NIGERIA: NEMA Warns Lagosians About Obstruction Of Emergency Responders

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Read Time:2 Minute, 43 Second

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Lagos has warned Lagosians about obstruction of emergency personnel on duty, drawing attention to a fire outbreak in Olodi-Apapa yesterday in which one person was killed and another injured..

In a statement in Lagos, Ibrahim Farinloye, NEMA’s Information Officer for the South West, regretted that danger to the life of emergency workers in Lagos is rising.

He drew attention to the attack on firemen against at the scene where Area Boys obstructed the efforts of the firemen and struggled to collect their equipment from them.

“This is making the third assault on the men of fire service [within three weeks] – at Ketu plank market, a fireman was critically wounded and was admitted, similarly, at the Alade Market, the street boys destroyed the firefighting instrument while trying to take over the fire fighting from the Firemen.”

Farinloye said that the refusal of Lagosians to allow emergency workers free access to disaster scenes for prompt response is getting complicated and the problem of crowd milling around disaster scenes is making intervention difficult and uncontrollable.

The spokesman added that “public and private motorists” compound emergency efforts by ignoring the sirens of emergency vehicles and obstructing the movement of emergency responders.

“It is pertinent to state that emergency workers are human beings who have families and will be mindful of their safety as they are struggling to save others’ lives,” he said.  “Therefore, threatening their safety will highly jeopardize their eagerness to respond to disaster in future if there is attitudinal change (sic) by the Nigerians.”

Statement by NEMA Spokesman:

Fire disaster occurrence  on sunday night at about 7:30 p.m at Agbe Street, Olodi Apapa Lagos has led to the death of one person and injured another . The threats life of emergency workers in Lagos are incresing daily with the attack on Firemen against at the scene yesterday during the intervention. The firemen were trying to fight the fire from the base while the street boys were controlling the firemen to fight the fire the top and the boys struggled to collect the firehose and attacked the professional firemen in the process. This is making the third assault on the men of fire service with 3 weeke – at Ketu plank market, a fireman was critically wounded and was admitted, similarly, at the Alade Market, the street boys destroyed the firefighting instrument while trying to take over the fire fighting from the Firemen.

The refusal of Lagosians to allow emergency workers have free access to disaster scenes for prompt response is getting complicated and the problem of crowd milling around disaster scenes is making intervention difficult and uncontrollable yesterday

Public and private motorists are compounding the situation by ignoring the emergency vehicle sirens and obstructing the movement of emergency responders across the state.

It is pertinent to state that emergency workers are human beings who have families and will be mindful of their safety as they are struggling to save others’ lives. Therefore, threatening their safety will highly jeopardize their eagerness to respond to disaster in future if there is attitudinal change by the Nigerians.

Signed

Ibrahim Farinloye

Information Officer, NEMA, South West, Lagos

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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The Alluring Narrative of Tonye Princewill (Part2)

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Read Time:5 Minute, 9 Second

Apart from the role he played during the first ever musical reality show for orphanages organised by Melody Shelters in collaboration with Adonis Productions, to being a major facilitator of NNENDA, Prince Tonye has nonetheless showed unwavering love to the youth, indigent undergraduates, and rural women among others. For instance, in June 2012, Prince Tonye sponsored ten Nigerian youths from the “Change Nigeria Group (CNG)” on a tour of South Africa and Dubai where the youths met with members of UAE royal family, institutional investors and leaders from far and wide so that they could find for themselves the secrets of their success.

In the educational sector, he has through his brainchild – Princewill Trust Fund sponsored the annual Amachree Scholarship Fund for poor students from the 23 LGA’s in Rivers State and about 150 Rivers indigenes in higher institutions in Nigeria. In furtherance of his acts of charity, he donated 23million naira Skill Acquisition Scheme to LGA’s for the training of rural women in the state by empowering them via skill acquisition programme to uphold the saying “do not give me fish but teach me how to fish”. Relatedly, he facilitated the sponsorship of the likes of Miss Mercy Akudo in Acting, Mr Valentine Ohu in Broadcast Journalism, Stanley Kotey in 3D Graphics, Crystabel Goddy in Acting and Telema Senibo in 3D Graphics to the Del-York Film Academy. Today, these youths are proud owners of multi-million naira equipped studios.

It is therefore imperative at this junction to enumerate some of the commendable deeds of this man to humanity as captured by one Chief Chukwueme Eze a media consultant based in Port Harcourt.

– Assisted his alma-mata UNIPORT Alumni when he donated the sum of N5M to the Leadership of Engr. Sampson N. Adumu led Exco to aid them in their activities during the launching of the Association in Port Harcourt on July, 2012.

– Sponsored and organized football competitions with some past football stars based in Port Harcourt, female and U-18 Soccer Tournaments in his drive to continue to give succor to our youths.

– Recently intervened and assisted people in Rivers and Bayelsa States that were affected by the damaging floods in the land.

– Has touched hundreds of the lives of the widows in Rivers State through his “New Life For the Widows in Rivers State”

– He followed it up with the premiering of the International award winning “The Figurine” anchored by the famous Kunle Afolayan in 11thOctober, 2009 at the Silver Bird Cinemas, Port Harcourt. This movie was the second Nigerian movie to hit box office status after Stephanie Okereke’s ‘Through the Glass’.

– The Prince premiered Kajola the most expensive film ever produced in Nigeria at the silver bird cinema Abuja on 3oth july, 2010 with a whooping production cost of One Hundred and thirty Million Naira (N130M) The plot of the movie set in Nigeria 2059, which is expected to appeal to all Nigerians in the sense that it explores the implications of the continuous neglect of the poor and the widening gulf between the rich and poor and the ensuing catastrophic outcomes stemming from such neglect.
– He is currently sponsoring the production of the first movie in Nigeria on celluoid Camera titled “76” hinged and anchored on the coup of 1976 in Nigeria aimed at recreating history for the incoming generation and preserving a remarkable part of the history of our nation. The post production is on-going in Germany. The second is Valor, a movie that deals with the Niger Delta and Boko Haram issues and is also at post production stage.

