Tension In Plateau As STF Orders Fulani Out Of Ancestral Villages

There is a fresh tension in some recently attacked villages in Plateau State after the Special Task Force (STF), charged with maintaining peace in Plateau, gave inhabitants of some crisis-prone villages 48 hours to vacate their communities.

In a statement, STF spokesman, Salisu Mustapha, said that a “military operation” is going on in the affected areas located in Barkin-Ladi and Riyom Local Governments.

“The inhabitants of the affected areas are to vacate immediately with their property,” the statement stated.

The affected villages include – Mahanga, Kakuruk, Maseh and Shong 2.

The statement did not say where the inhabitants of the villages should head to, and whether they would be resettled.

A resident of one of the villages said it was unfair and uncharitable for the STF to order them out of their ancestral villages without providing alternatives.

“We know no other home,” he said. “Where do they want us to go? Why must they treat us as if we are foreigners in our own country.”

The villager indicated that he and his kinsmen might disregard the STF’s order “since we have no were to go”.

The STF however, advised residents of neighbouring settlements such as KuraFalls, Kuzuk, Sharuk, Rim of Gashish Districts not to panic.

“Residents of such areas should just be very careful of their movement within the area and avoid places of military operation until further notice,” the STF said.

The task force also advised people to report any suspicious movement or activities in their areas.

The military operation may have resulted from the incessant attacks by gunmen on some communities in the areas.

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Three Student Union Leaders Die in Ghastly Car Crash

The Presidents of  the Student Unions of the Federal University of Technology, Akure Dapo Awopegba; Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo Abiodun Akintola and Ondo State School of Midwifery lost their lives in a lone car accident along the Owo-Akure Road.

The spokesman for the Ondo State police command, Aremu Adeniran said the auto accident occurred at Emure Ile junction on the expressway on Friday night around 8p.m, according to.

Mr. Adeniran added the accident occurred as a result of over-speeding.

Reports say the Union leaders were on their way back to their various institutions from Abuja, where they had gone to witness the presentation of an award to the Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, and some other eminent Nigerians by the National Association of Nigerian Students.

They were traveling in a bus donated to the Joint Campus Committee by the state government recently.

Others who sustained injuries are receiving treatment at the Federal Medical centre, Owo

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INEC Has Failed In Its Responsibility – Oshiomhole

(Ascology) Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole says INEC has failed in its responsibility to conduct a free poll in the state, warning of impending trouble if the true winner of the polls is not declared.

The governor who gave the warning today during an interview with newsmen at the Iyamho primary school, Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area said there can be no winner when the people are not allowed  to vote.
“They plan not to bring out the voting materials on time and as we speak in Oredo Local government area, Benin City and Egor local government area, the heart of Benin City materials have not got to majority of the polling booths after 11 am and  at the  New Era college upper mission road, they brought fake voters register different from the one the people registererd,” he noted.
According to him “if accreditation is to stop by 12pm and by 11 am, it is after 11 am now, there are no materials  in some polling booths, it then means Prof. Atahiru Jega and INEC  have no plans to conduct election. The whole  idea is to frustrate the people so that they will not be able to vote, and they will declare a fake result.”
The governor maintained that  “Prof Jega and INEC have been an embarrassment to the nation. I am in shock with all the arrangements they have made sensitizing the people, and I told them, INEC need to be sensitized.  INEC is the weakest link in the Nigeria democratic chain. I have no faith in what INEC is doing in Benin City.
“This is designed for where majority of the people are denied the right to vote and this time around I have told them this country either decides on whether to move on or move back, I see sponsored editorials saying whatever happens we will go to court, but today we have to sort out the issues once and for all, “ the governor added.
Comrade Oshiomhole said he holds Prof. Jega responsible for the failure of the election and for disenfranchising the people  as INEC has connived with the Peoples Democratic Party to involve in scientific rigging.
“They planned it and executed it this way. It is a shame that they have programmed this to embarrass the Nigeria nation. If INEC do not allow the people to vote and they pronounce the winner there will be trouble.
He said, “fifty five percent of voters are in Edo South and forty percent in Benin City, and they think they can deprive the people the opportunity to vote.”

