Lekan Paul

My Voyage On The (River) Niger, By Jibrin Baba Ndace

Everyone needs a strategy…’ -Lawrence Freedman

Three years ago, precisely in November 2015, I was entrusted with the responsibility of being the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the dynamic and amiable Governor of Niger State, Alhaji (Dr.) Abubakar Sani-Bello.

Three years down the road, I can look back with utmost satisfaction and deep sense of fulfilment that I executed my mandate diligently, ethically and professionally in line with global best practices.

All these years, I approached each task as every arrowhead should: with passion, dedication, courage, loyalty and an unquenchable desire to make a difference.

I took on my assignment with Aristotle’s concept of work in mind: “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”. I also imbibed Muhammad Ali’s dictum: “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” I aligned with Maya Angelou on creativity: “You can’t use up creativity; the more you use, the more you have.”

For me, like a professional photographer, every moment counts! Above all, I was never afraid of making mistakes. As a military brat, I was very mindful of the advice given to newly promoted military officers that: “It is not what you do to get to a rank that matters, but what you do on the rank.”

In my years as a journalist and public relations practitioner, I have learnt the art of sacrifice, hard work and commitment as my guiding principles. It is with this mindset and temperament that I handled the onerous task of managing the reputation of my former principal.

In executing my mandate, I stood firm on my principles of doing my job professionally and ethically in line with global best practices in reputation and brand management for the governor and for the good of Nigerlites.

I set out with a vision to consistently and strategically deploy PR and media expertise in the reputation management of my principal in line with the cardinal priority of the administration.

To achieve the set goal, I galvanized the human and material resources available to me nationally and globally. Fully aware of the challenges of being a reputation manager in the age of social media, I deployed appropriate PR strategies in closing the inherited lacuna through creation of subtle, truthful, believable, and timely narratives acceptable to various publics on traditional and online platforms.

In line with the corporate values of professionalism, teamwork, creativity, dynamism, integrity, commitment and innovation, I rebranded the department from ‘Press Crew’ to NIGGOVMEDIATEAM (an acronym for Niger Governor Media Team).

In the last three years, with the robust collaboration of my staff and the support of other professional colleagues, we conceived creative and dynamic ideas as well as laudable initiatives to support the agenda of the Governor, such as the establishment of the FOSCIN (Forum of Spokespersons of Critical Institutions in Niger State), which we established to engender synergy and coordination in managing security information in the state; and the introduction of a special magazine (POWER STATE) which profiled the work and administration of Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello. We also introduced a media monitoring project to ensure adequate feedback to assist the people-related policies of His Excellency. In all instances, we employed the best tactics in media engagement and conduct.

Small wonder, our efforts were commended by national and international organisations. In recognition of our creative and innovative disposition, I won the Outstanding Chief Press Secretary Award by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), FCT Chapter for my extraordinary role in promoting ideals of public relations in Nigeria, as well as the African Public Relations Certificate of Excellence Award for my outstanding accomplishments in managing security information in Niger state through the formation and activities of FOSCIN.

This period which I considered as a ‘Command Appointment’ is one of the defining moments in my career as a journalist and PR practitioner – very exciting, momentous and eventful. It offered me first-hand opportunity to know more about democracy and democrats, politics and politicians, traditional institution and traditional rulers, journalists and journalism, traditional media and new media/social media insurgents, information and disinformation, sabotage and saboteurs, bootlicking and bootlickers, public relations and Public Relations Practitioners, public servants and public service, eye servants and eye service, election and electorate, government and governance, leadership and followership, power and power play, power and corridor of power, detraction and detractors, political appointees and political service, loyalty and loyalists, lobbying and lobbyists, youth and politics, women and politics, activists and activism, unionists and unionism, fake news and fake folks, … must I go on?

I served, bearing in mind that like all those who served before me, there would be different verdicts of my stewardship, fully aware that as Albert Einstein famously noted: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything”. I also realised that as the first African-American 4-Star General, Collin Powel, said, “Command is Lonely ….” I, therefore, take responsibility for all decisions I took as the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello from November 2015 to May 2019.

As I reflect on my momentous years as the CPS to a man I call the master of Blusukan, I give thanks to Almighty Allah in whose hands my destiny lies.

I thank Governor Sani-Bello most profoundly for giving me the opportunity to serve the state at this critical time. My work was made easier due to his exceptional personality and disposition as he never stopped believing in my judgment, counsel and professionalism.

As I return to base, I reflect on the preface of one of my publications thus: “The joy of leaving and the pain of having to leave”; the joy of leaving those who wanted me to leave and the pain of leaving genuine friends and colleagues.