– The RIVMAP which is the brainchild of Prince Tonye Princewill to serve as a platform for the emancipation of our youths from poverty and hopelessness by discovering, nurturing and grooming talent in the arts to stardom had during its inaugural outing that cost him the sum of N20M had Mr. Timi Julius carting away the N5M Record Deal in Music with the Dancing group of the Thrillers winning the N2M Prize in the Dancing Group and Mr. Jacob John a Welder/Fabricator based in Port Harcourt from Akwa Ibom winning the N1M meant for the Comedy group.

Away from the above, Prince Tonye played a praise-worthy part in the resolution of the Buguma crisis that engulfed the ancient city. For him, it was the Buguma crisis that made him get involved in Rivers State politics. He was a member of the Niger Delta Committee who drew up the Niger Delta Technical Committee Report during the heydays of militancy in the Niger/Delta region, before amnesty was granted the freedom fighters but nothing much was done about it on the part of the FG by way of implementing it (the report) to the last letter. At the time he held sway as the sub-Committee Chairman of the Niger Delta Subcommittee on Vision 2020 set up by the late President, Umar Yar’Ardua, Princewill did what most present crop of politicians would not have done by resigning his position – Sub-committee Chair of the Niger Delta Subcommittee as a result of the bombardment of Guaramatu Kingdom by Federal Government forces to demonstrate his protest.

As a thoughtful democrat, Prince Tonye has billboards located at strategic points in Port Harcourt with different soul-searching and thought provoking inscriptions which include; “Have a forgiving spirit …. We all make mistakes, that’s why pencils have erasers”, “remember the youths because the young shall grow”, “remember the elderly because you too will grow old”, “you are blessed to bless others”, “free food dey run bele, work for your money”, “if you truly believe, the unbelievable becomes not only possible but popular” etc.

From the foregoing, it is clear that this humane business mogul cum politician has lived up to some of the inscriptions captured in his billboards even though he does not hold any political post. Keep up the good work you are doing.

Nwaorgu Faustinus wrote in via ngorokpalaresearcher@gmail.com

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Rivers 2015 Poll: CABRA moors, zones its gubernatorial candidate to Kalabari

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Read Time:1 Minute, 45 Second

Despite the intractable political tussle between Gov. Amaechi and the President – Mr Jonathan, old and new seasoned politicians in Rivers State have assembled in Port Harcourt to form a new political movement called Committee to Advance the Better Rivers Agenda (Cabra) that cut across political divides and tribal inclinations which is described in some sections as the antidote to the emergence of the new Rivers State of their dream, where every indigene and resident of Rivers State will be a stakeholder.
 
The Leadership and members of the Committee to Advance the Better Rivers Agenda (CABRA) stated in a press statement signed by its Interim Secretary, Hon. Loveday Kpandei that they are on a rescue mission to build a vibrant, egalitarian Rivers State based on some of the legacies of the past administrations in the State and to reposition her as an emerging power and economic key player in the federation.
 
Hon Loveday Kpandei one time member of the Federal House of Representatives noted that the inaugural meeting of the Movement comprising delegates from the 23 Local Government Areas and the Diaspora was to forge a way forward for the State, adding that the CABRA in the spirit of equity, fairness and Justice has zoned the 2015 gubernatorial candidate to the Riverine Zone of the State particularly to the Kalabari Area, considering fact that the traditional sharing formula of political positions in the state has been between the upland and Riverine since its creation in 1967.
 
CABRA observed that since the inception of the 4th Republic the number one position in the state has been held by the upland; thus Equity, Justice and Fairness demands that the Riverine and particularly the Kalabari Extraction produce the next Governor in 2015.
 
According to Hon Kpandei, other critical decisions taken during the meeting was the setting up of a three man Central Organising Committee, Contact and Mobilisation Committee, Publicity/Media Committee and Strategic Planning Committee. The Committee Leaders assured the Movement of their commitment and readiness to redefine politics and politicking in the State.

Hon Loveday Kpandei,
Interim Secretary, CABRA,

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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African Business Travel Association Announces Akwaaba Partnership

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Read Time:1 Minute, 36 Second

The African Business Travel Association (ABTA) and Akwaaba Travel Market during the week announced a partnership agreement that will see the organisations working together to host the upcoming 9th  African Travel Market taking place in Lagos, Nigeria from 23 to 25 October 2013.

Akwaaba African Travel Market in its 9th year is the only annual international Travel Fair in West Africa, drawing 7,000 to 10,000 delegates from over 20 countries worldwide.  
This Travel Fair not only boasts a large amount of visitors but also excels in the promotion of the 80+ exhibitors from the region’s leading hotels, airlines, travel agents, tour operators and similar industry suppliers that participate in the event.

“We are delighted to have formed this partnership and to have been named as the Exclusive Education Partner for the upcoming Akwaaba African Travel Market,” said ABTA Founder Monique Swart.  “Akwaaba has done a fantastic job, working very hard over the last several years in hosting these phenomenal events and we feel very privileged to have been invited by them to assist in hosting the educational sessions that will be taking place during the event.”

Swart continued by saying that the two organisations had many areas of synergy as Akwaaba’s network of business travel executives across Africa is unparalleled, and ABTA’s focus on the education of this sector to advance the African Business Travel industry makes for a natural and mutually beneficial partnership that will positively impact business travel professionals across Africa.

