AMCON: Buhari okays Malami to head presidential c’ttee on loan recovery

President Muhammadu Buhari has okayed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to head the Presidential Inter-Agency Committee on recovery of loans granted to commercial banks and corporate organisations by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON.

Members of the Committee who include representatives drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), are, the AGF as Chairman, Minister of State (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika, Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase and Chairman, Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

Others are the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, Group Managing Director Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, Director General, Debt Management Office, DMO, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Mr. Farouk Ahmed   and the managing director, AMCON, Alhaji Ahmed Kuru.

A statement yesterday by spokesman to the AGF, Mr. Salihu Othman Isah, said the committee was inaugurated recently in Abuja.

Isah stated that the AGF had at the event noted that AMCON was established by the Act of the National Assembly to prevent the collapse of the Nigerian banking sector, following the banking crisis that was precipitated by Bank Consolidation Reforms that took place in 2008.

He said the AGF pointed out that the situation led to huge indebtedness for banks which culminated in the eventual purchase of the toxic loans by AMCON in order to stabilize the banking sector, and by extension the Nigerian economy.

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Buhari to visit Niger Delta this week

President Muhammadu Buhari will this week make his first visit as president to Nigeria’s oil-producing south, which has been riven by an upsurge in violence from militants, his office said Tuesday.

Attacks on pipelines and other infrastructure have cut Nigeria’s oil production to some 1.4 million barrels per day, exacerbating revenue shortfalls caused by the global slump in crude prices.

But a media aide to Buhari said the president would travel to Ogoniland in Rivers state to flag off a long-awaited clean-up of the area, which has been affected by oil spills.

“All things being equal, the president will be in Ogoniland on Thursday for the historic clean up of the area,” the aide told AFP.

In August 2011, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report said Ogoniland may require the world’s biggest-ever clean-up.

Environmental devastation to farming and fishing in the area has for many come to symbolise the tragedy of Nigeria’s vast but squandered oil wealth.

Decades of crude production filled the pockets of powerful government officials and generated huge profits for oil majors but corruption and spills left the people with nothing.

Neglect and pollution fanned local resentment and anger, prompting militant groups to take up arms against the government in the 2000s. Attacks on oil facilities and personnel were frequent.

The violence was ended in 2009 when the government introduced an amnesty programme. But a new group calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers has renewed attacks since the beginning of the year.

Sporadic bombings of key pipelines run by Nigerian subsidiaries of Anglo-Dutch group Shell, US firm Chevron and Italy’s Eni, as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

On Monday evening, the group warned in an email and in a statement on its website that more devastating attacks were to come.

“To the international oil companies and indigenous oil companies, it’s going to be bloody this time around,” it said.

Buhari said on Sunday he would keep and “re-engineer” the amnesty, apparently reversing previous policy to wind-down the programme by 2018.

Pensioners decry continued suspension of PTAD DG

Aggrieved pensioners across the country and their next of kins have continued to decry the suspension of the Executive Secretary and Director General, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Mrs. Nellie Mayshak, months ago by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

Although the minister had said the suspension was to give room for investigations of alleged corruption in PTAD under her watch, but pensioners have lamented a deterioration in the quality of verification exercise and payment since her exemption from office and have called for her reinstatement as they believe the suspension must have been done in error.

The pensioners who have continued to lament their current plights, insist that the numerous contributions of Mayshak to PTAD should not be swept under the carpet over unproven allegations.

They recalled that while the embattled DG served as PTAD boss, they had eulogised her policies, and written recommendation letters to laud her efforts in putting an end to their gory tales.

A letter by a pensioner Mr Samuel Ajunwa lauded Mayshak’s prompt payment of pensions, commended her conduct of verification exercise, and her commitment to pensioners’ welfare.

The pensioners expressed displeasure over their ill treatment since Mayshak left office and expressed fear that the management of pensions under the defined benefit scheme which Mayshak upheld may not live up to its mandate.

Commending her efforts, while in office, a retired Commissioner of Police, Chief Samuel Fetipigi had said the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme being transferred to PTAD and pensioners verification exercise under her watch recorded tremendous and commendable success.

“All the problems that had beset the payment of police pensioners are being resolved by PTAD.

“Our pension has been updated to the new rate, while many of the arrears have been paid.

“I am sure that by the end of this exercise, all police pensioners, including widows and the next of kin would not have problems anymore,’’ he said.

