[ Masterweb Reports ] - Chief Chekwas Okorie is the founder of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and the United Progressives Party, UPP. He was the UPP presidential candidate in the March 28 election. In this interview, he speaks on the expectations of Nigerians from the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
President Muhammadu Buhari has just been inaugurated. What are the expectations of the people from him?
His inaugural speech pointed clear at the direction his administration will take and what Nigerians should expect from him. One thing that he set out immediately in his speech is what his democratic profile will look like when he said he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody, that is a very loaded reassuring statement for a leader who was feared to have become a victim of some political investors that were already making claims. So, he served that early notice that all Nigerians can look up to him for fair but firm leadership.
Do you think that he belongs to nobody as he stated going by the roles some individuals and his party played in his emergence?
I want to take him on his words and doing so relying on his track record; he is a man that has his own mind, a man of unquestionable integrity, a man of uprightness, a man of boldness, courage and fearlessness. All these attributes have been fully demonstrated by him in the past. President Buhari is coming into office on a high moral pedestal and so, the statement he made clearly and unequivocally showed no strings attached on his ascendency. There are some people that will make that statement and I will take it with a pinch of salt.
As an aside, let me mention a fallout of somebody of Buhari’s character being at the helm of the leadership of this country. My brother-in-law, who travelled to the UK (United Kingdom) last week on a short trip and came back today (Monday) June 1, 2015, called me immediately he passed through Immigration and Customs formalities to express pleasant surprise that the airport he passed through a few days ago and went through very demanding and compromising officials now became a place he met very polite, efficient and well behaved officials. And so, he wanted to find out whether I knew of any order given to these officials to mend their ways. I told him I was not aware of any order but clearly the fear of the Buhari phenomenon has become the beginning of wisdom for all government functionaries and citizens alike. So, you can see what an established character of one man has started achieving even before directives and orders are issued. I have no doubt that all of these people will resort to business as usual if the Buhari administration takes good behaviour of Nigerians for granted.
So, in all these, what are the expectations ahead?
We are expecting a frontal attack on corruption which will include recovering all illegally acquired wealth and enunciating policies that will make corrupt conduct risky and unattractive. We expect a review of the entire power supply sector with a view to taking difficult decisions in the overall interest of the Nigerian people. We expect that the unsatisfactory and suspicious privatisation process that concessioned the industries to companies that are merely fronting for vested interests in the previous government be reversed.
We expect, like he stated, the resuscitation and revival of industries that have collapsed and the ones that are ailing due to neglect or lack of basic infrastructure and amenities that are necessary for their efficient operation. This will definitely improve productivity in the economy and provide jobs. Perhaps, the most radical thing that he said in his statement is that his government will not standby and see local government allocations hijacked by state governments. I say this because Nigeria’s 774 local government areas have remained largely non-functional in nearly 16 years. And so, the basic infrastructure such as culvert, rural electrification, roads that lead to farmlands and other services that local government were associated with in the years passed have stopped because of the greed and mismanagement including outright embezzlement of revenue allocation that ought to be flowing to the local government areas from the Federation Account.
This policy shift that will make the president to ensure that this allocation gets to the third tier of government will check the drift of rural dwellers to urban centres, and many people in the urban areas will begin to trace their ways back to their communities because they will now be gainfully engaged including being more productive. The other area Nigerians are very expectant concerns the issue of security. He has made it clear that security agencies, their officials and men have to get to the theatre of trouble to confront security challenges and not stay in their cosy offices at the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) dishing orders to hapless operatives and addressing the media in Abuja, making claims of exploits and achievements in the field of operation that took place in far away Borno, Yobe States, etc. By ordering that the commanding centres should relocate to the field of war, to many Nigerians is a pragmatic step towards addressing insurgency in the short run. He talked about long time measures after careful studies on how to prevent re-occurrence. He didn’t leave out the welfare and motivation of military personnel which is also fundamental to getting the best out of them.
There is the clamour for unity government that will involve all political parties and geopolitical zones. What is your take?