Speaking about the collaborative partnership between the two organisations, Ikechi Uko, Organizer of Akwaaba, said:  “it’s wonderful to get a partner like ABTA with their experience in training and corporate travel empowerment. For us this is a great partnership that promises to make AFTM 2013 a must attend event for professionals in the region and across Africa”.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Lounging At MMIA Lagos

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Read Time:6 Minute, 56 Second

Reduce stress levels and make your travel more enjoyable by using one of the VIP lounges at the international airport in Lagos, writes Demola Ojo

The formalities associated with international travels can be tiring and are sometimes a deterrent for intending travelers who need to get on a plane for business purposes, pleasure or both. Getting through customs and immigration has become even more grueling at present with the rise of terrorism and the threat of it. Throw in a chaotic check-in process and sometimes hours on a queue to get to the departure hall on the airport’s airside, like at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos, and you have an ideal recipe for exhaustion.

Remember, there is still a boring and sometimes uncomfortable waiting period at the departure hall in preparation for boarding, and what you get is a back seat if you’re lucky while you also spend valuable time searching for a charging port for the multiple electronic devices most of us are dependent on nowadays.

Considering that travelling should be enjoyed (some people list travelling as a hobby) you sometimes wonder why you have to go through all the hassle just because you’re not flying premium. Yes, the experience is markedly different for those who have stumped up the significantly extra cash or are lucky enough to belong to an organization that foots the bill to fly First or Business class.

{gallery}stories/galleries/Lagos-Lounge{/gallery}

For starters, airlines speed up the check-in and immigration processes for their premium passengers. Then there are the lounges. A VIP airport lounge changes the travelling experience completely.  Rather than uncomfortable hard back seats in a stuffy departure hall, you get luxurious sofas and a lot more.

Oasis Lounge
An example is the Oasis Lounge at the MMIA. The closest of the lounges to the “E” departure gate, this lounge is open from 11 am to 11 pm and can seat up to 50 people in an environment that is far removed from the bustle of the hall outside.  With comfortable seats in leather and animal skin to a well-stocked bar, chilling at a lounge watching Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on CNN or Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala being interviewed by Amanpour immediately blots the nerve-racking experience of having to remove and put belts and shoes back on.

The lounge caters exclusively to Virgin Atlantic’s Upper class and Gold level passengers on its frequent flyer programme from 6.30 am to 10 am and to Delta Airlines from 5pm till 9pm. At other times though (and sometimes during this period depending on space and your persuasive skills) it is open to other passengers for a fee.

For N6000 0r $40, you get a meal from the menu – ranging from chicken wraps and fries to spaghetti and meatballs (a personal favourite) – as many bottles of water or soft drinks you can consume, and six shots of liquor or 3 cans of your favourite beer. There’s also free wifi internet and a range of the day’s newspapers. Passengers flying economy on Virgin Atlantic have it better as 4000 or $30 grants access. However, if you are a Priority Pass or Airport Angel card holder, access is free.

 Gabfol Lounge
Another lounge you can take advantage of is the extensive Gabfol Lounge, which has a two-tier setup. There is the restaurant-like setting with basic chairs and tables. Access is free, though one would need to buy a meal or a drink at least. Meals average 3000 and with it come free internet access and the opportunity to chill in a somewhat comfy environment before your flight.

There’s a VIP Lounge too, where premium class passengers of United Airlines and Arik get to relax. Here the glass doors slide open after the doorman inputs a code into the lock, thus heightening the exclusive feel. There are more comfortable chocolate-coloured sofas to recline on and you could actually take a nap on one of them, depending on the number of people around.

For the walk-in passenger, Priority Pass and Airport Angel cards also allow access, as does a fee of N8,250 or $50. Gabfol comes with an extensive view of the tarmac if this catches your fancy. You could also take a quick bath for free in one of the dedicated showers if you feel the need to.

 ASL and SDC
Also on the first floor of the departure lounge (airside) is the ASL lounge. The lounge is themed in a racy red and white motif and is the dedicated lounge for premium passengers of a host of airlines, which include Emirates, Qatar, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa and more.

The expansive lounge has two sections; smoking and non-smoking. Expectedly, all the perks including food, drinks and free wi-fi internet are available. Access via Priority Pass and Airport Angel too. And for a non-premium passenger without any of these cards, N8000 or $50 would suffice. On the ground floor, the SDC Lounge replicates these benefits but for N6000.

Dedicated Airline Lounges
A few of the lounges at MMIA are strictly for particular airlines and in some cases, their alliance partners. The British Airways lounge and the South African Airways lounge fall under this category. The SAA lounge at Gabfol is open from 5:30 pm and grants access to First and Business class passengers as well as Gold card-holders of the Voyager frequent flyer programme. Gold card-holders of other Star Alliance members are also welcome, as long as they are flying with an alliance member.

Apart from the usual benefits of snacks, drinks and internet, other valuable services include being able to update tickets, miles and generally get other associated challenges sorted out from the comfort of the lounge. The BA lounge with a capacity for a hundred people was built to the same international standard as the airline’s other Executive Club lounges at other airports across the world. The lounge operates between 6pm and 10:30pm daily.

Facilities include a bar area offering a range of international and local beverages as well as tea and coffee. It also has a business centre that can hold nine desk tops and the option to print documents.
More airlines are working on their dedicated lounges. The Air France/KLM lounge is being refurbished while insiders at Lufthansa reveal that the airline is working on plans for a lounge along with its fellow star alliance members.

More Lounges
Some organisations also have dedicated lounges for either staff or special costumers. Examples of such include MTN and Diamond Bank. The Diamond Bank Lounge, which is next to the SAA lounge at Gabfol, is restricted to members of Diamond Xclusive – a club of account holders that either earn a gross monthly salary of N1 million or a turnover of 10 million over the previous three months. Access to the lounge gets you free snacks and 20% off food and drinks at the next door Gabfol lounge. The same discount applies for a shower too.

