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I take full responsibility for hardship, says Tinubu

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Tinubu says 'no student will drop out in school again'

President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, appealed for patience from Nigerians over the current economic hardship in the country, giving the assurance that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

The President said he was fully aware and took responsibility for the difficulties Nigerians had been subjected to on account of government policies.

He said he would not complain but welcome all criticisms since he was the one who asked to be Nigeria’s President.

The President spoke in Akure, the Ondo State capital, during his visit to the leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere,

He also paid a condolence visit to the family of the late former Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who passed on in December following a protracted battle with cancer.

The fuel subsidy removal and other economic reforms instituted by Tinubu have attracted public censure following the high costs of living, food inflation and other side effects.

The situation compelled the Nigeria Labour Congress to hold a nationwide protest on Tuesday.

The congress also threatened further mass action if the government failed to address the economic crunch within two weeks.

However, addressing public concerns over his economic policies, the President said, “Nigeria will survive the current economic challenges. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I requested the job, and I am not complaining about it. I take full responsibility.”

This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled, ‘President Tinubu: I take full responsibility for the nation; we are building an efficient Nigeria that is inclusive and fair to all Nigerians.’’

Tinubu emphasised his commitment to leading Nigeria towards economic and social prosperity, saying, “We are meeting our obligations to the international community. To lenders, we have not defaulted, and we are not going to default. We are navigating the twists and bends on the road to Nigeria’s prosperity.”

On reforming Nigeria, the President said his task would be to ensure fiscal and true federalism, as well as the broad-based manifestation of the philosophy of “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

He acknowledged the understanding and support of all Nigerians in the face of the harsh but temporary economic conditions, assuring them that their patience and perseverance will not be fruitless.

“But, through perseverance, Lagos emerged as the fifth largest economy in the entire continent of Africa. We must manage this moment with wisdom and grow Nigeria responsibly.

“I campaigned for this office to serve Nigeria’s interests and I was elected. Some said I would not last in the tribunal and came up with all sorts of predictions, but even when in court, I remained focused.

“We cannot allow Nigeria’s economy to be exploited. We cannot abandon our economy to marauders. I am determined to re-engineer our finances and curb selfish interests permanently,” he stated.

Speaking on behalf of Afenifere, Pa Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who read the address of Pa Fasoranti, commended Tinubu for his commitment to Nigeria’s progress and expressed support for his administration’s efforts.

“You have kept your word to return to this place where we all prayed for you, and this shows that you are a man of your word,” the elder statesman stated.

Pa Fasoranti asked President Tinubu to be fair and courageous, declaring that such traits were the hallmark of the Afenifere family.

“Today, you are carrying our flag. We are noted for integrity, competence, fairness, and courage. Your performance so far has shown that you understand the full gravity of your mandate, which is to show the Nigerian people that a good government is possible,” he said.

Fasoranti also charged the President on institutional reforms, saying, “Mr President, please also seek institutional reforms that would strengthen our federation and make Nigeria safer and more prosperous. Try and balance the budget and execute capital projects that would create more employment. We thank you for welcoming the idea of state policing.’’

He added, “We want each of the geopolitical zones to have greater responsibilities for security, food production and infrastructural development. Since the removal of fuel subsidy, which was costing Nigeria $10bn yearly, the state governments have been receiving hefty allocations from the Federation account.

“Mr President should persuade the governors to allow this change of fortune for the states to reflect at the grassroots so that life can be better for our people. They should not just buy rice and yams for the people. They should create employment, improve education and build new infrastructures. Today, life is truly challenging for most people and the state governments have an important role to play to transform society.”

Fasoranti received the President in the company of some Afenifere leaders, who included a former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, Chief Kole Omololu, among others

Earlier, the President paid a condolence visit to Akeredolu’s family in Owo also visited the palace of the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III.

Speaking at the palace of the monarch, Tinubu eulogised the late Akeredolu as a statesman and a distinguished legal luminary who served his people with unwavering dedication.