I support it but very cautiously. Yes, the winner takes all attitude is no longer fashionable in the democratic world today. Although the APC (All Progressives Congress) government does not require the coalition of other political parties to form government especially at the executive level, it will make for stability of the polity considering Nigerians ethnic and religious diversity. If political parties that the ruling party considers, in its wisdom, will add value to both quality of governance and stability of the country, such political parties may be invited. The prerogative to invite or not to invite is that of the APC and President Buhari. On our own part (UPP), we have already extended the hand of fellowship to APC as a party and to President Buhari before he was sworn-in; we made it clear that we will remain in the opposition and constructively engage them if our hand of fellowship is accepted. By this we mean that we will be making suggestions that we think will make the government to succeed and criticise constructively where the need arises. It therefore follows that if we are invited to become part of the government in any form the president may deem it fit, we will accept without compromising our identity and our character.
We are definite that we are not going to merge with the APC or collapse with the party because we believe that our growing democracy will be better served if three or more political parties with different tendencies are allowed to ventilate their views in order that Nigerians will have options at any given democratic context.
There is the insinuation that Ndigbo have lost out in the present dispensation because they did not vote for the APC. What is your comment?
I will like to correct the impression that they did not contribute to Buhari’s election and this is a general belief. But Ndigbo became a little more circumspect in the support they gave to President Muhammadu Buhari especially after when some of us whose opinions were sought had questioned his adoption by some Igbo groups without negotiation or anything to show for the unconditional and wholehearted support the Igbo gave to the PDP in 2011. We were very vehement in our propaganda and it was sustained, they may not even have voted for me, but definitely, more than 50 per cent of those who voted for Jonathan in 2011 did not have any reason to cast their votes again. The votes that Goodluck Jonathan did not get in the South-East paved the way for Buhari to win. The number of registered voters was approximately 7.2 million, eligible voters and about two times of that number are Igbo people who reside outside of the states in South-East. Considering that the margin of defeat which gave President Muhammadu Buhari victory was approximately 2.5 million votes, it then follows that any support for Jonathan similar to what he got in 2011 would have seen him returning to power. So, it will be a major political miscalculation to overlook or disregard the potentiality of the Igbo in Nigeria to determine who wins or who does not win the presidency of this country.
I believe that President Muhammadu Buhari has come of age politically and therefore will give Ndigbo what is due to them considering that, in less than four years, we will be facing another election. “Having said that, let me seize this opportunity to point out the fundamental flaw in the inaugural speech of President Buhari. You can notice I have applauded the speech, but it is not 100 percent. When he began to mention Nigeria’s past heroes, he did not mention Dr. Michael Okpara, the former Premier of the Eastern Region. If you look at the composition of Nigeria till 1966, Sir Ahmadu Bello presided over 14 provinces that made up the North and Dr. M. I. Okpara presided over 12 provinces that made up the former Eastern Region, while Chief Obafemi Awolowo presided over seven provinces of Western region and Sir Denis Osadebeh presided over two provinces that made up the Mid-Western Region. In terms of area of influence and the positions these heroes occupied, it amounted to unavoidable mistake that clearly sent very negative signals to have recognised even the likes of Akintola, Mallam Aminu Kano and J. S. Tarka whose political party did not control any region.
“So, I have received a lot of calls by concerned Igbo people concerning this unfortunate omission. Let me put it like that because I believe it was an omission because if the inaugural speech was brought to him before, he would have corrected it. Another area that left a gap is that no reference was made whatsoever to the prolonged and scandalous neglect of the South-East geopolitical zone by all governments since the end of civil war in 1970. There is no gain saying the fact that the three ‘R’ Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Re-integration promised by the Gen. Gowon government has been observed in the breach. We were full of expectations that a government that is for all would have made even if it is a passing statement to show that in the course of the administration, the special circumstances of the South-East geopolitical zone shall receive the consideration and special dispensation of the president. Such a statement would have been very reassuring, considering that the North-East geopolitical zone and the Niger Delta areas received special mention in the inaugural speech. I hope that President Buhari in the days ahead will do the needed message of hope to the people of South-East geopolitical zone.
*Photo Caption - Chief Chekwas Okorie
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - Prominent Igbo leaders and political actors gathered under the auspices of Igbo Information Network on Friday, June 19, 2015 at Lake Hotel, Enugu, Enugu State and brainstormed on the political future of Ndigbo in 2015 and beyond.