This writer asked why these services don’t come free for such account holders. The response from the hostess? The lounge is all about exclusivity and networking opportunities. Anyone who gains access is aware of the fact that every other occupant is a high-net worth individual to a certain degree. ”So many people have made important contacts here,” explained the hostess who apparently is actually a banker. Apparently, the lounge is also a ploy for the bank to pitch more of its services to this class of customers.

Travel Refreshed
As can be gleaned from the pieces of information presented above, you don’t have to fly premium or earn a million naira a month to minimise the hassle of travel via MMIA. Rather, planning your trip in such a way that there’s ample time between passing through immigration and boarding the plane would go a long way in helping you refresh, as long as you can make use of one of the VIP lounges at the airport for a nominal fee.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NEXIM Bank and Nigeria’s Manufacturing Sector

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Read Time:5 Minute, 36 Second

Before the discovery of oil in Nigeria, her manufacturing industry was flourishing robustly. Areas such as cocoa, rubber, and agriculture were the mainstay of the nation’s economy. However these sectors went into comatose following the discovery of oil in commercial quantities. Since then, Nigeria’s economy has been anchored on the oil sector.

But the dangers such sole dependence portends might have informed President Goodluck Jonathan’s tremendous commitments to diversifying the nation’s economy. The prospects of his efforts have given hope that sooner than later, Nigeria’s non-oil sector will take the centre stage.

It is against this background that the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, established by Act 38 of 1991 as an export credit agency to promote diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepen the external sector through the provision of credit facilities in both local and foreign currencies, risk bearing facilities, business development and financial advisory services and trade and market information services, has initiated a working blueprint, spanning from 2010 to 2015, to propel the non-oil sectors of Nigeria’s economy to a grand-level.

The bank’s key areas of concentration are manufacturing, agriculture, solid minerals and services. The goal is to become the leading export development bank in Africa.

The objectives of developing these non-oil sectors are to have a clear market focus and become a major contributor to non-oil exports, build a world-class institution which imbibes best-in class corporate governance and risk management practices; be a relevant player in the export market and significantly influence government trade policies; build a profitable institution with a robust balance sheet size with a highly skilled and motivated workforce.
The bank has budgeted about N42 billion for the manufacturing sector’s financing requirement, or six per cent of the manufacturing sector’s financing needs, while accounting for at least 3.71 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2015.

Its managing director Roberts Orya said the bank has already approved and issued $32.3 million worth of guarantees to support the nation’s manufacturing, transport and tourism sub-sectors.

Orya also disclosed that NEXIM Bank has identified manufacturing, agriculture, solid minerals and services, as four sectors of the economy to play in, hence its MASS agenda. The MASS agenda is a corporate transformation project of the bank that was launched in April 2010 to revamp the bank and ensure it becomes the leading African export development bank.

Orya said the bank’s plan under the new agenda is to ensure that whatever product to be exported henceforth has some value addition, and not just raw materials, as was the case in the past.
In his words, “We want some kind of value addition, and are committed to deepening the manufacturing sector in the country by providing all necessary assistance to manufacturers.”

With the MASS project, the bank hopes to increase the efficiency and profitability of manufacturing establishments through the funding and acquisition of new technology. It would be recalled with project financing from NEXIM Bank, RIGGS Ventures Plc recently expanded its operations with production capacity increasing from 9 million to 69 million polypropylene sacks per annum, consisting of cement, industrial and agro sacks. This expansion has created over 300 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs.  The company has its major customers in Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Cameroon and Niger Republic and other ECOWAS countries.

Orya said initiatives like RIGGS are very strategic to achieving the bank’s mandate to deepen the manufacturing sector and create more jobs for the Nigerian youths and thereby contribute to boosting non-oil exports.

He said NEXIM’s commitment to handle bourgeoning manufacturing concerns such as RIGGS Ventures to become supranational entities in the ECOWAS and Central African sub-regions by ensuring that their products are made easily exportable to these markets.

NEXIM Bank operates in a synergy with the Central Bank of Nigeria. NEXIM’s strategic plan for the CBN’s trade development includes enhancing the implementation of ECOWAS trade support facility, becoming the national guarantor for the ECOWAS interstate road transit scheme, facilitating the realization of NEXPOTRADE goals of establishing export houses in all ECOWAS countries, and improving the strategic alliances with multilateral agencies, DFIs and export credit agencies.

In the manufacturing sector from 2010 to 2015, NEXIM Bank has maintained an increased efficiency and profitability of manufacturing establishments through the funding of acquisition of new technology, increased access of manufacturers to short and long-term credit, provide 6% (about N42bn) of the manufacturing sector’s financing requirement by 2015, account for 3.71% of the sector’s GDP by 2015 and create about 70,479 jobs through project financing activities.

NEXIM to this end identified four subsectors in the manufacturing initiative. They are food and beverages, wood and wood products, domestic and industrial products (plastic and rubber), and steel and processed alloy. The peculiar features of this subsector are that they are dominated by multi-nationals, depend on imported machinery; and the abundance of local raw materials. It is estimated that in 2008, the potential of this sector’s gross domestic product was 4. 19% with a projected growth rate of 7. 14%. Its financing requirement as at 2011 was N522bn while NEXIM’s proposed intervention stood at N12bn.

No doubt, NEXIM is toeing the line of the continent’s parent body the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) which has in the same vein provided about 55mn euros in loans to three local manufacturing firms for equipment procurement and to expand food processing capabilities. It is the bank’s initiative to move Africa away from being an exporter of raw produce alone.

It is expected that NEXIM bank, just like Afreximbank, will increase direct lending and encourage commercial banks to be involved in lending wherever possible.

The roadmap to NEXIM’s success in this aspect is not easy, although the expectations are high that it will be able to wither the storm to reposition Nigeria’s non-oil sector for the better.