In his words, “Prof. Jega has failed up because I wrote a petition that they are buying voters card. We will all go to court before God. They know that if it is two people remaining they will not vote for them”

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Arik Air flight bound for Abuja has near disaster in bad weather

Daily Times have reported that an Arik Air flight w3232 from Enugu to Abuja scheduled to depart Enugu at about 10:00am was delayed until 11:40am due to reports of approaching bad weather in Abuja.

According to an eyewitness, in a rush to get to Abuja before the start of the rains the pilot ignored all warnings and took the aircraft and passengers through an extremely turbulent flight.
A passenger on the fight said, “People clung on to their seats for dear life with shouts and cries of Jesus”.
On landing at Abuja the plane almost skidded off of the runway and passengers had to wait on the aircraft for thirty minutes before disembarking due to heavy rains in Abuja.
“This is the hallmark of the flight delays and the resultant effects of lack of NCAA,” the passenger added.

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Thirteen Years of Civil Rule: Few Gains, Many Pains ~ The Nasir El-Rufai Keynote Speech That Was Sensationally Reported

Keynote Address at the Nigerian Bar Association, Warri Branch Law Week by Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, OFR, on 4th July, 2012

The starting point for an assessment of our national experience of civil rule since 1999 is a deserved tribute to the many Nigerians from all walks of life whose efforts and sacrifices compelled the military to retreat to the barracks. It was a titanic effort, a struggle for which many died, countless were bloodied and many lost lives, livelihoods and liberty. Freedom stirs in the hearts of humanity; neither blandishments nor the whip of tyrants can extinguish these stirrings or even deter a determined people from securing it. Freedom is a wonderful value, and the barbaric events of the last military rule ought to have convinced everybody that democracy, anchored on fair elections, the rule of law and good governance, is the way to go. In 1998, Nigerians overwhelmingly decided that never again will we accept the shortcuts of military rule and the long nightmare of tragedy that accompanied it for some 15 years.

I was privileged to have contributed in the design of the transition programme after Abacha’s death in June 1998. That transition was successfully concluded with President Olusegun Obasanjo taking the reins in May 1999. A few months after that I was appointed head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, and later in 2003, Minister of the FCT. As a private citizen since 2007, I have reflected on our country’s journey, and my view is that we have many things to celebrate but much more to deplore.

Warts and all, we have preserved the prospect for genuine democratic governance in Nigeria. Some fraudulent elections have been overturned and illegal impeachments quashed. Nigerians even united to surprise and defeat the third-term attempt of a sitting president. With vigilance and will we can invest real substance into the formal democratic structures that we have and make real the vision that our people can prosper in freedom. The notion of the inalienable rights of the citizen is getting reinforced, despite the prolonged hangover afflicting sections of our security personnel. This increased awareness of human rights has sometimes been bolstered by the courts.

While democracy satisfies the intrinsic desire for freedom, it is its instrumental value that ultimately matters for the quotidian realities and longer-term interests of most Nigerians. People want freedom, but that must include the freedom not to starve, the freedom to live in dignity, with equal access to education, health, security and to enjoy as much happiness as their talents can legitimately secure.

The panoply of reforms undertaken between 1999 and 2007 were designed to reduce the burden of the state on the economy, improve infrastructure and make it easier to do business in Nigeria. Privatisation was undertaken because it was understood that there is no value in retaining state-owned enterprises that deliver services poorly, drain the public purse or which simply left public assets rotting away in moribund enterprises. The Oandos and the Benue Cements are testament to the success of privatisation. But our system has not managed to defeat the entrenched interests in some of the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that successfully masqueraded as defenders of national interest until they finally interred those enterprises they had long used as illicit cash-cows.