Among the issues discussed and x-rayed include:
THE POSITION OF NDIGBO IN THE BUHARI REGIME
BUHARI AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONFAB RESOLUTIONS
THE PERFORMANCE OF THE IMMEDIATE PAST REGIMES IN IGBOLAND
NDIGBO BETWEEN 2015 AND 2019
NDIGBO IN 2019 AND BEYOND
ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL REVIVAL IN IGBOLAND
After contributions, deliberations and interactive forum on the above issues , it was resolved as follows
1 NDIGBO will partner with the BUHARI regime to ensure peace, progress and security in the country
2 NDIGBO expect the Buhari administration to give them their due right in terms of appointments , projects and physical presence.
3 NDIGBO implore Gen Muhammadu Buhari not to jettison the report of the CONFAB but rather see to the implementation of salient aspects of the report especially those that re-defines and set the country on the part of justice and equity
4 NDIGBO urge Igbo political actors to play the game of politics with service as the motivating factor and to have strong presence in different political parties as other Nigerians.
5 NDIGBO call for FEDERAL special intervention to address the erosion problems in the South East , infrastructural decay in the zone, especially dilapidated federal roads, proper take off of the Enugu International Airport, proper take off of Second Niger bridge at Onitsha, state and federal industries in the zone to provide jobs for our teeming youths.
6 NDIGBO are in steps to curb and eradicate corruption at high and low places in Nigeria and call on the federal government to strenghten the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies in their bid t tackle corruption.
We also laud the effort to end the BOKO HARAM challenge in Nigeria
HON CHUKS IBEGBU BAR. KALU STEPHEN
ENGR ROB ANUFORO PROF OKAFOR ONWUDIWE
CHIEF MRS EZINNE COLBERT AMB. DAN ONWUKWE
ON BEHALF OF CONVENERS.
*Photo Caption - Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria).
[ Press Release For Immediate Release ] - May I use this medium to call on the Federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the proposed payment of nine billion naira wardrobe allowance to members of the National Assembly.
It is heinous and unpatriotic for this newly inaugurated legislators to start at this early time to rip off Nigerians when their colleagues in the past wrecked the country without passing any single bill to improve the lives of Nigerians. It was this same lame legislators that passed nearly fifty bills in 24 hours.
Many Nigerians have for long been lamenting over the cost of running our wasteful and non productive legislature. Many have called for part-time legislative house to no avail. The only thing these so-called 'Honourables' and 'Distinguished' are known for is constituency allowances, committees to chair and salaries, nothing else.
The Nigerian National Assembly is the most expensive in the world and this has got to stop. At this time when workers are owed and millions of Nigerians unemployed it is the height of treachery and wickedness for our legislators to continue their business-as - usual style of living.
Nigerians and Buhari regime must say no to that. These men and women in the Legislative arm must not continue to rip us of for doing virtually nothing. Those who think that the National Assembly is an avenue to milk the people dry must rethink . I personally do not think that the allowance to senators and Rep members should exceed fifty thousand naira per month since the minimum wage is eighteen thousand naira. Those who are not ready to serve the people should quit . In fact the National Assembly should be for people who are already contented and have reached a point where they should even be donating their resources in appreciation of the society that made them what they are. It should not be for desperate, hungry politicians.
I therefore call for immediate suspension of the so-called wardrobe allowance. Labour and civil society organisations must now live up to their responsibilities before this set of Legislators decapitate us as their predecessors.
MOVEMENT FOR BETTER NIGERIA
AND A PUBLIC AFFAIRS ANALYST
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Comrade Ahmed Omeiza Lukman writes President Buhari ] - Dear Mr. President; As the gentle breeze reaches you, we bring our plight to your attention as we anticipate your promise to end corruption, impunity and insecurity in Nigerian. It will be insane for any of us to start complaining now, as we are all aware of PDP misuse of the country’s wealth for sixteen years.
Honestly, this open letter is meant to shed more light on the challenges faced by Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora especially as it pertains to Nigerian embassies abroad. Though your office is open to the people unlike your predecessor who alienated himself from the masses, I choose this medium to actually send a point to those who might not be privileged to see a private letter.
We have absolutely no reason to doubt your commitment to cleanse the government of corruption and create a government that works for the people of Nigeria. We know that this campaign will outlive your presidential term just as efforts in different aspects of our national life have outlived other patriotic Nigerians in the past. This time is particularly important because Nigeria stands at the threshold of greatness or implosion, and the decisions you make in the next few years will significantly determine our future as a country.
