[ Masterweb Reports: Chris Agabi reports ] - The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has increased the ticket fare for Abuja-Kaduna route. The new regime, which took effect from yesterday, Executive Class ticket now sells for N1,500 one way as against N900 it previously sold while the Standard Class has jumped from N600 to N1050.
Mr. Pascal A Nnorli, the NRC Liaison Officer in Abuja, told Daily Trust on phone last night that the new price regime was decided at the time fuel price moved to N145 from N87 per litre.
He said the old fare template was benchmarked when bus fare from Abuja to Kaduna was based on N87 per litre fuel.
He further said that when fuel price increased from N87 to N145, the NRC also had to review its price template and still benchmarked it with the bus fare as currently charged from Abuja to Kaduna.
He however noted that at the point the train service was launched on July 26, 2016, fuel was N145 and road fares had already gone up.
“But because we had already advertised the old fare (N600 for economy and N900 for executive class), we felt it would be unwise to launch with a different fare. So we launched with the old fare but said after 6 months, we will review the fare to what has been effected” he said adding that the NRC got the approval for the new fare about six months ago.
NRC Managing Director, Engr. Fidet Okhiria in an interview with our correspondent last year said NRC get’s an average of N15 million a month but that was low compared with how much they spend to maintain their operations.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said that he cannot disclose the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the president is hale and hearty. The acting president stated that only President Buhari would disclose his health status at the appropriate time.
The acting president said he just had a long conversation with Buhari, noting that the latter was interested in knowing the present stage of the 2017 budget process.
He said he informed Buhari about the protests in the country as well as what Nigerians were saying about the economy.
"The president is hale and hearty. I spoke to the president just this (yesterday) afternoon, and we had a long conversation. He was interested in knowing about the budget process and how far we have gone and the meeting today (yesterday) with the private sector and the economic recovery growth plan. And I informed him about the protest march and feedback about what people are saying about the economy. He is in good shape.
"Just like he said in his letter to the National Assembly, he needs to go for a cycle of tests and once he sees the test results and gets medical advice, we expect him very soon," the acting president stated.
*Photo Caption - Yemi Osinbajo - LEFT; President Buhari - Right.
[ Masterweb Reports: Ronald Mutum reports ] - The FCT Commissioner of Police (CP) Muhammed Mustafa has warned individuals and groups planning any form of protest in Abuja to notify the Command before embarking on such protest.
Mustafa who spoke on Friday at a press conference at the Command Headquarters in Abuja, said the warning follows reports making the rounds on the social media of a planned nationwide protest slated for 5th February, 2017.
He said “the Command wants to advise the conveners of such to jettison any plan to carry out the protest on the streets of Abuja as it is capable of breaching the peaceful atmosphere.”
He added that: “the conveners of the protest are also enjoined to adopt legal and legitimate means to register their protest instead of taking over the streets of the FCT.”
He said the command would not fold its arms and watch criminal elements hide under the guise of such protest to cause breakdown of law and order, adding that the Police is not in possession of any notification from the group.
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Police logo
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The federal government will soon pay all the overdue cash stipends it owes former militants who signed up for an amnesty in 2009 in the Niger Delta oil hub, the government said on Thursday.
Militants have threatened to resume attacking oil facilities should the cash payments not be made.
"We advise all to remain calm as all stipend arrears and other outstanding payments under the programme will soon be paid," the office of the government amnesty programme said in a statement.
The government has been holding talks with militants to end attacks on crude pipelines, which reduced Nigeria's output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.
Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments to militants to end corruption. They later resumed payments to keep pipeline attacks from crippling vital oil revenues.
Two months of stipends were paid out in January, but the amnesty office said foreign schools fees and other allowances had not been sent by the federal government yet.
Each former militant is entitled under the amnesty to 65,000 naira ($213.68) a month plus job training.
President Muhammadu Buhari met Niger Delta leaders and representatives for the militants in November to discuss their demands but little progress has emerged publicly since then.
