- Under-utilised assets to deliver incremental power nationwide
By James Emejo in Abuja
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah yesterday unveiled plans by the Federal Government to deploy under-utilised power assets to deliver incremental power to industrial centres and needy communities in the country.
According to him, the move is currently being coordinated through the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council (NIPCAC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, towards generating additional 4.2 Gigawatts (4200 MW) of power to the national grid within the next 12-18 months.
A total of eight power projects-including Aba Integrated Power Project; Kainji rehabilitation and expansion; power transmission; captive power projects for industry; Afam IV rehabilitation; Afam V rehabilitation; Seplat gas facility and Alaoji power plant have been selected for the critical intervention.
Briefing journalists on the development, Enelamah, who is a Vice Chairman of the Council, said work is already ongoing on the Alaoji power plant to supply about 360Megawatts of unutilised power to industrial centres and people in the South-East Axis of Onitsha, Aba, Nnewi and Ihiala.
He said only 120MW out of the 480MW of power generated by the plant was regularly utilised, stressing that 360MW of power is available for centres which were willing and ready.
He said:”The end-to-end power delivery project, which is being undertaken through Public-Private Partnership ensures that generation, transmission and distribution are all aligned and simultaneously executed.
“The beauty of this project, which is a pilot, is the optimisation of resources and also that the learning from it is intended to be used to unlock up to 2GW from underutilised Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) power plants.”
A statement issued by the minister’s Strategy and Communications Adviser, Mr. Bisi Daniels, stated that Enelamah had during the Council meeting, clarified that the main purpose of the body is to deal with critical intervention at the highest level.
Meanwhile, the meeting was attended by Alhaji Aliko Dangote; a Vice Chairman of the Council, Chief Kola Jumodu; the newly elected president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed.
Others present include Managing Director, National Sugar Development Council, Dr. Latif Busari; Chief Executive, GE Nigeria, Lazarus Agbanzo; Permanent Secretary Ministry of Power; Mr. Louis Edozien; Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu; Chairman, KAM Industries, Dr. Kamarudeen Yusuf and representatives of TCN and the Nigerian Communications Commission.
The further considered other matters including broadband penetration in the country towards achieving fibre connectivity in all 774 local government areas; and the establishment of a Sugar Industry Apprenticeship Centre.
Osinbajo had on May 30, 2017 inaugurated the NIPCAC which comprised government and private sector representatives to assist government in formulating policies and strategies for implementation to enhance the performance and industrialisation of the country.
Minimum Wage: FG Pleads with Labour to Accept N20,000 Proposed
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Minister of labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has implored the organised labour to accept a mutually agreeable new National Minimum Wage in order to avert labour crisis.
Though, the minister did not disclose the exact figure proposed, sources told THISDAY last night that the government team offered labour a new minimum wage of N20,000.
Ngige said that Nigeria could not afford rounds of labour crisis, hence, the imperative for the organised labour to accept a new National Minimum Wage figure based on the capacity and the ability of both the government and the private sector to pay in line with social dialogue and the overall interest of the nation.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Director Press in the Ministry, Samuel Olowookere, the minister made the appeal when he received the new Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) Mr. Timothy Olawale and his predecessor, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, in his new office.
Ngige appealed to NECA to weigh its influence on the organised labour to accede to the new National Minimum Wage figure mutually agreeable to all the social partners.
“We need to arrive at a figure which the employers can afford to pay as an employee cannot fix a figure for the employer. Rather, it must be based on collective bargaining and mutual agreement by the tripartite partners. It is not a function of moving motions or voting at the National Tripartite Negotiation committee to insist that the figure must be as the organised labour appears to make it look,” he said.
The minister cautioned against heating up the polity, adding that “government’s proposed new minimum wage figure is clearly based on critical facts and indices incapable of causing disequilibrium in the economy or upturning the national social order”.
He further charged the new NECA boss to exceed the impressive record of his predecessor.
“You have enormous task ahead of you. The need for the establishment of more NECA offices across the country cannot be over emphasised so that more employers association can register with you”.
Ngige further said that the appeal was in tandem with the economic policies of the present administration.
According to the minister, the numerous private sector employers who are informal need to be brought on board the formalised private sector employers’ body.
Governors of the 36 states of the federation under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum had on Wednesday declared that they were not opposed to the ongoing plans to approve a new minimum wage but that they lacked the capacity to foot the new wage bill.
The governors’ position drew a sharp reaction from the organised labour, which spoke through the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, insisting that the implementation of a new minimum wage was over due.
Ngige however urged the new D-G of NECA to ensure that numerous private sector employers who are members of NECA as well as those not yet registered but are defaulting in payment of even the existing National Minimum Wage of N18, 000 are made to comply with the law.
Buhari: I’ll Continue to Hold Jonathan in High Esteem for Yielding Power
Says Boko Haram will soon be history
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
A President Muhammadu Buhari has praised his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan for voluntarily conceding defeat to him after the 2015 presidential elections.
