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Nigeria wins first medal in women’s weightlifting at Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games

India’s Sanjita Chanu won the gold with 173 points.

Team Nigeria on Thursday in Glasgow recorded its first medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games when Nkechi Opara won bronze in the women’s weightlifting 48 kg event.

Opara scored 70 in snatch; and 92 in clean and jerk for total 162 points.

India’s Sanjita Chanu won the gold with 173 points, while her compatriot, Saikhom Mirabai, won silver with 170 points.

The result placed Nigeria joint sixth with South Africa and New Zealand who also have one bronze medal each.

England was, however, leading on the medals table as at 6 p.m. on Thursday with seven medals, comprising three gold, two silver and two bronze.

They had earlier in the day pushed Australia into second place, with India in third place, and Canada and Scotland joint fourth.

The women’s 48 kg event was one of two in the weightlifting competition, which was one of many on the first day of competition at the games.

In the other weightlifting event, Nigeria’s Rasaq Tanimowo was in line for a gold medal as he was leading the pack in the competition before the final round of lifts.

The 2014 games, which got underway on Wednesday, will end on August 3.

(NAN)

APC Chieftains, Others Dump APC For PDP In Osun

Omisore

Omisore pledged that he will pursue anti-poverty programmes if elected on August 9

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State, Olayiwola Talabi, has dumped the party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

He defected alongside hundreds of his supporters at Ikire on Wednesday, a development believed to be a setback for the ruling APC.

The governorship election holds August 9.

Mr. Talabi, a retired army colonel, while announcing his defection at a rally of the PDP governorship candidate, Iyiola Omisore, said he was leaving the APC because of its anti-people policies as well as the marginalisation of local leaders in favour of Lagos-based actors.

He lamented the failure of the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to positively touch the lives of the people. Mr. Talabi said that the governor could no longer explain to the people the many failures of the government to fulfil its promises to the people of the state.

“I quit because I am fed up with servitude with failed promises with anti- people programmes with bad leadership. I am now convinced that Senator Iyiola Omisore is the right man to take the state out of the present mess and rebuild it from the destruction witnessed under the APC governorship,” Mr. Talabi said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Omisore, a former senator has lamented the deepening poverty crisis rocking state, wondering why the people should be suffering in the midst of abundance.

He told the party supporters in the town, who had lamented about the neglect by the incumbent administration, that they were suffering because of the capital flight occasioned by the policies of the APC.

He said, “The penchant of the APC government to service its Lagos cronies has killed local economy, impoverish the people and stifle their means of livelihood. We will boost local economy, enhance livelihoods of the people and implement anti- poverty programmes.”

Mr. Omisore assured the defectors that what sent them out of APC would not happen in PDP, explaining that a PDP government under his leadership would be people-centered and people-oriented.

APC, Atiku, Tambuwal, Others Condemn Kaduna Bombings

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

Groups want FG to urgently address the problem of insurgency.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, has expressed shock at Wednesday’s bomb attacks in Kaduna that targeted one of its leaders, Muhammadu Buhari, and a prominent cleric, Dahiru Bauchi, and left hordes of innocent civilians dead or injured.

It also sent its condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

In a statement on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the attempted assassination of Mr. Buhari had changed the narrative about the insurgent group and “knocked the bottom off the sinister, irresponsible and partisan colouration given to the insurgency by the Federal Government.”

APC said while no one had yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the mere fact that it occurred at all was a “lose-lose” situation for the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.

“Whether it is Boko Haram or not, one thing remains: This government has failed woefully in its core constitutional duty of protecting the security and welfare of the citizenry. And we mean all the citizens, not just the leaders!” the party said.

The party implied that the recent attack on Mr. Buhari, if a handiwork of Boko Haram, has cast doubts on government’s claims that the APC and Mr. Buhari were core sympathisers of the group.

“Whatever happens now, the satanic and repulsive theory of the PDP-led FG that the opposition APC is using Boko Haram to truncate the administration of Jonathan is up in flames. Therefore, it is time for them to change the narrative, see Boko Haram for what it is – an enemy of Nigeria – and rally the citizenry, irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliation, behind the government’s efforts to tackle it decisively,” the APC said.

