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OPEC Cuts Oil Demand Outlook

13 June 2019 - 9:43am


The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) says it has cut its forecast for global oil demand growth and warned of potential further cuts as international trade disputes continue to fester.

OPEC said in its monthly report published on Thursday that world oil demand would rise by 1.14 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, 70,000 bpd less than previously expected.

“Throughout the first half of this year, ongoing global trade tensions have escalated,” OPEC said in the report.

It added that the potential for these disputes to affect global demand poses “significant downside risks”.

OPEC and its allies will meet in the coming weeks to decide whether to maintain supply curbs, with some having become alarmed by a steep slide in prices.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pressed for action to lower prices. Observers see the cut as building a case for prolonged supply restraint over the rest of 2019.

OPEC, Russia and other producers have, since Jan. 1, implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million bpd. They will meet over June 25 and June 26 or in early July to decide whether to extend the pact.

Despite the supply cut, oil has tumbled to $61 a barrel from April’s 2019 peak above $75, pressured by fears over the U.S.-China trade dispute and an economic slowdown.

Vienna-based OPEC also said its output fell in May as U.S. sanctions on Iran boosted the impact of the supply pact.

“Production by all 14 OPEC members dropped by 236,000 bpd to 29.88 million bpd,” OPEC said.

In addition to lowering its demand forecast, OPEC said that oil inventories in developed economies rose in April, suggesting a trend that could raise concern over the possible build-up of an oil glut.

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Insecurity: We Need Firearms For Self-Defence, Nigerian Lawyer Tells Court

13 June 2019 - 9:40am


Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Thursday, fixed September 30 for hearing in an application restraining the presidency from revoking firearm licences of Nigerians.

The motion for the interlocutory injunction was filed by the Board of Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Foundation.

On May 22, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law with executive powers to remove, revoke, and banish all firearm or shotgun certificate or licence in Nigeria.

This executive order started June 1.

Justice Okukwu said after careful consideration of the averments of the plaintiff said she found them to be weighty and in relation to the public interest.

She, therefore, said the defendant should be put on notice in order to show cause, why the relief sought by the plaintiff should not be entertained.

Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, a constitutional lawyer and the plaintiff, in his adumbration, told the court that the Nigerian constitution provided for the inalienable right for self-defence.

The lawyer said Nigerians with a firearm licences were responsible citizens who are law-abiding and the revocation of their licences will automatically violate their right to self-defence.

He further said the withdrawal of firearms from responsible citizens shall leave them vulnerable to incessant attacks from foreign elements purportedly assailing the country.

Omirhobo maintained that though the firearms act has given the president the power to withdraw licences, the constitution has also given individuals the right to life and self-defence.

He asked what will happen to self-defence in a situation where there were not enough police with guns and guns are withdrawn, arguing that it is dangerous for the executive to revoke the firearm licences, considering the reality of the security situation in the country.

The lawyer moved the motion after telling the court that the motion was supported by 73 paragraph affidavit with nine exhibits.

“We have a certificate of compliance dated May 24 and a written address in support of the application and wish to adopt the averments alongside the exhibits,’’ he said.

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Buhari, Make Ogbonnaya Onu Secretary To Government Of The Federation -Ohanaeze Youth Council

13 June 2019 - 8:49am


The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) from the south-east.

In a statement on Thursday, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, president general of the council, said this will enable equity, fairness in the country.

He alleged that the region had been schemed out of the leadership of the country.

The group nominated Ogbonnaya Onu, former minister of science and technology, for the position of the SGF.

“The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide had watched keenly the manipulated drama and scheme out of the south-east zone from the leadership of national assembly, judiciary and other security apparatus of the country, but rather than lamenting endlessly, We congratulate those who emerged as National assembly leaders,” he said.

“The will of the Almighty God and we the younger generation of Ndigbo accept these realities as an act of fate, and we urge Igbo leaders to shield their battle swords and quietly go into “ime Obi” and re-strategize ahead of time for the battle Royal ahead in 2023.

“We should borrow a leaf from the south-west who were in similar situations between 2007 till 2015 before they bounced back in the present moment with President Buhari.