As I bow out as the 14th Chief Press Secretary to the 14th and 5th elected governor of Niger state, I reflect on General Stanley McChrsytal’s thought on Leaders in his memoirs, ‘My Share of the Task’: “Leaders are not necessarily popular, because the choice between popularity and effectiveness is ultimately no choice at all; leaders walk a fine line between self-confidence & humility. All leaders are human. They carry the same range of emotions and frailties common to mankind.”

I remain committed to the service of the people as my zeal to serve is resolute.

I leave with firm conviction that as Lawrence Freedman posited: ‘Everyone needs a strategy…”

I thank all those who were part of my voyage on the (River) Niger. Mungo Park must be acknowledging me in his grave: his was a voyage of discovery; mine was a voyage of service!

Mallam Jibrin Baba Ndace is the immediate past Chief Press Secretary to the Niger State Governor.

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Abba Kyari – Second Time Around, By Danladi Daniels

President Muhammadu Buhari a general and grandmaster with one stroke calmed the raging waves. And he did it deftly when no one expected it. After almost two weeks of orchestrated protests and diatribe against Abba Kyari chief of staff to the President the dust finally settles. Mr. President chose to side with Abba Kyari. He rose above the noisome blabbing of some political adventurist to make a most pragmatic decision. If it ain’t broken, they say, don’t fix it.

Mr. President chose pragmatism over politics. He chose national interest over parochial interest. He chose sincerity over sycophancy. He chose competence over mediocrity. Enters Abba Kyari. Second time around. A recognition well deserved. He has served the president and the presidency well. He will have the opportunity to serve Nigeria for more years. His understanding of the intricacies of power is unquestionable. His calm composure, Studious disposition and meticulous nature lend him well to continue in his role as Chief of staff.

Lionized and pilloried by groups and powerful individuals who have failed in their several attempts to pull the wool over the President’s face, Kyari stands guard as a keeper, a gateway and a filter of all that goes in and out.

After several encounters with him before he became chief of staff and after he became one of the most powerful things that comes across is that you were dealing with a man with attention for details and rigor and one that is humane. He has brought all of these and his genteel nature to bear on this assignment. A workaholic with no pretense, Kyari has soldiered on building structures out of ruins. Bringing sanity to confusion and engendering a process that keeps governance moving in measured steps and definite direction.

Not one for a popularity contest Kyari knows and appreciates the assignment he is saddled with. Nigeria has moved on or better still Nigeria is moving. It might not be at the speed many desire but the fact that it is moving in the right direction and in steady motion is gratifying enough.

President Buhari with this master and positively monstrous decision of re-appointing the Chief of Staff to work with him for another 4 years must build his cabinet quickly.

This time. Nigerians want men and women that are capable and thirsty for success. A team that will advance the Presidents agenda. It is also the time for another master stroke. The President has promised Nigerians a strong and robust cabinet. We trust him.

The time is set. The President is on a roll. Let’s join with him to build our future today.

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A Communique Of A Meeting By The NEC Committee On Farmers/Herders Crisis

  1. The NEC Committee on the Farmers/Herders Crisis under the chairmanship of Mr. Vice President, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo met today, 3rd July, 2019.
  2. Members that were present were Mr. Vice President who presided over the meeting, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State who is the Chairman of the NEC-Sub Technical Committee on Farmers/Herders crisis, Governor of Kebi State who is the Vice Chairman of Food Security Council, Governor of Plateau State, Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President; office of the Vice President, Permanent Secretary; Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Andrew Kwasali-Secretary of the NEC-Sub Technical Committee on Farmers/Herders Crisis and Director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  3. Members deliberated on the NEC and Federal Government approved programme of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
  4. Members are aware that Mr. President has suspended the implementation of RUGA programme initiated and implemented alone by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources because it is not consistent with the NEC and FGN approved NLTP which has programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs within crisis States and development of Ranching in any willing State of the federation.
  5. The beauty of NLTP is that what NEC and FGN approved is only voluntary to all the 36 States who may like to participate.
  6. That any state that is interested in NLTP is required to bring development plan in line with NLTP for implementation in his State which will be unique to the State based on the challenges of the State.
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Farmer/Herder Conflicts And The Misunderstanding Of Ruga Settlements, By Ussiju Medaner

The nation over the last few years have been turned into chaos by both the incidences and the politics of herdsmen/farmers clashes. In the months preceding the 2019 elections, the veracity of the attacks, as claimed by the social media was at the climax. It became the other of the day to have records of deaths as a result of the clashes or as painted direct attacks in the region of the north central and some south east states. The opposition parties, most especially the PDP flourished on the news and likelihood of the next attack as it became a major campaign ingredient of the party; it was at the period that PDP took it as a responsibility to document and report killings, mostly exaggerated, without at any material time ever propose a feasible solution to the menace. 