APC said as a first step, Mr. Jonathan must immediately stop the wasteful contract he signed with the US-based firm Levick to help demonise the APC as the sponsor of Boko Haram, and to demonise any Nigerian perceived to be an enemy of the government.

It noted that it was this kind of “demonization”, using pseudo and out-of-job analysts that helped to set the stage for the failed assassination attempt against Mr. Buhari.

”Then the President must address Nigerians to tell them that Boko Haram is not just an enemy of his government, it is an enemy of the opposition, of Christians, of Muslims and of the different ethnic groups,” the party said. “Instead of dividing Nigerians along religious, ethnic and political lines, President Jonathan should borrow a leaf from his predecessors. Obasanjo never said the Niger Delta militancy was aimed at his government or his people, he tackled it headlong.
Yar’Adua it was who finally ended the militancy, without saying it was aimed at his government or his people.”

APC reiterated its earlier stand that only a non-partisan approach will galvanise Nigerians against Boko Haram, which is rooted more in the years of bad governance that have resulted in mass unemployment, massive corruption, economic imbalances and made the youth to become hopeless, thus creating an army of willing tools for criminal activities

It also repeated its offer to work with the Federal Government to battle Boko Haram and its call for a national stakeholders’ conference to help fashion out a comprehensive counter-insurgent blueprint for the nation.

APC said rather than just throwing money at what had now become a bottomless pit, rather than creating the avenue for some unpatriotic citizens to feed fat on the insurgency, the Federal Government should engage in new thinking.

Also reacting to the twin bombing Kaduna incident, a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, urged the Federal Government to urgently take steps to halt the escalating security challenges in the country, saying it had reached an embarrassing proportion.

He said a situation where a former Head of State and key opposition figure could be targeted by terrorists or hatchet killers was a dangerous development, which should not be taken lightly by any responsible Nigerian.

According to Mr. Abubakar, the targeting of Mr. Buhari, whatever might be the motive or whoever could be behind it, had added a dangerous dimension to a bad security situation in the country.

He explained that the attack on Mr. Buhari had only deepened the anxiety of ordinary citizens that nobody was safe if a former Head of State could be so targeted and almost killed but for providence.

The former vice president noted that while it was the duty of all leaders regardless of political affiliation to support the anti-terrorism efforts in the country, it would not be wise to keep quiet when events are taking a disturbing dimension.

He observed that while public support was essential to fighting insecurity, the government also had the task of reassuring the citizens that its measures and strategies are working to justify the huge expenditures on security.

Mr. Abubakar maintained that sustainable public support for these counter-terrorism efforts depends largely on the results being achieved. He also maintained that it is beyond his comprehension why terrorists and assassins operate with maximum ease, undetected and unmolested by anybody.

He explained that his opinion had nothing to do with politics, but about the larger interest of Nigeria of which he is a player and that he was embarrassed by the frequency and brutality with which terrorists and other criminals commit atrocities without detection.

He urged security agencies to rise to the deteriorating security challenges by deploying needed software and hardware to intelligence gathering.

He restated that the security, welfare and the happiness of the citizens were basic functions of every government and therefore no leader should be happy with a situation where the citizens become captives of fear feel abandoned to their fates.

He expressed his condolences to the families of the bereaved while urging that no effort should be spared in attending to the injured in need of medical attention.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, described the twin blasts “as cruel, barbaric and heinous crime.”

According to him, the targeting of prominent persons as seen from the blasts was both regrettable and condemnable.

In a statement by his media aide, Imam Imam, Mr. Tambuwal said killing of innocent persons could not be justified under any guise and that whoever was behind the Kaduna incidents should be pursued and brought to justice.

While thanking God that the apparent targets of the attacks, Messrs. Buhari and Dahiru Bauchi escaped unhurt, the Speaker expressed sadness over the loss of innocent lives.

“Our sympathy and condolences are with the families of the victims of the blast. Their loved ones did not die in vain,” he added.

The Speaker prayed for the quick recovery of those injured or traumatised by the dastardly acts.

A former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva said the apparent assassination attempt on Mr. Buhari was “a spineless assault on the voice of conscience in Nigeria by bigoted terrorists and their political sponsors seeking evil attention.”