However, it needs to have a research-based body to identify core areas across the federation with their comparative manufacturing strength, and encourage them respectively through manpower and funds to enable them to develop their respective manufacturing prowess. Again the bank should also ensure that these products are valued well through sound marketing strategies. By so doing, the oil sector will not constitute the core of Nigeria’s economy; above all the prospect of employment, industrialisation and foreign exchange is higher in the non-oil sector.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: The Man behind the TRACON Project

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Read Time:6 Minute, 12 Second

Modesty emits its own peculiar charm. Otherwise, the slight-build man poring over important-looking documents on a conference table in this expansive office could have easily passed for any other staff member of the National Airspace Management Agency. He was sporting a blue-themed print shirt.

Of course, the visitor from THISDAY knew who he was: Elder Mazi Nnamdi Udoh, the managing director/chief executive officer of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, better known by its acronym NAMA.

This man, who holds the traditional title Ugwu Aro, is a scion of a First Republic senator, Senator Henry Nwafor Udoh and his spouse Madam Uzoma Udoh. With his enviable credentials and pedigree much should be expected from him.

Since joining the agency in 1980 – following his graduation from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Zaria – he had not only distinguished himself but also burnished his credentials by obtaining an Air Traffic Safety Electronics Licence at the School of Aviation in Langen, Germany. This is in addition to an MSc in air safety from London’s City University.

His eventual appointment on October 5, 2011 as the NAMA MD/CEO should really have surprised no industry-watcher. For he had prior to this appointment been the executive director for electronic and engineering services, the general manager of project and surveillance, the special adviser on projects monitoring to the Aviation Minister and once the airspace manager of the Ilorin International Airport.

But the name Udoh has become synonymous with the multi-billion naira Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) project, which delivers modern Air Traffic Systems at all Nigerian airports nationwide. On October 18 2010, while he was still the NAMA’s acting managing director, he was praised by President Goodluck Jonathan for his enviable record in the industry during the commissioning of the TRACON. TRACON, since its launch in Abuja, has tremendously improved the quality of air traffic services in Nigeria’s airspace and has since recorded more over flyers.

The project also earned the endorsement of the Senate Committee on Aviation, which was on a tour of airport facilities and project. The committee had indeed lauded the project as the most modern system for airspace surveillance.

Even with the arrow darts of criticisms trailing the project in the form of petitions, the committee’s chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma had acknowledged that TRACON “is a project that has been justified.” The senator, however, scored the management of the project low “in terms of public perception”.  TRACON, according to Uzodinma, currently remains the most sophisticated system in the world.

A maintenance arrangement has been sealed with Thales ATM of France for multi-million naira project. This agreement, which involves the training of the NAMA officials and unlimited repairs, would last for five years. Also under this agreement, Thales ATM has trained over 100 agency officials on the use of TRACON and would be training 12 of its engineers every year.

The TRACON project, which as its name implies guarantees a total coverage of the country’s airspace, comprises four Primary Radar and five Secondary Radar Heads. These are co-located in Nnamdi Azikwe, Murtala Muhammad, Malam Aminu Kano and Port Harcourt International airports. There are also five relay stations which serve as standalone Secondary Surveillance Radar located at Talata Mafara, Maiduguri, Numan, Obubra and Ilorin.

President Jonathan has hailed the commissioning of the project as another stride of his administration’s endeavour to “overhaul the aviation system from its past state of disrepair to conform to international standard.”
The president continued: “Coming on the heels of the country’s attainment of the USA International Category 1 Safety Assessment Certificate, the feat today is an attestation of the country’s unwavering commitment in ensuring a safer, more secured and more efficient and reliable flight operations.”

It seemed to be one of those favourable twists of fate that the TRACON project had come at a time Nigeria had chalked up a category 1 status award by the international aviation community.  He also saw it as a befitting gift for the country’s 50th anniversary.

Back in his office at the NAMA Headquarters, Udoh told his visitor from THISDAY that the project is more than just about total radar coverage. Among its other benefits is flexible route system, which enables a pilot flying from Lagos to London to independently choose the route he wants to fly from. “Following the route selection, the pilot would then input all essential flight data (such as the aircraft type, speed, altitude, ETD) into the onboard computer and inform the air traffic controller (ATC),” explains the NAMA official brochure. “The ATC would then open the airway for the flight, communicating with it only when it is necessary.”

There are also the integrated aircraft billing systems and spares, voice communication systems, display consoles, voice recording systems, very high frequency transceivers, voice recording systems and fibre optics.There are also both primary and secondary radars at the international airports.

In matters of air safety, the project makes Nigeria a force to be reckoned with and the third African country after Egypt and South Africa to attain this status. The project enhances both civil and military surveillance of aircrafts operating within the country’s airspace.  The nine radar projects guarantee a combined coverage of 315 nautical miles.

The agency, according to Udoh, is equipped to handle about 500 aeroplanes and 3oo helicopters daily. Numerous foreign aircrafts overfly the country’s airspace en route other countries.

An increased number of aircrafts in the country’s airspace, he explained, had obliged the agency to take steps towards improving air navigation infrastructure. This includes the total radar and radio coverage of Nigeria and the performance-based navigation, which makes Nigeria the first country in Africa to implement it.

The influx of more foreign airlines into the country’s airspace is, no doubt, a tacit endorsement of its improved safety.  Then, there is also the increasing demand by several airstrips and aerodrome operators for the agency’s assistance in air traffic services.  Udoh dispelled the notion that the Nigerian airspace is unsafe since no airline should embark on any flight without receiving air traffic instructions from the control tower.

The secret to this vote of confidence is the agency’s training culture. The training of its personnel in different areas of traffic management has continued to hold in the US, South Africa and Egypt. According to Udoh, this investment in the training of its personnel has ensured that Nigeria meets the minimum internationally acceptable standards in air traffic services.