We recall your promise during the campaign to end the impunity of extrajudicial and journalist killings and deliver justice to the families of the victims. This gave new hope to many people who defied fear and terror to vote for you.
We know that our quest for truth, justice and healing faces historical and structural challenges that are not easy to transcend. Victims, witnesses, advocates, and family members continue to face threats to life and health. But we cannot stop working to end the culture of impunity and joining efforts to bring forth a culture of accountability.
Tackling this problem demands wisdom and firmness that the previous government was unable to show. You have to make difficult decisions, and there is no way out of the mess our dear nation has been thrown into that will be easy. Like many Nigerians, I hope you do whatever it takes to restore normalcy to the country.
Secondly, I would also want to bring to your attention the criminal practice of Nigerian embassies across the globe. One wonders whose interests they protect or if Nigerian embassies that are supposed to protect the rights of every Nigerian living in diaspora have now become businesses. The daily exploitation of Nigerians by these embassies must come to an end; we must define the path of our country on accountability and transparency at home and abroad.
These embassies continue to charge Nigerians twenty dollars to stamp any document most especially in eastern European countries, this act is illegal, criminal and alien to the constitution of Nigeria. The problem extends beyond monetary exploitation to their lack of concern for Nigerians living in the countries they serve. In different countries around the world, embassy staff don’t answer phone numbers on their websites, hardly respond when Nigerians in trouble, and generally behave as if they don’t care at all. We cannot expect people to respect us if those people know that we don’t matter to our own embassies in their countries. Here in Ukraine, the story is not different; we must stop this if we are interested in reclaiming our place as the giant of Africa.
Sir, you have to strive for the change that we desire. You know Nigerians trust you to deliver on your promises, and I strongly believe that addressing these two issues would be a great way to start your mission to move Nigeria to the heights of greatness that it so surely deserve.
Comrade Ahmed Omeiza Lukman
Email: email@example.com Phone: +380639279059
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari
[ Press Release For Immediate Release ] - Igbo Youths under the auspices of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to consider and appoint Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu as the Secretary to the Federal Government.
They also called for the Appointment of former Rivers state Governor Rotimi Amaechi as the Chief of Staff and Dr. Chris Ngige as the Minister of Health.
These three men are patriots who helped in bringing about the Change Nigerians are now savouring.
The group also called on Gen Buhari to carry out his anti-corruption war and war against indiscipline to a logical conclusion in view of the sorrow and hardship these evil acts have brought to Nigeria.
.Also demanded from the Buhari regime by the OYC is the completion of the Enugu International Airport, the second Niger bridge, dilapidated roads in the south east and implementation of the Confab decisions especially the creation of additional state in the South East.
Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro
Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC)
*Photo Caption - Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (LEFT), Dr Chris Ngige (CENTER), Ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi (RIGHT).
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - My beloved Abians; Let me first thank you for your enthusiastic and overwhelming support during the ceremonies that ushered me into office as the 4th Governor of our great state. During the election campaigns, I travelled the length and breadth of this state and felt your collective yearning that Abia was due for a comprehensive transformation.
Today as your Governor, I pledge, that before the expiration of my tenure I will deliver “A New Abia”. An Abia state that is better and more focused on uplifting the lives of all Abians.
The new Abia will be defined by the our people’s time honoured values;
• Performance – We deliver to the “best in class” standards and operate at the highest ethical standards
• Ownership - We live, breath & think Abia and we take full responsibility all the time
• Innovation - We create solutions to optimize every opportunity & Challenge
• Commitment – We put our best effort into play
• Integrity – We say what we will do and we do what we say. We have zero tolerance for corruption
As contained in my inaugural speech, I will like to emphasize that our direction will revolve around our 5 key growth pillars; Manufacturing, Trade and Commerce, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Environment.
Mindful of the importance of infrastructure to economic development, we will focus on the improvement of electricity, potable water, rural & urban roads and the railway system. Partnerships will be activated to facilitate the provision of necessary infrastructure. Our Manufacturing programme will focus on re-igniting the brand “Made In Aba” and make Abians once more to be proud of their products. Trade and Commerce will be anchored on the regeneration of Aba and her recreation as a hub for business in West Africa. We will exploit agriculture aggressively to create employment, ensure food security, grow our economy and empower our people. Finally no longer shall our cities be associated with flooded streets and nauseous refuse dumps
While we will be strategic in our approach to achieving the “New Abia”, we have also identified some quick wins. We have flagged off our “Clean Aba Programme” and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of several arterial roads in Aba and Umuahia. Over the next few days we will be making major interventions in some very key areas.