Mr. Sylva, in a statement by his media aide, Doifie Buokoribo, said Nigerians, by their traditions and religions, were a naturally peaceful people and that those who promote or indulge in this campaign of death and destruction would have no place to hide from the wrath and curse of God and men.

“We are embarrassed by President Jonathan’s poor handling of the security problem and a situation where the government has allowed its sense of partisanship to overshadow the needed political, economic, and social will to tackle the insurgency,” Mr. Sylva, who is also a chieftain of the APC, said.

The former governor noted that in civilised societies, opposition leaders as of right enjoy more protection from the government than even those in government, stressing, “Murder is the worst form of censorship and this government has become increasingly notorious for attempting to permanently silence voices of opposition.”

He sympathised with the families of all those that died and those that were injured in the twin bomb blasts targeted at Mr. Buhari and the prominent Islamic cleric, Dahiru Bauchi, two men who have been frankly critical of the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in all forms.

Mr. Sylva called on the Federal Government to take “more sincere steps to protect the lives and property of citizens, which is its primary responsibility.”

In its reaction, the United Progressive Party, UPP, condemned the bomb blasts, describing them as “outrageous, barbaric and reprehensible.”

“We condemn terrorism in all its ramifications and will resist bomb blasts targeted at political leaders in the country. It is man’s inhumanity to man and a giant step backward in the quest at building a strong democratic nation,” it said in a statement by its spokesperson, Ogbuehi Dike.

The party said it was unfortunate that the terrorists carried out these dastardly acts on the holy month of Ramadan when true Moslems had been fasting and praying for the nation.

A civil society group, The Voters Assembly, VOTAS condemned “the unfortunate and unjustifiable assassination attempt on the life of Retired General Mohamed Buhari who recently warned the nation on the bad shape of politics and security in the land.”

The group said in a statement by its president, Mashood Erubami, that it joined Mr. Jonathan in thanking God for spearing Nigerians of the grieve, anguish and frustration that they would have gone through had the clearly targeted evil been successful.

Mikel resumes Chelsea duty on Monday

Nigerian midfielder John Mikel Obi

The player’s agent said, “Mikel has contract with Chelsea and he intend to respect that contract.”

Super Eagles and Chelsea football club of England midfield maestro, John Obi Mikel, will resume club duty on Monday according to his manager and agent, Olatunji John Shittu.

According to Shittu the management of Chelsea gave Mikel and other Chelsea players who played beyond the early rounds of the Brasil 2014 World Cup till Monday to report for pre-season training.

The others players who will also resume on Monday are Thibaut Courtois of Belgium, Kenneth Omeruo of Nigeria, Eden Hazard of Belgium, Victor Moses of Nigeria, Ramires of Brazil, Andre Schurrle of Germany, Willian of Brazil, and Romelu Lukaku of Belgium.

When Chelsea began its pre-season a few days earlier without Mikel and these players, the media was awash with news that Mikel future with Chelsea is uncertain and that he might be sold for five million pounds.

But Shittu described the report as inaccurate,

“I don’t know where the story emanated from, but I can tell you authoritatively that it is false. Mikel and other Chelsea players that played beyond the first round of the World Cup will resume club duty July 28.

‘’He came home briefly to see his family after the World Cup, he returned to London last week to collect his visas for the countries where Chelsea will play pre-season, so the report is not true, he is still a Chelsea player.”

Shittu also described as untrue reports indicating Chelsea want to sell Mikel for five million pounds,

“Mikel has contract with Chelsea and he intend to respect that contract, I also know that Chelsea is not planning to sell him; he is part of Jose Mourinho’s plan,’’ Shittu said.

Jonathan seeks closer partnership between Nigeria, OPEC nations

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan

The president says closer ties will open up more opportunities for investment

President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, called for closer ties between Nigeria and other members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.

Mr. Jonathan made the call at a meeting with the new ambassadors of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, UAE, to Nigeria, after receiving their letters of credence at the presidential villa, Abuja.

The new envoys are Mohammed Al-Mahumud of UAE and Adbdul Aziz Al Muhannadi of Qatar.

Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, quoted Mr. Jonathan as saying that such partnerships would improve the decision-making process within OPEC.

