ASUU: Universities to hold emergency meetings on resumption

Following the suspension of the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, findings by our correspondent revealed that public universities across the country have made plans for special meetings of senate councils in preparation for examinations and resumption.

The PUNCH reports that ASUU on Friday, October 14 announced a suspension of the strike that commenced on Monday, February 14, 2022.

In a statement by the union’s National President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, the union explained that it suspended the strike based on a court order while noting that the government had yet to meet some of its demands.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that universities are set to hold special meetings to deliberate on new academic calendars instead of the one that was destabilised by the strike.

According to a memo sighted by our correspondent, the University of Benin has slated a special senate meeting for October 18, 2022.

The memo, which was signed by the institution’s Deputy Registrar, M.I. Owie, partly read, “The vice-chancellor, Prof Lilian Salami, has approved that the meeting of the provost, deans, and directors should be held at the senate chambers on Tuesday, October 18, 2022.”
In a memo from the Federal University of Lafia, the school noted that the senate council would meet on Monday (today) indicating its focus on “reviewing the academic calendar.”
Other universities which have announced meetings for the Senate Council include the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, October 18, 2022; the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, October 17, 2022; the Federal University of Dustin-Ma, Katsina, October 17, 2022; and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, among others.

Meanwhile, other universities, such as Sule Lamido University, have ordered students to resume immediately.

In a memo addressed to students and members of staff, the university management “encouraged students to resume back to school.”

Other schools that have announced resumption include the Tai-Solarin University of Education, the University of Port-Harcourt; the University of Calabar and Bayero University Kano.

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[07:43, 17/10/2022] Israel: 2023: Editors’ conference on credible elections to hold in November

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Nigerian Guild of Editors has announced that over 400 editors will meet in Owerri, Imo State, to interrogate the political landscape, with security chiefs, members of the electoral body, scholars and other stakeholders.

This was announced on Sunday in a press statement jointly signed by the President of the NGE, Mustapha Isah; and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, respectively.

NGE added that this year’s All Nigeria Editors Conference themed, ‘Political landscape, credible elections and the role of Editors,’ will enable citizens to make informed decisions.
It read, “The goal of the conference scheduled to hold between November 9 and 12, is to achieve near consensus among senior editors, media owners, and managers – in shaping constructive, objective and productive narrative before, during and after the 2023 general elections.

“The unfailing strong argument is that an objective and skilled media is an essential component of any democratic society. It provides useful and reliable information, which the polity requires to make informed decisions.

“The media carries out a checking function – ensuring that elected public holders uphold their oaths of office, electoral campaign promises and that they carry out the wishes of the people. The media as the watchdog of society should be facilitators of transparent electoral processes and credible, free, fair, and peaceful elections.”

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NHRC bemoans rising food prices hitting Nigerians

The National Human Rights Commission on Sunday raised concern over the rising food prices in the country, saying it had worsened access to healthy and nutritious food, especially among Internally Displaced Persons and vulnerable groups, leading to an increase in widespread hunger and low quality of life.

The commission attributed the scenario to several factors, including “the insecurity chasing farmers from their farms, coupled with many submerged farmlands due to flooding in some parts of the county.”

The commission’s Executive Secretary, Chief Tony Ojukwu (SAN), according to a statement by the NHRC Deputy Director (Public Affairs and External Linkages), Fatimah Mohammed, stated this in Abuja as Nigeria joins the global community to celebrate World Food Day, which is celebrated on October 16 every year.

The statement read in part, “The situation, which is partly associated with climate change, has worsened access to healthy and nutritious food, leading to an increase in widespread hunger and low quality of life and wellbeing of Nigerians, particularly the vulnerable group.”

“You will agree with me that Nigeria is undergoing a severe food crisis fuelled by climate change and insecurity in all parts of the country coupled with the current Russia – Ukraine war that has affected the importation of food items across the globe.

“With the current reality of rising prices of food items, many Nigerians may plunge deeper into poverty if proper measures are not put in place.”

According to him, the current food crisis is mostly affecting the less privileged, especially the IDPs.

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Zamfara shutdown media houses for PDP rally coverage

The Zamfara State Government has shut down three television stations and an FM radio station.

The affected media stations are the Nigeria Television Authority, Gamji TV, Al-Umma TV and Pride FM radio, all in Gusau, the state capital.

In a radio broadcast, the state Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Dosara, said the media houses were shut down for allegedly violating professional ethics.

According to Dosara, the affected media houses attended the rally organised by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the state, while the state government had earlier banned political rallies for security reasons.
He said, “The state government has suspended all political activities in the state due to security challenges but the PDP ignored the order and held a rally in Gusau, the state capital, where one person was killed and 18 others were injured.

“The four media houses, NTA, Gamji TV, Al-Umma TV, and Pride FM radio, were also at the event to cover the occasion even though they were aware of the ban on political rallies by the state government.

“Given this, the four media houses are hereby closed down with immediate effect.
“The government has directed security agents to arrest any staff member of the affected stations who try to go into the stations to perform any duty.”

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HIV and AIDS: 1.2 million PLWHA undergo treatment in 18 states –Report

No fewer than 1,196,300 People Living with HIV were on treatment in 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory as of June 2022.