Democratic rule also liberalised the telecommunications sector, bringing in foreign investment, spurring ancillary businesses and putting a telephone in the hands of virtually every adult resident of our vast country. We saw the beginnings of a credit system, and even a skeletal mortgage scheme that assisted many of the buyers of Federal Government houses in Abuja. Nigeria won debt relief, consolidated its banking system and witnessed economic growth, no doubt assisted also by high oil prices. The Obasanjo government grew the external reserves and created a rainy day fund called the Excess Crude Account.

By 2007, the new government inherited vast reserves ($47bn), an on-going series of power projects (NIPP), new rail systems from Lagos to Kano ($8.3bn) and Abuja Metro ($800 million), a fat Excess Crude Account ($23bn), in short a basis to hit the ground running, complete on-going projects, initiate new ones and continue the work of solving Nigeria’s problems. Alas, that did not happen. I will attempt an answer.

Despite the many accomplishments of the Obasanjo government, it was by no means a perfect government, just an effective one. The attention to the rule of law was not consistent. Let us recall the brazenness with which a well-connected thug sponsored arson against government buildings in Anambra State as part of the assault against the government of Dr. Chris Ngige from whom he was estranged. That thug was not called to account; rather he was elevated to his party’s board of trustees. If people consistently escape justice because of their connections to power, it is an open invitation to people of lesser quality to seize the state and suitably defile it. Consider the prominent role people like James Ibori came to play in our national affairs from May 2007.

Nigeria has also managed to compound impunity by assaulting the very basis of democratic legitimacy: free and fair elections. It is not simply a matter of opinion that elections in Nigeria have been progressively worse since 1999. European Union and other observers gave devastating verdicts on the conduct of the 2003 elections. Those of 2007 were so transparently awful that the key beneficiary, Umaru Yar’Adua, felt compelled to admit as much in his inaugural speech as president. Despite the initial façade, the 2011 elections turned out to be not only flawed, but one of most deceptive and divisive in our chequered electoral history.

Yet democracy by its very nature ought not to make people frightened of the consequences of not being in power. With term limits, losers are guaranteed another stab in just a few years. And where the rule of law prevails, an electoral loss is not the same thing as exclusion from the political space and vigorous participation in the political process. But such political sophistication prospers only when there’s certainty about electoral integrity and where the respect for the rule of law has become part of the DNA.

Simply put we have lost the opportunity to routinize the spirit of democracy while we stay busy appearing to observe its formal rituals. It was perhaps inevitable that the words of Plato that “the punishment we suffer, if we refuse to take an interest in matters of government, is to live under the government of worse men” would catch up with us.

Since 2000, there has been an unacceptable toll of mayhem and bloodshed in Nigeria. The explosion of religious and ethnic tensions expressed in violent hues has been one of the most disappointing features of the new era. Democracy ideally offers a civilised way to negotiate and manage differences without breaking bones. It thrives on the ability of contending factions to work out a consensus and to summon sufficient coherence to make things work. It is disheartening that virtual apartheid, based on religion, is beginning to divide cities like my hometown of Kaduna, with people being restricted to their respective ghettoes of faith. At the heart of democracy is a universal idea, but a key feature of present-day Nigeria is an astounding narrow-mindedness.

It is necessary that we reflect on the probability that by giving undue credence to group rights, we imperil not only individual rights but also the possibility of building a nation where everyone belongs and feels safe everywhere. Our political elite have encouraged divisions that keep them in public office, forgetting that the depletion of social capital, trust and cohesion will make it impossible for them to enjoy the fruits of the office, if any! This has manifested in many ways.

Nigeria has clearly failed to secure her citizens. We have a centralized police force afflicted both by little self-respect and a limited sense of its mandate. The efforts to contain Boko Haram’s terror has shown that our intelligence gathering apparatus is not fit for purpose, and our security agencies lacking in internal capacity and capability beyond harassing those opposed to those in power. The pathetic manner public streets are blocked in the vicinities of security and defence establishments makes the citizens wonder – if those trained and armed to defend us are so scared of the terrorists, how can we expect them to defend the realm? Are they concerned only about their safety and that of those in power? Are they serving to protect the state or those that are currently in power?