According to the statement, the president said closer ties would also open up more opportunities for investment and socio-economic collaboration among its members.

“Jonathan told the new ambassadors that the cordial diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and other OPEC member-countries ought to be translated into more beneficial engagements.

“He said that the on-going Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government had thrown up more opportunities for investments in agriculture, real estate development, power generation, manufacturing and other areas in Nigeria.

“Jonathan, therefore, urged the UAE, Qatar and other OPEC countries to take advantage of the immense potential of Nigeria’s large market and the new investment opportunities in the country,” the statement said.

The statement also quoted the president as telling the envoys that many companies from the UAE had invested in telecommunications and real estate, and that they were doing very well.

“We want to see them also in agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas, and other areas,” Mr. Jonathan said.

Both ambassadors assured the president that they would do their best to improve trade and economic relations between their respective countries and Nigeria during their tenures.

Mr. Jonathan also had a farewell audience with the outgoing ambassador of Finland, Mrs Rita Korpivaara.

The president commended Mrs. Korpivaara’s efforts at enhancing bilateral relations between Nigeria and Finland.

He wished her success in her future endeavours.

(NAN)

500 Displaced in Damboa By Insurgency – NEMA

nema

NEMA distributes relief materials to the displaced persons

At least 500 indigenes of Damboa in Borno State fled to Gombe following attacks by insurgents in the area, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said Thursday.

This is contained in a statement signed by Sani Datti, NEMA’s Senior Information Officer, in Abuja.

The statement said NEMA in collaboration with the Gombe State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, registered over 500 people taking shelter in the area.

According to the statement, the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, who have been stranded in motor parks and expressway in Gombe, are evacuated and registered in camps provided by the agency.

It stated that the Assistant Director, Relief and Rehabilitation, Saidu Minin, who represented NEMA’s Director-General, Muhammad Sani-Sidi, in a visit to the camp, urged the IDPs to be law-abiding.

He reiterated the agency’s continued support for people in distress.

The agency distributed food and non-food items, including blankets, mattresses, nylon mats, bucket, towels and sanitary pads to the IDPs.

The others were rice, maize, sugar, millet, beans, powdered milk, and vegetable oil.

Also, the Executive Secretary SEMA in Gombe, Danlami Rukuje, commended NEMA for its prompt response in providing succour to the IDPs.

Mr. Rukuje said the state was overwhelmed with the large influx of people from neighbouring states of Yobe and Borno.

He said the state government, before the recent attack, had registered 7,770 IDPs who were living with relatives in different communities in Gombe State.

(NAN)

New Zealand minister offers to resign after evading airport security

New-Zealand-Transport-Minister-Signs-SeaCert-Rules

Prime Minister expressed his disappointment in the Minister.

New Zealand’s Transport Minister, Gerry Brownlee, on Thursday, offered to resign from his post after bypassing domestic airport security checks while rushing to catch a plane back to the capital.

According to a statement, Mr. Gerry and two members of his staff had entered the departure gate lounge at Christchurch Airport through a door normally used as an exit, to avoid mandatory x-ray and security checks.

The Prime Minister, John Key, told journalists that he was disappointed by Mr. Brownlee’s actions but would not accept his offer to resign.

“While he was obviously in a hurry, lots of people are in a hurry and that is not an excuse. He has made a stupid mistake. He has apologised and taken full responsibility, as he should,” Mr. Key said.

In his apology, Mr. Brownlee called his actions “thoughtless.”

Report says Mr. Brownlee, in his role as Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, flies frequently between the South Island city of Christchurch, which remains badly damaged after the 2011 earthquakes and Wellington.

(dpa/NAN)

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games: We are fit and ready to go- Alli

Blessing Okagbare is riding high this year

Yussuf Ali believes the Nigerian Athletics team will make Nigeria proud at the games

Team Nigeria track and field team at the ongoing Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, are eagerly looking forward to Sunday when athletics, the mother of all sports, will take the centre stage.

The venue is Hampden Park, a football stadium in Mount Florida area of Glasgow.

With a seating capacity of 52,025, it serves as the national stadium of football in Scotland, it is also used for music concerts and other sporting events, but from Sunday till Saturday it will be the home of athletics.