The militants and residents who sympathise with them say they want a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth to go to the impoverished region.
Crude sales make up about 70 percent of government revenue and the attacks have worsened an economic crisis brought on by low global oil prices. ($1 = 304.2000 naira) (Reuters)
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Abdullateef Aliyu reports ] - Dozens of Nigerians were this morning deported from the United Kingdom. They arrived at the cargo terminal of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja Lagos in an unmarked Air bus aircraft which touched ground at exactly 7:40 a.m.
Among the deportees are prisoners who would complete their jail terms in Nigeria.
Our correspondent observed that among the deportees are elderly people. They looked sober with forlorn faces as they disembarked one and after the other from the aircraft.
Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), police men and aviation security personnel were on ground to receive the deportees. The Nigerians deported are 41, which include 33 males and 8 females.
*Photo Caption - As soon.
[ Masterweb Reports: Seun Opejobi reports ] - The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has vowed to effect the release of all its members remanded in several custody of security agents across the country, including those in prison. IPOB made the declaration in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful on Tuesday.
The Secessionist group also assured its members injured during the rally in solidarity of the inauguration of the United States, US, President, Donald Trump that it would pick up their hospital bills.
According to IPOB, “IPOB will pay for all hospital bills and take care of victims families up to meeting every funeral expenses of those killed on the 20th of January 2017 in Igweocha PH River state during Pro Donald J Trump’s rally.
“Meanwhile, we don’t abandon our people because we are IPOB. We are also going to secure the release of all our people in police, DSS, Army cells and those reminded in prison custody.
“We provide for and pay our lawyers to facilitate the release of those involved which never happened under the leadership of Uwazuruike’s MASSOB.
“Nevertheless, IPOB under the command structure and the leadership of maxi Nnamdi Kanu is designed by God Almighty Chukwu Okike Abiama to fight for the restoration, emancipation and for the total liberation of our people in this contraption called Nigeria.
“Although, IPOB will not relent until our God given nation is restored no matter the odds and humiliation, it can never stop the quest for Biafra nation.
“All those victims in Aba 9th February 2016, in Onitsha on 30th August 2015, 17th December 2015 at head bridge Onitsha and 29th/30th May 2016 at Nkpor and those in Asaba on 30th May 2916 and others who paid ultimate prices for the restoration of ancient nation called Biafra in one way or the other will never be forgotten both their families when Biafra is restored.”
*Photo Caption - Nnamdi Kanu
[ Masterweb Reports ] - The police in Lagos on Monday said they had arrested the publisher of Biafra Times and nine others for allegedly publishing and circulating seditious and malicious publication.
Parading the 10 suspects, Lagos State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said 515 copies of the offending newspaper were recovered during a raid on the printing press in Shomolu, Lagos.
“The printing press has been shut and the environment is being monitored.
“This is an offence punishable under the Criminal Law of Lagos State,” Owoseni said.
He added that the suspects would be charged to court as soon as detectives finished interrogating them.
The arrested publisher, however, told journalists that he had no intention to promote disunity and disharmony among Nigerians.
“I love my country and I love my president. My intention is not to fight my country; I just want to pass out information to those who have no access to the Internet.
“I usually go on the Internet to source for information and publish. I have other papers on sports and social life which I publish,’’ he said.
The prime suspect said he had been publishing for the past eight years but only specialised in Biafra Times three months ago.
“I decided to specialise on Biafra Times when I discovered it is always a sell-out anytime we published stories about eastern parts of the country.
“Sometimes, I go to newspaper vendors and hear people requesting for Biafra Times.
“We usually print about 5000 copies which we sell for N100 nationwide,” he said.
In another development, the CP told journalists that the command was aware of a proposed demonstration which popular artiste, Tuface Idibia planned to lead.
He said that the command was yet to be officially notified and assured that the police would not allow unscrupulous elements to hijack the protest.
