Technology part-time student, told the News Agency of Nigeria, that it was a good decision.

“It is a good decision and I am happy with it. It is very risky for us to stay on campus during the elections because anything can happen.

“I will use the period to read and prepare for my test because as soon as we resume in March, we are starting our test,’’ she said.

Another student, who pleaded anonymity, said the holidays was too long and would deny the students the opportunity to receive enough lectures and prepare for examinations.

The National Diploma Textile Technology student said the holiday should be reduced to 10 days in the interest of the students.

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Poor turnout as Jonathan takes campaign to Kaduna

A half-filled stadium marked the presidential campaign rally of President Goodluck Jonathan  at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, as the President rounded off his re-election campaign in the North-West zone of the country on Saturday.

The 25,000 capacity stadium was half filled as many supporters shunned the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate’s rally.

A visibly angry deputy governor of the state, Amb. Nuhu Bajoga, was spotted by our correspondent at the rally, complaining bitterly to members of the local organising committee at the main bowl of the stadium.

He reportedly told the committee to “go and bring the crowd.”

It was gathered that the ‘welfare package” for supporters were allegedly diverted by some unnamed officials of the local organising committee.

Curiously, a section of the stadium, rather than praising the president, started singing “sai Buhari,” a situation that forced security operatives to chase the disgruntled supporters out of the stadium.

The president, who arrived the stadium at about 1.30pm, went round the scanty stadium, before taking his seat.

In his speech, Jonathan said Kaduna was one of the major beneficiaries of the Federal Government and as such, it was payback time for the people of the state to re-elect him in the February 14 election.

He said the state was the focus of the Federal Government in the next four years if elected.

He added that the collapsed textile mills in the state would be revived, so as to create jobs for the teeming youths in the state.

Jonathan noted that the state must work with the party for the development of the state.

Vice President Namadi Sambo had earlier, in his speech, said the people of the state appreciated the gesture of the president for his(Sambo) choice as his running mate in the February poll.

He described the president as patriotic and detribalised and therefore urged the people of the state to vote the party in all the elections.

Sambo said the president loved the people of the region, pointing out that the president was determined to bring back the collapse industry in Kaduna State through the establishment of the 215-megawatt Kudendan Power Plant in the state.

Also, Senate President David Mark said Kaduna was important to the party, as according to him, if the state leads, other parts of the North would follow in the forthcoming election.

Serena beats Sharapova, wins 6th Australian Open title

Serena Williams won her 19th Grand Slam title, continued her unbeaten run in six Australian Open finals and extended her decade-long domination of Maria Sharapova with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win on Saturday.

After celebrating prematurely on her third match point, letting her racket go after serving what she thought was an ace but learning that it was a let, top-ranked Williams took a deep breath and fired another ace — her 15th of the set and 18th of the match — to seal it.

This time, the celebration was real. She jumped around like a little child, bouncing up and down, before shaking hands with Sharapova at the net.

No petition on ex-militants war threat -Police

The police have said they are still studying the threat by some ex-militants to declare war against the nation, if President Goodluck Jonathan does not win the forthcoming presidential election.

The Force stated that it would take appropriate action at the right time.

Some ex-militants, including Mujahideen Dokubo-Asari, Tompolo and Boyloaf, had threatened to wage war against the nation if Jonathan loses the presidential election in February, after a meeting between Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State; the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku and the ex-warlords in Yenagoa last week.

Former Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, had called for the arrest of the ex-militants for constituting a threat to the peace of the nation.

But when asked what on Friday what the police planned to do about the threat, the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojuwku, explained that the police were studying the situation and would take appropriate steps.

When prodded further on why the ex-militants had not been summoned or cautioned, Ojukwu said there was no report before the police on the threat.

He said, “We have not taken action because there is no report or complaint before the police; no one has lodged a complaint on the issue, but we are studying the situation and would take the necessary step at the right time.”

The Federal Government had on Thursday condemned the inflammatory statement by the warlords, saying there was no basis for the beating of war drums by the ex-militants.

Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, described the threat by the warlords as reprehensible, stressing that Jonathan had said he would concede defeat if he lost the presidential election.