It was clear then as much as it is now that while the herdsmen/farmer clashes were real, the magnitude of the political manipulation and propaganda that turns it into a greater national menace is a greater problem for the country. We cannot win a war as a people when we chose not to fight on a common front. 

No sensible government would fold its hand at such a time of insecurity within its enclave. Much was expected from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, yet everyone was battle set to antagonise every presented solution, not only to the herders/farmers clashes but every other issues. 

The world all over, the only reason you would not see a cow roaming the street and causing unpreventable impasses as experience in some part of Nigeria is because the cows confined to ranches. The ownership of such ranches is a secondary issue. The peculiarity of the Nigeria situation demand radical approach to resolution of the perennial problem. We all remember that  in the hopes of solving the same problem, the PDP government of Jonathan budgeted a sum of N100billion for some selected states to build mini cattle ranches. 

The Jonathan government then raised a committee chaired by the then governor of Benue state, Mr. Gabriel Suswan to investigate and proffer lasting solution to the frequent conflicts between herdsmen and farmers. The committee recommended the release of N100 billion through the CBN as a seed funding to all states for the construction of ranches. The money was released without the approval of the National Assembly but there was no evidence of how it was utilized as no ranch was constructed. This misappropriation of fund is mostly responsible for the continued herders/farmers impasses. The funniest thing is that there was no uprising or antagonism to the plan as at that time; in fact it would have been a success if Jonathan had won in 2015.

The question is why the same program approved by Jonathan government and inherited and modified by the Buhari administration would only become anti people during Buhari administration? The Buhari government only set up a committee headed by the vice president and have as member governors and stakeholders across the federation to analyse and confirm the feasibility of the proposed policy from the past administration. The committee came out with the unanimous decision that made the president give the go ahead for the project. The feasibility and the plus of the project have since attracted foreign organization support. The World Bank  and international financial institution have already keyed into financing the laudable project.

But the likes of Fani Fakayode and PDP would rather wants us to remain with the problem so that they would continue to have issues to attack the government with. As a people we would have prefer the clashes to continue and enjoy the daily news of fresh attack or more  prefer to continue using the menace to play political joker. What the game of opposition is doing to this nation will be our undoing one day if we don’t pause to analyse and retraces our step. Where goes the principle of constructive criticism? Must we criticize everything for the sake of remaining relevant? Can’t we for a while consider the overall well-being of the nation?

The role the opposition is playing in the rejection of this noble program capable of bringing lasting peace across the federation call for serious concern. We must reaccess our legislation and begin to enforce the law to protect the nation on all front. The intentional creation of unrest and incitement against  the government in power and spread of deliberate hate speech against some certain tribes and their cultural heritage by the like of Fani Kayode must be checked. We cannot continue to allow our law to remain a toothless dog. Spreading fake information is prohibited and punishable by the law of Nigeria and so it should be. It is an offence to conjure information detrimental to the peace and unity of the nation for personal and selfish interest. These men must be stopped before they destroy this nation.

The like of Fani kayode flourish in spreading fake news. They remain only relevant when there are opportunities for them to antagonise the government not minding the consequencies of what they do. Most of the utterances of Fani-Kayode fall under the offences stipulated within Section 24 of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, prevention, etc) Act 2015. The government should also desist from the habit of responding to such remarks rather, the government should act. The public should see more of government actions rather than lame responses. In saner climes people like Fani-Kayode would retract silently into their shell and would never be taken seriously looking at the inconsistency of their statements. He is against this government which is the only government that is probing his corrupt actions during the years he was supposed to be in service to the country. 

We must therefore all know that the position of the government is in the interest of a peaceful Nigeria. There has been series of arguments around the country about the intention of the Federal Government (FG) to establish ranches (referred to as Ruga Settlements) in various parts of the country. This decision has been reached for various reasons which are the imminent reality of our society: the most prominent of which is the recurrent conflicts between herders and farmer in various parts of the country, to improve the standard of animal husbandry and meat quality in the country, create a sustainable economic value chain for animal husbandry within the country which will solve several other societal issues such as unemployment and standardize revenue generation by the sector to the FG and the various states involved in the process.

