Large Passengers Turnout at Air Peace Inaugural Flight to Dubai

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Chinedu Eze

Hundreds of Nigerians paid for tickets to be part of Air Peace inaugural flight to Dubai via Sharja in United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Lagos on Friday.

The passengers said that they wanted to identify with the indigenous carrier, attracted  by affordable fares and the desire to see a Nigerian airline operate international destination to stem the exploitative fares charged by international carriers.

They expressed the hope that if Air Peace continues to provide efficient service, they would continue to patronise the airline, which they described as source of pride to the country.

One of the passengers, Ezekiel Lawal, told THISDAY that he was excited to be travelling to Dubai with a Nigerian carrier and expressed the hope that the  airline would sustain the route, adding that the fare is attractive and affordable.

“We are happy that a Nigerian airline is taking us to Dubai. The fare is very good and with this many people will be patronising the airline. Look at hundreds of people that are travelling with the airline. Many of them are travelling for the first time because they can afford the fare,” Lawal said.

At the formal ceremony to herald the inaugural flight at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport  (MMIA), Lagos, The Chairman/CEO of  Air Peace, Allen Onyema said that the airline’s foray into international operations would help end the short-changing of Nigerians flying to international destinations.

Onyema said he empathised with Nigerian travellers because of the outrageous fares they were made to pay when compared to what other African countries pay for the same hours of flight.

He stated that Nigerians travelling from Lagos to London which is six hours pay more than travellers flying from Johannesburg to London, which is about nine hours.

The airline which commenced its inaugural operations with over 80 per cent load factor said it aims maintain its startup trajectory.

Onyema said the airline’s major objective was to provide efficient and reliable flight service to Nigerians at affordable fares to stem the exploitation of Nigerian travellers.

“Let me tell Nigerians, what you pay to Europe for a  six hours flight, those that fly  nine hours from Jo’ burg do not pay that; it’s time to stop the short-changing,” he said.

The Air Peace boss also said that competitor airlines would soon begin to crash their fares when they hear of and see the attractive offer Air Peace has in store but reminded them that these airlines refused to drop those fares initially until they came in.

“As we speak, our fares are attractive, we have N180,000 to Dubai via Sharjah on Economy, and we have N650,000 for Business Class while our First Class is N850,000 you won’t get a better offer, in fact for First class ok you see fromN2million up. I’m sure some airlines will reduce their fares but this is just to ensnare you again and keep ripping you off.”

“I am sure that Air Peace will start and not close shop after some months , I have no doubt this will succeed,” he said.

Also speaking, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Saibu Zackari  pledged government’s support to Air Peace, stating that government supports all Nigerian airlines and will support Air Peace.

The Permanent Secretary represented by the Director Air Traffic Management, Azssan Musa  also hinted that government has helped with its special window for making foreign exchange available as well as aircraft spare.

Senator T.A.Orji Denies Collecting Pensions from Abia Govt

Charles Ajunwa

Senator Theodore Ahamefula Orji, representing Abia Central senatorial district at the National Assembly, has denied collecting pensions from Abia State Government.

In a statement by his Media Adviser and Legislative Aide, Eddie Onuzuruike, Senator Orji who was Abia State governor from 2007 to 2015, said the publication, not THISDAY where the name of Orji was mentioned among former governors still collecting double pay as pensions was “aimed at hoodwinking the public and defaming Senator T. A. Orji, Senator representing the Abia Central Senatorial District.

The statement further said: “The said publication quoted the Deputy Director of SERAP, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare where he was urging the former governors now senators including Senator T. A. Orji to return the double pay received by them as pensions.

“This issue was raised some time ago by a national daily and the office of Senator Orji through a press release took time to disclaim this allegation stating clearly that Senator T. A. Orji is not collecting any pension from Abia State Government. In the said publication, it was clearly stated that Senator Orji reached the apex of the Civil Service cadre as a Permanent Secretary and knows the implications and dire consequences of collecting pension while being remunerated as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“One would have expected that an International NGO that once won the Wole Soyinka award with immense sources of information available to it, would have crosschecked their facts before publishing such defaming information. We by this medium are calling on SERAP and Kolawole to retract this information on a Nigerian daily and apologise to Senator T. A. Orji before legal action is instituted against them.”

Gombe Pledges Support for NNPC’s Oil Search in Gongola Basin

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The Gombe State Government has declared its determination to support the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on its efforts towards increasing the nation’s hydrocarbon resource base through the on-going oil search activities in the Benue Trough.