We have not built as much infrastructure as our development requires, and we have failed to moderate our escalating cost of governance. More importantly, democratic Nigeria is yet to propel economic growth and development to a level that can democratise its fruits through the creation of jobs for our youths. As we dither, divide ourselves and condone fraud, corruption and incompetence, the world just leaves us behind.

There is no doubt in my mind that we need to give our people a stake in keeping democracy aglow. History shows that even in the developed world, extremist groups tend to attract more support in moments of economic hardship. And when this is compounded by the politics of corruption and self-advancement of only those in corridors of power, the economic exclusion of all citizens but the professional sycophants, and relentless harassment of those in opposition, only the peace of the graveyard can be the best outcome. Our challenge therefore is to reverse these tendencies and make democracy work for the greatest number of Nigerians.

Nigeria has for too long remained just a country of potential. It is our duty to realise the promise of these potentials by making them real for all citizens. What can we do to make this happen? What is the role of government, the citizens and civil society organizations like the NBA? I write a column every Friday in which I try to answer these questions. I will broadly outline what I think needs to be done, and by whom.

Our political culture must change from one of self-enrichment to true public service. The situation in which we spend almost the entire federal revenues to pay the salaries, allowances and running cost of government and its officials is unacceptable and will crash this democratic experiment – and it is still an experiment, albeit a thirteen year one. Elections must be credible, free and fair because that is what will guarantee the ejection of those that fail the electorate. I have said this before and will say it again, if the ruling party and its partners in INEC and the security agencies rig the next election, Nigerians will not let them enjoy the fruits of their fraud. Enough is now enough.

Security is currently a front-burning issue. It is the primary responsibility of any government. It can neither be abdicated nor outsourced. Community leaders can support the efforts, but cannot replace the government itself. Finally, a single-minded focus on development – physical via infrastructure build-out, human by providing equal access to public education and healthcare, and municipal services that guarantee social justice and enable citizens the opportunity to realize their full potentials. That is not too much to ask. Is it?

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Draft Petroleum Industry Bill Reduces Exploration Taxes for Foreign Energy Company

The newly revised petroleum industry draft bill recently approved by the Federal Executive Council and ready for submission to the National Assembly reduced taxes to be paid by producers after energy companies opposed initial proposals as too high.

The Petroleum Industry Bill, which was approved by the Cabinet on July 11 for presentation to the Parliament, proposes 50 percent tax for onshore and shallow fields and 20 percent for deepwater fields, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Bloomberg. The original proposals were for 85 percent and 50 percent respectively.

A fiscal framework was “developed to make the industry more investment friendly and make it more profitable for investors,” Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said on July 11. At a time when more African countries are becoming oil producers, Nigeria needed to take measures to attract investors and remain competitive, she said.

According to Bloomberg, The bill, which seeks to reform the way the oil industry of Africa’s top producer is regulated and funded, was first introduced to the parliament more than three years ago. Lawmakers were unable to pass it before the end of the last legislative session in May 2011. Energy companies including Shell, Chevron Exxon Mobil Corp, Total SA and ENI Spa said in a joint presentation to lawmakers in 2009 that the proposed tax increases would make exploration “uneconomical.” They pump more than 90 percent of the country’s oil through ventures with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, Bloomberg said.

Under the new bill, energy companies will be required to remit 10 percent of their profits to a fund to help develop communities in the oil region and curb sabotage bred by resentment to ecological damage from oil activities.

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Jos Crisis: Police Arrests, Detains Leader of Fulani Association

The National Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBA), Saleh Bayeri has been arrested.

Bayeri was arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) when he honoured invitation from the Commander of the Force, Major General Henry Ayoola, who handed him over to the State Security Service (SSS).

STF Spokesman Captain Salisu Mustapha confirmed the arrest, adding that Bayeri has been handed over to the SSS for interrogation.

