Soldiers in military drill

FG to establish 9,000 strong Army Division in South’South

A new Army Division would soon be set up for the Niger Delta region to safeguard the nation’s economic and territorial assets in the South-South, and contain future threats to the nation’s boundaries with Cameroon, other countries and the Gulf of Guinea area. Sources said that the 9, 000 strong Division would be similar to the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army set up in Maiduguri to checkmate terrorism and cross border banditry. The sources added that this followed intelligence reports that a new army of militant youths was being mobilised out of political mischief to carry out destabilisation activities.


Ngige count APC out of Anambra LG poll

Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Chris Ngige, has said the APC will not participate in the forthcoming local government election in Anambra State. He said this when he addressed a press conference in Akwa, after a crucial meeting with stakeholders and APC aspirants on the said election. The local council election is scheduled to hold on January 11, 2014. But the APC has subsequently directed all the party councillorship and chairmanship candidates, as well as its supporters to boycott


2015: Aides analyse how President Jonathan can win, lose

Plans by close aides of President Goodluck Jonathan to win re-election include exploiting division in the ranks of the nation’s governors, playing on the political ambitions of some Northern power brokers and the promotion of a clash of egos between the leaders of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) The plans, believed to have been prepared by close aides of the President ahead of the 2015 election, identified the House of Representatives, which the strategists claim to have become the mouthpiece of the opposition, the President’s ineffective utilisation of his powers and the dominance of ethnic jingoists around President Jonathan as some of the major weaknesses for the president’s second term campaign.

Pope francis

Failed Proposal: Peaceful coexistence ’ll solve Nigeria’s crisis – Pope

The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, on Wednesday identified peaceful coexistence as the only solution to the crisis in some parts of Nigeria.The Pope said this in his message at the celebration of the World Day of Peace which is an annual event of Catholic faithful worldwide.The message was read by the Archbishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Most Rev Adewale Martins, at the Holy Cross Catholic Church, Lagos.“It is easy to realise that fraternity is the foundation and pathway of peace. When we have the value of fraternity, a feeling of brotherhood, love and care for one another, many of our problems would not be there.“Our fraternity is based on the fact that we are all made on the likeness and image of God.“Our brotherhood is not based on any factor other than we are all children of one God.“What is to be done is to get back to the roots to identify ourselves and recognise and deal with ourselves as brothers and sisters that we are.“It will go a long way to bring peace back into the world,” he said.He attributed the situation to the inability of genuine relationships among the people and lack of solid family and community relationships.“We are concerned by the various types of hardship, marginalisation, isolation and various forms of pathological dependencies which are currently on increase.“This kind of problems can be overcome only through the rediscovery and valuing of fraternal relationships in the heart of families and communities.“Also in the sharing of joys and sorrows of the hardships and triumphs that are a part of human life,” he said. BY TED ODOGWU, Kano


Nigeria at 100: Don’t take our unity for granted —Atiku

On the occasion of  the country’s centenary, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, called on Nigerians not to take the continued unity of the country for granted even as he cautioned against distractions that could impede the future prosperity of the nation.Atiku, in his centenary message to the country, urged Nigerians to look above the structural fragments that divide the nation, saying that the victims of the ineptitude leadership were neither divided by ethnicity, tribe nor religion.He lamented that 40 years after the civil war, the country’s leaders could still be playing ethnic and religious games to gain power.He said: ”As we mark the centenary celebration of the amalgamation of the Lagos colony with the Northern and Southern Protectorates by the British Colonial occupier forming one country, Nigerians need to pat each other on the back for we have truly come a long way. However, we must redouble our efforts towards building a stronger and more united Nigeria rather than concentrating energies on division or breakup.”The recent clamour by some of Nigeria’s leaders for a renegotiation of the continued being of Nigeria are dishonest and an unnecessary distraction from the future that we can build. Such leaders need to concentrate their efforts on tackling the challenges ranging from lack of security to addressing poverty and unemployment through infrastructural investments.“The victims of structural ineptitude are not distinguished on the basis of their ethnicity, tribe, religion or region. It is also a truism that both the perpetrators and their victims are Nigerians, and secession  will not fix these woes.Rather, if our leaders devoted more energy to dealing with these basic challenges facing the ordinary Nigerians, ethnic and religious differences would have sunk to the background as people are able to focus on opportunities available to them.”


Refineries Privatization: Strike Action Still On Course, Says NUPENG

The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) says it has not shelved its proposed plans to go on strike over the planned sale of the country’s refineries.A statement from the President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, on Wednesday in Lagos, said the union’s position was still that the decision to privatise the four refineries was hastily taken.It said it would therefore still be resisted by NUPENG.“The attention of the union was drawn to some stories that NUPENG has suspended the strike. The union states that the report is erroneous and full of distortions of facts”, the statement said.It added that NUPENG members in NNPC and its subsidiaries had however embarked on daily prayer sessions, calling for God’s intervention.The statement quoted Achese as calling “NUPENG members to intensify on the prayer sessions, which is a prelude to the nationwide strike coming up this week”.It added that the meeting scheduled by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, would be futile if the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was not involved.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that NUPENG and PENGASSAN in December 2013 had threatened to embark on strike in January.The two unions had said this would be if the Federal Government failed to reverse its decision to privatise the country’s four refineries. (NAN)


