APC leaders should explain how they bought jets – Fani-Kayode

Director of Media and Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has called on Nigerians to ask the All Progressives Congress leaders on how they acquired their private jets.

Fani-Kayode, was reacting to an allegation by the Director of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mallam Garba Shehu, that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration was planning to use the Ministry of aviation to ground the jets belonging to senior members of the APC and frustrate the party’s campaign.

He said it was interesting that APC had admitted, for the first time, that their leaders owned private jets.

He said, “It is interesting that the APC has, for the very first time, admitted that some of its leaders own private jets.  It will be interesting to know from the APC how these leaders, who either occupied public offices or still occupy public offices, acquired these jets.

“In fact, where did the money, with which they procured the jets, come from?

“And this is the APC whose leaders pretend to occupy a moral high ground and accuse everyone else, except themselves, of malfeasance.

“Once again, it is clear that the APC leaders have become prisoners of their own delusions and they are being held captive by their own hallucinations.  This is a clear case of extreme paranoia.

“They are running under the bed when nobody is chasing them.  There are no plans to clamp down on anybody in the opposition.  Our only plan is to humiliate them before the Nigerian people on March 28 by giving them a crushing defeat.”

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Troops raid Boko Haram’s hideout in Yobe, Adamawa

The Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, has said some terrorists were killed by troops during a cordon and search operation along Djimillo-Damaturu on Friday.

Olukolade said the troops had a fierce encounter with the terrorists when their hideout was discovered by soldiers near a market.

He said the soldiers killed an unspecified number of the insurgents and recovered some machines guns and rifles from them.

He added that some of the terrorists were believed to have been killed in an inferno that gutted the house which they used as their base.

Olukolade said a soldiers was killed in the exchange of gun fire with the terrorists while another, who was injured in the gun battle, was undergoing treatment.

The Defence spokesman explained that the troops also had an encounter with some terrorists, who were in the process of blowing up a bridge to halt the military operation in Gulak, the headquarters of the Madagali Local Government area of Adamawa State.

He said the troops, who killed the insurgents, also recovered some arms and ammunition.

He added that flags, hoisted by the terrorists, were being dismantled by the troops in the operational area.

Ekiti seeks violence-free polls

The Ekiti State Government has urged residents to shun acts that could lead to blood shedding or violence in the forthcoming general elections.

Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Modupe Alade, said no blood of Ekiti citizen was worth shedding because of anybody’s ambition.

She urged parents to warn their children and wards against being used by politicians to unleash mayhem on the people.

Alade said, “We hope it will be ballot without blood. There is no blood worth shedding. We won’t allow bloodshed in Ekiti because the Governor of this State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, believes that no blood of anybody is worth shedding because somebody wants to get to a certain position.

“So, we appeal to our parents to keep vigil on their wards. They should not allow them to be used as agents of destabilization. Our youths also must shun violence for Ekiti to remain together after the elections to reap the dividends of democracy.”

The SSG begged civil servants and residents to be patient with the government, promising that leave bonuses will be paid.

“We are not unaware of the fact that the civil servants are expecting their leave bonuses and outstanding salaries from this government. We are assuring them that all will be paid, but we are just pleading that they should exercise patience.

“You are all aware of the State of the economy in Ekiti. Things are just too bad that we cannot quickly meet all these pressing demands. But we are hopeful that all shall be done in due course.

“Governor Fayose is a friend of the masses, particularly the civil servants, teachers and Artisans, who are desirous of making lives easy for the people.

Why don’t you want Jega sacked, PDP asks APC

The Peoples Democratic Party has challenged the All Progressives Congress to come out clear and explain to Nigerians the links between it and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, which informs and propels its interest in his stay in office.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, said it was more than curious that the APC has continued to fabricate stories and show undue interest in Jega, adding that such raise a lot of questions for the opposition and the INEC Chairman.

He said, “Undoubtedly, the frenzy, hysteria and spate with which the APC has been inventing stories regarding Prof. Jega’s stay in office, even when nothing suggests that such was on the table, raise a lot of issues.

“We ask, is there any underlining issue or arrangement between APC and Prof. Jega which the opposition is hell-bent to protect, informing its anxiety and apprehension towards his stay in office?

“While it is noted that the APC is a party of one week, one lie, we in the PDP look beneath the surfaces to the deeper issues propelling the lies.

“We therefore challenge the APC to come out clean and tell Nigerians the real reason behind their false alarms and uncontrolled nervousness regarding Prof. Jega ahead of the 2015 general elections.

“Finally, we wish to remind the leadership of INEC that Nigerians are monitoring its activities and series of unfolding political events ahead of the elections, and will not accept anything less than the conduct of credible, free and fair general elections come March 28 and April 11, 2015.”

Polls: Jonathan woos Benin chiefs, seeks royal blessing

In a bid to gather more support from the South South geopolitical zone, President Goodluck Jonathan ha‎s urged traditional rulers in the Benin Kingdom to support his re-election bid, as a “son of the Benin palace.”

‎Jonathan made the appeal at the weekend, when his campaign team paid a courtesy visit to some palace chiefs at the Holy Arousa Cathedral, Benin, the traditional place of worship of the Oba of Benin.

The Coordinator of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organization in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who conveyed the message of the president, said the Jonathan administration had performed creditably well and deserved a second term in order to complete his good works in Edo and other parts of the country.

Listed among the laudable federal government projects in the state were the rehabilitated Ofosu end of the Benin-Ore dual carriage and the ongoing dualisation of Benin-Auchi-Okene road.

Others are the approval for the building of a new Federal Government Girls’ College, to be sited at Ehor, and ongoing construction of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company headquartres at Iyekogba in Benin.