This is according to the Nigeria HIV/AIDS epidemic control fact sheet made available to our correspondent by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centre said the number of PLWHA receiving treatment increased from 454,663 in April 2019 to 1,196,300 as of June 2022 in the 19 states.

The states captured in the report are Katsina, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Gombe, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo.

Other states are Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Imo, Rivers, Abia, Benue, and the FCT.

The report showed that within 38 months, 18.3 million clients received HIV counselling and testing while 705,485 PLWHA were identified and reported during the review period.

It also noted that from October 2021 to June 2022, 5.4mn clients received HIV counselling and testing, while 162,780 PLWHA were identified and reported.
Speaking with our correspondent during the USCDC consultative meeting with Nigerian states’ Commissioners of Health, the CDC Country Director, Dr. Mary Boyd said efforts are ongoing to strengthen state leadership in managing HIV response.

“The U.S CDC has been serving in Nigeria for 20 years and this is year 21 and we have various areas we support in health security as well as HIV and Tuberculosis. Over the past two years, the CDC along with the US Embassy has launched a number of HIV treatment surge initiatives with the state lead.

‘’That effort has been successful and today about 1.9 million PLWHA in Nigeria enjoying life-saving treatment and they will go on to have normal, long, productive lives as a result of this collaboration.

“We are trying to create a foundation that strengthens state leadership in managing the HIV response and we believe this is important if we are to strengthen the progress that we have made with the HIV response,” she said.

The National Coordinator of the National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections Control and Hepatitis Programme, Dr. Akudo Ikpeazu also said the states need to get actively involved in case finding, especially with paediatric HIV.

“One of the issues with paediatric HIV is case finding. Finding these children is a big challenge but we are working to expand on the work so that paediatric HIV can be addressed.

“Beyond case finding, when kids get on treatment, they do well and retaining them on the treatment is dependent on the parents and the caregivers. The states need to get in the drives seat and lead the process,” Ikpeazu said.

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UN agency: Fake news, global anti-immigrant sentiments worrisome

The International Organisation for Migration has expressed worries over the growing influence of fake news on vulnerable people pushed to embark on dangerous journeys in search of better economic opportunities.

The Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Prestage Murima, who stated this in Abuja, stressed the need to push back fake information in social media through factual and qualitative reporting that shapes conversations in communities.

Speaking at a training organised for media practitioners, under the Global Migration Media Academy by the IOM in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the School of Media and Communication at Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Murima, however, commended the media for its contribution to safer migration.

She said, “So, it is important to tell the right stories about what is happening in Nigeria and also to frame them well so that people can make informed decisions.

“Recently, I went to (the Republic of) Niger, to Agadez in the desert and it is horrible. There were more than 900 Nigerians stranded in the place I went to and they walked through the desert to try to get to Agadez. We have search and rescue operations there and we then help them to come to Agadez, to a transit centre and then help them come home.

“So, sometimes, when you hear that we have helped 27,000 stranded Nigerians to return to Nigeria, this is part of the process. I am telling you this small anecdote because it is these stories that the media churn out that make a difference because some people say the things they hear or see on Facebook influence their decisions to travel.”
Earlier, IOM’s Awareness Raising Officer (Nigeria), Cyprine Cheptepkeny, disclosed that the IOM recorded an increase of irregular migrants from Kano State between November 2021, and September 2022.
Cheptepkeny said Kano had 16 per cent, followed by Yobe State (12 per cent), Edo (10 per cent), Lagos (10 per cent), and Ogun (five per cent).

IOM’s Project Coordinator in the Republic of Ireland, Sandra Ruiz Moriana, said the media was awash with reports of xenophobic attacks by some western groups and state actors against migrants, putting them at risk of being attacked or killed.

Moriana explained that the movement of people from one geographical location to another was in itself a historical phenomenon that could be immensely beneficial to all if well-harnessed.

A professor at the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Emevwo Biakolo, who spoke on ‘Media Ethics in Reporting Migration,’ said the ethics of migration highlighted tension in relation to human dignity and rights.

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Buhari’s regime borrowing hits N31tn, projected to leave N39.12tn debt for successor

The National Assembly has approved or at least received budget estimates worth N93.453tn from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), in eight years.

Out of the N93.453tn budgeted from 2016 to 2023, a total of N67.4tn has been committed to recurrent expenditure, including the payment of salaries and emoluments of civil servants and legislators.

This amounts to 72.1 per cent of the entire budget devoted to the recurrent expenditure in the life of the Buhari regime. The administration met a debt of N12.12tn on June 30, 2015, but it increased it to N42.84tn by June 30, 2022, according to statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office. The increase represents 253 per cent growth over the period.

A breakdown shows that Buhari presented a budget of N6.061tn in 2016, his first after a populist election in 2015. The budget, however, heralded Nigeria’s first recession under the regime.

The budget was increased to N7.44tn in 2017; N9.1tn in 2018; N8.916tn in 2019; and N10.8tn in 2020.The budget for 2021 and 2022 rose to N13.6tn and N17.126tn, respectively. The estimates presented to the National Assembly last Friday for 2023 put the figure at N20.51tn.