Buhari, who poured encomiums on the former president at a dinner he hosted for Kannywood entertainers at the Presidential Villa, recently, stated that he would continue to hold the former president in high esteem for that selfless act.
The president, who addressed his guests in Hausa, also condemned the dastardly acts of Boko Haram, stating that the group would be distroyed.
While praising the former president for willingly yielding power to him, Buhari said he was puzzled that Jonathan, after being in power for several years, would voluntarily hand over power to him. “I will continue to hold former President Jonathan in high esteem as a result of that singular act.
“He was in power as deputy governor, governor, vice-president and president, all for about 10 years and he voluntarily accepted defeat and surrendered power to me.”
Addressing Boko Haram and its terrorist acts, the president promised to wipe off the insurgent group outright, adding that it was senseless for a group of people to shout Allahu Akbar (God is great) on one hand and gruesomely hack worshippers of the same God in places of worship.
“You can’t be shouting Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great), Allahu Akbar, and killing innocent citizens and destroying properties, all in the name of God.”
Buhari’s resolve to deal decisively with Boko Haram came amid increasing and deadly activities of the group, in recent times, which included the mindless murder of Hauwa Liman, a Midwife working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on Monday, barely a month after they murdered an aid worker, Saifura Khorsa.
The president told his guests that it was wrong for a group which claimed to be religious to storm churches and mosques to destroy innocent lives.
He said such destructive activities only showed that the insurgents were either confused or did not even know what they were doing, insisting that they would ultimately be distroyed.
“It is either you don’t know what you are saying or you don’t even believe in the existence of God Almighty. God has nothing to do with injustice.
“So, now we are confronting them and by the grace of God we will destroy them,” the president stated.
Also speaking at the event, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, expressed hope that Buhari would garner 5 million votes from the fans of the entertainers at the forthcoming 2019 presidential poll. Mustapha also thanked the entertainers for their contributions to Buhari’s victory in 2015, imploring them to repeat the feat in 2019.
The entertainers yielded to the pleas, promising to widely mobilise support not only for Buhari but also for other All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates at the forthcoming elections.
Osinbajo Visits Flooded Bayelsa, Rivers, Says Disaster Massive
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday visited some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, describing the current flood scourge in the state as a disaster of great proportions.
The vice President also visited flood victims in Rivers State, where he announced that the federal government was working towards proper resettlement of the victims
Osinbajo, who also jointly flew over some flooded parts of Bayelsa State with Governor Seriake Dickson, to assess the flood situation in the state, sympathised with the victims of the flood, assuring that the federal government would provide succour for them.
On the entourage of the vice president were the Minister of the Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibrin, Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mustapha Maihaja, Senator Magnus Abe and former Governor of the State, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Osinbajo said he was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to come and have an on-the-spot assessment and expressed shock at the level of destruction occasioned by the phenomenon.
“You are obviously going through a lot of stress but despite that, you are still able to smile. On our way here, we overflew some of the communities affected by the flood. We saw so many areas affected by the flood, many homes, farmlands are under water.
“We saw clearly that it is major disaster indeed. We were able to see that there is a major disaster in Bayelsa especially in Yenagoa. We express our sincere condolences to you. It’s a sad development. We are glad we were able to respond as quickly as possible.
“We will support as much as possible the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) which is working hard to ensure that we give as much succour and provision of tents, mattresses, food, mosquito nets and all that are required.
“In the next few weeks, many will be returning home where many have lost their homes, farmlands and livelihoods. We will support Bayelsa state government in the resettlement efforts which is more important.
“In future, we want to be able to prevent this situation. It’s repeating itself in 2018, so steps need to be taken to dredge our rivers, stop dumping of solid waste into our water bodies, clear waterways and build canals, so that there will be no flooding,” he said.
He observed that five women had been delivered of babies in the IDP camps, noting that the Federal Government would render the necessary assistance to them. “I have seen about five women who have given birth. A lot of them would require a lot of care. We are committed to supporting them in whatever way we can. We are here with the NEMA DG to understand firsthand what is required.” He added.
At the St. John’s Catholic Church, Igbogene, where the church took in some 600 displaced victims, Osinbajo reiterated his earlier message of comfort, noting that in the next few days the government will bring more relief to the victims who were initially being taken care of by Very Rev. Joseph Opelema, the Vicar-General of Bomadi Diocese.
In his comments, Dickson wondered why the federal government did not add the state to the first list of flood disaster zones in the country, but admitted that he had been told that it was not deliberate.
He emphasised the need for the Federal Government and donor organisations to collaborate with the state in providing long term solutions to the perennial problem.
He said: “We are dealing with a flood disaster of monumental proportion. Let it be known at the centre that this is the state that is inevitably always most affected because of our peculiar terrain and topography.