The stadium which had to be reconfigured for athletics will be graced by some of the best legs in track and field in the Commonwealth of Nations.

> British crowd favourite Mo Farah will be competing. Athletics enthusiasts, who will throng to watch over 1000 athletes fight for over 50 gold medals, will be delighted as Usain Bolt the Jamaican six-time Olympic champion will be running the 4x100m relay.

For Team Nigeria track and field team, Glasgow Games medal haul may be better than Delhi 2010 Games.

Technical Co-Coordinator of the track and team Yussuf Alli, a gold medalist at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games, revealed that fleet footed queen of track and field, Blessing Okagbare, is a contender for the ultimate medal in 100m, 200m, Long Jump and 4x100m.

The absence of Fraser-Pryce mean Okagbare is the lady to beat for the 100m and 200m gold medal.

Alli also tipped the 4x400m women, 200 women, Long Jump, Triple Jump, 110m hurdles, 4x400m, and 4×100 women as events that Team Nigeria track and field team has good chances of winning medals.

Alli revealed that Nigerian athletes are in going spirit, injury-free, and ready to go.

He urged Nigerians to wish the team well and pray for them success.

Beach Volleyball U-21 World Championships: Nigeria’s Male, Female Teams Lose Opening Matches

Beach Volleyball

The male team lost 0-2 to hosts Cyprus 11-21, 11-21.

Nigeria’s under-21 male and female beach volleyball teams on Thursday lost their opening matches at the ongoing FIVB U-21 Male and Female Beach Volleyball World Championships in Larnaka, Cyprus.

In the match results placed on the website of the Federation of International Volleyball, FIVB, the male team lost 0-2 to hosts Cyprus 11-21, 11-21.

The female team on the other hand also lost 0-2 to Austria 16-21, 16-21.

The male team, drawn in Pool A, will now meet Kazakhstan in their second match later on Thursday before confronting Norway in a morning match on Friday.

They will take on Switzerland on Friday evening, before facing Niger Republic in their last Pool match on Saturday.

For the female team drawn in Pool D, they will square up against Japan later on Thursday, Mexico on Friday morning and Brazil on Friday evening.

Italy will be the female team’s last opponents in Pool D on Saturday.

The championships which started on July 23 will end on July 27.

(NAN)

Missing Algerian Plane “Crashed” in Niger

Algerian military plane crash

The plane had 116 on board

An Air Algerie flight declared missing early Thursday crashed in Niger with 116 people on board, an Algerian official reportedly said.

The plane was travelling from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers in Algeria.

“I can confirm that it has crashed,” the unnamed official was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

The plane has not yet been located, although France is said to have sent fighter jets to the region to search for the aircraft.

Nearly half of the passengers on board the plane are French nationals.

Algerian authorities lost contact with the plane about an hour after take-of.
The aircraft is said to have taken off at 0117 GMT and was due to land in the Algerian capital of Algiers at 0510 GMT.

Reports say there was a powerful sandstorm overnight in the region, and that the pilot contacted the Nigerien air controllers and asked to change course to avoid the storm.

Algerian plane carrying 116 people missing

a plane

The plane is believed to have gone down somewhere in Mali

Algerian authorities said they have lost contact with one of their planes that flew from Burkina Faso with 110 passengers and six crew on board.

The country’s national airline, Air Algerie’s flight was from Ouagadougou to Algiers.

The aircraft is said to have taken off at 0117 GMT and was due to land in the Algerian capital of Algiers at 0510 GMT.

Contact with the plane was lost about an hour after take-off presumably as it travelled across Gao in Mali.

Reuters news agency quoted a diplomat in the Malian capital Bamako as saying that the north of the country – which lies on the plane’s likely flight path – was struck by a powerful sandstorm overnight.
According to the BBC, United Nations troops in Mali say they understand the plane came down between Gao and Tessalit.

The area is vast and sparsely populated. Search is underway.

Dolphins FC Whip Lobi Stars 4-2 in Federation Cup Quarter-finals

dolphins fc

Giwa FC, Prime FC advance

Dolphins Football Club of Port Harcourt on Wednesday in Enugu whipped Lobi Stars FC of Makurdi 4-2 to reach the semi-final of the 2014 Federation Cup competition.