The country’s debt rose by N30.72tn between July 2015 and June 2022, according to data released by the DMO.
According to the DMO statistics, Nigeria’s total debt as of June 30, 2015 stood at N12.12tn. By June 30, 2022, the figure had risen to N42.84tn, which showed an increase of 253.47 per cent. Despite the high increase in debt over the years, the government still plans to borrow N8.4tn in 2023.

Just like the massive rise in debt, there has been a huge increase in expenditure budget under Buhari. The Federal Government has increased the projected expenditure in its annual budget by about 238.45 per cent between 2016 and 2023, according to reports analysed by one of our correspondents.

According to data from the Budget Office of the Federation, the government budgeted to spend N6.06tn for the 2016 fiscal year. However, in the recently proposed 2023 budget, the projected aggregate expenditure was pegged at N20.51tn, more than thrice the amount budgeted in 2016.

In the 2023 budget, the government’s N17.12tn projected expenditure consists of N6.9tn recurrent expenditure, N5.9tn capital expenditure and N3.9tn for debt servicing. Statutory transfers amount to N744.11bn; non-debt recurrent costs, N8.27tn; personnel costs, N4.99tn; pensions, gratuities and retirees’ benefits, N854.8bn; overheads, N1.11tn; capital expenditure, N5.35tn, including the capital component of statutory transfers; debt service, N6.31tn; and sinking fund of N247.73bn to retire certain maturing bonds.

Despite the huge allocations, the budgets have failed to trickle down to the productive sector of the economy.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that Nigerian manufacturers had slashed their investments by 56 per cent in the last seven years, reflecting a sector buffeted on all sides by poor policies and economic headwinds.

Between 2016 and 2021, manufacturers’ investments tumbled from N489.44bn to N217.22bn, according to data collated by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
“How many companies in our sector are still in operation? Wempco has shut down; WAHUM is struggling, and the rest are just there. When we come for meetings, we will not be more than 11,” the Chairman of Qualitek Industries, Oluyinka Kufile, who is a major player in the aluminium and steel sector, said.

Kufile attributed the situation to a combination of poor policies, arguing that Nigeria had yet to understand its true direction in economic diversification.

The Nigerian economy has witnessed two recessions within the period – one fuelled by a foreign exchange crisis and the other by COVID-19 pandemic. But the responses of the federal and state governments to issues of the economy have been poor, according to analysts.

Insecurity has worsened over the period and the foreign exchange crisis has reached its crescendo with the naira-to-dollar exchange rate rising from N197/$ toN430-N442 in the official market over the period. A dollar sells for N735-N745 at the parallel market.

According to the Deputy President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, the situation is caused by poor foreign exchange and weak policies. He urged the government to eliminate subsidies and create a more convivial environment.

Economic experts have kicked against the huge budgetary allocations and the excessive borrowing tendency of the government.
A professor of Economics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Uche Nwogwugwu, said the N93tn budget for eight years had made little impact. He stated, “You may look at the budget assessment in three ways: the accounting or statistical, the impact and the administrative perspectives. Administratively, the recurrent expenditure has not translated into better standards.

“Some citizens have not been paid their salaries. How then will you expect growth when people cannot spend because they are owed their incomes? On the growth level, Nigeria is still largely oil-dependent. So, nothing’s really changed. Unemployment is high and there are lots of leakages and corruption.

“The impact is not there, even though it should be there, because the potentiality of growth, which is the manpower, is not there.”

An Associate Editor of SPE Journal of Economics and Management, Prof Wumi Iledare, said the funds had not impacted positively, as the country’s misery index was currently far higher than what was obtained in 2015.

He stated, “From your figures, it means almost one-thirds of the budget was borrowed during the eight-year period. Well, the good indicators of economic output usually are three indices – a combination of inflation rate, unemployment rate and exchange rate. So, basically, these indices form what we call the misery index and cumulatively, the impact on the society has not been positive from 2015 to now. This is because the misery index today is a lot higher than what it was in 2015.

“Of course, you can say the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact. Oil output has been badly affected, and revenue to the government has been significantly lower because of oil output. But if you look at it from the infrastructure point of view, even though some of the projects were started before 2015, overall the impact has not been that positive.”

According to the Chief Economist and Country Manager of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dr Andrew Nevin, what is more important is not planning or budgeting, but the environment to attract foreign capital.
“If Nigeria continues to be a harsh environment, people will not invest in Nigeria. So, you ask the question, what alternatives exist? I don’t think there is an alternative apart from making it a more attractive environment,” he noted.

The Director-General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Olusola Obadimu, said the Federal Government was merely borrowing to service existing debts.

“We have to start cutting our coats according to our clothes. We have to look for more ways to start earning foreign exchange. We are still dependent on this monolithic source of income, which is crude oil. But the non-oil exports are very low,” he stated.

An economist and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Uyo, Prof Akpan Ekpo, said it was dangerous for the country to hope to fund the budget through borrowing.

Ekpo stated, “The debts keep increasing and the amount of money used to service debts is also quite high. I can recollect that about 70 per cent or so is being used in servicing debts for 2022. That is worrisome. If the government keeps borrowing to fund recurrent expenditure, it is not good for the economy. It will retard growth.”