Meanwhile, the STF has virtually relocated its base to Matse in Barkin Ladi, following another attempt by the attackers to invade the villages they had earlier attacked on Saturday and Sunday. According to a statement by the state government, no life was lost in that invasion as the STF reportedly waded off the attackers

 

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Shehu of Borno, Deputy Governor Escape Bomb Explosion

The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar IbnUmar Garba El-Kanemi and the Deputy Governor of the State, Alhaji Zannah Umar Mustapha escaped an attack by a suicide bomber suspected to be a member of the Boko Haram sect.

The incident happened around 2:15pm, immediately after Friday Jumat prayers at the Mosque in front of the Shehu’s palace.

Eye witness account claim a teenager of about 15 years old was noticed walking towards the two dignitaries outside the Shehu’s mosque where they just had the Jumat prayers.

However, the suspicious manner in which the boy was approaching the Shehu and deputy governor, drew the attention of the security men guarding the Shehu who quickly tried to shield him.

The bomb went off in the process, killing at least 10 other people in the vicinity, wounding two of the soldiers according to eye witness.

Men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and other security operatives immediately rushed the traditional ruler and the deputy governor to the Government House while the mosque and the palace were condoned off by soldiers and policemen to prevent further attacks.

Spokesman for the Joint Task Force, Lieutenant Col. Sagir Musa confirmed to Channels Television correspondent, Jonathan Gopep that five People were killed in the attack.

The area around the Shehu’s palace has been cordoned off and more soldiers have been deployed to the scene.

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Police Parades Arrested Arms Smugglers in Lagos

The Lagos State Police Command Friday paraded three persons, including a retired naval officer, for allegedly possessing 8,450 live cartridges smuggled into the country through the Seme border.

The State’s Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, while parading the suspects at the Police Headquarters, Ikeja, said the ammunition was intercepted by police officers from the Trade Fair Police Division on stop and search patrol at Seme, a border town in Lagos.

“The police intercepted one white Volkswagen bus with registration number XT 537 LSD, loaded from Seme Boarder en route Balogun Market at Trade Fair Complex, Lagos,” he said. “Based on suspicion, the said vehicle was brought to the station and a search was conducted.

26 cartons of live cartridges concealed in T-shirts bags out of 28 bags found in the said vehicle were recovered. A Navy Warrant Officer’s uniform, a bag of beans, ID card, beret and shoes were also recovered inside the vehicle.”

Manko said that investigation into the case had taken his officers to Onitsha, Anambra State, where one of the owners of the consignment was arrested.

 

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Two Nigerians Make Forbes’ List of 10 Young African Millionaires

One of the two Nigerians, Jason Njoku, aged 31, is the founder and CEO of Iroko TV. Njoku is an internet entrepreneur and his Iroko TV is the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies. Iroko TV has been dubbed the ‘Netflix of Africa’. And, arlier this year, Iroko TV raised $8 million in venture capital from Tiger Global Management, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund run by billionaire Chase Coleman. IrokoTV enjoys lucrative content distribution deals with Dailymotion, iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo. It is believed that IrokoTV could be worth as much as $30 million and Njoku is the company’s largest individual shareholder.

The second Nigerian, Ladi Delano, aged 30, is the founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa. Delano was believed to have made his first millions as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China. In 2004, at age 22, he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. This brand went on to achieve over 50% market share in China and was distributed across over 30 cities in China, and pulled in $20 million in annual revenue. Delano subsequently sold the company to a rival liquor company for over $15 million and ploughed his funds into his next venture-The Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment holding company focused on mainland China. Today, Delano is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA) – a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion (market cap) Bakrie Group of Indonesia. Bakrie Delano Africa serves as the investment partner of the Bakrie Group in Nigeria.

Other young entrepreneurs who made the list include Mark Shuttleworth, Justin Stanford, Vinny Lingham and Yolanda Cuba from South Africa, Ashish Thakkar from Uganda, Senegalese Magatte Wade, Mike Macharia (Kenya) and Kamal Budhabatti (Kenya).