Boko Haram, kidnapping, our share of global crises – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said some of the security challenges facing the country, started at a time the nation’s security architecture was not properly designed to combat them.Jonathan, at a New Year service at the Catholic Church’s Pro-Cathedral of Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Garki in Abuja, also described the activities of Boko Haram in the North and kidnappers in the South as Nigeria’s fair share of worldwide security challenges.“Some of these challenges we have been seeing came at a point that our security architecture was not properly designed for that,” he said during the service presided over by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan.The President added, “The world as a whole is facing a lot of challenges at the moment. If you turn on your television set, and if you turn the pages of newspapers, you will always see breaking news. Breaking news is not positive news and whenever I see such , I know there is one crisis somewhere in the world.“We are reading about crises everywhere. And our country too, unfortunately, we also have our own fair share of crises. There is the issue of Boko Haram and the excesses of the militia groups in the, North; and kidnapping in southern Nigeria.Jonathan, however, assured Nigerians that his government was committed to tackling the security challenges.“We are improving every day, we have our challenges but there is significant progress,” he said, adding that this year would be better for Nigerians than 2013.He said as President, he would continue to work harmoniously with the National Assembly and his appointees to provide Nigerians with good governance in 2014.The President expressed confidence that with the commitment and prayers of Nigerians, the country would get to where the citizens desired.He described yesterday (Wednesday) as a special one because apart from being the first day of the New Year, it also marked 100 years of the nation’s amalgamation.Jonathan said, “Today(Wednesday) is a special day. January 1, 2014 is special because the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates happened on January 1, 1914.“Today (Wednesday), modern Nigeria is 100 years old. The formal ceremony will take place in February. The programme will soon be advertised for all Nigerians to see and know the areas they will participate. All the religious houses will be involved in one form of prayer or the other.“So, today (Wednesday), we are not just celebrating the New Year, we are also celebrating a special new year. A new year that modern Nigeria is 100 years old. And we should use this period to begin to think of what Nigeria will be in the next 100 years.We should think what the future of our children and our grandchildren will be in the next 100 years.”Jonathan promised that this year, he would work hard to get the nation’s economy to continue to move in the direction Nigerians wanted it to move.He added that he would not only work harder to ensure that jobs were created for young Nigerians, he would make sure that foodstuffs were cheap in the markets.Jonathan said, “I assure you that as the person you have elected to serve you, I will work hard with the National Assembly, my cabinet and other officials of my government to make sure that you get what we call the dividends of democracy.“In spite of the challenges, all what we will continue to request from you is your continuous prayers. We believe that no matter what an individual thinks he is, if God doesn’t want him to succeed , he will not.”Jonathan again pleaded

Jonathan the Salah Man

Rights groups faults Jonathan, says he is insincere about anti-graft war

Lawyers and civil rights activists, on Wednesday, assessed President Goodluck Jonathan’s New Year message, urging him to match his words with actions.The lawyers and activists including  a legal practitioner, Mr. Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, Mr. Bamidele Aturu and  the President of  the Campaign for Democracy, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, dismissed Jonathan’s promise to fight corruption and increase power supply to 18 hours per day.Adegboruwa, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Wednesday noted that the assurances of a man depended mostly on his pedigree.He said that in 2011, the President promised to fight corruption and stabilise power supply.These, the lawyer said, Jonathan had not fulfilled.Adegboruwa said that Jonathan should start his war against corruption with the sacking of the   Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, over the alleged N255m car scandal.He said, “Several probe panels and committees have been set up by this regime. Their reports have not seen the light of the day. It is difficult now to imagine that one can do, in one year, what one was unable to do, in three years.“The case of corruption in this particular regime has become very notorious, with all the anti-corruption agencies, totally castrated and starved of funds, in order to make them ineffective.”Adegboruwa noted that he did not believe that Jonathan would fight corruption this year.“If the President has, in the course of his encounter with God, contracted a New Year resolution on this point, then he should start by firing, immediately, the aviation minister,” he said.The lawyer said that the dwindling power supply in the country was very alarming, in spite of the Jonathan administration’s huge investment in the sector.According to him, it will be difficult to trust or rely upon any promise made by the President, going by his antecedents.On her part, Okei-Odumakin described Jonathan’s New Year message as an annual ritual.She said that Nigerians would hold the President accountable at the end of the year.Okei-Odumakin  said, “Over the years, Nigerians have had to wake up to such New Year promises only to end same years in mysteries of no basic amenities.”On the war against graft, she said willingness of the government to fight corruption entailed its readiness to be politically committed to it.“This is the only way that Nigerians will begin to have trust in such declarations that may be made by the government on a day like this,” she said.Also, a lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, said Jonathan’s war against corruption would be used to harass political opponents.He said, “The war will be used as a tool against political opponents. While it is shameful that we remember the war against corruption only when we have opponents to deal with or political battles to fight, I really have no problem with it for as long as those who are prosecuted really have soiled their hands.“It is no defence to corruption allegation or charge to say that one is being politically victimised.”He also dismissed Jonathan’s promise to increase power supply to 18 hours in a day.Aturu said, “With respect to the promise to increase the  supply of electricity to 18 hours, if it happens it would be one of the wonders of the world. The infrastructure on the ground belies that ambitious promise.”He wondered how the promise would be fulfilled in the face of acute shortage of gas and manpower.“If you ask me, we are tired of empty promises. We want actions. We want politicians who looted our treasury to be dealt with promptly according to the law and we want dividends of democracy,” he said.Also, a leader of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Rotimi  Fashakin,  said the President was incapable of making any meaningful plan for Nigeria’s growth.Fashakin, who was the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, said this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, on Wednesday.


APC to assume House leadership soon

There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress, APC, may, on resumption from recess of the House of Representatives on January 13, 2014, assume the leadership of the House from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.This, however, may not affect the offices of the speaker and deputy speaker respectively. The impending development which Vanguard scooped yesterday, is followed by the defection of 37 members of the PDP to APC late last month.Speculations had been rife since December 2013, shortly before the House went on Christmas break, that the change would have occurred.