Adesina, Shehu are Buhari’s spokesmen. Kazaure now the State Chief of Protocol

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday evening, named Mr Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu as his spokesmen.
Femi Adesina will serve as Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) while Garba Shehu will be the new Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity).

The President has also approved the appointment of Mal. Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure as the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP).
Mr Adesina is the current President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and serves as the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun newspapers.

Garba Shehu served as the Director, Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council. He is also a former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.
Abdullahi Kazaure is a career Foreign Service official and currently serves in Aso Rock Villa as a Special Assistant (Presidential Matters).

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Osinbajo formally takes over Villa Chapel

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday formally took over the leadership of the villa chapel located inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The chapel built by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo always have the President or the Vice President (that is a Christian) as the political head while the President’s or Vice President’s chaplain is the spiritual head.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan would have handed over the chapel to Osinbajo penultimate Sunday when he attended service in the worship centre for the last time but for the Vice President’s absence.

Osinbajo attended service in the chapel for the first time on Sunday accompanied by his wife, Dolapo; Bishop Wale Oke of the Sword of the Spirit Ministries; Senior Pastor, Living Waters Unlimited Church, Pastor Ladi Thompson and other clergymen.

The Vice President, who himself is a pastor, delivered a goodwill message to the congregation and did the benediction.

He later proceeded to the children church where he prayed and took photographs with the children.

He was also joined by members of his entourage.

Wike dissolves board of Greater PH Authority, directs sanitation contractors to resume work

Governor Nyesom Wike-led  Rivers State Government has dissolved the Board of Directors of Greater Port Harcourt Authority with immediate effect ,according to a statement signed by Emma Okah.

Okah said in the statement “Accordingly, the former Administrator of the Authority is hereby directed to hand over the administration and all property of the Authority in her possession to the Secretary of the Authority with immediate effect.

The statement also reads that Government has also directed Refuse Disposal Contractors to resume work immediately.

EFCC arrests CBN officials, 16 bankers for recycling N8bn

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said five top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria and 16 others are to be arraigned for alleged complicity in a currency fraud running to N8bn.

The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Sunday, said the suspects were to be arraigned for circulating defaced and mutilated notes at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State, on June 2, 2015

Uwujaen said the16 other suspects to be arraigned alongside the CBN bigwigs were members of staff of various commercial banks in the country.

He said the suspects would be arraigned on five counts at the high court.

The EFCC spokesperson added that all the suspects now in custody connived to recycle the defaced and mutilated currencies they were asked to destroy by substituting the notes with newspaper cuttings in Naira note sizes.

Uwujaren stated that the operatives of the commission waded into the matter following a petition that the sum of N6.5bn was recycled by a syndicate involving top officials of the CBN in Ibadan, Oyo State.

He explained that the fraud was partly responsible for the failure of the monetary policy of the government as mop up exercises by the CBN failed to address the effect of inflation on the economy.

He said, “The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has concluded arrangement to arraign in court, five top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria implicated in a mega scam involving the theft and recirculation of defaced and mutilated currencies.

“The suspects, drawn from various business units of the apex bank, are to be docked by the anti-graft agency before a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, from Tuesday June 2, 2015 to Thursday June 4, 2015. The remaining 16 suspects are drawn from various commercial banks who were found to have conspired with the CBN executives to swing the heist.

“All the suspects, who are currently in the custody of the EFCC, are now ruing the day they literally allowed greed and craze for materialism to becloud their sense of judgment and responsibility, when they elected to help themselves to tonnes of defaced Naira notes.

“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to Naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency.”

He added, “The fraud is partly to blame for the failure of government monetary policy over the years as currency mop up exercises by the apex bank failed to check the inflationary pressure on the economy.

“The lid on the scam, which is widely suspected to have gone on unchecked for years, was blown on November 3, 2014, via a petition to the EFCC, alleging that over N6, 575, 549, 370.00 was cornered and discreetly recycled by light fingered top executives of the CBN at the Ibadan branch.”

Stop privatisation of NigComSat, ex-MD tells Buhari

A former Managing Director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Mr. Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, has asked the new administration of President Mohammadu Buhari to discontinue with the plan by the Federal Government to privatise the company.

In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, Ahmed-Rufai said selling the satellite infrastructure to private sector operators would have negative implications on the country’s national security.

He added that it was also wrong for the Federal Government to propose the sale of a satellite that was under a lien since the country had not finished paying the company that constructed the space craft.

Ahmed-Rufai said, “I will like to advise the new government to revisit the intended privatisation of NigComSat. It has huge security implications which will be counterproductive.

“Besides, the country has not finished paying the loan element and thus has no right to sell it. Previous National Security Advisers had advised against the sale of the asset. Government may wish to reserve it for defence and security communications.

“NigComSat C band antenna can be used for missile guidance system. It is a tracking antenna fitted with auto synchronous motor assembly. This is one feature that makes sale security sensitive.”

NigComSat workers recently petitioned the former Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, over the proposed sale of the company and alleged impending sacking of 150 staff of the organisation.

In the petition, dated May 5, the workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees, said the manner the proposed sale of the satellite company was being rushed at the terminal end of the last administration left much to be desired.