The arguments, arising from various quarters, sometimes hinged on bogus information or misinformation, are carted by many among us who fail to link the line of truth in these arguments. It is more disheartening to find intellectuals engage in arguments stirred mainly by bias rather than factual evidence from research.

The FG does not intend to coerce any state into participating in this programme. This is essentially because a programme of this nature would thrive more under voluntary participation rather than coercive inclusion. It is also important to note that though the FG has gazetted lands in each state of the federation, constitutionally, considering the Land Use Act, the only land belonging to the FG is within the FCT. Lands in each of the 36 states of the federation are all under the state government, hence, the only way the FG can undertake any programme which involves land is only if the state government makes the land for such purposes available to the FG. 

Ruga Settlement or ranch is not a strange idea to any part of the country, the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State was established in 1951 and it is now a place of pride to the country. Several other ranches were constructed after that but were lost through years of mismanagement after the military intervention of 1966 and subsequent military regimes. The operational failure of the ranches in Kano, Niger and other parts of the country is what increased the rate of nomadic herding within the country. Therefore, ranching is not an alien practice among us; it is only one of several sectors or our country that has suffered neglect over the years. 

With the rate of crime and criminality associated to farmers and herders clashes around the country, it is expedient that states and well-meaning citizens in the country should support this move by the FG to create ranches/Ruga settlements around the country. 

It is not healthy for our national development to see that whenever the government makes any move towards ameliorating a bad situation we see intellectuals coming forth for selfish and parochial reasons to make attempts to undermine the efforts of the government. 

We Nigerian should wake up to the challenges before us and opt for development and progress. How can we be against ranching when foreign companies in the likes of Cownexion have indicated interest to invest in ranching in Nigeria? Why have the Fulanis not colonized the areas like Obudu where ranches have been established for the decades they have been there? Instead, Obudu is one of the most remarkable sites of tourism in Nigeria. Let us not bow to the fakes in the remarks of those against national growth and development.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

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AbdulRazaq Approves N232m For Nutrition, Primary Health Care

Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has approved immediate payment of at least N232m in counterpart funding to deepen access to primary healthcare, health insurance and nutrition for under-three children in the state, according to a statement on Tuesday.

AbdulRazaq’s Chief Press Secretary Rafiu Ajakaye said in the statement that the N232m includes N100m counterpart funds for Basic Healthcare Provision Funds (BHPV); N50m for Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRIN); and another N82m to access global grants for malaria.

The statement said the release of the counterpart funds for BHPV would grant Kwara access to the World Bank/Federal Government’s grant to cater for health needs of pregnant and nursing women and children.

“Access to such funds will help combat maternal mortality rate and other basic health challenges related to women and children. Apart from this, the funds will help to fix facilities for primary health care and reduce the pressure on secondary and tertiary health institutions,” according to the statement.

The statement said the counterpart funds for ANRIN will grant Kwara access to donor funds to boost nutrition needs of children, in what is a practical step to end the menace of stunting and wasting among young children.

UNICEF has said stunted/wasted children –all of them victims of malnutrition — are at risk of early death or becoming liabilities to the society as they are unable to cope in school or contribute to economic growth.

“Experts have decried malnutrition rate among children in the North Central, where Kwara falls. Because these children are so key to the bright future that this Governor envisions for Kwara, it is important to urgently key into any initiative that would boost their nutrition and give them a brighter chance at life,” according to the statement.

“The N82m counterpart funding for malaria is to ensure that Kwara also benefits from Global Funds set aside by donor agencies to combat malaria.”

AbdulRazaq’s release of the counterpart funding for healthcare late Monday came almost simultaneously with the payment of the N450m Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) which the agency insisted was diverted by the last administration. That diversion had led to the blacklisting of the state from the funds meant to boost access to primary health care, according to UBEC officials.

Rafiu Ajakaye

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor

July 2, 2019.

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Osinbajo’s Rise And Climb: Through The Hearts Of Nigerians, And Through Our Rough Political Waters, By Richard Ogundiya

For most of the country’s democratic sovereignty, there’s been enough disparagement about the weakness of the nation’s second office. However, one gripping fact from the 2019 general elections is the rising power of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the public’s increased interest for his job more than in other election cycles.