A statement made available to the press yesterday in Abuja by the spokesman of the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, the Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, made the commitment when he led a delegation of the State Executive on a courtesy visit to the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, on in Abuja.

The governor noted that NNPC under the leadership Dr. Maikanti Baru had made tremendous success, especially in the area of frontier exploration.

He said that contrary to what obtained in some parts of the country where people were hostile to such exploratory activities, all communities in his state were ready to offer assistance to ensure success of the project. that exists between both parties.

“In Gombe State at the moment, the people are determined and willing to give whatever support the NNPC requires in order to attain its objectives”, he said.

In his response, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said that the corporation’s initiative to prospect for oil in the Gongola Basin and other parts was based on the commitment to harness the nation’s abundant natural resources for the growth of the country.

The GMD expressed satisfaction with the level of hospitality offered the corporation’s field operation team in the area, adding that such a gesture was required for meaningful development in the oil and gas sector.

He assured that NNPC would continue to live up to its mandate as it was ready to deploy its expertise in searching for oil in every part of the country.

Dr. Baru also disclosed that the prognosis of Kolmani River-II Well was good based on the preliminary evaluation reports, emphasizing that the success in that direction would boost the Federation’s coffers and open up huge business opportunities to Nigerians.

In a separate release, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Abubakar Mohammed Adamu, has described the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, as a thoroughbred professional who would be greatly missed.

IG stated this when Dr. Baru paid him a farewell visit at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, to introduce his successor, Mallam Mele Kyari, to him.

A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, quoted the Inspector General of Police as saying: “We are going to miss your experience, you are so easy to access, you put the interest of the country first throughout your service years, so I congratulate you”.

He pledged to sustain the existing working relationship between the police and NNPC, especially in the area of oil and gas asset security.

Speaking earlier, Dr. Baru expressed his appreciation to the IGP for his support and for the professionalism the police have shown in fighting crime and insecurity in the country.

On the incoming GMD, Dr. Baru told the IGP: “Kyari will improve on my performance. He has been part of my team and I thank God Mr. President has appointed him. I have no doubt about his capacity to deliver”.

He assured the IGP of NNPC’s continued support.

Dickson Accuses NDDC of Diverting Funds for Elections

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson,  yesterday accused the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of channelling monies for developing the Niger Delta into the elections of the ruling political party in the country.

A statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said the governor maintained that the development had hampered the commission’s capacity to actualise its mandate to bring development to oil producing communities.

The governor, he said,  made the comment while receiving the Acting Managing Director of the interventionist agency, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, and a  team from the commission at the Government House, Yenagoa, on yesterday.

The governor said that that the use of NDDC funds for election other than what they were voted for, was unfortunate and should be a thing of concern to leaders of the Zone.

The governor joined the NDDC Acting MD to demand the payment of the N1.9 trillion being owed the commission to enable it to carry out its developmental responsibilities in the oil rich region.

The governor decried the politicisation of the NDDC and called for the immediate constitution  of the NDDC’S Advisory Council towards strengthening the commission’s controls and systems which he noted are presently lacking.

“The NDDC is not a body that should be left on its own in doing all kinds of things at its whims and caprices as it pleases. It is a very serious body. It is a mechanism already designed in the legislation for the involvement of other stakeholders and the most important stakeholders are the governors of the oil producing states.

“We want to see the NDDC fulfilling its maximum potential and it has not been able to do this as a result of the deliberate politicisation of the NDDC.

“The commission contrary to its founding principles, has become some political fund at the whims and caprices of those who control the federal government.

“The NDDC funds are channeled for elections, into all kinds of activities other the main reason for which it was set up. That is very unfortunate and that has limited the capacity of the body to impact maximally the challenges of the region which I find very appalling.

But it is something that all stakeholders need to sit down to seriously address. I listened to your call for collaboration for us to get the N1.9 trillion that you have said is owed.

“But as we join hands to ask that all funds owed the NDDC be paid, we should equally join hands to demand for accountability, demand that projects that are conceived are not ones designed for power brokers but projects that really have the capacity to impact on the communities in need of development and so I call for a new approach.

 “I call for the new management and your team to be collaborative when you are designing projects that you want to use scarce resources to fund. Don’t just conveniently sit down and be deciding and designing projects for our region and for state governors, that contracts for water hyacinths are more important than contracts for the construction of lasting infrastructure that will support the complete turn-around for our people” he said.