The workers contended that the viability of NigComSat would not have been an issue if the Federal Government had directed government establishments to patronise NigComSat rather than continue to patronise foreign vendors of satellite bandwidth services.

NigComSat-1R was launched into the orbit on December 19, 2011, as a replacement for Nigeria’s first communication satellite, which developed a power problem in orbit on November 8, 2008, and was consequently de-orbited.

Senate Presidency and the Lawan-Akume deal: End of discussion

In my two previous interventions on the issue, I had tried to offer some illuminations as to the path the APC should take in the tricky circumstance in which it had found itself, especially with some audacious members poised to go the whole hog in the battle for the coveted seat of Senate president.

The trio of Senators Bukola Saraki, George Akume and Ahmad Lawan had thrown their hats in the ring. They brought a large dose of intrigues and horse-trading into the mix.
The themes of the first article titled: “Senate Presidency: Considering the Akume, Lawan Options” and the second article, titled:

“Senate Presidency, Speakership: the Conversation Continues” favoured both Akume and Lawan Senate presidency.
It was pretty difficult for me in my first outing to prop up one against the other. I had simply navigated the turbulence by proposing an Akume Senate presidency if the APC ceded the position to the North Central and a Lawan Senate presidency if the party decided to cede it to the North-East zone.

Danjuma Goje, Bukola Saraki,Abdullahi Adamu and George Akume
That was quite explicable: both aspirants are very good, meritorious, experienced and, in the legislative parlance, ranking senators. In other words, either of them would make a good Senate president; or put differently, both of them have all the requisite qualifications to occupy the office.

In my second outing, after the APC had discountenanced the factor of zoning, I weighed all the aspirants on the scale of merit, experience and ranking and concluded that while Saraki failed to measure up, both Akume and Lawan were spot-on in their claims on merit, experience and ranking.
My argument was that overall Akume would appear to have a head start over Lawan, apparently guided by the Senate standing rule.

Whereas, Lawan was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 before his election into the Senate in 2007, the same year Akume got elected into the Senate, in determining ranking, the Senate rule does not take into account the fact of previous membership of the either the state legislature or House of Representatives.
That makes both Akume and Lawan equal in terms of length of tenure. The head-start, which Akume has over Lawan, as I argued, is the fact that Akume has been a principal officer, to wit: Senate Minority Leader since 2011.

By virtue of that seniority, now that the APC, which he leads as Minority Leader in the Senate, has become a majority party, Akume should have been allowed to progress into the position of Senate president in line with the convention of leadership by progression in advanced democracies.

In the same vein, I had argued that the Minority Leader in the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, should also have been allowed to progress to become Speaker. Those were the frontiers of the conversation that I continued to expand in my second intervention before the horse-trading that redefined the shape and course of the race for the senate presidency.

Although, I came short of suggesting that Akume and Lawan should agree to step down for each other so that one would pick the position of Senate President and the other Deputy Senate President simply because I did not want to offend the sensibilities of either of these solid candidates, it was gratifying when the APC Senators Unity Forum, a group comprising 37 out of the 60 members-elect, got Akume to step down for Lawan so that Lawan would emerge as Senate President and Akume as Deputy Senate President.

That move gave birth to a very solid APC bloc in the emergent 8th Senate, leaving Saraki with the support of 23 senators to search for support in the PDP caucus to shore up his dwindling fortunes. Knowing the Senate politics and politicking as one does, the acclaimed 23-member Saraki Like Minds group cannot remain intact between now and the day of inauguration.

Saraki will steadily lose some of his supporters, who would not want to miss out in the chairmanship of standing committees, to the Lawan-Akume group, which looks good to clinch the presiding officers’ slots.
Having sat back to consider all the indices on ground, it was clear that the only way to breeze past Saraki was for Lawan and Akume to present a tag team or joint ticket. That worked perfectly for them.   It also bolstered the support for the ticket among senators of the PDP caucus.

Lawan is believed to enjoy the solid support of the outgoing Senate President, David Mark. Mark is very influential and would be instrumental to securing the support of a majority of the 49-member PDP  Senate caucus for Lawan-Akume ticket.Saraki will get his share of support from the PDP caucus, no doubt. That is the scenario to expect.

Gunmen kidnap Kogi commissioner in farm

Gunmen, numbering about five, on Sunday kidnapped the Commissioner of Land in Kogi State, Mr. Steven Mayaki.

An eyewitness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told journalists in Lokoja that the five gunmen trailed and kidnapped  the commissioner at his farm in Osara village, Adavi Local Government Area of the state on Sunday morning.

According to him, the gunmen stormed Mayaki’s farm in a Prado Jeep, forcibly  picked up the commissioner  and  drove away the victim away to an unknown destination.

Kogi State Police Public  Relations Officer, Mr Adebayo Collins, confirmed the kidnap, adding that the command was doing everything possible to rescue the commissioner unhurt.

Collins said, “It is true the commissioner  was kidnapped but the command is on top of the matter.”

The  state High Court Judge, Justice Samuel Obayomi, who was kidnapped last Monday,  has yet to be released.

The judge’s orderly, Mr. Usman Musa, was shot dead in the encounter.

The kidnappers later demanded N150m ransom before they could release the judge.