An Associate Professor of Economics and Statistics, University of Benin, Hassan Oaikhenan, recently said the 2023 budget was already on its way to failing because of its heavy dependence on borrowing.

Oaikhena said, “The budget, from the look of things, will certainly fail. This is against the background that it will be heavily funded from borrowing. It is just a hollow ritual, which means next to nothing. This will just compound the failure of this administration.
“Since the regime’s inception, the country has been plunged into avoidable debts.”

A development economist, Dr Aliyu Ilias, described the budget as problematic due to the huge cost of debt service and the revenue shortfall of the government.

“Nigeria’s budget is having a serious crisis. Debt servicing is taking the majority of our budgets. That is not even the major problem. The major problem is that our own revenue is not even enough to service the debt. Looking at this now, it means Nigerians are going to suffer more,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tinubu has promised to build a vibrant economy that will achieve double-digit growth when he becomes the President.
Tinubu said this in his speech at the 7th edition of the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit on Saturday in Kaduna.

He also hailed Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, for raising the bar in attracting investments to the state the same way he did in Lagos over 20 years ago.
Tinubu said if elected, his administration would build on how the Buhari regime had helped to improve the ease of doing business in the country, making it better for the private sector to excel.

He stated, “A vibrant private sector is a prerequisite for a functional state, playing a critical role in the mobilisation of capital, expertise and innovation for the creation of economic opportunities and employment. This is why it is important for the government to give maximum support and incentives to the private sector.

“In this light, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration introduced a number of measures targeted at promoting private enterprises and businesses including the Repeal and Re-Enactment of the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, the passage of the Finance Act, 2021, as well as the implementation of over 100 initiatives to improve ease of doing business in Nigeria.

“My desire is that the next administration, under my leadership, will continue to drive forward and accelerate on the progress made thus far, taking bold steps and initiatives to encourage investments in new areas typically considered risky, and leading the way by providing the enabling environment to nurture our innate entrepreneurial spirit.

“It is essential that our nation continues to champion the rule of law and sanctity of contracts, for these are the prerequisites for creating a business-friendly economic environment.

“Whilst there must be active engagement between all the arms of government for the rule of law to prevail, it is critical for the judiciary to retain its autonomy and independence.

“Therefore, under my stewardship, the Federal Government will build on the efforts of the current administration to review, amend and/or enact the relevant laws that will engender the rule of law.
“My administration will ensure that the judiciary has true financial and administrative autonomy and strong disciplinary and integrity monitoring mechanisms.”

The APC presidential candidate noted that his administration would prioritise the training and retraining of the country’s security forces and place great emphasis on the use of a counter-insurgency doctrine and strategy by the military, adding that the government would continue to train and equip the security personnel with the resources, gear and equipment that they needed to hasten the march to resounding victory against enemies of the nation.

“Furthermore, my administration will prioritise the use of superior aerial technology to deter criminal and terrorist activities, as well as to monitor and protect our critical national infrastructure, including our network of pipelines, our power stations, our transmission and distribution networks, our sea and airports, our rail networks and other vital infrastructure,” he added.

Debo Ologunagba and Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesmen of the Peoples Democratic Party and the party’s presidential candidate, respectively, expressed the readiness of the PDP administration under Atiku Abubakar to hit the ground running, the huge debt profile of the nation notwithstanding.

The duo spoke in separate interviews with Sunday PUNCH on the growing national debt.

Ologunagba said Atiku, having walked a similar path in the past, had the capacity to repeat the feat and save Nigerians from “the shame of the past seven and a half years.”
He stated, “Government is about solving problems. Nigerians have been unfortunate to have an incompetent and irresponsible government. The PDP has policies to tackle these problems and our candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has the capacity and experience to address the nation’s debt challenge brought upon us by the current administration.

“Do not forget that prior to 1999, Nigerians were at a crossroad. They were moving out in droves as no country wanted to do business with us.

“When the PDP took over, we started growing the economy and the Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar government grew the external reserves from $2bn to over $40bn. Electricity grew from a mere 1,800MW to over 4,000MW. Interestingly, our candidate for the 2023 presidential election was the chairman of the National Economic Council.

“Today, the new slogan in town is Japa. The young and not-too-young are seeking lives outside the shores of their country. The current government has succeeded in taking this country from top to bottom, but an Atiku/Okowa-led government will take it from bottom to the top.”

Ologbondiyan couldn’t agree less as he told Sunday PUNCH, “When Obasanjo and Atiku came into power in 1999, they went round the world and successfully got us a huge debt relief.

“One of the challenges of budgeting today is lack of management. For a candidate who has made reduction in government spending a cardinal part of his policies, you know certainly that he is committed to debt reduction to free up resources for the development of the nation’s critical sectors.

“This is why we are telling Nigerians to trust a man that has done the job before. Because he was part of the team that secured the Paris Club debt relief; he is familiar enough with the terrain to get it done again.”

The National Publicity Secretary of Labour Party, Abayomi Arabambi, also enumerated the party’s plan to manage the country’s huge debt, saying a nation saddled with debt would have less to invest in its future.

According to him, debt burden reduces a country’s business investment and slows down economic growth.