Six years ago I sat in a room filled with young professionals and graduates who claimed to be interested in national politics, only 3 people knew who the Vice President of Nigeria was at the time, Namadi Sambo. It wasn’t so strange, the same goes for Atiku Abubakar, President Buhari’s strongest contender in the 2019 general elections; not a lot of people can point out to his deeds and accomplishments as the Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 to 2007, save allegations that haunt him to this day. By his own conduct, Professor-turned-Politician, Yemi Osinbajo, a central across-the-board figure, exercising his shrewdness and mild suaveness in his service as Buhari’s deputy provoked this sudden outburst for credo. While many argue that the VP office is like the human appendix, a vestigial organ on the body politic – unnecessary, Prof as he is fondly called has broken the jinx; he is arguably Nigeria’s most industrious VP on record. Since assuming office in 2015, he has worked with relevant departments and agencies to identify problems and recommend solutions regarding economic development, healthcare, foreign exchange policies, poverty alleviation and food security.

With vast experience in international law practice and academia, the VP has served in several positions of authority and contributes to the national discourse even before his foray into active politics. As Attorney General of Lagos State, he is credited with undertaking far-reaching significant judicial reforms, addressing critical areas as judges’ recruitment, remuneration, training and discipline as well as access to justice for the poor by establishing appropriate institutions in the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC). He solitarily founded the Orderly Society Trust (OST), an excel literacy programme that aims to provide children in public primary schools with the same level of training in English as is available to their counterparts in private schools. His drive for getting the average Nigerian child quality education doesn’t stop at that, he organized the Liberty Schools Project that still provides free primary school education with free school lunches to poor children. The Project currently has three sites, one very close to where I live in Lagos.

In 2016, when the nation’s economy hit a nosedive, the VP alongside the National Economic Council which he chairs presented ‘59 strategies for implementing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The efforts of the NEC were instrumental in defining Nigeria’s policy direction and prudence that saw Nigeria ushered out of a recession quicker than economists predicted. Policies such as the unpopular ban of FOREX provisions to 41 items made significant impact in managing our scarce Dollars at that time.

On the President’s directive, he plays a significant role in the ‘Niger Delta New Vision’ plan – a set of promises, solutions and initiatives the President Buhari administration has set in place for the restoration of peace and ensuring the region benefits maximally from the nation’s oil wealth. The programme has fostered security in the creeks and enabled an increase in production and hitch-free flow of crude to the international market. Along with 12 Federal Ministries and state governments, Professor Osinbajo launched the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic (MSME), a scheme addressing the plethora of challenges affecting the growth and productivity of growing businesses to bring about significant and sustainable GDP growth, employment generation and increase in local productivity.

Osinbajo’s claim to fame can be traced back to May 2017 when he was conferred the Acting President of the Federation during President Buhari’s medical leave. Unlike his predecessors, President Buhari vested all legal powers to him in accordance with the constitution. As Acting President, Osinbajo exhibited fearlessness and charisma, taking decisive and perhaps dramatic actions. He ordered the overhaul of SARS – the Police’s notorious anti-robbery squad and demanded quick investigation of numerous allegations of assaults by the unit. He sacked Daura, the DSS Chief, describing his actions as ‘unacceptable and a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order’. Indeed, he knows his stuff. In that interlude, when he wasn’t leading FEC meetings, he was engaging the 36 states with a keen interest in grassroots politics, women affairs, agriculture and young people. He has shown a mastery of communication and responsibility; like President Buhari, he is still actively engaged in the fight for the return of kidnapped girls and the welfare of their families; during the campaigns, he held numerous town hall meetings across the country and participated in youth-led initiatives clamouring for change. In less than 5 years on the national scene, he has gained good popularity among the Nigerian people for his achievements and dexterity in handling national issues.

In the cyberspace, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has gathered the most likes, comments and engagements, grossing over 500,000 likes on Facebook, 2 million followers on Twitter and 500,000 Instagram subscribers and social strength of 16 million, he is the second most-followed Nigerian politician after his boss President Muhammadu Buhari. For the first time in a long time we are witnessing a proactive and dynamic 62-year-old man – petite, eloquent, tech-savvy, and an unassuming leader.

While a vice presidential pick has never been solely credited with swinging an election, it can leave an indelible impression about the judgment of a would-be president or help address something that is lacking at the top of the ticket; whether it be a regional appeal, ideological purity, religious sentiments or a gap in their resume. Sometimes, it’s all of the above.

His role in the country’s technological ecosystem cannot be easily undermined. From being part of a tech tour around hubs and start-ups across Nigeria to facilitating the 2016 Aso Villa Demo day, a platform meant to promote innovation and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups solving local problems. Interestingly, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first trip to Africa and was also part of the pitch competition to which the VP played host. At the Google For Nigeria 2018 event, Osinbajo assured that Nigeria will partner with Google to boost internet connectivity nationwide. You’ll also catch the VP at creative events and spaces where Nigeria’s new age is being celebrated. Whether it’s at the Ake Book Festival, Art Summits or Fashion Week, he appeals as a desirable model of what a progressive leader should be.