*Photo Caption - Map of Defunct Republic of Biafra
[ Masterweb Reports: Joshua Odeyemi reports ] - The Controller General of Prisons (CGP), Ja'afaru Ahmed has appealed to the public to provide useful information that would lead to the arrest of a suspect, Chibueze Henry Oyenkachi, also known as vampire as well as the gunmen who freed him from custody.
A statement by the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS)'s spokesman, Francis Enobore on Monday, said the CGP made the appeal when he visited the Federal Medical Centre Owerri, Imo State to commensurate with the victims of the recent attack on Prisoners by yet to be identified gunmen within the premises of Owerri High Court.
It would be recalled that on the 27th of January, 58 pre-trial detainees who were taken to Owerri High Court in 2 Black Maria Court Duty Vehicles were attacked as the inmates disembarked from the vehicles within the premises of the court.
The gunmen who were said to have strategically positioned themselves in the premises, opened fire and shot sporadically hitting five inmates in the process.
But NPS said the escort wardens in collaboration with other sister security agencies were able to secure 49 of the inmates and returned them to safe custody.
However, vampire on whose behalf the hoodlums were suspected to have carried out the dastardly act, and seven other prisoners escaped.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia reports ] - Very recently, the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Chief John Nnia Nwodo came under severe verbal attacks from some Igbos for saying that Ndigbo have borne the brunt of the contradictions in the Nigerian State. However, Nwodo’s remarks are anchored on solid facts of history and no one needs to be a rocket scientist to appreciate the enormity and factuality of Nwodo’s claims. Nwodo is not alone on this.
One is happy that even high-ranking Igbo elites in the ruling APC have come to appreciate the significance of Nwodo’s remarks. For instance, the former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, GCON, on Sunday, January 22, 2017, while registering as a member of the APC at his country home in Amechi-Uwani, in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State, echoed Nwodo’s convictions on the fate of Ndigbo in Nigeria when he admitted the existence of serious imbalances in the country in relation to the Igbo nation. Nnamani said that one of his reasons for joining the APC is to correct the imbalances in the country. According to him, “even if we want to ask that the imbalances in the country should be corrected, we have to ask for that from inside”. He argued that one “cannot stay outside to criticize” the federal government.
The pitiable condition of the South East of Nigeria has remained a recurrent decimal such that on November 22, 2015, a meeting of the South East leaders was convened at Enugu by the South East Governors Forum (SEGF). The well attended meeting issued a four point communiqué red by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. According to Okorocha: “After a compassionate review of the recent MASSOB/IPOB agitations in the country, it was resolved that a committee be set up to dialogue with MASSOB/IPOB as well as the Federal Government with a view to finding a lasting solution to the issue. The elders also examined other issues including the poor state of infrastructural facilities in the South East, marginalization in the federal appointment and other socio-economic issues that impact on the South East of Nigeria”. Okorocha further informed that “a delegation of the South East elders has been mandated to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issues raised”
. There is no doubt that Ndigbo have largely borne the brunt of the contradictions of the Nigerian State and paid the heaviest price. The genocidal pogrom preceding the civil war, the atrocities committed against our people during the war, the use of starvation to annihilate our people, and the deliberate plot to shut Ndigbo out of economic relevance are not spontaneous developments but deliberate policies by the Nigerian State to possibly rout the Igbo out of existence. On the other hand, it is being placed on record that there is no tribe in Nigeria or even in the whole world whose blood has been spilled and forced to pay the supreme sacrifice for national unity more than the Igbo of Nigeria.
Ohaneze condemns the unconscionable massacre of innocent and harmless Igbo sons and daughters by the Nigerian security operatives on the pretext of quelling pro-Biafran protests. We cannot continue to watch as thousands of our children are killed and buried in mass graves by the State. This is objectionable and repugnant to the collective conscience of humanity.
One of the most agonizing imbalances that Nwodo noted in his speech is that “within the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, it is only the South East zone that has five states. The rest have six and seven states respectively. Similarly, within the 774 local government configuration of the Nigerian federation, just three northern states have more local governments than the whole South Eastern states combined”.