In his remarks, Prof. Brambaifa expressed the  Commission’s desire to build synergy with the state government to ensure human and infrastructural capital development.

The NDDC Acting Boss had earlier called on the Federal Government to commence payment of the N1.9 trillion being owed the commission by the Federal Government which he said would go a long way in the bid to development the Niger Delta.

FG Disburses N100m, Farm Inputs to Nasarawa Rice Farmers

Igbawase Ukumba in Lafia

The federal government yesterday disbursed over N100 million to 600 members of the United Farmers’ Association Kadarko (UFAK) in Nasarawa State under its anchor borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Similarly, the government also disbursed to the Kadarko farmers farm inputs made up of 1,800 bags of assorted fertilizers, 600bags of 50kgs of rice seedlings and cartons of herbicides for cultivation on a 100 hectares of farm land acquired by the farmers for rice cultivation this year’s cropping season.

Disbursing the incentives to the farmers at Kadarko town in Keana Local Government Area of the state, the North Central zonal manager of Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Ibrahim Alamba, said each of the 600 beneficiaries of the Kadarko farmers association would receive the sum of N179,000.

The BOA North Central zonal manager continued that each of the beneficiaries is to also receive two bags of NPK and one bag of urea assorted fertilizers as well as one bag of 50kgs rice seedlings.

Also speaking, the Lafia area manager of the BOA, Muazu Umar, said disbursement of the incentives was in line with the policy trust of President Muhammadu Buhari on food security.

 According to Umar, the incentives disbursed to  the farmers in the state were a joint exercise between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), and charged the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity provided to them in order to benefit more incentives from the federal government.

 In a welcome address, chairman of the United Farmers’ Association Kadarko, Dennis Utsa, thanked the two federal government’s financial institutions for supporting the association to boost food production in the country.

Utsa, on behalf of members of the farmers’ Association, promised to apply the incentives disbursed by the federal government judiciously in order to attain the objective of the anchor borrowers Programme.

Oredo APC Suspends EDHA Member-elect, Chris Okaeben over Misconduct

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State has suspended the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) member-elect, Hon. Christopher Ewere Okaeben.

Hon. Christopher Ewere Okaeben is among the 12 members-elect, who are yet to be inaugurated.

Reacting, the suspended member elect said those who suspended him lack the powers to do so, adding that he was not bothered.

The suspension of Okaeben which was announced on yesterday at an enlarged meeting of APC members in Oredo Local Government Area of the state, was recommended by a five-man panel set up on July 1, to investigate Okaeben’s misconduct.

According to the Chairman of APC in Oredo LGA, Godwin Alabi, who read the report of the findings to members of the party, “the party followed the provisions of Article 21 of its constitution which stipulates disciplinary actions for erring members.”

Alabi explained that the suspension of Okaeben was as a result of his failure to honour several invitations extended to him to ascertain his grievances against the party.

“Following his utterances, the APC in the council area asked him to apologise but he refused to comply with the party’s directive, rather he threatened the life of the chairman of the party in the council area, Godwin Alabi.”

Alabi thanked the committee members for their objectivity while carrying out their job.

He added that the party has complied with the recommendation of the panel which includes the suspension of Chris Okaeben, who was elected to represent Oredo West Constituency in the state assembly.

The Chairman of Oredo Local Government Area, Hon. Jenkins Osunde, said “the party had taken a decision on Chris Okaeben” and urged that the party’s attention should now be focused on supporting Governor Godwin Obaseki to deliver the dividends of democracy to Edo people.

A member of the party in Oredo Ward 7, Mr. Tony Alile, who moved the suspension motion, said Okaeben violated the party’s rules and was subsequently suspended for his action.

“If he retraces his steps and apologises, the party will treat his apology and take a decision,” he added.

Martins Osakue of Oredo Ward 2, said the suspension was in order, as there was need to put members in check from time to time, assuring that Okaeben could be forgiven if he apologises.

But reacting to the suspension , Okaeben said he was not bothered because those that suspended lacked the powers to do so, describing the action as an act of irresponsibility

He said, “Who are those suspending me? What powers do they have to suspend me?

“Why did it take them a long time to suspend me after the expiration of their 48 hours ultimatum?