During a recent facility tour of the TRACON sites, newspaper editors were able to watch a live coverage of the country’s airspace. Signals were intercepted from moving aircrafts and were relayed to the air traffic controllers for the tracking of the aircrafts.

The 67 million-euro project, whose contract was awarded during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to Thales ATM of France, has helped burnish Nigeria’s sullied profile in international aviation safety. This is after the country’s airspace was blacklisted in 2005. It is understandable therefore that the Jonathan administration is celebrating the fact that the project has re-launched Nigeria into global reckoning.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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FAA Approves Boeing Dreamliner Battery System Design

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Read Time:5 Minute, 53 Second

(Reuters) – Regulators on Friday approved a revamped battery system for Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner, a crucial step in returning the high-tech jet to service after it was grounded in January because the plane's lithium-ion batteries overheated.

The Federal Aviation Administration approval of design changes allows Boeing to immediately begin making repairs to the fleet of 50 planes owned by airlines around the world. Other global regulators must approve Boeing's design for repairs outside the United States, but were expected to act quickly now that FAA had given its blessing, reports Reuters.
The FAA action all but ends a grounding that has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million, halted deliveries and forced some airlines to lease alternative aircraft. Several airlines have said they will seek compensation from Boeing, potentially adding to the plane maker's losses.

The agency also said the jet retained permission to fly up to 180 minutes over remote areas and oceans once U.S. regulators allowed the Dreamliner to return to the skies. There had been talk of scaling back the approved range, known as ETOPS, which would have limited the use of the fuel-efficient jet.
Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said the 787's promised benefits "remain fully intact" and reaction in the industry was joyous.

FLYING AGAIN IN DAYS?

We're back in business, baby!" tweeted the Washington Aerospace Partnership, a group of business, labor and local government leaders supportive of Boeing.
"This is a good step forward," United Airlines said in a statement. United is the only U.S. carrier with 787s and plans to add them to its schedule starting May 31. Plans to launch service from Denver to Tokyo Narita are set for June 10, but depend on completing the modifications by then, it added.

In theory, the planes could be carrying passengers again within a week. Boeing said it takes five days to refit each jet and that no regulatory barrier prevents airlines from putting planes into service after the work is finished. In practice, however, airlines typically perform "check flights" before carrying passengers, Mike Sinnett, chief 787 program engineer, told a news conference Friday.
With 10 teams already in place around the world and Friday's approval to begin work, installation could move quickly and then "it's up to the airlines" when they begin using the plane, Sinnett said.

The FAA said it will issue an "airworthiness directive" next week that formally lifts the U.S. ban on passenger flights.
Earlier Friday in Tokyo, Japan's Transport Minister said the 787 review was very near completion, but it was unclear how quickly the plane could resume passenger service there. Nearly half of the planes in service are owned by Japanese carriers.
Mark Rosenker, who headed the National Transportation Safety Board under President George W. Bush, said the FAA clearly believed that Boeing's proposed changes would avert further problems.
"It should give the flying public a sense of safety and reliance and well-being," said Rosenker. He said he expected airlines to resume flying the planes in May.

COSTS STILL UNCLEAR

Much of the design change in the battery system already is well-known, thanks to Boeing's detailed descriptions of the system to customers, legislators and media.
Before the planes can fly, they must be fitted with a "containment and venting" system for both lithium-ion batteries on the 787, the FAA said. That includes a stainless-steel enclosure to prevent heat, fumes or fire from spreading if a battery overheats in flight. Batteries and battery chargers must also be replaced with different components, the FAA said.

Boeing also will install the new system on planes produced since the grounding that were barred from being delivered. "They're running out of space on the tarmac," outside the factory near Seattle, said Congressman Rick Larsen, a Washington Democrat who has the factory in his district. He said Boeing expects it will take five or six months to clear that backlog.
He said he did not have a problem with the FAA approving the fix before the NTSB holds a hearing on it next week, since accident investigations often take longer than regulatory action. "There's a lot more we need to learn about lithium-ion batteries and technology," he said.

Sinnett said Boeing still expected to deliver all of the Dreamliners it had planned this year. The company has been conducting flight tests of the new planes so they can be delivered quickly when the new systems are installed.
But costs remain unclear. Boeing has not put a dollar figure on the battery crisis, but some analysts estimate it cost $50 million a week. Others said that seemed high.

Richard Aboulafia, aviation analyst at Teal Group, said Boeing also faced claims from airlines for the grounding, which would compound the much-higher-than-expected cost of launching the new aircraft. Boeing had expected to spend about $4 to $5 billion on the new composite plane, but the cost was now closer to $20 billion, he said.

"This has just been another increment of pain on top of a whole lot of other pain," Aboulafia said.
Nevertheless, Boeing's stock rose 2.1 percent Friday to $87.96, and has gained 18.3 percent since the 787 was grounded on January 16.
In approving the change, the FAA is indicating that it believes Boeing's fix is adequate to address the risk of fire on the plane. However, the NTSB continues to investigate what caused a battery to catch fire on a Japan Airlines plane that was parked at the airport in Boston. A second battery overheated during an All Nippon Airways flight in Japan a few days later, prompting regulators to ground the Dreamliner.

The NTSB, the top U.S. transportation investigator, is still investigating what caused the Boston fire. Boeing has said its redesign addresses more than 80 potential causes, and therefore is more rigorous than if a single cause had been found.
The NTSB said Friday it would call officials from the FAA and Boeing, including Sinnett, to testify, along with people from Thales SA of France, which makes the battery system, and GS Yuasa Corp of Japan, which makes the battery.