Amem Eduok gave Dolphins FC the lead in the 22nd minute after wasting many opportunities in the match played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

Lobi Stars drew level in the 50th minute through Shuibu Adamu, while Ebube Okpuku put Dolphins in front again in the 55th minute.

Two quick goals from Tijani Adamu and Victor Alegbe gave the Port Harcourt side a 4-1 lead, while Audu Saraki’s 90th minute goal failed to hold back Dolphins.

The coach of Dolphins FC, Stanley Eguma, later told journalists that he prepared well for the match and was happy that his side won the game.

He however acknowledged that any team able to reach the quarter-finals stage of the competition was strong.

“In spite of this, our target is still that we want to be crowned the champions of this year’s Federation Cup. Therefore, we are going to take every team seriously, until we achieve our aim,” Eguma said.

In another quarter-final match played on Wednesday, Giwa FC of Jos advanced to the last four stage in spite of drawing goalless with Premier League rivals Crown FC of Ogbomoso.

In the match played at the Rojenny Sports Centre in Oba, Anambra, the Jos-based side progressed after a 5-3 win on penalty kicks.

In Kaduna at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Prime FC of Osogbo stopped the impressive run by Gateway United FC of Abeokuta with a 4-2 penalty shootout win.

Prime FC will now meet Dolphins FC in the semi-finals, while Giwa FC will face Enyimba International FC of Aba who stopped Sharks FC of Port Harcourt 2-0 in Abuja.

(NAN)

Immigration Arrests Human Trafficking Kingpin, 5 victims In Katsina

NIGERIA IMMIGRATION SERVICE

The victims are usually sent to Europe via Libya.

The Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, said it had arrested a human trafficking kingpin, Muntari Hamidu, 30, and five victims in Katsina State.

The State Comptroller of NIS, Emmanuel Ogbumuo, who disclosed this at a news conference on Wednesday in Katsina, said the suspect had been on the watch list for a long time.

Mr. Ogbumuo said the suspect was arrested in Maimujiya, a border town with Niger Republic, by a combined Immigration Border Patrol Team and the Nigerien police on Monday.

The comptroller said the suspect was arrested together with five victims, three females and two males, aged between 20 and 25 years.

According to him, the five victims identified Mr. Hamidu as their trafficker.

He said the suspect was said to be the gang leader behind human trafficking through irregular routes from Kongolam to Agadez in Niger Republic, then to Libya and finally to Europe.

Mr. Ogbumuo added that the suspected trafficker and his victims would be handed over to NAPTIP for necessary action.

He also said the command had so far arrested 37 people for human trafficking related offences in the state between January and June.

He said the suspects were apprehended through intelligence gathering on traffickers coupled with synergy and effective communication between the NIS and other security agencies in the two countries.

Mr. Ogbumuo reiterated the determination of the command to effectively curtail influx of illegal immigrants, human traffickers and their victims.

He, therefore, solicited the continued cooperation of sister security agencies in the two countries and the border communities to achieve the desired goal.

(NAN)

Why we asked Osun INEC REC to step down – Jega

Attahiru Jega 1

Mr. Jega said the commission believed that credible election could be conducted in the country with the involvement of all stakeholders.

The Chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega, has described as difficult and painful but realistic the decision to send another Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, to conduct the Osun governorship election.

Mr. Jega made the observation at a dialogue with news managers titled, Experience Sharing Dialogue with Media Professionals in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the decision was made to minimise, if not totally eliminate, allegation of lack of level playing ground.

“INEC is convinced that our REC, Amb. Rufus Akeju, has done nothing wrong, unfortunately, some people have obtained a High Court injunction to prevent him from conducting the election. We have appealed against that judgment but again people are trying to politicise his continued role in the conduct of election in Ekiti. The commission has to take the painful decision rather than allowing the allegation to continue to circumscribe the conduct of the election, let get another REC to conduct the election. As we are concern, we allegations against him have not been substantiated,” Mr. Jega said.

The chairman said it was not the first time the commission would make such decision; it had been done in other states in the past.

Mr. Jega, who said Mr. Akeju still remained the REC of Osun, added that the commission had improved on its preparation for the conduct of the August 9, governorship election.