 

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World Bank to Support Nigeria’s Final Push to Eradicate Polio

The World Bank’s Board has approved an International Development Association (IDA)* credit of US$95 million for the Nigeria Polio Eradication Support Project, which will help the country to achieve and sustain at least 80% polio immunization across all states, supporting the eventual eradication of the disease from Nigeria.

The project will finance roughly 655 million doses of oral polio vaccine for children under age five across Nigeria, with a special focus on the northern states where polio is more prevalent. The World Bank has worked with Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Agency since 2003 to ensure timely vaccine supply.
As part of a worldwide drive to eradicate polio, this effort builds on Nigeria’s strong performance in recent years, with the number of polio cases falling from 1,100 in 2006 to 62 in 2011. Nigeria is one of the last three countries in the world where polio is endemic, the others being Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“What we do over the next four years is going to determine whether we will succeed in this historic undertaking to eradicate polio in Nigeria,” said Dr. Mohamed Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health and Chairman of Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication.We have beaten back the disease to a large extent already, and with the support of our partners, we are gearing up to make the last big push.”
The project continues a “buy-down” arrangement by which the Gates Foundation, the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, and Rotary International (via the UN Foundation), will repay the loan’s present value when pre-agreed results are met. Of the World Bank’s lending commitments to Nigeria for polio from 2003 to 2012—a total of $195 million—Nigeria has already qualified for a 70 percent buy-down.
“Eradication of polio is now within reach in Nigeria, so we must keep up the momentum to defeat this dreaded disease once and for all,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria. “Also, we must take in the main lesson from Nigeria’s success against polio, which is that improving outreach and closely involving communities will help build a stronger national health system.”
The new project is aligned with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s 2012 Polio Eradication Emergency Plan, and with the World Bank’s strategy in Africa, which aims to reduce vulnerability to illness and disability among poor people.

 

 

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Oil Industry Reforms; PENGASSAN Charges Workers to Brace Up

Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has charged its workers to brace up in the performance of their duties to enable them confront challenges that will accompany reforms in the oil and gas industry.
PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, stated this during a just concluded three day Synergy/Workshop on “Impacting the Right Culture in trade Union Services on PENGASSAN Staff,” organised by the union for its employees at Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, between July 9 and 11, 2012.
“Going forward, the terrain for doing our jobs will not be an easy one for the Nigerian nation and for the oil and gas industry. It will be tight because of the ongoing reforms in the oil and gas industry. Such reforms such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and the Nigerian Content Development Act among others will impact on the industrial relations in the industry.
The union president stated that the staff appraisal system will be reviewed and base on performance level of individual rather that collective to achieve optimum productivity and the growth of the association.
He noted that the staff should be able to checkmate excesses of the branches and elected officers with their training and expertise to develop the union, saying that “Staff is individually responsible for their actions and inactions in the union.”
Speaking on the training, some employees lauded the management of PENGASSAN, especially the President for organising the workshop, saying that “This will be the first time that all staff of PENGASSAN would come together under one roof to be trained and interacted.”
According to the Media and Information Officer of union, Comrade Babatunde Oke, described the Synergy/Workshop as an eye opener to all staff on opportunities and advantages that abound in the union to develop themselves and the union.
The Assistant General Secretary in charge of Port Harcourt Zone, Comrade Sunny Onyemachi, said that the training will enable staff to identify and improve weaknesses and advantages in the union.
On his own, the Assistant General Secretary, Research and Development, Comrade Joseph oshiokpekhai, who packaged the staff training, said that the workshop was designed to help staff identify and work towards achieving the union’s vision, mission and goals as well as developing themselves.
He said, “There is need for all staff to imbibe the right attitude and culture to work as a way of developing themselves and growing the union, and I think the workshop had achived its aim.
“During the three days, we have been able to tell ourselves the truth about one another and we were able to identify where we were lacking and where we were good. We were also able to chart plans to take care of our weaknesses and improve on them to grow the union.”

 

 

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