While noting that the role of the Oba in national development was instrumental to the decision of the president to seek re-election, Ize-Iyamu urged the chiefs for royal blessings and support for the Peoples Democratic Party at all levels.

“I therefore ask that you pray for him, as elders of the land, because in 2011, Edo South voted overwhelmingly for him and this time, he expects more from you. 

“He is not the only one contesting and voting for him alone may put him in danger, as he requires capable people to work with him at the national level. Therefore, he asked that our national assembly and state assembly candidates should also be voted for in this election,” he said.

Also speaking, a former deputy governor of the state, Chief Lucky Imansuen and the Edo South PDP senatorial candidate, Mr. Matthew Urhoghide described their party’s presidential candidate as an achiever whom they said was working “silently” to develop Nigeria.

USAID to support Nigeria’s non-oil exports with N600m

The United States Agency for International Development has disclosed plans to support the country’s non-oil sector with a special fund of $3m (N606.6m) following calls for increased investment in the sector in the face of falling crude oil prices.

The new Chief of Party, USAID/Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport programme, Mr. Marc Shiman, stated this during a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo.

According to a statement by NEPC, Shiman said that about $3m special fund tagged ‘Product Development Fund’, has been made available by USAID for operators along the Lagos-Kano-Jibiya ‘LAKAJI’ Corridor Development Project to access under specific guidelines and through a transparent process.

Shiman said the fund would provide support for research, training and capacity building, business process among other technical assistance along the corridor.

“The goal is to develop and expand exports as well as attract investments from Nigeria. In order to ensure a transparent process for accessing the fund, NEPC has been nominated as a member of the committee that will administer the fund,” he said.

Awolowo had during the meeting stated that there was a need for alternative funding sources to develop exportable products and enhance market opportunities for existing ones in the country, in a bid to diversify the production base of the country’s economy from oil to non-oil.

He added that the council was making efforts to access international funds that would help enhance product development, market research, capacity building for exporters among other technical support that would increase the quality of exportable products from the country from development partners such as USAID/NEXTT.

He said, “Efforts to diversify the economy will soon yield result as the Federal Government through the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan has identified 13 National Strategic Export Products that will replace oil while it will be supported by two key NEPC initiatives – the One State One Product and Nigerian Diaspora Export Programme.

“The NSEPs are grouped under three categories: agro industrial products – including palm oil, cocoa, sugar, rice and cashew; mining-related products such as cement, iron ore and metals, auto parts and cars and aluminum, and thirdly, oil and gas industrial products – including petroleum products, fertilizer and urea, petrochemical and menthol.”

According to Awolowo, the aim of OSOP is to identify and develop in each state of the federation, one non-oil product across its value chain for export.

“The initiative takes cognisance of the country’s comparative advantage in terms of the vastness of its natural endowments,” he said.

He explained that the NDEX project had two components – the Nigerian Heritage City and the Nigerian Cuisine beyond Borders.

“This programme is to leverage on the large population of Nigerians in Diaspora as a means of introducing the best of Nigeria to their host countries and communities just like China Town in USA,” he added.

He, however, noted that for exporters to leverage on the huge potentials in the sector there was a need for value addition as no nation could survive by merely exporting raw commodities.

NPA threatens N100bn fishing investment

The Nigerian Trawler Owners Association has said its members’ N100bn businessess, which   are located at the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal in Lagos, are being threatened by an eviction notice issued by the Nigerian Ports Authority.

NITOA’s Executive Secretary, Dayo Adesanya, told our correspondent that the eviction notice was served on members of the association about two weeks ago. The association was reportedly given seven days to leave the KLT.

About 100, 000 persons are said to be employed directly and another 300,000 persons, indirectly by this industry which in 2006/2006 was the fourth largest non-oil foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.

Adesanya said, “Since the notice was served, we have been in discussions with the NPA; they told us that they wanted to concession the KLT out to private investors as container terminals.

“We asked them where we were expected to move our companies to and they said they would get back to us on that. We have yet to hear from them after that.”

The association, which is made up of about eight industrial fishing companies, had in the past relocated from various private jetties in Apapa after the KLT Phase I and II were in 2005 designated the Lagos Fishing Terminal by the Federal Government.

Their number was reduced from 30 due to the cost of operations, which increased astronomically over time and the incessant attacks by sea pirates on fishing trawlers.

Members were said to have invested heavily in the terminals after being assured by pronouncements from various government officials over the years that the KLT I and II were dedicated fishing terminals.

Adesanya said, “I don’t know how possible it is to make KLT a container terminal. It is not as if, by design, large vessels can berth here; the depth of the channel can’t accommodate large vessels. Even for trawlers which are much smaller, we still have to dredge the channels to enable them move freely.

“This is the only dedicated fishing terminal in the country and I don’t see why it should not be allowed to stay. Other countries smaller than Nigeria, Ghana for instance have dedicated fishing terminals for industrial fishing.

“We even had a meeting with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council early this month on how to improve our export proceeds which has dwindled over the years. This threat of an eviction is only going to take us back.”

He added that Nigeria’s sea products such as shrimps were greatly sought after in the international market and that what the industry needed was government intervention to facilitate its growth.

The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, had said recently that Nigeria’s demand for fish was 2.7 million metric tonnes. Local production, which is currently being encouraged by the government, supplies about 800,000 metric tonnes annually. The deficit of 1.9 million metric tonnes is imported to make up for the short supply.

There was no response from NPA spokesperson and Assistant Manager Public Affairs, Mr. Musa Iliya. He did not respond to calls and a text message to his phone.