“We lost an illustrious son. Akeredolu was very close to me and an ally. He was a son of the soil, and I have come to pay homage,” the President said.

He extended his prayers for the good health, progress, and prosperity of the traditional ruler and the community and thanked the people of Owo for their support to the bereaved family.

Accompanied by the Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Tinubu also commiserated with the Akeredolu’s widow, Betty, the children, and other family members.

Addressing the widow and the family members, Tinubu said, “God will be with you. Your children will do well in life. May you all end well. May God be with you and uphold you,”

The wife of the late governor expressed appreciation for the President’s visit, describing Tinubu as a good friend and brother to her late husband.

She also thanked the South-West governors for their contributions to the burial of the late governor. She particularly thanked Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for single-handedly repatriating the remains of Akeredolu back to Nigeria.

She said, “On behalf of my family, I appreciate Mr. President. We understood he couldn’t attend the burial ceremony due to the dictate of Yoruba culture. He couldn’t have attended the burial of his younger brother.

“Coming today (Wednesday ) is a big deal because we are in a better atmosphere. I also express my profound gratitude to the southern governors for their immense financial contributions to the burial, most especially, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who singlehandedly brought Aketi’s remains back to Nigeria. We appreciate this huge show of love and we are grateful and forever indebted to him.

“I requested that Mr President see where Aketi has been laid to rest and he followed me. We are deeply grateful to Mr. President for coming. He is indeed Aketi’s brother and friend.

“I told Mr. President, yes, Aketi has left but he lives because he left behind legacies. It is our wish that those legacies continue and are built upon where necessary.”

 

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Keyamo inaugurates, Anosike, others as members of National Executive Safety Council (NESC)

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The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation sector stakeholders, were on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2024, in compliance with ICAO annex 19, inaugurated as members of the National Executive Safety Council (NESC), by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo.

Performing the inauguration, the Minister informed the members of their terms of reference. According to the Minister, the National Executive Safety Council (NESC) shall meet once every quarter or as emergencies require and its activities shall ensure the SSP remains relevant and appropriate to Nigeria.

The Terms of Reference of the NESC are; Endorse the priorities and ensure that appropriate resources are allocated to drive the desired improvements in safety performance, based on risk assessment, and give strategic direction to the Safety Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). Ensure the development, periodic review and decision and policy making pertaining to SP activities, such as safety policy, safety indicators, enforcement policy, safety data protection and sharing, SMS regulatory requirements, and internal SSP review and findings, are carried out in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Monitor safety performance against the Nigeria’s safety policies and objectives. Assess and accept the picture of the aggregate risk within the aviation industry. Identify new and emerging strategic safety risks. Direct and monitor the effectiveness of the SIAC.

Ensure the effectiveness of the safety oversight of regulated organisations and personnel. Review and sign off major policies, rules and interpretation changes. Handle escalated issues identified by the SIAC. Approve Terms of Reference as recommended by the SIAC for projects, new entities and other safety activities as determined by the SIAC. Ensure the effectiveness of the organisation’s safety management processes.

The NESC comprises key aviation sector stakeholders, including the Director of Air Safety Administration, NSIB Director General, and heads of FAAN, NAMA, NiMET, NCAT, NCAA, representative of Nigeria Air Force (NAF), and technical advisers. The SSP Coordinator will serve as the National Executive Safety Committee Secretary.

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Record-breaker Tunde Onakoya returns to heroic welcome

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Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya is leveraging his skills to raise $1 million for Chess in Slums Africa (CISA), an initiative he

Chess-in-Slums Founder, Tunde Onakoya, was on Wednesday warmly welcomed back to Nigeria after breaking the record for the longest-ever chess marathon with a time of 60 hours.

He was greeted with a heartwarming reception, singing and dancing at the airport.

Onakoya broke the record of Norwegian players, Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, who played for 56-hour, 9-minute in 2018.

The Nigerian Chess Master on April 17 began his attempt to set a 58-hour chess marathon record at Times Square in New York, United States.

The new record holder said he attempted to raise funds and awareness for providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across Africa.