“We urge that equity should be balanced in the zoning of SGF to South-east, and We unanimously nominate the leader who was part and parcel of that merger and the leader of defunct ANPP, His Excellency Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu to be considered as the next SGF, for equity, fairness and natural justice and for Southeast not to be completely shut off from the Executive Council.

“We have implicit confidence that Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has a wonderful enigmatic personality to assist President Buhari to drive the next level agenda. We appeal to the Presidency to allow South-east to replace Northeast in the position of SGF since Northeast now is having the position of Senate President.”

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Igbo Presidency Doesn't Exist, Says Okorocha

13 June 2019 - 8:42am


Rochas Okorocha, Senator representing Imo West has called on people from the South-East region of Nigeria to abandon hopes of clinching Nigeria's top job in the future.

He made the call while speaking to newsmen shortly after he was sworn in as a Senator on Thursday in Abuja.

Okorocha said the rotation of power will not get to the South-east because, “Power is not given, power is taken."

He said, “The South East cannot just fold their arms and expect power to be given to them just because you want power. Power does not go with sentiment some of the times, it’s on issues on the ground.

“Democracy is about the people and the South East alone cannot make themselves president. So you cannot be talking about Igbo presidency, it doesn’t exist. We may be talking about Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction but that depends on what other geopolitical zones think about the issue.

“For me, what is important is let power be given to somebody who has something 'upstairs' who can put food on the table of common man, irrespective of religion or where you come from.

He noted that the South East needs to mend fences across the country in other to remain relevant politically.

Okorocha added: “There is a need for the Igbo to mend fences. We are neither here nor there politically. We are not in the ruling party or are we making an impact on the opposition. So, there is a need for us to get married to the rest of the nation politically.

“I am here to do things dear to my heart. One of them is: the bridge connecting the south-east to other ethnic groups seems to be very faulty, resulting from the politics we have played in the south-east. It will be my pleasure to reconnect this bridge so that the south-east people will move along at the same pace with other geopolitical zones.

“My second mission (at) the National Assembly is to see the possibility of making free education a reality so that the children of the poor can go to school. If I achieve these, I will be glad that I did, as a member of the senate.

“The third one is, I am concerned about the killings and destruction of lives in the northern part of this country. Whatever we can do on the floor of the Senate, we will to have the executive curb this insurgency. I will be here and happy to work with my colleagues.”

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Dear Obasanjo, You're Disillusioned. That's Fine. But, Stop Being A Bigot By Churchill Okonkwo

13 June 2019 - 8:18am


My dear Obasanjo, I understand that the day the results of the 2019 Presidential elections became clear will remain the worst day in your life. I was told that as the minutes’ tick-tocked to hours and then, days, your heart temporarily stopped beating when you realized that President Buhari has been re-elected. Immediately, you fell into a state of paralysis. 

Tears fell from your eyes. Maybe it was all a bad dream, you initially thought. But you awoke the next day to the realization that it wasn’t a bad dream. Deep sadness and anxiety set in. You did hit the bar right after breakfast, searching for ways to understand this profound election heartbreak - which was more acute and gut-wrenching than any event, you, Obasanjo had in your many years in the military and politics.

For years, you, Obasanjo ridiculed Atiku’s intelligence; you characterized him as an incompetent and chronically corrupt politician that should be avoided like a leper. In summary, you, Obasanjo, vomited Atiku.

However, sensing widespread dissatisfaction and dashed hopes in Buhari’s administration, you moved quickly to once more circumvent the will of Nigerians, like you have been doing since 1999, by foisting Atiku on us.

So, you, Obasanjo, re-swallowed your vomit, Atiku, to spite President Buhari. You made what you thought was a game-changer move and appeared side-by-side with your vomit, Atiku, the clergy and Imam. But you were soundly rejected by Nigerians.  

The reason, you, Obasanjo, was hit so hard by the 2019 election outcome was because of something psychologists call the "false consensus effect." You overestimated the extent to which Nigerians share your views. 

And because you were friends with people like you, and read news sources that confirm your worldview, getting hit by a reality of the 2019 elections cut deeply. In every election cycle, regardless of social media rhetoric or propaganda, may electorates will be sucker-punched. 