He said, “Over the years, the Nigerian economy has deeply relied on revenue generated from the sale of crude oil for the running of government activities. This has brought about reckless spending and mismanagement of public funds in governance, which is why the Labour Party has revealed its plan on making use of the Treasury Single Account policy to manage government revenue in Nigeria and block loopholes in all MDAs to facilitate a unified structure of bank account for all government transactions and enable a debt-free nation.

“This has made the Labour party to reveal its manifesto on its intention to manage Nigeria’s debt burden since we are optimistic that our candidate will win the forthcoming presidential election since we have identified that the major cause of debt in our country is because of inefficient trade and exchange rate policies, adverse exchange rate movements, adverse interest rate movement, poor lending and inefficient loan utilisation, poor debt management practices, accumulation of arrears and penalties, among others.

“Thus for us in Labour party and our presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, the TSA system of accounting is part of the campaign for zero-tolerance for corruption as it will also guarantee timely information on cash resources on real time and online, and also harmonises government servicing of its obligations since it will ultimately enhance and ensure transparency and accountability in government expenditure, leading to a rise in the country’s economic development.

“We believe that accountability and transparency has a major effect in improving good governance and using resources effectively because it helps to expose corruption and inefficiency in the government by summoning them to answer queries on how office funds are being spent.
“The Labour Party also affirms that the public will be provided with information on the past, current, and projected budgetary activities, including its financing and the consolidated financial position of the government, and we will regularly publish information on the stock and composition of its debt and financial assets, including currency, maturity and interest rate structure.”

A former Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, lamented that the previous and the present governments had left a heritage of debts for unborn generations of Nigerians.

Sanusi said this at the seventh edition of the Kaduna Economic and Investment Forum on Saturday.

The ex-Central Bank of Nigeria governor stated, “Today, the cost of servicing debt in Nigeria is N2.597tn whereas revenue was N2.4tn in the first half of 2022. In other words, debt servicing is now 108 per cent of revenue. For every naira the Federal Government earns goes to service debts, and it is not enough; the government has to borrow to service the debt and then begin to borrow to pay salaries, borrow to pay overheads, borrow to build roads, etc.

“We are leaving a mountain of debt for our children. They (children) might curse us because we are taking all the money borrowed to subsidise petrol and enjoy it cheaply.

“We see the problem and we are going to continue. I’m sorry for the next president who comes in June and says I’m removing fuel subsidy after day one,”
“Every generation wants to leave a legacy, so that our children and grandchildren would pray and ask God for mercy on us and not cursing us. You leave them with a mountain of debt; you have not educated them; the money that should go to their education, healthcare, you spend on fuel subsidy; even if this fuel subsidy is all genuine, we have taken the subsidy to give ourselves cheap petrol so that our children will pay the debt when we have not invested the money in education and prepared them to earn and service the debt. Even though we recognise the problem, we are saying we will continue paying until June. We have no plans to change.”

Speaking on the challenges for the next President, Sanusi said, “I am sorry for the next President who comes in June to remove the subsidy on day one. I don’t know what kind of political stability you are going to have. We have not even started retracing our steps”

Lamenting that nothing had been done to reduce subsidy payments or close the gap in debt servicing, he said, “First is to recognise that the NNPC is not a cash cow; it is a money pit. Just unbundle it, disband it and continue to implement the PIB properly and turn them into proper commercial ventures. When I say implement, it is not just leaving the same people, processes and systems under a new name. Let them pay royalties and taxes. We also need to have a successful TSA (Treasury Single Account) implementation.”

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Deep Seaport Project: Lagos Receives Approval

Signs MoU with Del York to build media, film city

Lagos State government has received the approval of the federal government for the Badagry Deep Seaport ProjectThe State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu disclosed this at the Lagos Economic Summit, #Ehingbeti 2022.

The approval authorises and provides legal basis for the concession of the Badagry Deep Seaport, following the issuance of the Full Business Case Certificate by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) last April.

The $2.5 billion project, which would be funded through Public Private Partnership (PPP), would be built on approximately 496 hectares. It wouls have 2,470m quay length container terminal, 560m quay length break bulk terminal, 360m quay length OSB terminal and minimum of 18m depth.
It was expected to generate 250,000 direct jobs, enhance Government revenue and operate under a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession agreement.Sanwo-Olu signed also a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Siemens Energy Limited and German-owned Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to set up an Energy Training Centre of Excellence at the Government Technical College in Ikorodu.

The training, which would be conducted in collaboration with the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) would provide a Needs-based technical and vocational education to over 16,000 young people between ages 15 and 35.
The programme was expected to produce highly skilled industry technicians with modern practice-oriented.Sanwo-Olu said a 30 per cent slot would be allocated to female candidates to enhance women participation in engineering education.The Governor said: “We are excited that Lagos is on the way to having another deep seaport on the Western side of the city. Before the end of this year, we will be commissioning the Lekki Deep Seaport on the Eastern side. What it means is that, what we have been suffering as a logistics and commerce hub of West Africa will be addressed when we increase maritime infrastructure that improves turnaround time in this sector. With this, Lagos is assured to remain the economic and commercial nerve centre of the entire sub-Saharan Africa.
“The deal with Siemens and GIZ, which are German companies, is another promise made and promise kept. We gave a commitment to this partnership because of the conviction we have for its necessity. Thousands of Lagosians will be trained with industry-required skills for the future of work at our Vocational Training College. We are excited because we are not only transferring skills to people in Government, but private citizens as well. The best technicians in Germany will be conducting these trainings.”