Waste Management remains a very big challenge in our state. Our major streets, especially in Aba have been taken over by refuse. In the New Abia, this will no longer be tolerated. Commencing tomorrow we will start a massive intervention on domestic waste management. We will be deploying equipment to the streets of Aba. We are also exploring the fastest and most efficient ways of managing waste dump sites, to avoid our major highways being blocked with refuse. We must collectively take responsibility for this task. Henceforth dropping of refuse in non-designated places is prohibited and offenders will be sanctioned. If there are no designated refuse drop points in your area, we strongly advise that you call our waste management hot line for prompt intervention.
Road Construction/Rehabilitation will be a major thrust of our 100 days plan. A lot of our roads are impassable and we feel the pains and frustration of Abians in this regard. With our lean resources, it is impossible to fix these problems all at once, so it has to be phased. We will begin the simultaneous rehabilitation of 10 major roads in our State and you have our commitment to deliver them to the highest standards possible. This will be made possible by simultaneously managing the drainage problems that undermine our roads, making them to fail soon after completion. We have commenced the assessment of the Aba underground tunnels as a possible solution to fixing the perennial drainage challenge in Aba. In line with this, drainage rehabilitation, construction, channelization, storm water and erosion control will receive immediate attention. These roads will be delivered with street lights which will extend the business hours in our urban centers. In the spirit of this development I urge all those with unserviceable or abandoned vehicles to remove them immediately. Structures that are erected on the way of the roads and drainages will certainly be pulled down irrespective of who is involved.
As part of our plan to improve on the ease of doing business in Abia, we have commenced the process of harmonizing our tax collection process. Until this process is completed, all forms of Multiple Taxation must stop henceforth and all Agents and Touts are hereby advised to stop collection henceforth. Any agent that is caught collecting taxes and rates illegally will be sanctioned.
We are determined to pay salaries and pensions as at when due, but we shall lead Abians to challenge our public service to fish out ghost workers as well as plug all leakages in revenue. We shall deploy technology in keeping with world best practices to streamline our payroll and audit system. However, I assure all diligent and resourceful staff that their hard work and commitment will be rewarded.
Security of lives and property is of great importance to us and will be reflected in our coming actions and policies. We have commenced meetings with the Security Chiefs in the state and we are committed to providing the necessary support for the security agencies to sustain and uphold the prevailing peaceful and secure atmosphere of our State.
As a bold step to managing Unemployment meaningfully, empowering our youths and meeting the capability needs of our industries, we have concluded plans to launch an education for employment (E4E) program which will enable 100,000 youths acquire fit-for-purpose skills over the next 4 years. We are commencing a pilot at BTC Aba during these first 100 days.
Agriculture is of critical importance to our economy and we have a need to boost our agricultural production for food security and to create jobs. Against this background, over the next 3 months we will distribute 2,000 bags of fertilizer per Local Government and supply agro-chemicals at 50% discount to all our farmers. Both interventions will help improve our crop production yield this farming season. During the period, we will train and equip 10 youths per Local Government in agro-chemical deployment.
Our desire to claim our position as the SME capital of Nigeria will be realized through the proposed New Industrial City with emphasis in leather and garments. We will begin to develop our industrial clusters within our first hundred days.
My beloved Abians, I will like to state that we cannot achieve our goal of uplifting the lives of Abians, without participation and commitment from every Abian. We all have our roles to play on this journey; I therefore solicit your support. We all have to embrace and live the 5 Abia Values, which we have proposed earlier in this speech.
I urge everyone to be a watchdog. Please report any breach of our laws and non-conformity to our values to relevant authorities and demand feedback on actions taken. We need sincere, constructive assessment and feedback of our performance. We have opened-up feedback platforms to enable you criticise and send your suggestions on how we can meaningfully improve our performance and achieve our collective dream.
We would urge you to Pay Your Taxes as at when due, your demand for performance only becomes credible when you perform your civic responsibilities. We urge you to Think Abia all the time.