You, Obasanjo, and those who felt you still have some swagger in Nigerian politics were sucker-punched. Obasanjo, your attempt at foisting Atiku on Nigerians was an attempt at dividing by zero. The result of the 2019 elections proved that Nigerians have refused to keep inhaling the toxic political fume from your fart. 

Literally, you, Obasanjo, felt like someone thrown off a moving train, whipped, dragged and tortured. We refused to inhale your stinking fart. Since the outcome of the 2019 elections, a dull ache surrounds your poor heart. Eyaa. 

Dear Obasanjo, you pretty much had a broken heart since that day. Losing the election hit you so hard that when did recover, that is if you had recovered, you turned yourself into a religious and ethnic bigot.

So, my dear Obasanjo, I clearly understand that you are disillusioned. That’s fine. But, please, stop being a religious and ethnic bigot.

Dear Obasanjo, your recent outburst from Islamization and Flulanization to "Core North" sentiments is a sign of paranoia, born out of the conspiracy to feed your base paranoia, anger, and misinformation. Obasanjo, you are attempting to drive unhinged souls among the Atikulated to turn to violent remedies for imagined threats.

When the black ant bites the buttocks it [the buttocks] learns some sense. Your butt was bitten by the black ant, Buhari. Learn some sense that the big-eyed chief is not necessarily the only-eyed and accept defeat graciously. 

Even when I admit that you, Obasanjo, and every Nigerian for that matter should have a voice in our democracy, demonizing and oppressing a President that defeated your anointed candidate, Atiku, a Fulani from a region you are now characterizing as the “Core North”, is bigotry.  

So, even though you have the right to be disillusioned, please, stop fanning ethnic and religious sentiments. Your views, do not deserve the respect of right-thinking Nigerians, but rather, calls for our strongest condemnation. 

The truth is that (Muslim + Christian) fundamentalists in Nigeria = the dangerously combustible and sinking nation we are all witnessing. 

So, sir, free yourself from an ethnic and religious chokehold and don’t let your bigotry worsen the already charged political atmosphere. 

My final advice to you, Obasanjo, is to remove your monkey's hand from the soup while it has not turned into a human hand. 

You can email Churchill at Churchill.okonkwo@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi

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Forbes: Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes: Messi Edges Out Cristiano Ronaldo

13 June 2019 - 6:24am


Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi is the world's highest paid athlete, earning $127m (£99.8m) in the past 12 months, according to the Forbes top 100 ranking.

Juventus's Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo is second on $109m (£85.6m) with Paris St-Germain's Brazil forward Neymar in third on $105m (£82.5m).

Last year's highest earner, boxer Floyd Mayweather, has dropped off the list.

Serena Williams is the only woman in the top 100, earning $29.2m (£22.9m).

Five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua are the highest earning British athletes, sitting at 13th on $55m (£43.2m).

The American business magazine calculated the athletes' earnings by adding up their prize money, salaries and endorsements between June 2018 and June 2019.

The top 100 includes athletes from 25 countries and their $4bn (£3,1bn) combined earnings are up five percent from the previous year, when Mayweather was first with $285m (£224m).

The American boxer's only fight since August 2017 was an exhibition boxing bout against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in December.

Athletes had to earn a minimum of $25m (£19.6m) to make this year's list.

Messi is only the second footballer to top the rankings after Ronaldo, and only the eighth different athlete to take the number one spot since the rankings began in 1990.

It is also the first time that footballers have ranked as the top three earners in sports.

Messi is one of 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 US stars in the top 100.

The NBA accounted for most athletes with 35, with LA Lakers' LeBron James the sport's highest-paid athlete in eighth on $89m ahead of Golden State Warriors pair Stephen Curry (9th on $79.8m) and Kevin Durant (10th on $65.4m).

Manchester United's Paul Pogba is the highest earning Premier League player in 44th place with $33m (£25.9m).