Sanwo-Olu also approved an Executive Bill titled “Lagos State Wealth Fund (LSWF)”. Lagos is set to becoming the first sub-national entity in the country to introduce the bill, which the Governor said would reinforce the State Government’s commitment to prudent management of resources and the delivery of shared prosperity to generations of Lagosians.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the bill has four main objectives, which include creating an accessible savings for Lagos in times of dwindling revenues, accelerating development and the delivery of critical infrastructure, stabilising the economy of the State by protecting its revenue from external shocks, and promoting investment and research in technology and innovation.The bill, the Governor said, will be incorporated as a statutory entity and will subscribe to the highest level of corporate governance. The bill is transmitted to the House of Assembly for legislative approval.
Sanwo-Olu also signed an agreement with Del York International Group for the entertainment giant to develop a purpose-built Lagos Film City and ancillary infrastructure to reposition Lagos as the hub of entertainment.The signing of the Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Del York, is for the development of an ultra-modern film and media city in Epe between the two parties.

The initiative was described as; a major game-changer project on the African continent and one that promises to position the state as a major hub for the entertainment industry in Africa. The Chairman of Del York International Group, Mr. Linus Idahosa signed on behalf of his group and the commissioner for Tourism, Lagos, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf signed on behalf of the Lagos State Government in the presence of the state governor.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sanwo-Olu shared his excitement at the prospect of the impending investment into the state, as he recounted the recent history of the project and the fact that the signing was the culmination of 18 months of diligent effort by the Del York team and members of the Lagos State Government.

According to the governor: “I would like to thank the Del York Team for all their effort so far. I recall on my last visit to the United States, they took us on a tour of the Trilith Studios in Atlanta to see first-hand what they wanted to build in Lagos and subsequently to an investment summit in Washington DC to meet with investors for the project.
“We want to give Nigerians who are creatives an opportunity to develop themselves to world class stands and an ecosystem where they can learn, work and thrive in a serene atmosphere and I believe this project will achieve that to the benefit of all Lagosians.“I thank all the traditional rulers in Epe for being such good hosts for the project and look forward to its positive impact on their community in Epe upon its completion.”

The Lagos film and media city was envisioned as a sanctuary for leisure, entertainment, and learning; a place where film and all types of creative industry professionals can live, work, learn and play in a peaceful and conducive environment with best-in-class facilities intermingled with appurtenances that support a modern sustainable city.

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Rico Swavey: Nurses who filmed Rico Swavey’s last moments to be probed by Lagos

A 30-second video clip showing the final moments of a former reality TV star, Patrick Fakoya, aka Rico Swavey, at a hospital in Lagos State, has attracted condemnation from members of the public.

In the clip recorded by one of the nurses attending to Rico Swavey, the deceased was placed on oxygen as he was unconscious on a chair.

It was observed that the nurses were attempting to carry him on a bed when the nurse brought out a phone and started recording him.

Another nurse was heard cautioning her colleague against the act.

“You people should stop making the video; somebody is dying, you people are making video,” the nurse said.

Reacting to the video, a marketing strategist, Samuel Atigba, condemned the action of the nurses.

Using his verified Twitter handle, @SamuelOtigba, he wrote, “Anytime I watch that video of the nurses joking, laughing and making needless videos of Rico for social media instead of giving him the necessary urgent attention needed to save his life, my heart breaks over again cause he could have survived. RIP Rico.”
A director, Egai Eti, wrote, “This hospital should be closed and the license of those nurses should be seized.”

PUNCH Metro gathered that the reality TV star got involved in an accident on Tuesday.

A fellow ex-housemate in Big Brother Naija Season 3, Alex Asogwa, who shared the news on her Twitter page on Tuesday, said doctors were trying to resuscitate him.

Rico Swavey, however, succumbed to his injuries on Thursday.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said the state government had commenced investigation.

He said, “That hospital is not a government hospital; we have started an investigation into the unprofessional conducts of those who appeared in that video.”

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Kanu: Celebrations engulf South-East, FG may appeal judgment

Court says IPOB leader’s abduction unlawful, slams executive for recklessness

There was wild jubilation in the South-East on Thursday following the Court of Appeal judgment which quashed the terrorism charges preferred against the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

Across parts of the South-East states, people celebrated openly on hearing the reports that the court had discharged Kanu who has been in custody since June 2021 when he was arrested in Kenya and brought to Nigeria to face prosecution for leading an outlawed organisation and clamouring for the Republic of Biafra.

However, there are strong indications that the Federal Government may appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

A senior official in the Ministry of Justice confided in our correspondent that the government would study the ruling and take a decision on it.

“All options are on the table; we will study the order but we will likely appeal it. The court only discharged him, it did not acquit him,’’ the director stated.