Let me use this opportunity to thank the outgoing members of the Abia State Executive Council for a job well done over the years. I will also like to use this opportunity to request that they handover to their Permanent Secretaries latest close-of-business, Wednesday 3rd of June 2015. I join other Abians to congratulate them for their selfless service to our fatherland and promise to call you up as the need arises, because the reward for hard work is more work.
Finally, I will like all Abians to demand the same high standards of delivery that we have promised, because I am most optimistic, that with good conscience as our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, and with God on our side we will provide the leadership that we all will be proud of.
Kanyi Mezie Abia!!!
God Bless Abia state!!!
OKEZIE IKPEAZU PHD
GOVERNOR OF ABIA STATE
*Photo Caption - Governor Okezie Ikpeazu
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - The Nigerian film festival, NollywoodWeek Paris, has announced the 3rd edition of it's annual festival. Haitian actor, Jimmy Jean-Louis, will serve as the festival ambassador for 2015.
The festival kicks off Thursday June 4th and ends on June 7th. “Jimmy is a perfect representation of the open spirit that the festival advocates,” said the festival’s Executive Director, Serge Noukoué.
“After making his mark in the United States playing various roles in Hollywood, he headed to Nigeria where he acted in several movies with this will to contribute to the development this new industry and today, he sports his director’s cap with his documentary, Jimmy Goes to Nollywood, which will be presented on opening night on Thursday June 4th, after Jon Ogah’s opening concert.
This year, ten films will be screened for the Parisian audience to discover and eight of those films are in competition to win the Audience Award.
The official selection is made up of the following feature length films:
A MileFROM HOME directed by Eric Ameghien – Chronicles the life of a university student who joined a gang in his quest to avenge an injustice done to him by a notorious gangster. He is far from imagining just where this decision will lead him.
The Last Three Digits directed by Moses Igwang – By chance, Alex runs into the love of his life at a shopping center and uses the opportunity to get her number before she slips away again but three missing digits lead him on a true quest to find love.
Dazzling Mirage directed by Tunde Kelani – Based on the novel of the same name, a young woman with sickle cell anemia must overcome various obstacles to lead a normal and fulfilled life.
Gone Too Far directed by Destiny Ekaragha – A comedy that unfolds in one day when two brothers, one London bred and the other from Lagos, meet for the first time after being separated since infancy.
Love or something like that directed by Shirley Frimpong – A busy surgeon believes she found her happy ending until she crosses path with her ex-boyfriend…
Ojuju directed by C.J. Obasi – Romero and his friends have to fight their way out of their neighborhood when the water supply infects people with rabid river blindness. Zombie thriller Nigerian style.
October 1 directed by Kunle Afolayan – In 1960, a Nigerian police detective is dispatched to investigate the murders of women in a small community.
Thy will be Done directed by Obi Emelonye – The Pastor of a large church in Lagos has a normal life until one day his wife, who died 7 years ago, returns.
The directors of all the films will be present to discuss their films as well as several Nigerian star actors such as OC Ukeje, Ramsey Nouah and Lala Akindoju.
The festival will take place at Cinéma l’Arlequin in Paris 6th quarter (76 rue de Rennes, 75006, Paris, France). The organizers are expecting over 5,000 festivalgoers this year to take part of this unique event dedicated to this phenomenal industry. To attend, individual tickets can be purchased for 8 euros or Festival Passes can be obtained now on nollywoodweek2015.eventbrite.com
NollywoodWeek Paris is an annual festival that aims to make Nigerian films more accessible worldwide. The festival is organized by the association Okada Media. More information can be found onwww.nollywoodweek.com
NollywoodWeek Paris is supported by Total, AirFrance, DIFFA, NollywoodTV, Africa24, Wiriko, BlackMovies Entertainment, My Afro’ Week, AfroStream, Je Wanda Magazine, Linda Ikeji, Inspire Afrika Magazine, L’Arlequin, Nova 101.5 FM, Les Afrique De IDEES, UbizNews, African Kitchen Restaurant, Atunnise Clothiers, Embassy of France in Nigeria and Embassy of Nigeria Paris.
[ Press Release For Immediate Release ] - Global travel management company Wings® Travel Management has issued a travel warning for all travelers to Nigeria, prompted by the current fuel shortage crisis. While it has been reported that fuel producers and the Nigerian government have come to an agreement, and that fuel is in the beginning stages of distribution, Sonja Hamman, Director, Strategic Client Management – Oil & Gas for Wings Travel Management states that business travel arrangements may be impacted for the coming week.