Nwodo equally lamented that “under this lopsided structure of the Nigerian state, the commonwealth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria continues to be distributed on the bases of states and local governments” On political appointments made by the incumbent Nigerian president, Nwodo regretted that President Muhammadu Buhari has maintained, as an official policy, that political rewards will be based on the voting ratio of 95 percent to the areas that voted him into power and 5 percent to the areas that did not vote for him. Ohaneze considers this policy very unpresidential, un-statesmanly and unacceptable. According to Nwodo, the Igbo representation in the current federal government is very abysmal and falls short of the constitutional provisions for the reflection of federal character in the appointment into important government positions. He pointed out that no arm of the government namely, “the legislature, executive or the judiciary is headed by an Igbo. No section of the armed forces or paramilitary organization is headed by an Igbo..Etc….”
Ohaneze notes that it is the cumulative effect of these unstatesmanly policies against the Igbo that has given vent to agitations by MASSOB, IPOB and other pressure groups in Igbo land.
A Nobel laureate and erudite professor, Wole Soyinka in his characteristic sincerity, acknowledged that “the Igbo have been wronged desperately”. According to him, “they have been brutalized in a way that justifies their feeling that they were not part of the nation” Soyinka expressed that “the Biafran agitators are not entirely innocent in this affair, but the unleashing of such venom and devastation on them as a people was sufficient to justify their decision not to be part of the nation. On his part, the former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017, while speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun State when the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ogun State visited him stated that “the problem of marginalization has been a major source of conflicts between ethnic and regional divisions in the country. For purpose of equity and justice, Obasanjo threw weight behind a president from Igbo extraction. These are noble thoughts by men who have come to appreciate the plastic power of truth in shaping the society. Ohaneze salutes them.
However, in October 2016, the former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, stated that the Igbos are their own worst enemies. It is against this backdrop that Igbo traitors, renegades and job seekers would issue statements alleging that Nwodo is Inciting the Igbo Against the Federal Government. I am yet to know any society that is devoid of such petty characters. And we shall not dignify them by mentioning their names. But, let it be known that in Igbo cosmology as in other African cultures, a curse is often placed on any person who deliberately goes against the collective corporate interest of his group. Such a curse, contrite and remorseful as one may later show, resides in the person and his or her offspring in perpetuity. This is why those who sabotaged the Biafran spirit during the Nigerian Biafra war still recoil in shame, 47 years after.
For emphasis, all politics, according to Tip O’Neill, is local. Politics is not always the art of the possible, as Otto Von Bismark tried to posit; rather it is most times the art of choosing between the sacred and the profane; the sublime and the ridiculous; the grace and disgrace. This accounts for the ageless caution by Plato when he implied that wanting things just for the immediate gains can turn a man’s life into a marshmallow on a stick over a hot fire.
For the avoidance of doubt, Ohaneze Ndigbo as a socio-cultural organization transcends partisanship. On the other hand, Ohaneze does not espouse any political party. Rather, Ohaneze is allergic to the persistent injustice to the Igbo and wherever it rears it’s ugly head. Irrespective of political affiliations, Ohaneze Ndigbo is well disposed to working with anybody or organization that appreciates the naked structural imbalance targeted against Ndigbo and willing to address the Igbo question in Nigeria.
Ohaneze advocates for a political arrangement that does not shortchange any tribe in Nigeria including the Igbo. Ohaneze envisions a country where the innate potentials that are locked by the structural dysfunctions are unleashed for the prosperity of all Nigerians. Ohaneze advocates the core imperatives of a true federal structure along the six geopolitical zones. A structure that encourages the vast resources that are long buried in the subsoil of the federating unit to be explored and harnessed for the benefit of mankind. These and more informed the Nwodo epic.