According to them she also digitized the old pension scheme for effective service delivery to ensure seamless payment of pensioners, as well as bring transparency into the system, adding that PTAD under her watch leveraged on technology to get database of pensioners; to help the agency to know the actual number of pensioners by removing ghost pensioners from the system.

The pensioners have expressed disappointment over the agency’s inability to follow the blue print of Mayshak, whom they described as an “outstanding public sector reform expert”, and have made series of complaints about the agency loosing the glory and values it was known for while Mayshak was in charge.

It would be recalled that rumours were making waves that the embattled DG earns N50-60 million monthly which was debunked as false, baseless, and maligning to her character, and described as an act perpetuated by mischief makers with the intention to run down her hard earned reputation.

There were clarifications that her salary was subject to approval by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission whom among other functions advises the Federal and State Governments on National Income policy.

The Pensioners while calling for her reinstatement averred that it will help put an end to their present predicament and gory tales of pensioners currently ongoing at the agency.

Police IGP orders disarmament of IPOB members

The Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police, Solomon E. Arase, has ordered the disarmament of members of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).

This was made known in a statement, Tuesday, signed by ACP Olabisi Kolawole, the Force Public Relation officer.

The IGP further decried killings of police officers by the members of IPOB who yesterday went violent during a protest that oguth to be peaceful in some States in the south east.

The statement read this

Following the manifestation of the disposition of the armed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) activists to undertake premeditated attacks on Police officers engage in operations aimed at restoring public order in States in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zone of the country, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Solomon E. Arase, fdc, NPM has directed the Assistant Inspectors General of Police and the Commissioners of Police in the affected area to disarm members of the group operating firearms immediately.

The IGP noted that the targeted attacks on Police personnel, who have been performing their statutory functions in the most professional and civil manner since the latest resurgence disorder, portrays the IPOB activists who are orchestrating the insurrection as having crossed the threshold in their misguided attempt to test the common will of the nation.

IGP Arase, while condemning the killing by members of IPOB, also directed the arrest of any member of the group found in possession of firearm and bring him/her to deserved justice, while all IPOB activists arrested in connection with the killing of the Policemen should be charged to court for murder.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force will continue to diligently work towards eliminating any threat to internal security and assures Nigerians of its commitment to their safety and security.

ABUJA.

Space agency predicts first moon crescent for June 5

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has predicted that the appearance of the first astronomical lunar crescent for the month of June 2016 will commence on June 5.

NASRDA is saddled with the responsibility of carrying out scientific observation of the Moon, which is the nearest celestial object to the Earth.

Head, Media and Corporate Communications of the Agency, Dr. Felix Ale, in a statement said the first appearance of the moon could not be sighted with naked eyes except with the aid of Charge Coupled Device (CCD) imaging, astronomical telescope or any good optical astronomy instrument. Thus the proper sighting of the crescent with naked eyes signifies the beginning of Ramadan.

He explained that the first astronomical lunar crescent will appear in Nigeria on June 5, 2016 between 5:12pm and 7:37pm with Kaduna and Sokoto being the first to witness the first young lunar crescent at about 5:12pm concurrently to 7:33pm and 7:21pm respectively; while the lunar crescent will be sighted lastly in Jos the capital of Plateau State between 6:02pm to 7:14pm.

All other states of the federation will experience the first lunar crescent between the estimated time of 5:12pm and 7:37pm on June 5, 2016.
Ale pointed out that the results released by the Agency show precise dates, appearance time of first crescent, sunset as well as moon set time for all the state capital of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

He noted: “In Abuja, the first lunar crescent will appear between 5:37 p.m. and 7:18 p.m., with sunset at about 6:47pm, and moon set at about 7:18 p.m. While in Kano the appearance of the first lunar crescent will be experienced between 5:14 p.m. – 7:18 p.m., with sunset and moonset at about 6:55 p.m. and 7:18 p.m. respectively.

“Sokoto the seat of the caliphate will be the first along with Kaduna to experience the appearance of the lunar crescent between 5:12 p.m. – 7:33 p.m., and 5:12 p.m. – 7:21 p.m. respectively with a sunset and moonset time of about 7:04p.m., 7:33 p.m., and 6:43 p.m., 7:21 p.m. respectively.

“The South-West states of Lagos and Ibadan will expectedly experience the first lunar crescent between 5:46pm – 7:32pm, and 5:48pm – 7:31pm respectively. And the sun will set in these states at about 6:57pm and 6:55am, while the moon will set at about 7:32pm and 7:31pm respectively.”

The NASRDA spokesman emphasised that the conjunction time for the first lunar crescent in Nigeria on 05/06/2016 is at 4:00 local time, oriented at an Azimuth of +288⁰:2’53” in Abuja, Azimuth of +288⁰:04’25” in Kaduna, Azimuth of +288⁰:04’57” in Kano, Azimuth of +288⁰:01’03” in Lagos, Azimuth of +288⁰:04’”00” in Sokoto, Azimuth of +288⁰:05’54” in Maiduguri, Azimuth of +288⁰:01’21” in Ilorin and, +288°:05’:00” in Port Harcourt.

He added that, the calculated results are made available for the information of the general public especially those who would need them for religious and academic purposes, saying scientific researchers should be at the liberty to request for detailed analysis or more results on other states of the federation from the Space Agency.

Don’t politicise security issues, Wike warns

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has warned against the politicisation of security issues following the spate of violence in the very recent past in parts of the state.

The governor, who sounded the caution yesterday in Port Harcourt at a town hall meeting tagged: “Accounting for Governor Nyesom Wike’s Administration: One Year After”, also disclosed that the state government was building an ICT-compliant security infrastructure to help fight crime and empower the security agencies to be more proactive.

“When I met with the President, I told him that we will tackle cultism and insecurity in four local government areas. They are Abua/Odual, Ahoada East, Ahoada West and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas,” Wike said.

He declared that his administration had stabilised the economy through strategic release of funds for payment of salaries and key projects.
The government explained that he started with the renewal of infrastructure in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Council because both towns support majority of the population of the state.

Wike also assured the people of the state that all of the state’s 23 local council would execute key projects, adding that no council would be denied the impact of good governance.

“We have stabilised the economy of Rivers State since we took over the reins of leadership in the state. We achieved the stabilisation of the economy by injecting N151 billion as salaries and payment of contractors. These funds have helped us to rebuild our economy which was badly damaged by the immediate past administration, “ he added.

The governor also promised that no project would be abandoned by his administration, stating that his government would only award projects that will be completed within the lifespan of the administration.

Wike said the renewal of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Councils had enhanced the economy of the state, as more investors were now confident to do business with the state.

He noted that 46 roads had been reconstructed under the Operation Zero Potholes, adding that 15 inherited roads had also been completed with the 27 new ones initiated by his administration already commissioned.

The governor added that the administration had started the phased rehabilitation of schools in the three senatorial districts of the state and completed the Law Faculty of the state university just as it paid for science consumables and restored NECO in the state.

In his remarks, chairman of the occasion and former Chief Judge of the state, Justice Iche Ndu, lauded the governor for being transparent and accountable to the people, adding that he has performed creditably in transforming the state.Highpoint of the event was the immediate employment of three physically challenged persons.

Nigeria, 8 nations to revive Niger Basin with $6.4m

The nine member-states of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), Nigeria, Cameroun, Guinea, Mali Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Chad, are to commit $6.44 million towards reviving the Basin and improving the lot of the people living therein.

The funds are to also facilitate access to hydro-power and boost agricultural production in the region.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who disclosed this during the opening ceremony of the Council of Ministers meeting yesterday in Abuja, decried the deteriorating state of the basin hugely spurred by the combined effects of climate and human activities.

“This phenomenon is heavily compromising the future of the ever increasing population of the Niger Basin through the intensity and number of environmental, social and economic problems it is inducing,” he said.

While expressing concerns at the security situation within the basin and the entire West and Central African region, Buhari noted that the implementation of the Operational Plan NBA would provide job opportunities for the youths in the areas of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and conservation of the basin’s natural resources.

He said by so doing, the institution would contribute to the fight against idleness and lack of future prospects for the youths which could lure them into extremism as observed over the years.

Represented by the Minister of Environment, Hajiya Amina Muhammed, the President said the investment outlay was developed with the active participation of representatives of all member- countries for select 350 investment and capacity building actions for the benefit of countries and the basin’s secretariat.

In his remarks, the Chairman of NBA Council of Ministers and Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, stressed the need for member- countries to contribute at least 10 per cent for the funding of the operational plan, adding that a new sharing formula had been formulated.

Recall that the Basin was established in November 1980 to “promote cooperation between member-countries and ensure an integrated development of the Niger Basin in the areas of hydraulics, energy, agriculture, livestock, fisheries as well as fish farming, forestry and logging.”