Many also love him for his religious ties, prior to his role as VP, Professor Osinbajo served as a top pastor in the Redeemed Christian church of God, Nigeria’s largest Pentecostal Church body, but beyond this, his sheer honesty, intellectual acuity and genuine delight has caused him to be loved by all and sundry. His rise to the heart of the Nigerian people has been an easy climb.

Richard Ogundiya is a Journalist covering technology, politics, development and culture in Africa.

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20 Additional Millionaires to Emerge In UBA Wise Savers Promo…N60 Million Up For Grabs

Another set of  20 loyal customers will join the rising number of millionaires to win a whooping N1,500,000 each, in the 3rd edition of its quarterly draw for the ongoing UBA Wise Savers Promo. The raffle draw which is set for July 31st, at United Bank for Africa’s Corporate head office will see new millionaires emerge in a transparent draw in the presence of representatives from the Consumer Protection Council, National Lottery Regulatory Commission and the Lagos State Lottery Board. 

“This is yet another great opportunity for new and existing customers to take the chance and get closer to their dreams. This will also add to the growing number of millionaires who have benefitted from the ongoing Wise Savers Promo as a whopping N60 Million is still very much up for grabs” said the Group Head Marketing, United Bank for Africa, Dupe Olusola.

“To qualify for the draws, new and existing customers of the bank are expected to save at least N10,000 each month for three consecutive months before each draw date. Alternatively, they can make a one-time deposit of at least N30,000 to be saved for 90 days. The promo will run all through 2019 and a total of 80 people will have ultimately become millionaires at the end of the year.”.

She added that at the last draw,  the lucky winners, who cut across all regions of the country, have joined the millionaires club in Nigeria. They are:  Alli Abiodun Ganiu, Tari E Francis, Onah Joseph, Okwandu Faith Ezinne, Igwedinma Chiedozie Onyekachi, Mgbakor Edmund Eke, Nwokoye Adeseye Ifeanyichukwu and Achi Sheyin Michael.  Others are Onyekwuluje Christiana Osho, Ibilola U Okeke, Amos Luka, Mukhtar Halima, Musa Abubakar, Olanrewaju Kolade David, Okongwu Hillary Chidinma, Loretta O Okodua, Adeyemo Biodun Adeola, Oyewusi Oyeyinka Abidemi, Adeola O Adewumi and Anyanwu Vivian.

The promo, which commenced in September 2018 has already seen 40 customers winning N60m in the two previous draws and is expected to run till September 30, 2019 where another 40 customers from across the country will become millionaires, winning another N60 million in the remaining two draws of the promo. The much anticipated draw come July 31st, will see UBA reward another 20 with N30million

The Executive Director, Lagos & West Bank, Mr. Ayo Liadi, while speaking on the forthcoming Raffle draw, noted that a lot of lives have been positively impacted, from the previous draws where 40 people went home with N1,500,000.

According to Liadi: “the Wise Saver’s promo is no doubt genuine proof of how a bank that prioritises the growth and development of its customers, helps them grow and actualise their dreams. We are happy and impressed with the lives that have changed for good since we commenced in September 2018. Knowing full well that our job is not complete until our customer succeeds, we are now motivated and inspired to do more, so our customers can more easily achieve their dreams and goals in life. I am pleased that this cash prize can go a long way in the lives of many, to this end, UBA can only enjoin many more customers to be part of the promo, you never can tell, it could be you”.

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We’re Committed To The Release Of Leah Sharibu, Osinbajo Tells Pence

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and his American counterpart, Mike Pence, held discussions yesterday in the White House, with both leaders affirming the mutual benefit inherent in a deeper bilateral relationship between both countries.

At a meeting laced with friendly banter, cordial exchange of pleasantries and sharing of faith values, both Vice Presidents in their discussion on economy, military assistance and other issues, affirmed the need for continuous observation of the rule of law, while also noting Nigeria’s pride of place on the African continent and America’s reputed global leadership.

Issues discussed at the nearly hour-long meeting & interaction between the two leaders include how to counter extremism, the threat of global terrorism, and the continuous observation of the rule of law, among others.

While both leaders agreed on the need to strengthen the economy and markets generally, Prof. Osinbajo added that, “The US is a natural ally of Nigeria, as Nigeria and US have many things in common.”

He noted that with Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa, its market offers great opportunities to US investors. 