Top 10

1. Lionel Messi $127m (£99.8m)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo $109m (£85.6m)

3. Neymar $105m (£82.5m)

4. Canelo Alvarez $94m (£73.8m)

5. Roger Federer $93.4m (£73.3)

6. Russell Wilson $89.5m (£70.3m)

7. Aaron Rodgers $89.3m £70.1m)

8. LeBron James $89m (£69.9m)

9. Stephen Curry $79.8m (£62.7m)

10, Kevin Durant $65.4m (£51.3m)

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Dozens Killed In Major Boko Haram Attack On Cameroon Island

13 June 2019 - 6:21am


A weekend assault by suspected Boko Haram fighters in northern Cameroon killed dozens of people, including soldiers and civilians, officials have said, in one of the deadliest attacks by the group in the country.

Cameroon's defence ministry said that "more than 300 heavily armed Boko Haram" fighters attacked military positions on Darak, an island near Lake Chad in Cameroon's Far North region some 1,000km from the capital, Yaoundé.

The toll, which has been revised several times since the attack, was put at 24 dead, of which 16 were soldiers and eight civilians. The ministry said 84 fighters were killed and eight taken into custody.

Separately, a military source told the AFP news agency that the fighters had killed at least 37 people. 

"As of today, we have 21 military and 16 civilian fatalities," the source said. Another security source told AFP that about 40 attackers had been captured.

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Crude Prices Rise After Tanker Explosions In Gulf

13 June 2019 - 6:19am


Oil prices have surged after suspected attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the Iranian coast.

A unit of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy said it was aware of the incident on Thursday and the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet has said it was assisting after receiving distress calls.

Iran's navy rescued 44 crew members from the two tankers, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

Thursday's incident included one tanker on fire in the Gulf of Oman and followed sabotage attacks on May 12 on vessels near the Fujairah emirate, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs and located just outside the Strait of Hormuz. 

Brent crude futures were up $2, or 3.3 percent, at $61.97 a barrel by 06:46 GMT. United States' West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up $1.41, or 2.7 percent, at $52.55 a barrel.

Crude prices had fallen to five-month lows before the latest reports.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is part of the UK Royal Navy, said on Thursday that it was aware of an incident in the Gulf of Oman, near the Iranian coast.

"UK and its partners are currently investigating," it said. 

US National Security Adviser John Bolton had said on May 29 that naval mines, "almost certainly from Iran", were used to attack the tankers off the United Arab Emirates last month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations. 

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Atiku Seeks Court Permission To Inspect INEC Server

13 June 2019 - 6:11am


Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Presidential tribunal to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to grant them access to inspect the commission’s saver.

The PDP on Thursday also prayed the tribunal to give it permission to inspect other electronic gadgets used by INEC in Feb. 23 presidential election.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in their petition before the tribunal, the PDP and Atiku are claiming that they won the Feb. 23 presidential election based on results fed into INEC’s server, a claim the electoral umpire has consistently faulted.

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How Diplomatic Blunders Marred June 12, Democracy Day

13 June 2019 - 6:07am




World leaders and the visiting head of governments were on Thursday snubbed by the hosts of Nigeria's June 12 Democracy Day Celebrations, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-president Yemi Osibanjo.

At the lacklustre event, dignitaries and heads of government were made to arrive the venue ahead of President Buhari and VP Osibanjo.

Leaders such as Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Macky Sall of Senegal who arrived early were received by illegally operating service chiefs with expired tenures.

The humiliation was however solidified when APC henchmen such as Buba Marwa (favored by the first lady, Aisha Buhari to become Secretary to the government), Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the state government, APC chieftain Bisi Akande, Bola Ahmed Tinubu among others were offered front seats while Presidents of Niger Republic, Mauritania, and Namibia among others, were seated on back rows seats, alongside personal Aides of the President and Vice President.

The diplomatic blunder did not start on Thursday, June 12.

It started when the Presidential Inauguration Committee despatched invitations through the various national embassies in Abuja before an abrupt decision was taken to withdraw the invitations extended to foreign leaders to attend the Inauguration ceremony. 

A fresh invitation was thereafter despatched, inviting them to attend the June 12 celebrations, an event with no diplomatic significance.

The event was bereft of spectacular displays or meaningful activity which warranted the assembly of world leaders and diplomats was visibly ignored by all former Nigerian head of state including Gen. Yakubu Gowon who was the sole former Nigerian leader to attend the May 29 inauguration.