“We are doing everything possible not only to create a level playing field, but to also improve the perception of people with regards to achieve credible election in Osun,” he said.

The chairman said that the commission had been collaborating with security agencies and the National Youth Service Corps and other stakeholders.

He said this was to ensure that the role of these stakeholders in the electoral process added tremendous value to the successful conduct of the election.

“Our assessment is that everything is on course in Osun State to have free, fair and credible election on August 9. What remains is for the politicians and candidates to come into this election with a positive attitude, commitment to peaceful election by eschewing all forms of violence and ensure credible election,” he said.

Mr. Jega said the commission believed that credible election could be conducted in the country with the involvement of all stakeholders.

(NAN)

Jonathan, Tinubu, JNI, others condemn Kaduna bomb blasts

Scene of the Kaduna bomb blast

Angry reactions have trailed Wednesday’s twin bombing that killed at least 40 people in Kaduna.

The two bombs targeted a leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari and a prominent Islamic Cleric, Dahiru Bauchi, respectively.

While Mr. Bauchi was attacked in the first explosion, Buhari, a former Head of State was attacked in the second one while on his way to his home town in Daura, Katsina State.

The APC leader, whose two aides were injured in the attack which took place in Kawo area of the city, said it was an assassination attempt on him.

The two men escaped unhurt.

President Goodluck Jonathan in a statement by his media aide, Reuben Abati condemned the attacks.

“President Jonathan denounces the dastardly targeting of the prominent political and religious leaders by terrorists and enemies of the nation in an odious attempt to inflame passions and exacerbate disquiet, fear, insecurity and sectional divisions in the country,” the statement said.

“While thanking God Almighty for sparing the lives of General Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, the President extends sincere condolences to the families of those who were sadly killed by the bomb blasts.

“President Jonathan also commiserates with all those who were injured in the attacks in the Holy Month of Ramadan which defy the tenets of Islam, and provide further proof that the terrorists are nothing but blood-thirsty extremists bent on undermining the unity and progress of the nation.”

Mr. Jonathan assured residents of Kaduna and all other Nigerians that the Federal Government would further intensify its ongoing efforts to curb the menace of terrorism in the country.

He directed the police and other national security agencies to take all necessary actions to apprehend the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attacks.

A former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, said the attacks confirmed that Nigeria was in the grip of terror and that sadly, Nigerians were now in the hands of a “buck passing and blackmailing” presidency.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on General Buhari and his convoy and the innocent Nigerians that suffered untimely deaths,” Mr. Tinubu said in a statement.

“I thank God that Gen. Buhari’s life was spared for greater service to the fatherland. Under an increasingly incompetent and incoherent PDP- government, Nigeria slips into a low intensity war. We are all marked people under a government that prefers to label and attack opposition rather than apply itself to providing security and good governance.”

Mr. Tinubu, who is also a leader of the APC, stated that the attacks were a bad omen that signposts a future filled with danger and uncertainty.

He said the party had put forward concrete suggestions on how to tackle the terrorism, but the Jonathan administration had consistently rejected them.

He said, “Unfortunately, Nigeria is saddled with a leadership totally intolerant of ideas, suggestions and advice that do not emanate from them. We in the APC has put forward concrete suggestions which have been consistently rejected and snared at by the PDP led Jonathan government.

“Instead of reaching out and paying attention to our suggestions, they have turned the guns on us and are manipulating and doctoring reports and stories to label us. It is a label that is false. It is a label that will not stick. We are patriots and stand united against anyone who wants to do this great country harm.

“This government has raised the art of ‘scapegoating’ to a new level. Rather than govern, they have politicized everything to the detriment of Nigerians and Nigeria.

“There can be no justification for the continued loss of innocent lives and the unending attacks. I call upon those with the power, the resources and in charge of the security apparatus of this country to get up and do something before we all are consumed.”

More reactions

Some loyalists of Mr. Buhari under the aegis of Buhari Vanguard said the government must act quickly to curb terrorism in the country.

“We are frightened that these attacks by suspected Boko Harram members have assumed a dangerous dimension and we fear that if this is not controlled immediately, our nation Nigeria may never recover from the negative results of this insurgence,” the group said.