Ruga:  S’East Govs Urged to Fund Cattle Rearing, Livestock Production

Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia

The Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) has called on the Southeast governors to mobilise funds and empower indigenous farmers in the region to embark on a large scale rearing of cattle and other livestock.

 The group which represents the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo made the call yesterday in reaction to the raging controversy generated by the Ruga policy which the federal government suspended following public outcry.

In a statement signed by Chukwuemeka Chimerue, special assistant on media to the president general of OYC, Comrade Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, the group reasoned that by encouraging Ndigbo farmers to establish modern ranching the problem of Fulani herdsmen menace would become a thing of the past in the Southeast.

According to the OYC, using the ranching method would yield adequate production of milk and meat to meet the agricultural needs of our people.

“To break the ethnic monopoly of the livestock business since it has grown to become a problem for all, our governors must step in swiftly to grant loans to our local farmers who engage in cattle ranching.

“We must break this monopoly, not only to sanitise and upgrade the livestock business and make it more rewarding, but also to put an end to imperialist, wanton killings and territorial claims,” the OYC said.

It further stated that “the system will definitely improve the quality and safety of the beef and dairy products suitable for export and our local consumption”.

The Ohanaeze Youth Council regretted that after the war the entire Southern half of Nigeria appeared to have given up agriculture as a business meant for the North, citing the neglect of Obudu Cattle ranch which used to produce high quality livestock.

The youths recalled that in the past rearing of livestock was a big business in Igbo land hence the nerd to revive it with modern ranching and adequate funding by state governments.

.”If this is generously carried out, it would encourage more of our people to go into cattle ranching business. It would also create employment for our youths,” the OYC stated.

The youth group also suggested that  cooperatives should be formed by those in livestock business and those interested in it to maximise the benefits.

“If standard ranches are built for our local farmers to rear their cattle and other livestock, then it would be easier to impose and ban open-grazing in our lands which has severally contributed to conflicts, deadly confrontations, killings and destruction of farmlands and valuable properties by Fulani nomadic herders who engage in open grazing of cattle,” the OYC said.

Rotary Club Targets N220m to Vaccinate 10,000 Girls against Cervical Cancer

Uchechukwu Nnaike

Considering the frequency and devastating effect of cervical cancer, the Rotary International, District 9110 has concluded plans to prevent the ailment among girls in Lagos and Ogun States by sponsoring the vaccination of 10,000 girls from 10-14 years, as part of its humanitarian project for the 2019-2020 Rotary Year.

Briefing journalists in Lagos, new District Governor, Dr. Jide Akeredolu, said the club would also sponsor the surgery of children with congenital heart diseases and also reduce extreme poverty among the people of the two states.

He described cervical cancer as the second most common cancer among women, adding that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 40 women are diagnosed everyday, while 26 women die everyday from the disease.

“That translates into one cervical cancer death every 55 minutes. Cervical cancer is unique because it is a cancer that is completely preventable by vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus,” he said.

He however noted that the country had not laid emphasis on the vaccination probably because it is expensive, as it will cost N22,000 per girl and the double shots will be for a life time. So the club will need N220 million for cervical cancer prevention alone.

Thus, Akeredolu said at his installation ceremony on July 6, at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, funds would be raised to enable the club complete the projects, adding that the district under his watch would mobilise funds from volunteers within and outside the Rotary Club.

While stressing the importance of the other projects, he said congenital heart disease has continued to claim the lives of many children, especially those from indigent families that cannot afford the cost of open heart surgery, adding that a significant proportion of funds raised during his tenure would be devoted to addressing the needs of people living in extreme poverty through empowerment programmes, using the existing Rotary Vocational Training Centre in Igbogbo, Ikorodu as a pool from where beneficiaries would be sourced.

These, he said will be in fulfillment of Rotary’s commitment to giving hope to the vulnerable people around the world.

“We hope to achieve a lot through medical missions in driving the congenital heart disease project,” he said, adding that each mission is open for sponsorship for $1,000.

Akeredolu stated that as part of its fund raising initiative, the district has launched a ‘One Million Dollars Challenge’, which gives Rotarians and their friends the opportunity of winning a brand new saloon car and other attractive prizes by donating to the Rotary Foundation, the arm of Rotary which collects and manages voluntary donations from around the world. Districts and clubs across the world access funds of the foundation to implement impactful projects around the world.

Some of the dignitaries expected at the official installation ceremony include Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Dr. Reuben Abati and the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.