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Chelsea, Manchester United FC Battle In EPL Open

13 June 2019 - 4:04am


Manchester United have been drawn to battle Chelsea at Old Trafford, in their first match of the 2019/2020 season, after the English Premier League (EPL) unveiled the fixtures.

United finished sixth last season, while Chelsea ended up in third place.

Other fixtures will see Liverpool host newcomers Norwich, Aston Villa travel to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United welcome Arsenal.

Champions Manchester City begin defence of their title at West Ham.

The new EPL season kicks off August 8, 2019.

All the opening day fixtures:
Liverpool vs Norwich
Tottenham vs Aston Villa
West Ham vs Manchester City
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Newcastle vs Arsenal
Bournemouth vs Sheffield United
Burnley vs Southampton
Leicester City vs Wolves
Watford vs Brighton
Crystal Palace vs Everton

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Adesua Etomi-Wellington Shines In Action Film, ‘Muna'

13 June 2019 - 4:03am


Superstar actress, Adesua Etomi-Wellington displayed excellent martial arts skills in the intense trailer for new film, ‘Muna’.

‘Muna’ is a Nollywood-Hollywood action crossover, which stars Adesua as the titular lead and wasdirected by Kevin Nwankwor.

The film, written by Unoma Nwankwor, centered around human trafficking and follows Muna, who finds love after being trafficked to Europe and has come of age.

She learned new skills to help confront the human trafficking ring that has various individuals from different races across the world.

‘Muna’ is the story of a spirited girl raised by her grandmother; the last surviving member of their family.

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Man Rapes 11-year-old Deaf And Dumb

13 June 2019 - 3:55am


Premium Times

Police in Anambra have arrested a 28-year-old man for allegedly defiling an 11- year- old deaf and dumb girl.

The suspect, Ifeanyi Alagba, was nabbed by police detectives attached to ‘B’ division Awka during the democracy day celebration.

The incident, according to the Police public relation’s officer PPRO, Mr Mohammed Haruna, took place at Amoko road, ifite Awka.

It was contained in a statement on Thursday in Awka by the Command made available to reporters.

Haruna said the victim had been taken to the hospital for proper medical examination, while investigations were ongoing.

The command said: “Suspect allegedly had unlawful carnal knowledge with an eleven-year-old deaf and dumb girl of same address on the 9/6/2019 while the victim mother was away.

“Meanwhile, the scene was visited by police detectives and victim was taken to the hospital for medical examination. The case is under investigation.”

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8 Die In Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Multiple-vehicle Collision

13 June 2019 - 3:52am


No fewer than eight persons died while 12 others sustained injuries on Wednesday in multiple accidents involving seven vehicles around Danco filling station on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Mr Clement Oladele, the Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun,  confirmed the crash.

Oladele confirmed that the accident, which occurred around 7:56 p.m. on Wednesday on the expressway, involved a Toyota bus marked LSR 560 XJ, Mazda bus marked XD 792 EZA, Toyota Sienna marked ABC 512 ZV and Toyota Camry marked APP 196 RQ.

Other vehicles are an Iveco tanker with registration number DED 776 XA, Daf tanker marked APP 248 XT and Daf container with registration number LND 04 XX.

The FRSC boss explained that the accident was caused by excessive speeding, reckless driving and loss of control on the part of one of the vehicles which led to a container fallen off from its hook on two buses.

“From investigations, it was learnt that the unfortunate fatal crash was caused by speeding, reckless driving and loss of control on the part of one of the vehicles which led to a container fallen off from its hook on two buses.

“Other vehicles rammed into each other in the process, in an attempt to escape from the scene.

“The accident involved 43 persons; 12 persons which included five female and seven male were injured while eight persons which included one female, six male and a child died in the accident,” he said.

He noted that the injured victims were taken to Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu and Fambis Hospital, Mowe.

Oladele said that the corpses of the deceased were deposited at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) mortuary, Sagamu.

He advised motorists to note that the entire stretch of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is still undergoing rehabilitation.