Moro said, “It is reprehensible for people to threaten this country with mayhem and violence should their candidate lose the elections. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has not left anybody in doubt as to his preparedness to conduct a free, fair, credible and transparent election.

“Mr. President has said that in the unlikely event of his losing the election, in the course of this exercise, that he is straight man enough, he was democratic enough to concede defeat.

“And so if Mr President himself, who is the main contestant in this election, who is the President of this country, who is the leader of the PDP, has come out to say that he was going to ensure free and fair elections, where the choice of Nigerians would be respected, I do not see where statements from the supporters of either Mr. President or any other political parties for that matter should derail the course of this democratic movement.”

Teeming supporters occupy Bauchi streets awaiting Buhari

Security operatives are having a tough time controlling thousands of lovers and supporters of All Progressive Congress’ Presidential flagbearer, General Muhammadu Buhari, as they patiently await his arrival at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Square in Bauchi.

Buhari is billed to be in Bauchi State for his Presidential Campaign rally.

Our Correspondent reports that the mammoth crowd have been waiting at the IBB Square since 10am immediately after the environmental Sanitation exercise for the rally that was scheduled for 2pm.

Some of the party supporters, men, women and children, in their numbers have taken to the streets with their brooms chanting various solidarity songs in support of the candidature of the retired General at the February 14 election.

The crowd have taken over most of the major streets in Bauchi making it virtually impossible for motorists to move.

From Bakin Kura to Ran Road to Awala Roundabout through Kano Road to the Bauchi International Airport, which is about 25 kilometers to the venue of the campaign, the supporters  chanted “sai Buhari,” “sai Baba” among others.

UN backs regional troops against Boko Haram

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has expressed support for the establishment of a Multi-National Joint Task Force to fight Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s North-East region.

Ban made the expression while addressing newsmen on Saturday, on the sidelines of ongoing African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the AU Peace and Security Council at its 484th meeting, held on January 29, at the level of Heads of State and Government, adopted a resolution to establish an initial 7,500 troops to combat the Boko Haram insurgency.

The resolution was sequel to a proposal presented to the council by countries in the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Republic of Benin.

The LCBC countries – Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad – made the proposal for the continent to raise troops that could defeat the terrorist group currently expanding to borders of Cameroon and Chad.

It is believed that no fewer than 13,000 persons had been killed, while more than one million others displaced, since the violent sect began attacks on villages and towns in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in 2009.

Ban said, “I strongly support the AU’s decision to establish a Multi-National Joint Task Force, which is consistent with the UN Human Rights Policies.

“Regional and international efforts must focus on protecting communities in Northern Nigeria and across borders.

“The more than one million internally displaced people and refugees must be able to return home. We must stop the advance of this terrorist group.

“Once again, I repeat my call for immediate and unconditional release of those who have been abducted, particularly the girls from Chibok.”

He noted that collaboration on peace and security had been one of the most important elements of the UN’s partnership with the AU.

The UN chief added that more than 80 per cent of UN peacekeeping operations were deployed in Africa.

“The UN Assembly in 2006 adopted a global counter terrorism strategy. Under this, we have established implementation task force and I, myself, established counter-terrorism centres,’’ he said.

Power: FG deploys electronic monitors to check vandalism

The Minister of State, Power, Mr. Mohammed Wakil, on Saturday said the Federal Government had started installing electronic monitors to check vandalism of gas pipelines as part of measures aimed at ensuring regular power supply.

Sounding confident that the recent privatisation of the power sector carried out by the present administration would soon yield visible result, he said South Africa has started emulating the exercise which he said had become a model for many other countries.

Wakil said this in an interview with journalists in Abuja.

The minister boasted that in due course, Nigerians would soon be taking power supply for granted in the country.

He said, “In due course, power supply will become what Nigerians can take for granted. We are expanding investment in transmission sector through involvement of the private sector.

“The distribution companies are investing in system upgrade, like South Africa is about to start.

“The generation companies are busy with upgrade especially after the administration had addressed the gas-to-power issue.

“We are installing electronic monitors to check incessant vandalism of gas pipelines by enemies of the nation.”