Every Igbo person appreciates the above facts irrespective of party persuations. Ohaneze Ndigbo, therefore, salutes the likes of Governor Rochas Okorocha and Chief Ken Nnamani for their courage in admitting the obvious imbalances skewed against the Igbo in Nigeria. This, exactly, was the thrust of the inaugural speech by Chief John Nnia Nwodo wherein he lamented that “the South East of Nigeria has remained a dangling appendage of the Nigerian State in every sphere of our national existence”.
Ndigbo, both at home and in the Diaspora are proud of His Excellency, Chief John Nnia Nwodo,Ike Ukehe, the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo World Wide. He is a man with the spark of God and a stellar ancestral history with heroic pedigree. Above all, his knowledge of national politics stands him out. We commend him for hitting the nail on the head. By all standards, Nwodo embodies the consciousness of the Igbo.
Ike Ukehe, they will strive, though as villains, to weave a net of infamy around your neck, simply because you thrive in the firmament of wisdom, candour, courage, intellect, character, heroism and prophecy. Weary not for these are indestructible spiritual elements that in spite of adversaries move on to accomplish their missions. I have spoken and so mote it be.
Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia
President, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Enugu State.
*Photo Caption - Chief John Nnia Nwodo
[ Masterweb Reports: Gov Shettima's address to Chairmen of councils of Northern traditional rulers ] - Let me place it on record that the decision to invite Your Royal Highnesses and other stakeholders to this crucial meeting was the collective decision of all the 19 Governors under our forum and was borne out of the recognition of the fundamental - if not indispensable - position and role the traditional institution occupy in the grand scheme of things in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern region. For us in Northern Nigeria, our royal fathers are, for the most part, custodians of both our cultural and religious values, highly revered and hold their traditional offices in virtual perpetuity. Indeed, quite a few instances abound in all parts of our region, like their Highnesses the Emir of Lafia Dr. Isa Mustapha Agwai, the Emir of Zauzau Dr. Shehu Idris, and the Aku-Uka of Wukari Dr. Shekarau Angyu Masa Ibi Kuvyon ll, where our traditional rulers ascended their thrones long before even the creation of the states where their domains are located, or have so far worked with, and outlasted in office all the governors of their States, military and democratically elected. Your Royal Highnesses, these three instances, drawn from the lives of our longest serving traditional rulers with first class status, are but few out of many. Governors of the 19 Northern States do recognize, respect and cherish the fact that while others serve for certain periods, traditional rulers mostly make lifetime commitments to the service of our communities. This naturally makes Your Royal Highnesses very significant stakeholders in the affairs of Government across the 19 Northern States.
Even more crucially, it gladdens the heart to note that our traditional rulers have sustained the time tested and noble tradition of championing the causes of their people. To cite one example, only last week, His Royal Highness, the erudite Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi ll spearheaded the thought provoking debate surrounding the significance of the education of the girl-child and how it can positively impact the progress, development, prosperity, peace, security and stability of the North and, by extension, Nigeria.
This very fundamental debate bordering on the educational backwardness, pervasive poverty and underdevelopment as well as persistent insecurity of Northern Nigeria, should not only form the underlying basis for holding this extraordinary meeting but must continue, in our enlightened self-interest as leaders, to perpetually preoccupy our thoughts, plans, programmes and actions.
Managing multiculturalism and heterogeneity is a major challenge and indeed a litmus test for leadership, good governance and progress not just in Northern Nigeria but in the entire global society. However, as leaders of government, traditional rulers and community as well as religious leaders we must unite to tackle the challenges that stare us in the face. Like all the Northern Governors acknowledge, development is not just about building roads, bridges, houses or what we refer to as infrastructure and the provision of social services. Yes, these are very important, but then, there are pro-social livelihoods, peace and good life which are the fundamental attributes of meaningful existence. Our core challenges in the North today revolve around intolerance, absence of peaceful coexistence, poverty, illiteracy and lack of unity. How can we address these critical concerns? We, the 19 Governors of Northern States believe that a gathering of some of the key leaders of the North, is more than able to provide solutions to our problems. As Governors, we are more determined than ever, to sincerely walk the talks generated from this important meeting.