The Nigerian VP stated that his visit to the White House is to further deepen the relationship between the two nations and its people.

In their discussions on economic matters, Mr. Pence said, “Nigeria is a great country with a history of 200 million people, that’s a great nation. I want to see Nigeria prospering more.”

US VP Pence then told his Nigerian counterpart that, “I am grateful that you reached out, the door is open for more dialogue.”

He said Nigeria should continue to pursue market reforms in the economy and encourage an independent judiciary, adding that the rule of law will contribute to Nigeria’s future.

Both leaders also discussed Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts, during which Prof. Osinbajo spoke on how Nigeria is deepening the manufacturing industry and trying to reform the power sector to allow for more investors. 

He appreciated the support of USAID through its Power Africa initiative that is helping Nigeria to further open the space in the power sector.

On the issue of security challenges and military assistance, the Nigerian VP thanked the Trump administration for its support on the purchase order for the Tucano aircrafts, stressing that such military equipment will help the Federal Government in the battle against terrorism and insurgency.

Discussing government’s efforts to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, Prof. Osinbajo expressed the commitment of the Buhari administration to continue to negotiate for her release and that of the remaining abducted Chibok girls.

“Over 100 of the Chibok girls that were abducted even before President Muhammadu Buhari came into government, have been released under the Buhari administration, “the VP explained adding that most of the Chibok girls, 90% of them, were also Christians.

The American VP appreciated the efforts of the Nigerian government and offered US’ support in ensuring the release of others still abducted. Mr. Pence said he “appreciates the perspective on Leah Sharibu,” adding that, “I am aware of the sensitive nature of her plight,” while also noting that most of the girls that were released in the Chibok abduction were Christians.

Recalling how President Muhammadu Buhari was himself attacked by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014, the Nigerian Vice President said it is the firm and often publicly stated view of President Buhari that anyone who kills an innocent person and then says “God is great” is either insane or simply does not understand what he is saying.

Vice President Osinbajo returned to Abuja this morning.

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One Shot, Many Injured As Ihedioha’s Thugs Continue Harassment Of Okorocha’s Family Members

By Johnbull Chikwe

Armed thugs, allegedly acting on the instructions of the Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha have invaded ‘House of Freeda’, a business outfit of the first daughter of the immediate past governor of the State, Uloma Nwosu.

Mrs Uloma Nwosu is also the wife of the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance. She had been severally harassed in the past, with some of her personal and company vehicles allegedly taken away at gunpoint, by armed thugs allegedly acting in line with the directives of the governor of Imo State.

Governor Ihedioha has recently raised the tempo of his harassment against family members and political associates of his major rival in the last governorship election. It is believed that the governor whose election is facing some challenges at the court is anxious to weaken the morale of key associates of the AA governorship candidate, to either cow them into submitting to his draconian rule or stampede them out of town to ensure that he has a free ride.

So far, unconfirmed reports have it that one person has been shot, while several others sustain injuries as the thugs are looting valuables from the business premises.

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How UBEC Blacklisted Kwara Over Diversion Of N1.5bn Funds

Kwara State was black listed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) because the then state government mismanaged the N1.5bn grant meant to upgrade schools in Kwara in 2013.

This was revealed on Thursday during a visit of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to the UBEC headquarters in Abuja.

Officials told the governor that the sum of N1.5bn was allotted to Kwara in 2013 with a request for the state to pay another N1.5bn as counterpart funding.

The officials said the government was later discovered to have borrowed the N1.5bn from a bank with which it immediately accessed the UBEC fund.

Upon receipt of the UBEC’s N1.5b, Kwara returned the N1.5b it had borrowed from the bank and then diverted the UBEC’s N1.5b without investing it in educational infrastructure as required by law, they said

This led to UBEC blacklisting Kwara and demanding for immediate refund of its N1.5b.

Kwara later refunded N1.050b leaving an outstanding of N450 million which the Abdulfatai Ahmed’s administration never paid to UBEC.

AbdulRazaq was told that UBEC will only do business with Kwara when the outstanding N450m is refunded to UBEC by Kwara.

The Kwara delegation led by AbdulRazaq promised to pay the N450m to enable the state to access the funds to develop its schools.

Kwara has not accessed UBEC funds since 2013.

UBEC has at least N5.6 billion available for Kwara which can only be accessed if and when the state pays the outstanding debt of N450m.

AbdulRazaq’s visit to UBEC came barely 48 hours after he visited decrepit schools in the northern senatorial district of Kwara where most of the schools’ roofs had collapsed.