“One cannot help but imagine what would have been happening in Nigeria now if Gen Muhammadu Buhari and the popular Islamic cleric, Dahiru Bauchi were killed in these attacks today. The nation would have been in turmoil and the extent of further damages may be unimaginable,” the group said.

The umbrella body of Islamic organisations in Nigeria, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, also condemned the bomb blasts.

JNI prayed God to bring an end to “this nagging evil, disgrace the perpetrators”.
Also in a statement by its spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, demanded a thorough investigation.

“Our recent history reminds us of the NADECO days when we witnessed series of bomb blasts in Lagos traced to then General Sani Abacha’s regime. This makes imperative it for thorough investigation,” Mr. Okechukwu said.

Nigerian Govt. approves 16-year Water Master Plan

fec-meeting

Annual demand for water to increase from 5.93 billion cubic metres to 16.58 billion cubic metres by 2030.

The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday approved a 16-year National Water Resources Master Plan to ensure proper management and development of the nation’s water resources.

The Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, said in Abuja that the master plan developed by the ministry in partnership with the Japan International Agency, would be implemented in three phases.

The first phase of the scheme would last between 2014 and 2020, while the second phase would be from 2021 to 2025, and the third phase from 2026 to 2030.

The master plan’s estimated that the country’s demand for water would increase from its current 5.93 billion cubic metres per year to 16.58 billion cubic metres in 2030.

Mrs. Ochekpe said the ministry got an approval for the National Water Resources Master Plan 2013 to ensure that the country’s water resources were properly managed.

“We have adequate supply and utilisation of water in the country in acceptable quality and standard and we have national coverage,” the minister said.

“Through the master plan, it is intended that we will be able to gather and collate appropriate information that will help in terms of hydrological, hydro-metrological and hydro-geological information management within each hydrological area and basin within the country.”

Mrs. Ochekpe said the plan also contains proposals on how to use water resources to mitigate the effect of climate change to support the development of irrigated agriculture in Nigeria.

She said that the master plan recognised the roles and responsibility of all stakeholders in the water sector and would ensure proper investment in the water resources development in the country.

The minister said that the master plan, which acknowledged the inadequacy of government funding of the water sector development, also proposed the commercialisation of water services to increase the revenue base of the sector for the maintenance facilities and development of new ones.

Mrs. Ochekpe said the plan also identified the private sector and the Public Private Partnership as additional sources of funding for the sector.

She said that donor agencies would complement the limited budgetary allocations from the Federal Government. (NAN)

Fire At Kano Airport; Aircraft Damaged, Fuel Tanker Burnt To Ashes

Turkish Airlines

Fire service officials averted what could have been a tragedy at the Aminu Kano International Airport last night as they scrambled a response to a sudden fire that caught a fuel tanker feeding a Turkish airlines aircraft, a witness has said.

The tanker was however burnt to ashes while the aircraft, an Airbus 340, which was to airlift passengers from Kano to Istanbul, was partly damaged.

The flight was subsequently cancelled with the passengers, most of whom had arrived the airport, disappointed.

Garba Shehu, the Media Consultant to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was travelling with his family, told PREMIUM TIMES the aircraft was saved from being completely burnt following a quick decision by officials to hurriedly tow it away from the burning truck.

Mr. Shehu said, “The Airbus 340 aircraft which had the burning truck under its wings made a miraculous escape following a decision to tow it away from the fire just in time before the fuel-laden tanker burst into a towering flame.

“The flight taking my family and I, among many other passengers to Istanbul from Kano was cancelled a short while ago following indications that the aircraft, even though not destroyed, was partly damaged on its wing.

“Fire engines at the airport emptied their contents without any serious impact on the raging fire, which burnt without let until it had consumed the oil tanker.”

The cause of the fire remained unknown as officials of the airport and other aviation authorities could not be reached this morning. Officials of Turkish Airlines could also not be reached as at the time of this report.

PREMIUM TIMES recalls that Kaduna airport was temporarily closed on April 20 after fire ravaged the airport’s control tower, completely destroying the facility.

Flights only resumed a day later at the airport after a mobile control tower was brought in from Abuja.

Authorities said at the time that investigations had been commissioned to determine the cause of the fire.

The result of the investigation is yet to be made public.