He also cautioned them to observe the maximum speed of 50km per hour in compliance with the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2004.

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JUST IN: Senate President Lawan Swears In Okorocha

13 June 2019 - 3:36am


Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, has sworn in Rochas Okorocha, as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Clerk to the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, conducted the swearing-in after which Okorocha signed necessary documents.

Okorocha was not inaugurated on Tuesday he was denied his certificate by the Independent National Electoral Commission for harassing the Commission's returning officer.

A Federal High Court, however, mandated INEC to issue to the certificate of return.

The former governor will represent the Imo West Senatorial District at the red chamber.

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Amaechi’s Train Ride For $2b Silence By Azu Ishiekwene

13 June 2019 - 2:01am


If it had been news about the former sports minister who had defiantly sat on $150,000 mistakenly paid into the ministry’s account by the IAAF, I might have found it easier to believe.

Never mind Solomon Dalung’s beret and fatigue, his recalcitrance over the miscued money is at odds with his socialist pretensions. The IAAF saga suggests that he likes money and covets it even more when it does not belong to him. Why seize $150,000 in spite of passionate pleas by IAAF for two years that only $20,000 was actually meant to have been transferred?

But Dalung is Dalung, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s many pre-historic discoveries in a cabinet of strange bedfellows. As Dalung stood over the sports ministry’s treasury shortly before departing on May 29, brooding with green eyes while the ministry reluctantly refunded IAAF’s overpayment of $130,000 – one certified dollar at a time – a story was brewing of another minister who, unlike Dalung, swore publicly that he does not like money.

Former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, not only disavowed bribes, he said that he would not even be tempted, much less yield, because he does not like money.

From the news last week, temptation may be at the minister’s door in form of the Lagos-Ibadan railway construction, which reports suggested may have been significantly inflated. Multiple news reports said while the 156-km Lagos-Ibadan railway line is estimated to cost $2b, mostly sourced from loans borrowed from the Chinese, the same Chinese could finance the rehabilitation and construction of Ghana’s 414-km railway line for $2b. 

Different sources estimate that the cost of constructing the Lagos-Ibadan railway should not be the same as the cost to build the one in Ghana – and in fact should be significantly lower – since Nigeria’s is roughly one-third shorter, without any significant differences in gauge-type, power source or terrain.

To be fair, Amaechi’s tenure had expired when the news broke, but his exit cannot justify the silence by him or by the ministry. The remotest suggestion that public funds may have been misspent or that the country may have been cheated by partners who appear determined to drown us in loans, must grieve a minister who does not like money. Neither his nor public fund is good to waste.

Keep in mind that at some stage in this business – long before Ghana thought of revamping its own railway line – Amaechi had invited the Ghanaian Minister for Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, to see what the Chinese were doing with the Lagos-Ibadan railway line, among others. 

It was after the visit that Ghana locked down its own 414-km standard gauge deal with the Chinese, which would also include the building of two terminals in addition to plans to establish local hubs to build locomotive coaches.

How did Ghana get a better deal when Nigeria still does not know how much it has so far borrowed from the Chinese in what now appears to be a rogue’s inventory of loan grab for everything from power to airport renovation and railway construction? 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m familiar with the mantra about non-consumption borrowing; about relatively safe debt-GDP ratio; and about how borrowing is good as long as it can be paid back. 

Clearly, the zeal with which former President Goodluck Jonathan pursued reviving the railways, followed by Buhari, is commendable. And if they had pledged a pound each of 200m Nigerian flesh to borrow to build our railways, we would have gladly obliged them.

But we will not be taken for an expensive 156-km ride and not ask questions when Ghanaians would be paying far less for double the distance. It won’t happen.

After years of broken promises and scandalously missed deadlines, Amaechi had promised the country that the Lagos-Ibadan railway line would be open in May 2019. But just as he was saying that earlier in the year, the Chinese contractors, unknown to him by his own confession, were on board a flight to Beijing and would not return until after the general elections were over.

Not only is the project now past its May delivery date (civil works on the Ibadan-Abeokuta section and also the Lagos-Iju axis have been disrupted by the rains), the project cost has also increased by a sum which Amaechi publicly and defiantly refused to disclose. That is unacceptable. The public has a right to know.