“International carriers are operating for the moment, with some airlines (Emirates and SAA) choosing to refuel in alternate locations such as Accra in nearby Ghana,” explains Hamman. “Although these flights are operational, delayed arrival times can be expected as a result of refuelling in alternate locations.”
“Domestic carriers, Arik and Aero Contractors, have been the most affected by the fuel shortage, with both cancelling a large number of flights. There has been little to no advance warning of which flights are cancelled, resulting in huge inconvenience to travellers. Wings is advising our clients to delay all non-essential travel, if at all possible.”
“In cases where travel to, or within, Nigeria is absolutely essential, travellers must be prepared to accommodate last-minute changes or delays to their travel schedules. Travellers need to ensure that they have up-to-the-minute information about the current conditions at their destination, and are encouraged to reach out to their Wings Travel Management consultants and account managers for assistance. We are monitoring the situation through our Lagos office, which is collecting on-the-ground intelligence, and we are working closely with our clients as this situation unfolds.”
While air travel has become inconsistent, road travel is proving even more of a challenge and business travellers who need to commute have to make their arrangements well in advance to ensure that they are not left stranded. Leaving alternative arrangements to the last minute is not an option due to the possibility of interrupted phone connectivity. The effect of the fuel crisis is immediately visible in major centres such as Lagos and Abuja, where traffic volumes have dipped sharply.
“The fuel shortage is more far reaching for day-to-day Nigerian life,” says Hamman. “It is extremely difficult to find petrol and diesel for cars, and the cost of public transport is increasing – pushing the price out of reach for commuters. This means that employees cannot travel to work, resulting in offices, shops and banks needing to close early, or operate skeleton services.”
Concludes Hamman, “The latest media reports indicate that government and the wholesalers have come to an agreement, but how quickly fuel supply will be normalised remains uncertain. In addition, the cost of business travel may also be significantly impacted by the shortage for the foreseeable future.”
About Wings Travel Management: Wings has carved a niche in the market as a trusted travel provider for clients in the oil, gas and marine sector, as well as companies operating in service- and people-critical industries where travel is an integral part of their business. Founded in 1992, Wings’ global reach spans North America, South America, UK/Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, where the company has wholly owned and managed regional offices. Wings is known for its unique expertise in navigating complex and challenging energy-related business travel, as well as its advanced, customizable technology solutions, all seamlessly accessible over a standardized global platform. The company is ISO 9001 certified, and manages its global operations with a quality management system that provides clients with comprehensive reports, including the proprietary Wings Incident-Free Index™, which tracks the performance of all service and supplier transactions.
For media enquiries
Dimeon van Rooyen
011 888 9816
+44 (0) 776 634 7294.
Junior Account Manager/Content Development: Lion's Wing Brand Communications - South Africa
Office 48 Dale Brook Crescent, Victory Park, Johannesburg, 2195
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.lionswing.co.za
Tel + 27 (0)11 888 9816 Mob + 27 (0)84 954 0707 Fax + 27 (0)86 545 1649
*Photo Caption - Sonja Hamman
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[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - On May 10, 2015, the Sunday Trust Newspaper published an editorial titled “The Sorry Record of Madam Ngozi”, which seems to be a piece deliberately aimed at destroying the reputation of the Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
A paper that has its logo as “The Newspaper that you can Trust” has shown that it does not and cannot adhere to its own guiding principle because of its bias, prejudice and knack for unprofessionalism. Daily Trust Newspaper Group cannot be trusted and I will explain why in the following paragraphs.
The Finance Minister had always said from the beginning when oil prices took a nose-dive that 2015 will be a difficult year for the country given that it has lost half of its revenue. She and her team went to work immediately the problem started, putting in place adequate measures to see us through this challenging time.
A cut in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) overhead, travel and training were initiated along with further cuts in the cost of governance such – 23% cut in the National Assembly and 25% at the State House; a luxury tax was put in place; the work that has already started on increasing revenue through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was accelerated; and a cut in overall government expenditure was introduced. Government also prioritized payment of salaries.
For the Sunday Trust to say sarcastically that government “went a borrowing”, it means that the paper has chosen to be selective in reporting the facts in order to suit its agenda. There is room for borrowing in the budget every year as approved by the National Assembly and this year is not different.