There is no gain saying the North is a poor, pathetic shadow of its former self. A well-endowed, promising geographic space which accounts for over 70% of Nigeria’s land mass, up to at least 60% of its population, with huge solid minerals resources, with potentials for hydrocarbon resources, a growing mining industry, rich arable lands, a blossoming agro-industrial economy, Nigeria’s wealthiest region by GDP and the region with the brightest prospects for accelerated economic growth; in short, arguably Nigeria’s most thriving region, has literally conspired against itself to be reduced to the laughing stock of the world. Northern Nigeria today is blighted by a deadly (albeit retreating) insurgency, rural armed banditry, cattle rustling, ethnic and religious conflicts, the underlying causes of which are poverty, illiteracy, social exclusivity and severely limited economic opportunities.
We all, of course, know these issues. What is of considerable importance to the Northern Governors Forum and I am sure, to our Royal Highnesses, our most respected elders and other stakeholders, is how to urgently and collectively, address these problems starting with our priorities. While we look forward to tapping from the priceless experiences, vast knowledge and eternal wisdom of Your Royal Highnesses and elder statesmen, we have since begun doing some ground work. For instance, the Northern Governors Forum has last year, set up a committee of Attorneys General of the 19 Northern States to review the criminal justice system of Northern Nigeria with a view to amending the penal code to stipulate penalties for criminal offences prevalent in the North today which were not envisaged by the penal code.
The Forum verily recognizes the direct correlation between the collapse of education, industries and agriculture with most of the violence and restiveness in the north. Individual States are deploying different measures to address their peculiarities but as a Forum, we have established the Northern Nigeria Global Economic Re-integration Programme under the leadership of Dr Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, a very resourceful, internationally connected Northerner, and Chief Economic Adviser to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. Dr Kurfi and his team are already following up with the Islamic Development Bank on areas of science education in northern Nigeria. The platform is also driving our ongoing commitment with General Electric for the construction of solar power plants in five States within the North. Kurfi’s group is also going to drive some funding arrangements with financial institutions and development partners on key areas of Agriculture. Thankfully, Dr Kurfi himself is very keen about the north reclaiming it’s lost glory in cotton production and textiles manufacturing which was the predominant industrial activity in Northern Nigeria, as well as the creation of international markets for our farm produce with emphasis on value chain.
We shall hopefully have Dr Kurfi to give updates on what his group is doing but then, we know for sure, that we cannot achieve much without Your Royal Highnesses and our other valuable elders who not only have so much experiences but also influence public attitude, mobilization for mass participation and other integrated processes of developments at the grassroots. Using your highly organized and time tested system of administration, Your Highnesses are strongly present in all streets, wards, villages and districts under your heritage. We seek to work together in order to deepen the good works majority of our Royal fathers are already doing, so that we can form a stronger front that will strikingly change the narrative of northern Nigeria from being a basket case to that of strength in peace, strength in productive population, strength in economic prosperity and strength in unity. Our forum’s secretariat has furnished me with a note that gives details of problems confronting most parts of the North and even suggesting ways of addressing them. However, as my colleagues would say, there will be no point inviting Your Royal Highnesses and distinguished elders if we know the problems and the solutions to them. We will rather prefer to hear from you as we go into a closed door session.
We look forward to valuable and free minded conversations that should focus on solving our challenges. Once again, on behalf of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, I welcome Your Royal Highnesses and other invited guests to this meeting. For our good friends and important partners in the Press, we hope to see you when we have a communiqué either by the end of today’s session or perhaps, tomorrow, after the Governors meet to conclude the two-day session.
Thank you so much for listening.
*Shettima, Governor of Borno State and Chairman of Northern States Governors’ Forum, delivered above address at the opening of an extraordinary meeting with Chairmen of councils of traditional rulers in the 19 Northern States and the FCT held on Monday, January 23, 2017, at the Government House in Kaduna.
*Photo Caption - Governor Kashim Shettima