Asked Friday why Boeing trusted engineering assumptions that were proved wrong by events, and why Boeing or the public should trust them now, Sinnett said the company had learned to be more conservative in testing batteries, and applied that to the new system. He said the NTSB hearings next week would look into the question of whether the original system should have been safer.
As for other "unknown unknowns" that may lurk in the plane, he said, "There will be some significant special attention given to this and what we have learned from it."

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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John Edozien: Committees, Task Forces Not Alternatives to Civil Service

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Read Time:12 Minute, 19 Second

John Edozien as Federal Permanent Secretary served in many government agencies and ministries. He was also deputy governor of the old Bendel State and later Delta State. In private sector, he became the Group Managing Director/CEO of Afribank Nigeria Plc as well as Chairman of Afribank International Ltd (Merchant Bankers) from 1993 to 1999.  He also served as the Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 2005 to 2008. He is now on the board of a number of companies. In this interview with Festus Akanbi, he regrets the poor perception of the Civil Service, which he said is being relegated to the background by the harvests of committees and taskforces set up at huge costs to handle certain government’s responsibilities and tasks…

In spite of a harvest of civil service reforms in Nigeria, why has it been difficult to raise the standard in the civil service to meet the reality of our nationhood?

Successive governments have tried to introduce some reforms in the civil service and some of those efforts fell short of what was needed. Others were quite useful in solving some of the problems identified especially specific problems that were supposed to be addressed. I believe everything revolves around the perceived role of the service and this has been with us for a long time. I always refer to the service as the engine room of government and you can imagine what happens to your car when the engine knocks! You get stranded. So the civil service as the machinery that is available to government for the articulation and implementation of its programmes needs to function at all times at the highest level of effectiveness and efficiency if government is to deliver on its programmes.  I believe part of what has plagued the service and what is yet to be addressed is the issue of the overall role and perception of the civil service relative to other employment cadres and opportunities in the country.

In the past, the civil service was the employment destination of choice for graduates and it is a fact that the vacancies were open only to those who made first class, second class upper and second class lower degrees. However, overtime, the standards got compromised and lowered at the same the standards imposed by the private sector were rising. It was as if, the civil service was going down while the private sector was going up in terms of  employment attractiveness.

Also note worthy was that in the past, the public service was a respected service. Those working in the public sector were convinced that if they worked diligently hard they could make a satisfactory career in the service.  All these changed. Conditions of service at the civil service were getting worse while those of the private sector were getting better. Private sector has since become the employment destination of choice while the public service has become a place where people go when they do not have any other choice. So it has gotten to a point where those who go to civil service are those who do not have other options and if they have options they just go there to mark time until a better employment opportunity comes. I think the whole thing has to be addressed holistically. We have to get the civil service back. It must have respect. There is this habit of demonising the service, giving it a bad name in order to deny it its functions.  For example, with the political class, the civil service is practically groping for relevance. The political class comes with all manner of aides, and they take over career functions.  You have to allow the service to play its own role in governance. If there are some people within the service that are not following performing, there are rules within the service to deal with such people. There are General Orders of Financial Instructions as revised from time to time.  These rules were sufficient in the past to deal with any non-performers in the service and they are still available.

What is your experience?

I rose through the ranks from the entry point after graduation to become a Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service. I was also privileged to play it at the top in the private sector. To tell you how the perception of the civil service and even the position of the permanent secretary has gone down, when you go to a function, nobody recognises the permanent secretary but they will recognise the politicians, the bankers, captains of industry etc. They will introduce the military, the police and other uniformed services but don’t forget that the permanent secretary is the highest career position you can get in the public service and it takes a lifetime to get to that position! When you get it, nobody recognises you, so the service has gone down seriously in terms of public perception, in terms of the performance of those traditional roles for the  government.

What are the roles of taskforces usually set up by government to undertake some roles traditionally assigned to civil service?

You cannot govern by committees and taskforces. There are MDAs working under political heads. For each problem that confronts government, there are MDAs responsible that could deal with such challenges. Take for example the banks, the police etc, it is not usual to inject people from outside those organisations to undertake career functions. In the case of the civil service however it is a no man’s land! Anybody can just come and be thrown into the service to perform career functions. It’s like anybody can do the job. But that is wrong! Working in the civil service is a calling, a deliberate choice of a career. You have to be committed and have the right temperament to go into the service and function properly. So let’s go back and do it right. The civil service is a service with its own norms and ethos. It is not possible to bring people from other services and expect them to conform and gel with the service overnight. It is simply not possible. This is why we now have different loyalties within the service. There is no espirit de corps. People no longer gel. Let people go into the service together at the entry point and grow together, and develop a sense of oneness.

Is this the reason why we have the high level of corruption in the civil service today? There are arguments that the perm secs are the ones telling politicians how to loot the treasury?

I don’t think it is true. One will not however say that there is no corruption in the service. But the service is also a mirror of the society. The service does not exist in a vacuum. People want to see the service get back to its former glory. Any talk about that time, should also talk about the society. You will find out that the society at that time was more disciplined. The society then was not as corrupt as it is today. But while we recognise that there is corruption transmitted from the society, there is the overriding need to deal with serious corruption endemic in the service itself. The service, as an organisation has rules and regulations that should be enough to deal with errant civil servants. Why are those rules no longer being stringently applied? I do not see how civil servants will hold the politicians’ hands and guide them to loot the treasury. I think it is a societal problem and it has to be dealt appropriately. We have the laws, we have the regulations to deal with corruption but this is not being done. In the absence of adequate sanctions for corruption, impunity holds sway! People engage in acts of corruption and say nothing will happen and nothing indeed happens! You know what is going on. How many corruption cases have been successfully concluded?

Why is the problem of bureaucracy becoming endemic in the public service?