No journalist I know has taken as much interest and pain in highlighting the malicious confusion around this railway line project like the syndicated columnist, Sonala Olumhense. Time and again, he has called out Buhari’s government, and Amaechi in particular, over the handling of the project. 

In an article on October 8, 2017, entitled, “Nigeria’s railway merry-go-round,”, Olumhense narrated how Amaechi told a business forum in Abuja on January 23, 2017, that the government had paid its full counterpart funding of N72billion for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line. 

According to the article, Amaechi added that the payment was required to access a $30billion Chinese government loan, already approved by Beijing and only waiting approval by the National Assembly. 

In March of the same year, Amaechi said again that the Chinese Export-Import Bank (EXIM), was prepared to lend Nigeria $6.1billion to complete all current rail projects in Nigeria – and all, here, meant, Lagos-Ibadan; Lagos-Calabar; Lagos-Kano; Abuja-Kaduna; and the Abuja light rail.

And then one day seven months later, Amaechi said the country may not develop the rail networks, after all, because, “there is no money.”

In Nigeria, the journey from too much money to money missing, and finally, no more money takes only a press statement, which once reported vanishes into a blackhole. Whatever the Ghanaian minister saw during his visit that recommended the Chinese model to him might just have been the idea in principle and a sense of what can be done in his own country. 

If Ghartey ever saw the first page of the contract papers – the billions of dollars sunk in loan by the Chinese and the missed deadlines – he might have thought we were building a snail rail. To quote Olumhense, Nigeria has spent “about $75billion, but nobody is making clear where the investment has gone or is going.” 

But as surely as the Chinese know the cost of every stone on the Great China Wall, they’re keeping record of the loans and would call in every yuan someday. We can enjoy our debtor’s paradise for now, but a country like China that executes its public officers for corruption knows where to draw the line. 

The culture is different here. The Chinese know it, have mastered it, and are quite happy to abet corruption.  Our public officers conduct themselves as if they owe us nothing and we must either endure their arrogance or get lost. That might have been acceptable 21 years ago under military rule, but we’re well past that stage. And citizens must demand account.

Amaechi may no longer be in office – or he may be waiting to return – but he owes the public an explanation about why we may be paying significantly higher for a railway line that is comparatively shorter than what Ghana is getting. 

When the Kenyan government was accused of spending $3.6billion to build the 250km Mombasa-Nairobi railway line, which cost significantly higher per kilometre of track than the Addis Ababa-Djibouti rail line ($3.4billion for 756km), the Kenyan government explained that the Mombasa-Nairobi line would carry more cargo and be powered by diesel. There was, at least, an official account.

It took only five years (2011 – 2016) to complete the Addis-Djibouti line (powered by electricity, which significantly increased the cost); and six to complete the Mombasa-Nairobi line. Both services have opened up vast business opportunities along the routes, connected more towns, multiplied trade and economic activities, and drastically cut commute time and needless loss of lives on bad roads.

We know that Amaechi does not like money. But millions of Nigerians who have to make honest money and love doing so need to know why Ghana appears to be getting a better deal than Nigeria in a rail project over which we have suffered much already.

Silence would be a $2b insult, unbecoming of a man who might have been happy to serve Nigeria free-of-charge as a minister, if only we asked him. And so, now we ask him nicely: Amaechi, what happened?


Ishiekwene is the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview and member of the board of the Global Editors Network

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Ethiopia Shuts Down Text Message Service To Prevent Exam Malpractice

13 June 2019 - 1:44am


Ethiopia has shut down its text messaging service in a move that is coming as part of a break in internet access in the country for more than two days now.

The move is targeted to coincide with nationwide exams. 

There has been speculation that the internet blackout is aimed at trying to stop people cheating, but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.

Ethio Telecom, the country's monopoly internet provider, told BBC Amharic that it has "no mandate" to comment on this issue.

On Wednesday, the state broadcaster, ETV, reported that four students had been caught cheating after sending text messages to one another.

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Explosion Rocks Popular Mall In Rivers State

13 June 2019 - 1:04am


An explosion, suspected to be a gas explosion, has rocked a mall in Port Harcourt City of Rivers State, recording five casualties.