Reacting, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, in a statement said, “The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has received the news of the decision of the Court of Appeal concerning the trial of Nnamdi Kanu. For the avoidance of doubt and by the verdict of the Court, Kanu was only discharged and not acquitted.
“Consequently, the appropriate legal options before the authorities will be exploited and communicated accordingly to the public. The decision handed down by the court of appeal was on a single issue that borders on rendition. Let it be made clear to the general public that other issues that predates rendition on the basis of which Kanu jumped bail remain valid issues for judicial determination.

“The Federal Government will consider all available options open to us on the judgment on rendition while pursuing determination of pre-rendition issues.”

Our correspondent in Owerri observed celebrations and parties at Imo state University Junction area, Ikenegbu, Amakohia, Orji, Okigwe Road and flyover junction.

At the flyover junction, a commercial driver was seen shouting and honking that Nnamdi Kanu has been freed at last. He said, “Victory at last. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been freed. It is victory for Biafra.”

At IMSU junction, groups of youths were seen at different locations shouting and singing following the development.

The situation was also the same in Enugu as there was spontaneous celebrations when news filtered in that the court had ordered Kanu’s release.

Many youths took to the major streets as they discussed the development in groups.
They were hopeful that Kanu’s release would end the Monday sit-at-home restriction enforced by IPOB members in the South-East.

In Anambra State, drinking spots and fun centres made brisk business as residents trooped to relaxation spots in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia.

At the Upper Iweka in Onitsha, youths and adults, including men and women displayed massive fireworks while chanting pro-Biafran songs.

In Abia State, It was an atmosphere of joy in Umuahia and Aba areas as family and friends of the IPOB leader rejoiced over the news Kanu’s release.

Reacting to the development, Kanu’s younger brother, Emma Kanu, told The PUNCH that the “The victory is for all of us.

“I am thanking all men, women, pastors, journalists, IPOB media warriors, those we know and those we do not know all over the world, especially the Appeal Court judges that handle the case, even the dead.

“I also thank the Federal Government who understood and which I know will abide by the Appeal Court decision. This is a win-win day. More importantly, this is the time for all to sit down for the truth to be said. The truth must be said.
The Senator representing Abia South at the National Assembly, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said, “We thank God that justice has been done by the judgment.
Delivering judgment in the appeal on Thursday, the appellate court declared as illegal and unlawful, the abduction of Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria and quashed the entire terrorism charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
It further held that the Federal Government breached all local and international laws in the forceful rendition of Kanu to Nigeria thereby making the terrorism charges against him incompetent and unlawful.

Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie voided and set aside the charges by the Federal Government against Kanu and also discharged him from the alleged offences.
Adefope-Okojie held that the failure of Nigeria to follow due process by way of extradition was fatal to the charges against Kanu.
The Appeal Court also held that the failure of the Federal Government to disclose where and when the alleged offences were committed was also fatal to the terrorism charges and made them liable to dismissal.
The Appellate Court said that the Federal Government having flagrantly breached the fundamental rights of Kanu lost the legal right to put him on trial.
The court held that laws are meant to be obeyed and that the Federal Government has no reason to have taken laws into her own hand in the illegal and unlawful way the matter of Kanu was handled.
Adefope-Okojie held that the failure of Nigeria to follow due process by way of the extradition process as prescribed by law was fatal to the charges against Kanu.
“By engaging in utter unlawful and illegal act and in breach of its own laws in the instant matter, the Federal Government did not come to equity in clean hand and must be called to order.
“With appalling disregard for local and international laws, the Federal Government has lost the right to put the appellant on trial for any offence.
“Treaties and Protocols are meant to be obeyed. No government in the world is permitted to abduct anybody without following the due process of extradition. Nigeria is not an exception or excused. Nigeria must obey her own law and that of international so as to avoid anarchy”, the judge declared.
Before Kanu filed the appeal against his trial, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court had dismissed the IPOB’s leader’s claim that the federal government illegally repatriated him from Kenya to Nigeria without following a formal extradition procedure.
In her ruling, Nyako held that his repatriation to Nigeria could not be said to be illegal when there was a “surviving bench warrant” for the IPOB leader’s arrest.
The judge had, in March 2019, ordered Kanu’s arrest after adjudging him to have jumped bail bringing his trial on charges of treasonable felony to a halt.
She held that the IPOB leader’s arrest in Kenya and repatriation to Nigeria were in compliance with her order in 2018 for his arrest to face trial.
“There is a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant. He is a fugitive that is wanted in court. The bench warrant survives until he is brought to court,” the judge stated.
In a separate ruling on Kanu’s preliminary objection challenging the 15 amended charges filed against him, Nyako struck out eight of them which bordered on treasonable felony and terrorism.
She ruled that the eight charges had not established any tangible offence against Kanu. The judge dismissed the defence team’s objection over the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Reacting to the latest judgment, Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor said, ‘’Automatically, he (Kanu) is barred from facing any prosecution again. No court has jurisdiction again to try him.”

Shedding light on the judicial victory, the lead counsel, Mike Ozhekome, SAN, explained that he filed the action after the Federal High struck out eight of the charges levelled against his client.
He stated, ‘’Based on that, we appealed on behalf of Nnamdi Kanu that the lower court was wrong. There was one fundamental issue on which the court today anchored this judgment and which is that the lower court never evaluated the mountain of evidence placed before it regarding the forceful capture, kidnap, torture, and extraordinary rendition of Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya back to Nigeria on the 26th of June 14th 2021.