There is bureaucracy in every organisation but you can shorten bureaucracy and you can cut it lengthwise! The truth about this is that the function and the work of the service by definition should entail a slower process than decision making in a private company. In the case of the Service you are dealing with a decision that affects a whole country and requires wider consultations that may be time consuming compared to a decision by a private firm on what affects its profitability! So by definition, decision making in the private sector is faster than decision making in the public sector because of the nature of the issues that are being handled. But that is not to defend a situation where issues take unduly long time to be resolved in the civil service. What do you expect when duties traditionally meant for the civil servants are transferred to taskforces and committees who do not have the experience and historical records at their disposal to see how similar situations have been handled previously. The past informs the present and the present conditions the future. What we have consistently done in this country is to ignore the past as if we don’t have a past.  But these things matter. So, these committees and taskforces tend to complicate matters. And you know that there is this saying : “When you do not want to act, set up a Committee”! Perhaps we should rather take the time to develop, train and motivate civil servants who are hired to do the job than to go outside, hire people on a temporary basis at huge cost, give them the responsibility of preparing the task and then hand it over to the same civil servants to implement.

Having operated in both public and private sectors, what will you say is wrong with our youth development programmes?

I joined the service in 1967 and left in the 90s. I think it was in 1989 that the first Ministry of Youths and Sport was created by the Ibrahim Babangida Administration and I was privileged to be the pioneer permanent secretary of that ministry. The whole idea was to look at youth development holistically. There is need to educate the youths; create skills in order to adequately prepare them for paid employment and self-employment. Not everybody is happy to seek paid employment in regular organisations. That is what small businesses are all about. You empower the youth to be able to set up small businesses of their own and become employers of labour rather than seek employment. These are the issues and most importantly, we also need to focus on technical education. Today, as a result of serious neglect of technical education with emphasis on a good certification system, we now have houses built with perpetual artisan problems. These days we have to import people from Togo, Benin and Ghana to do these things. People are establishing universities everywhere but not enough emphasis is being given to technical education and youth development. The reasons for establishing the ministry are not being met and this may partly explain the high incidence of youth delinquency in our country today.
Between 2005 and now, the banking sector has gone through two major reforms, what will you say are the problems with the industry that led to the rot that warranted the two reforms?

It was the absence or breakdown of good corporate governance and inadequate risk management. There might also have been a regulatory failure.  However after the problem in the banking industry, a whole lot of reforms have been put in place. We now have a robust risk management system that has been put in place and if effectively applied will ensure that the problems that led to the banking crisis will not happen in the future. In addition the industry regulators have issued corporate governance codes that effectively guide management and Board behaviour in Banks.

What advise will you give the regulators in the nation’s capital market to improve the market?

Like they say, the capital market is as good as the companies quoted in it. That is the truth about the markets. So what the regulators have to do is basically to effectively carry out the core functions of regulation and market development. Under regulation, you have the issue of investigation, enforcement and compliance. If those issues are very well taken care of, you will be able to achieve a zero tolerance for market infractions. When infractions occur they affect investor confidence. Our market has been on the rebound and will continue to do so as the performance of quoted companies improves and confidence in the market grows. The SEC and the NSE must be prepared to take the hard decisions. They must regulate the market with firmness and keep transactions transparent in order to attract investors. And not only for domestic investors, but more importantly, for foreign portfolio investors and there is a whole lot of them out there. There are huge equity funds all over the place looking for good investment destinations. We cannot therefore afford to encourage anything that will create problems for our market and lead to the diversion of investment inflows to other jurisdictions. So regulation is very important and I hope that SEC will be equal to the task.

How do you see the recent calls for the regulators to compel multinationals to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange?

This is why we talk about market development. I don’t believe in forcing the people. I believe in creating the enabling environment that will motivate people to take actions on their own. That way the action is sustainable. I think we should continue to develop the Nigerian capital market to make it more attractive. When it is sufficiently attractive, I’m sure the listing will come. There are so many Nigerian businesses that are not yet listed. That is another area of challenge. We should encourage them to list. It is even in their best-interest to list.  The idea of force should be viewed with a lot of caution.

What do you think about the 2013 budget now that we have entered into the third quarter of the year?

I like to see a budget anchored on development programmes. When this is done you can relate the budget to a longer term objective. It ties in with the saying, Proper planning prevents poor performance. The budget has been approved and we hope that the budget will be respected and implemented as approved.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Olusegun Obasanjo had a killer squad as president — Former associate

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Read Time:1 Minute, 34 Second

A former associate of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Richard Odusanya, on Saturday alleged that the former chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s Board of Trustees was in charge of a killer squad that was formed under the military regime of late Gen. Sani Abacha.

Odusanya reportedly worked behind the scenes when Obasanjo was in power.

In a live interview, with an online news portal, Sahara Reporters, Odusanya alleged that the former President lodged the killer squad at a State Security Service headquarters, known as ‘Yellow House.’

According to Odusanya, the squad was used for political assassinations and was responsible for the unresolved killings of politicians under Obasanjo’s administration.

He further alleged that Obasanjo knew about the murder of the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, and a South-South politician, Chief Harry Marshall.

Odusanya said, “I believe that a killer squad created during the Abacha regime was kept by Obasanjo and housed at SSS headquarters, known as Yellow House, and was used for political assassinations.”

Explaining Obasanjo’s alleged link with Ige’s death, Odusanya said, “The night Chief Bola Ige was assassinated, a top PDP member confided in me that Obasanjo told him Bola Ige was down.”

Concerning the murder of Marshall, he said, “I also took a gift to Marshall and he was assassinated just a few weeks later.”

Odusanya also alleged that the ex-president benefitted from an account with the defunct Trans-International Bank and that from the funds in the account, Obasanjo, asked him to deliver a Peugeot 607 and the sum of N500,000 to a woman (name withheld).

When contacted for Obasanjo’s comments, his Chief of Staff, Mr. Victor Durodola, said his boss was not available to react to the allegations.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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