He had promised to look into the devastating state of the infrastructure across the state especially in schools, hospitals and road networks.

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EFCC Arraigns Abuja Pastor For Alleged Forgery

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Francis Onuegbu, an Abuja-based pastor, before a federal capital territory (FCT) high court  for alleged forgery.

According to an online news medium, The Cable.ng, Onuegbu was arraigned before the court on three count charges of alleged falsification of land documents “with the intent to defraud”.

The EFCC accused him and one Oluwatosin Olowu, who is reportedly at large, of committing the offence in 2003.

The charge sheet read: “Francis Onuegbu and Oluwatosin Olowu (still at large) sometime in 2003 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court with intent to defraud attempted to obtain property known as Plot 390 Cadastral Zone B19 Katampe Extension under false pretence from the Department of Land Administration and Resettlement MFCT.

“Francis Onuegbu and Oluwatosin (still at large) sometime in 2003 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court with intent to defraud forged a document titled ‘Department of Land Admin and Resettlement Recommended Application for Approval’ purporting same to be issued and approved by the Honourable Minister, Federal Capital Territory.”

The Cable reported that the accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges after which Eucharia Nwankpa, his counsel, filed an application for bail.

She told the court the defendant had paid a series of visits to the commission since  January when the case was opened and has also been on administrative bail from the commission.

Aliyu Usman, the EFCC counsel, however opposed the bail application. He asked the judge to tarry a while to enable the commission time to respond to the application.

A. I. Kutigi, the presiding judge, however, dismissed his opposition and granted the defendant a bail of N5 million and one surety in like sum who must be a civil servant, not below the grade level 10.

He subsequently adjourned till October 14 for further hearing.

Source: The Cable

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Poverty Statistics: Reno Omokri Ridiculing Goodluck Jonathan – Group

A policy group in Nigeria says Reno Omokri, a former social media aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan is ridiculing the former number one citizen of Nigeria.

The Global Economic Policy Initiative, GEPIn, said it was wrong for Mr. Omokri to be peddling lies and issuing statements on behalf of President Jonathan.

President of the group, Mr. Bernard Okri said that the world will be laughing at Mr. Jonathan for trying to undo the abject poverty which he thrust Nigeria into by falsifying figures.

“Mr. Omokri has a record for impersonation, identity theft and blackmail but who would have thought that he would do it to his former boss and former President of Nigeria,” Okri quizzed.

“In an attempt to slander Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the poverty figures that he quoted while addressing the Council of Foreign Relations in New York City he dented the reputation and goodwill of his former boss.

Okri stressed that Prof. Osinbajo was right when he said the poverty level in Nigeria as at 2010 was over 112 million, which was over 67 per cent of Nigeria’s population at the time.

Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), he said about 112 million Nigerians, which is about 67.1 per cent of the country’s total population of 167 million were living below poverty level.

He said Nigeria only became the poverty capital of the world because the Peoples Democratic Party which had been in government impoverished Nigerians and looted all the resources.

“In 2010, over 112.47 million Nigerians were living on less than a one dollar a day. The NBS data showed that 67% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” – this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.

He added that the NBS report revealed that Nigerians considered themselves to be getting poorer at the time.  “According to the report in 2010, 93.9% of respondents felt themselves to be poor compared to 75.5% six years earlier,” Okri added.

He said it was a shame that Mr. Omokri could not do a simple Google search to confirm the statement of the Vice President before jumping on Twitter and even issuing a statement.

“This is a disgrace to President Goodluck Jonathan, he has made him the laughing stock of the world, I think he deserves better than to be dragged in the mud by Mr. Omokri. A simple Google search would have saved both of them this embarrassment,” he said.

He, however, urged Mr. Omokri to apologise to President Jonathan, Vice President Osinbajo and all Nigerians for dragging the name of the country in the mud.

“He (Omokri) has record of telling lies and he is a very fraudulent person. Nigerians still remember Wendell Simlin, the name Mr. Omokri stole in his bid to blackmail then former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, accusing him of sponsoring Boko Haram but he was busted.

“Only last week I read that he was using the name of abducted Dapchi school girl, Leah Sharibu, to make money for himself by selling shirts and a book he wrote in her name.

“He has a past and most us know that he relies heavily on this type of fraudulent activity to survive, things have not been easy for him since the PDP left government,” Mr. Okri.

He urged Nigerians never to believe or take anything Mr. Omokri says seriously. “We should engage in constructive criticism if we really want Nigeria to succeed, persons like Mr. Omokri exude bad vibes, Nigerians should not believe anything he says.”

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