“The entire state is below sea level, so once there is any slight increase in water level from the rivers that are all around us, the whole of this state is submerged.”
The Governor said that the state had 13 IDP camps while efforts were being made to establish three others to alleviate the plight of those displaced by the flood.
He lamented the destruction of farmlands and other sources of livelihood and called on the Federal Government to equip NEMA to be able to render the necessary assistance to the victims.
In Rivers State, Osinbajo said the Federal Government was working towards the effective resettlement of victims of the flood that have ravaged parts of the state.
Addressing victims of the flood at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp, Okogbe in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, Osinbajo lamented that the flood caused unimaginable destruction in the Orashi region but said government was poised to ensure the proper resettlement of the victims.
“We over flew the whole of Ahoada West and we saw so much of the damage and disaster. Most homes, most of the villages are under water and it is very clear this is a disaster of enormous proportions,” he lamented.
He said he had to visit the area, with the Minister of Environment and the Director General of NEMA, to assess the damage and to understand the nature and enormity of the disaster so that the Federal Government can react appropriately.
He commended the Rivers State Government and NEMA for their efforts in addressing the needs of the victims but said there was still need for immediate intervention.
He also said government would seek ways of checking the perennial flooding in the areas.
Family Claims Nnamdi Kanu Sighted in Israel
IPOB leader seen praying in Jerusalem, says brother
Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) may have been unraveled, eventually, as his family, yesterday, claimed that he has been seen in Israel.
Kanu’s younger brother, Emmanuel in a phone chat with journalists claimed that a video allegedly posted by one Castro Nkume had been confirmed to be authentic, stating that the deputy director of IPOB, Uche Ejiofor affirmed that the leader of IPOB was indeed captured in the video while praying in Jerusalem.
However, he did not reveal the exact date some pictures of Kanu that have gone viral, were taken and why it took the IPOB leader this long to make a public appearance since September 14, 2017 when he disappeared, following the military invasion of his father’s palace at Isiama Afaraukwu in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State.
Kanu’s whereabouts has become a subject of a court case, as the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kanu was sued for claiming that the IPOB leader was in London. Not only that, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who signed the bail bond for Kanu in his treason trial, was asked by Justice Binta Nyako to produce Kanu or forfeit the N100 million bail bond.
Meanwhile, the people of Afaraukwu Ibeku have demanded the return of their traditional ruler, Eze Israel Kanu and his wife Ugoeze Sally, who equally disappeared the same day their son, Kanu was last seen when troops stormed the palace of Egwukwu II to dislodge IPOB members.
Kanu’s kinsmen, who appeared to be more concerned about the fate of the IPOB leader’s father, have warned against any attempt to politicise the whereabouts of their paramount ruler and the efforts being made to bring him back from wherever he is.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had promised a delegation of Afaraukwu Ibeku community that paid him a courtesy visit last week that he was going to liaise with his fellow Southeast governors to engage the federal government to locate and bring back the missing royal father before December.
But the people of Afaraukwu told journalists yesterday that they were worried that some politicians in Abia were trying to play politics with the governor’s promise to return their traditional ruler to his palace.
The President-general of Afaraukwu Development Union (ADU), Chief Emeka Ezebuiro, who addressed journalists on the outcome of the stakeholders’ meeting of the entire Afaraukwu community, said that the people want their monarch back to his palace.
At the press conference were royal fathers of the component autonomous communities that make up Afaraukwu, namely Eze Eddy Ibeabuchi (Okwu I of Okwulaga) and Eze Phillip Ukaegbu (Enyi I of Enyiukwu), as well as the presidents of the autonomous communities, including Livinus Ogbonna of Okwulaga.
Ezebuiro said that some Abia politicians have manifested high level of insensitivity by trying to score political points through an attack on Ikpeazu for promising to bring back Eze Kanu, adding that it was at the request of the of Afaraukwu delegation that the governor promised to assist in bringing back the missing monarch.
The politicians, he said accused Ikpeazu of colluding with the federal government to launch Operation Python Dance II at the palace, leading to the destruction of lives and property, as well as the disappearance of Eze Kanu, his wife, Sally and son Nnamdi, the IPOB leader.
“We wish to state that our people have never accused Governor Ikpeazu of masterminding the attack on our community as we were privy to the efforts he made to stave off the attack (Operation Python Dance II), as well as his exemplary post-crisis management efforts,” Ezebuiro said.
He added that “it is on record that Governor Ikpeazu resisted sundry pressures to dethrone” the paramount ruler of Afaraukwu Ibeku, noting that the Abia governor had “publicly maintained that the traditional ruler never committed any offence contrary to the laws of the Nigeria.
“We wish to call on politicians and their hirelings to desist from meddling in our matter for cheap political gains. Our people know those who stood with us without making political noise and those who plotted against us in the night and now want to make political profit out of our misfortune,” the Afaraukwu PG stated.