‘’The lower court glossed over it. We placed this before the lower court in more than 10 paragraphs of solid materials to show the circumstances under which Nnamdi Kanu was forcibly abducted, kidnapped, blindfolded, tortured, and rendered back to Nigeria extra-judicially, extra-legally against the laws of Kenya, against the laws of Nigeria, against all international instruments dealing with extradition, including various sections of the extradition act of Nigeria, including section 15.

The senior lawyer lauded the judgment, saying the appellate court agreed with him that FG ‘’breezily breached the laws it made, that it never followed due process or the Anti- terrorism Act.’’
When asked if Kanu would be released immediately, the Spokesman, Department of State Services, Dr Peter Afunanya declined comment. Asked if the FG would appeal the judgment, he referred inquiries to the Ministry of Justice.
But a lawyer, Jiti Ogunye insisted that the DSS was bound to obey the court order which authorised the release of the IPOB leader.
He noted that the prosecutor did not have a strong case against Kanu hence the decision of the lower court to strike out eight of the 15 charges earlier preferred against him.
Ogunye said, ‘’The lesson here is for the state to learn competency. The prosecution team was standing on quicksand even before the matter was appealed. Henceforth, the Nigerian state will have to learn competency.’’
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olalekan Ojo, said the Court of Appeal has proved that the court of law is the last hope of every Nigerian.
He said “The judgment of the Court of Appeal seems to be correct until it is set aside by the Supreme Court.
“However, there is an aspect of it that I read. The Court of Appeal held that the extradition of Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria was illegal and that illegality constitutes a bar to any further trial. That is the basis of the judgment.
“All that the Court of Appeal said is that Nnamdi Kanu ought not to have been put on trial in the first instance. The Court of Appeal has proved that the court of law is the last hope of every Nigerian.”

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the Appeal Court decision as a landmark judgment.
Ohanaeze spokesman, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke to one of our correspondents in a telephone interview said, “I receive the news with happiness, joy and jubilation. It’s jubilation galore across the entire South-East and Nigeria in general because we are relieved by the Appeal Court judgment. It’s a landmark and I am very much happy.
“We commend every other person who have stood behind the Igbo race in this struggle and above all, we also commend Nnamdi Kanu because what he is fighting in IPOB is an expression of the outcome, effect and not a cause.
“The cause is the circumstances surrounding Nigeria: hardship, marginalisation, lopsidedness. So, what is happening in IPOB is an expression of dissatisfaction with the Nigerian system of governance.
“Nnamdi Kanu is representing Igbo collectiveness of consciousness. We are very happy with the landmark judgment. It’s one of the very best judgments ever delivered by the judiciary.”
Reacting, a political activist, Omoyele Sowore, said the next thing is for Kanu to be allowed to go home immediately.
He tweeted, “#FreeNnamdiKanuNow: We warned Muhammadu Buhari that the abduction of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya was a grave mistake! Now they’re sulking. Next, Let Mazi Nnamdi go home tonight! #WeCantContinueLikeThis.”

Kanu’s disciple, Simon Ekpa, also demanded the unconditional release of the IPOB leader, saying, “Court has declared Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s abduction & extraordinary rendition from Kenya illegal, that it was done in clear and egregious violation of extant international laws. All we want is the unconditional release of MNK nothing more.”
On his part, a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said, “Should the Federal Government decide to appeal against the discharge and acquittal of Nnamdi Kanu by the Court of Appeal, it must still release Kanu. This is because the liberty of a citizen cannot be stayed. There is no room for a stay of execution in this kind of case.”
Speaking on the development, the Indigenous People of Biafra described the judgment as a welcome development, adding that it showed that there are still good judges in Nigeria.
IPOB’ Director of Media and Publicity, Emma Powerful, hailed the Appeal Court judgment, saying it signalled most that judges in the country are not half-baked.
He said, “Yes, we are happy to hear that our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been acquitted and discharged. It shows that some judges are good and know the law and understand that Nnamdi Kanu did not commit crimes and his extraordinary rendition was very illegal.
“Biafrans both home and abroad including our friends should rejoice because Almighty Chukwu Okike Abiama has done it again. Biafra realisation is the next target and nothing will stop IPOB from achieving Biafra freedom.”
Also, the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance in Ebonyi State, Chukwuma Nwandugo, described Kanu’s release as a historic event in Igbo land capable of making the Igbos feel they were never neglected by the Nigerian system.

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ASUU’s strike suspended after eight months

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has suspended its eight month old strike, The PUNCH can authoritatively confirm.

Though the union is yet to make an official pronouncement, our correspondent gathered that the decision was taken at the end of the National Executive Council meeting which was held at the ASUU secretariat in Abuja.

Speaking with our correspondent, a highly informed source within the NEC said, “Yes, it has been called off”.

When asked for more details, the source said, “the president will release an official circular in the morning”.
The PUNCH reports that the academic union embarked on a strike on Monday, February 14, 2022.

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