The mall affected is the SPAR Mall in the capital city.

According to a staff of the mall, the explosion happened around 3:30pm on the first floor of the two-storey building housing the mall.

Goods worth of billions of naira were destroyed in the explosion as staff of the mall, made efforts to extinguish the fire before the arrival of fire services.

Confirming the accident, Rivers State Police spokesperson, Nnamdi Omoni said the injured are receiving treatment at the Rivers government-owned hospital.

“They have been admitted at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) receiving treatments.”

DSP Omoni added that investigations are ongoing to unravel the cause of the gas explosion.

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Girl Commits Suicide Over Parents' Divorce

13 June 2019 - 12:56am


Shehu Sadiya, a 17-year-old girl, has killed herself over a disagreement that broke out between her parents that led to her father deciding to divorce her mother.

Sadiya, who hailed from Tudun Murtala quarters, Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State, killed herself on Monday by taking insecticide.

It was gathered that the deceased begged her father to rescind on his decision but she took her own life as her father was bent on divorcing her mother.

When reporters visited, the house of the deceased was filled with sympathizers who were condoling with the bereaved family. 

Amina Shehu, mother of the victim said the late Sadiya was shocked when she heard her father said he was quitting the marriage.

Narrating what led to the divorce, Amina said, "trouble started when one Maryam, my Maryam, my husband's niece was beating Sadiya's younger brother and my former husband decided to side with his niece to punish the boy the more. 

“Maryam was fighting with my son, Daddy, because according to her, he had used a vulgar language on her.

“When his father came out from the bathroom, he started beating him mercilessly and I couldn’t contain that, so I told him that the punishment was too severe even if he actually committed the offence against the girl. My husband asked me to keep quiet and I told him that I wouldn't since no one else was helping to save my son.

“I said after all, even if he abused the girl, he learn to use abusive language from the family. My former husband got angry and said he had divorced me in the presence of the deceased.

“When he said I should go, that I am divorced, the deceased knelt down and started begging him that he shouldn’t let me go, because they would be in trouble if I leave.

“The following day, after I had packed my luggage, I realized that she was not in a happy mood. I told her that if it was as a result of the problem, she shouldn’t mind because everything was over as far as I was concerned.

“She went into the room and drank that insecticide and died. Sadiya was buried on Monday according to Islamic rites,” mother of the deceased explained.

On his part, Shehu Lawan, father of the deceased said he only had a little disagreement with Sadiya’s mother and it was settled the same day.

“I had a problem with her mother over which she was not happy. She was crying and I told her that everything was over. 

“I woke up early and left Sadiya and her siblings hale and hearty but unfortunately, while I was at my place of work, I received a call that she was rushed to hospital. The doctors tried their best to revive her but, as Allah had decreed, she passed away,” he said.

Police spokesperson in the state, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, told reporters that the command was yet to receive report on the suicide, but promised to find out from the DPO of the area.

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Buhari, APC Have Shown South-east Is Not Part Of Nigeria, Says CSEY

12 June 2019 - 11:11pm


The Coalition of South-East Youths has berated the All Progressives Congress for excluding the zone in the sharing of principal positions in the  National Assembly.

The coalition, in a statement on Wednesday by its President, Mr. Goodluck Ibem, called on the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to redress the alleged injustice.

Ibem said the party’s decision to exclude the zone was a declaration of a political war against the Igbos.

The statement read, “The decision of the APC not to support or zone any principal position in the National Assembly to the South-east is a clear indication and statement by the APC that the South-east is no longer part of Nigeria.

“The North produced the President, the President of the Senate, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The South-West also produced the APC National Leader, the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The South-south produced the party’s national chairman and the deputy senate president while the South-East is left with nothing.

“The APC has just told its South-east members that they are not qualified for any good thing from the party.”

Ibem insisted that the action of the APC against the South-east was an aberration and a travesty of the Nigerian Constitution.

“The action of the APC against the South-East contradicts the visions of our founding fathers who agreed and came together in harmony to work in unity as one united Nigeria”, he added.

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