There is no household or country that loses half of its income and does not feel the pinch. The most important thing is to stay focused in tackling the issue, which is exactly what the Finance Minister is doing. Papers like Sunday Trust should encourage the incoming administration to focus on measures to properly manage the economy and ensure salaries and pensions are paid the way this administration has done. They should desist from demonization of the Finance Minister. Her record of accomplishments is known the world over, so the paper is wasting its time on negatives.
We must also remember that under the late Presient Umaru Musa Yar’Adua government, a 50% increase in wages was awarded to civil servants. With that comes an increase in pensions as well and this happened when the Finance Minister was not in government. These are issues this government is faced with and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has been dealing with them without demonizing anyone.
Sunday Trust went further to claim that the Minister “controversially rebased the economy and claimed that it is the biggest in Africa despite the stark reality of epileptic power supply, very high unemployment and grinding poverty”.
Again, it is unbelievable that a whole Editorial Board of a newspaper can be this ignorant and myopic! Papers like Sunday Trust are so preoccupied with sowing seeds of discord and hatred that they stand truth on the head. Our school children who read papers are in trouble if this is all an Editorial Board can produce. It is shameful.
Whether Sunday Trust likes it or not, Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa and that is a fact. Rebasing of the economy does not mean that all the challenges faced by a country disappear immediately. It is a critical exercise that helps policy makers plan appropriately. We cannot move blindly and expect a miracle.
We now know that we have a more diversified economy with services at 51% from 26; Agriculture 33% from 22; Movie Industry at 1.2% from 0.1; etc. Going forward, the government understands the potentials and opportunities and will therefore be in a better position to make the right decisions. If the paper does not like this, it can advise the incoming government to reverse it.
The data from rebasing also shows that the non-oil sector is actually growing while the oil sector is contracting. The important news here is that if we plan accordingly, Nigeria can indeed reduce its dependence on oil. This will take time but it is achievable.
On unemployment, the record speaks for itself. We are not where we would like to be but we have made tremendous gains in the past three years. We have been creating 1.4million jobs yearly. The agricultural sector has undergone serious reforms that have seen us produce more food. Ten million farmers have been captured in the e-wallet scheme that has made it easy to get improved seeds and fertiliser to those who need them.
The Federal Government’s entrepreneurship programme Youwin has created 3,900 entrepreneurs, about 27,000 direct jobs and about 88,000 indirect jobs. Our youths have shown that when supported, they are capable of contributing to the economy through the creation of more jobs and this is what the programme is about.
On the issue of governors being unable to pay salaries, it is important to note that some governors have been doing a good job. States have been advised to prioritise payment of salaries in these difficult times. If they choose to do otherwise, they should answer to their people.
It is only in Nigeria that people who cause a problem turn around to blame someone else including even the victim. These same governors energetically fought against savings in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and are now crying wolf. The Finance Minister started the practise of publishing all monies accruing to the states. People should ask questions about how their money is being used.
The paper also claimed the Minister spent eight years in power and is “about to hand over an economy that is in ruins”.
Okonjo-Iweala and her colleagues in the economic team achieved what no government in Nigeria had ever done during her first four years in office under President Olusegun Obasanjo by helping the country obtain debt relief to the tune of $30billion. Without that, the country could not breathe under the load of debt. It was suffocating and was stagnating. She has spent her second coming under President Goodluck Jonathan setting up a solid macroeconomic and institutional foundation under the leadership and support of the President.
She started Youwin, Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria (GWIN), Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), operationalised the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), pushed Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System ( IPPIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA) and all the biometric and electronic platforms. These are facts. Try as much as it can, Sunday Trust cannot rewrite history!
Nigeria has strong fundamentals with difficult challenges at this time like all oil exporting countries. The Finance Minister has done a classic job to hold the economy together. The policies that she and the economic team put in place to shore up the economy are the same ones that the All Progressive Congress (APC) is now saying it will adopt.
Rather than launch vicious attacks on a woman who has worked very hard for the country at enormous personal cost, including the kidnap of her mother due to her fight against oil subsidy fraudsters, Sunday Trust should focus on being a professional organization.
Media Adviser to the Minister of Finance/Coordinating Minister for the Economy
*Photo Caption - Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala