For proper restructing, let’s return to 1963 Constitution – Rivers elders

The Rivers Elders and Leaders’ Council said on Friday Nigeria must return to the 1963 Constitution in order to ensure proper restructuring, unity and peaceful co-existence.

They also kicked against the inclusion of Rivers State by South East agitators in the proposed Biafra Republic, declaring that it would never happen following the unpleasant experience of the Civil War.

The leaders, through their chairman, Chief Albert Horsfall, the pioneer Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), stated these during a press briefing held on Thursday in Port Harcourt.

They said: “Our position is 1963 Nigeria. In 1960, we had Independence Constitution. In 1963, it was turned into law, as a Republican Constitution. We want a return to that situation.

“Biafra has no place whatsoever in Rivers State. Rivers State belongs to Rivers people. The first experience with the place called Biafra, being Ojukwu’s (Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu’s) Republic of Biafra, was such an agony for Rivers people. We do not wish any reference or return to Biafra anymore.”

The leaders also asked Governor Nyesom Wike to tackle insecurity in the state.

The group added: “We intend to send a letter to the Rivers State government, drawing attention to the insecurity and the consequences thereof.

“It is in everybody’s interest that we have security in Rivers State. For the government’s economic policy to work, there has to be security.”


Renovators at UK blaze tower were asked to cut costs

The remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London which was gutted by fire on June 14, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 12 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN

Contractors working on the renovation of London’s Grenfell Tower were asked by the building’s managers to reduce costs, with cheaper exterior cladding suggested as one alternative, The Times reported Friday.

At least 80 people were killed in the blaze that consumed the tower this month, with the cladding blamed for spreading the fire throughout the 24-floor block.

An “urgent nudge email” sent to contractor Artelia UK from the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation (KCTMO), which runs the tower block on behalf of the local council, said that “we need good costs” for council deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen.

One suggestion was the use of aluminium panels instead of zinc, which is more fire-resistant, leading to a “saving of £293,368”.

Retired judge Martin Moore-Bick was on Thursday appointed to lead a public inquiry into the fire, which engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14.

Residents have expressed anger at the authorities’ handling of the fire, leading protesters on June 16 to storm the town hall which manages the social housing block, though there is no suggestion that fire safety concerns were ignored.

On Friday, Robert Black, chief executive of KCTMO, said he would resign in order to “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry.”

Victims identified so far include a six-month-old baby, her eight-year-old sister and their parents, who lived on the 20th floor.

The baby was found in her dead mother’s arms.

The government revealed Friday that cladding samples taken from 149 high-rise buildings in 45 local authority areas had all failed fire safety tests.

As part of an emergency fund, the government announced this month that each household whose home was destroyed would receive at least £5,500 (6,250 euros, $7,130).

Checks are under way at hundreds of high-rises in Britain fitted with the same cladding which encased Grenfell Tower.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council on Thursday failed in a bid to bar journalists from the first meeting of councillors since the disaster, and instead adjourned the meeting early.

Theresa May’s office criticised the aborted meeting, saying: “The High Court ruled that the meeting should be open and we would have expected the council to respect that.”

FG gives Nollywood over N420m additional grant

According to a statement issued by the Deputy Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs Patricia Deworitshe, on Friday in Abuja, the money, which is the second tranche payment will benefit 105 film distributors.

The Federal Government says it has released the sum of N420.2 million to the Nigeria film industry popularly called Nollywood to improve and support aspiring practitioners.

According to a statement issued by the Deputy Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs Patricia Deworitshe, on Friday in Abuja, the money, which is the second tranche payment will benefit 105 film distributors.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government had earlier introduced the “Project Act Nollywood’’, with three primary components aimed at developing the movie making value chain.

The components are the Film Production Fund (FPF), Capacity Building Fund (CBF) and Innovative Distribution Fund (IDF).

The FPF and CBF have been fully implemented, while the IDF, which is the third component of the project, is on-going.

The IDF covers online, National, Regional and community categories of Nollywood Film distribution and exhibition.

The objectives of IDF are to improve the distribution network of Nigerian Audio-Visual contents, cut down on piracy, create jobs, and protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) within the Nigerian Entertainment Industry.

NAN reports that N1.8 billion was approved for disbursement to 106 beneficiaries in this component; and N1.335 billion was disbursed earlier in the year as first tranche to 105 beneficiaries.

Deworitshe said that before the release of the second tranche, the finance ministry had earlier carried out a successful monitoring and evaluation of the first tranche disbursement.

“Fifteen community cinemas and viewing centres have been established through the grant and this has improved the distribution network of movies in Nigeria.

“The programme has supported 18 firms in strengthening online distribution platforms, this has helped curb illegal downloads and piracy.

“Two hundred and fifty six permanent jobs and 544 temporary jobs have been created through the financial support provided to 105 beneficiaries by the programme,’’ she said.

Deworitshe said the programme had also aided the extension of the Nollywood Industry to sub-Sahara Africa through the funding of National distributors to expand their distribution capacity and network.

She said through the programme, distributors had expanded their capacity to lip-synching their content in French for onward distribution to the ECOWAS sub-region.

Education, good governance will enhance African trade – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says that basic education and good governance will enhance intra-African trade.

Obasanjo said this at the ongoing 24th Annual General Meeting of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Friday in Kigali.He said that there should be education for all, adding that it was the foundation for development

According to him, at least basic education is required by all to enable citizens read and write and be useful to himself, his country and his neighbours.

He said it was only when all were educated that the problem of cross-border trade would grow and also hasten the economic integration of the continent.

The former president also expressed concern that lack of good governance in Africa due to massive corruption, impunity and inconsistency in fiscal policies had impeded the growth of trade in Africa.

“When these stop, Africans will then begin to have basic needs of life and develop trade across borders.

“Thriving shipping companies owned by African countries and harmonised fiscal policies will lead to better life for Africans and a booming cross-border trade.

“A situation where an African fills two separate documents to enter another country will not help African trade, rather it will retard trade and development,’’ he said.

He appealed to African leaders to believe in their own, adding that a facility from Afreximbank, African Development Bank and others owned by Africans was better, than obtained elsewhere.

He stressed the need for African leaders to understudy capitalism and learn how to deal with it.

According to him, how will one explain the exportation of raw materials to Europe at a cheaper prize and buy the finished raw material in an exorbitant prize.

He said the World Bank and IMF and other western finance institutions were designed by the western world to sooth the western world, adding that the institutions had “bitter pills an African must swallow’’.

“No one can run away from the institutions’ bitter pills because the pills have been designed in such way that if you swallow it, you will fail and if you don’t, you will still fail.

“During my tenure as president of Nigeria, I told the then Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Charles Soludo that when these institutions come don’t chase them away but just listen to them and learn how to deal with the overtures.

“So, I was able to study capitalism and approached our creditors to do something about my country’s debt, which was in billions of dollars and they listened. A large chunk of the debt was written off,” he said.

Obasanjo said that Africans were not weak but their mindset about themselves had been the problem.

According to him, Africans should desist from saying to these institutions; just help me, I am in a problem without understanding what his country wants before taking a facility?

President Buhari fast recovering in London hospital – APC

John Odigie-Oyegun

The All Progressives Congress (APC) says President Muhammadu Buhari is fast recovering from his illness contrary to allegations that he is on life support.

The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, gave the assurance in Abuja while speaking with newsmen at the end of a meeting between the party`s National Working Committee (NWC) and state governors elected on the party’s platform.

“We are glad to inform you that President Muhammadu Buhari is recovering in a very robust manner.

“We hope he takes it easy and when he comes back, I have no doubt at all that we will have a new and active period of activities.’’

He, however, said only the president’s doctors abroad could decide when he would be fit to return to the country.

Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State had recently alleged that President Buhari was on life-support in a London Hospital where he is receiving medical attention.

The national chairman, however, refused to respond to the governor’s comment, saying he would do that at an appropriate time.

“If I respond, I will be dignifying him.

“At the appropriate time, people will answer him; at the appropriate level; at the appropriate time.

“He is in a different world altogether.’’

According to him, the party’s leadership has confidence in President Buhari.He added that the meeting x-rayed the nation, ongoing agitation for its restructuring and inciting statements emanating from different parts of the country.

Odigie-Oyegun stressed that such inciting statements are not good “for the nation`s health and have to be stopped’’.According to him, the party maintains its earlier position on the restructuring of the country as clearly stated in its manifesto.

He further said the party’s leadership would do all it could at all times to ensure that the unity of the country was preserved.He added that the APC leadership was ready to listen to whatever grievances any group in the country might have.

Ebonyi to spend N1.8 bn on primary health care – Umahi

The Ebonyi Government says it will spend N1.8billion to boost primary health care under the Save One Million Lives Programme for Result Initiative of the Federal Government.

Gov. Dave Umahi announced this at Ezillo, Ishielu Local Government Area, at the launching of the first round of the 2017 Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW).
The governor represented by Dr Eric Kelechi-Igwe, the deputy governor, said that the administration was committed to providing qualitative health care.

According to him, boosting primary health care delivery in the state is critical for the enhancement of the welfare, wellbeing and improving the general health status of every citizen of the state.

He urged nursing mothers, pregnant women and care givers to avail themselves of the opportunity to get their children immunised against the major six child killer-disease as well as safeguard the lives of the unborn child.

Umahi said that polio and other child killer-diseases had been eradicated, while some had been reduced to the barest minimum through many interventions.

The governor urged health managers to streamline the health reporting system to reflect the present reality, noting that Ebonyi eradicated polio virus since 2009.
”The Maternal, New Born and Child Health Care services is aimed at complementing the efforts of the Ministry of Health in the provision of sound and qualitative health care delivery to our citizens.

“This government places much premium on primary health care delivery and has made several interventions in the area, including equipping the 171 Primary Health Care Development Centres for improved service delivery.

“We urge our mothers especially the nursing and pregnant mothers to take advantage of the week to vaccinate their children, between zero and 59 months while pregnant women should immunize to secure the lives of the unborn children.

“We commend the efforts of our development partners for their continued support and assistance in this regard, “Umahi said.

Earlier, Dr Daniel Umezuruike, the Commissioner for Health, said that the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Care Initiative, under the Save One Million Lives programme, were put in place to reduce child and maternal mortality.

He said that the programme was among key decisions reached at the 53rd National Council on Health (NCH) held in 2010 in Asaba.

According to him, the programme is aimed at getting children and women of reproductive age immunised against the killer diseases, educate nursing mothers on importance of exclusive breastfeeding, among others.

He said that under the first round, 124, 900 children would be immunised against polio virus, and 588,908 against night blindness.

FG’ll remain resolute in anti-corruption fight despite challenges – Osinbajo

The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government will remain resolute in its fight against corruption in spite of the daunting challenges.

Osinbajo said this in Lagos at the 5th Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity entitled: ‘Prevention is better than Cure even on the Issue of Corruption’.

The lecture was organised by the Integrity Organisation Limited, an anti-corruption, research and advocacy organisation concerned with issues of public accountability and transparency.

“We must ensure that corruption is prosecuted. In the last two years, we have had many cases of persons accused of corruption taken to the courts.

“We have a hardworking and courageous team as most of our law enforcement agencies and the EFCC have worked commendably despite daunting challenges.

“Of course they are not perfect and there are several complaints, but what is obvious is that they have focused on the work of investigation and prosecution and in fact, very few convictions and there are several reasons for that.

“The most notorious of which are the delays in our administration of justice system mainly caused, sometimes by lawyers whose defence strategy is delayed.

“Often judges have indulged these tactics by not taking firm control of their courts. A witness in a case being cross examined for over a month.

“An important lesson for any society that is fighting systemic corruption, is that corruption will fight back viciously, using every means possible, and sometimes, using the very constitutions that are created to fight it.

“We have experienced and continued to experience that but the antidote is single minded commitment.

“And I must say that we are permitted to ensure that we will continue to fight against corruption despite whatever obstacles involved,” Osinbajo stated.