 

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Buhari’s minister, Sirika to be arraigned for alleged N8 billion fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money laundering, contract fraud in the ministry and Nigeria Air debacle.

The EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, disclosed this on Wednesday in a phone conversation with Nairametrics.

When asked if the anti-graft plans prosecuting the former minister, he responded in the affirmative.

“He (Sirika) is going to be charged to court, but it may not be able to be either now or…but definitely, he is going to be sued. He may be arraigned very very soon. That is the information I’ve got,” he said.

Sirika served under former president Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Aviation.

Another source familiar with developments within the commission but chose not to be named also told Nairametrics that the anti-graft agency’s ongoing probe would lead to prosecution.

“The EFCC is planning to prosecute him, but I don’t know the details except that he was arrested,” the source said.
Several media outlets claim the ex-minister is being interrogated over alleged contract scam under his purview and knowledge.

A reliable source said the arrest is also linked to the botched Nigeria Air. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had cancelled the Nigeria Air deal on August 31, 2023. He had revealed on January 31, 2024, that “the whole composition and totality of the deal is merely Ethiopian Air flying the Nigerian flag.” He also admitted that the EFCC was investigating the whole deal.

Backstory
Three months ago, the EFCC said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation in the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC is empowered by law to track financial crimes.

Every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

Sirika served as Aviation Minister from 22 August 2019 to 29 May 2023.

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Tinubu approves 20% palliative for traditional, religious institutions

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Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through religious and traditional institutions.

Mr Shettima made this known while delivering the keynote address at a High-Level Dialogue of Faith Leaders on Nutrition in Nigeria, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

“The Imam of Bayero University (BUK) mentioned about the exclusion of the traditional and religious leaders in the distribution of palliatives.

”The President has approved that 20 per cent of the palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through our religious organisations and the traditional institutions.

“The Tsangaya schools, the mission schools will be specially targeted for such intervention,” Mr Shettima said.

The Vice-President said that government was working out logistics through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure smooth implementation of the intervention programme.

“This intervention will be anchored in the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, and he is going to anchor the programme.

“We are going to provide the overall supervision towards the implementation of the programme.

“Also 20 per cent of the funds for the School Feeding Programme is going to be channeled through the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning to the religious bodies.”

Mr Shettima stated that government had already commenced engagement and working out modalities for the intervention to ensure a very transparent disbursement, taken into cognisance of all tendencies in our system.

He added that the intervention would include Tsangaya and Mission schools.

NAN

 

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 Chinese supermarket where Nigerians are not allowed to shop sealed

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has sealed the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket located within the China General

On Monday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) sealed a Chinese supermarket located within the China General Chamber of Commerce in Abuja, following allegations of discriminatory practices against Nigerians.

The FCCPC officials interrogated Nigerian workers at the supermarket before sealing up the premises.

According to facilities workers at the store, the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled the premises with her family on Monday at 8:26 am, as captured on Closed-Circuit Television camera footage.

The workers, who are mostly Nigerians, disclosed this information to the FCCPC officials when they stormed the supermarket. As a result, the commission shut down the supermarket in question.

According to The PUNCH, the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms, as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

But visiting the premises on Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission is in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Speaking at the end of the enforcement exercise, Adeyinka affirmed that the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound will remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed, if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises they must see the summon because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

She added that if the Chinese owner fails to attend to the summon which is a lawful inquiry, the mandate of the commission under its powers will seal the premises until she comes to the commission, meaning that the place will remain locked until she appears before the commission.

The FCCPC officials subsequently sealed the supermarket.

 

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‘We have found him’- Kenyan police arrest Binance executive who escaped from Nigeria

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The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves

The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves to extradite him to Nigeria within the week.

Government sources familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday night.

One of the sources said, “Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has been arrested by the Kenya Police Service, and he would be extradited to Nigeria this week by INTERPOL.”

Another source noted, “As we had said before that Anjarwalla would be extradited, he has been arrested in Kenya, and he’ll be extradited to Nigeria this week.”

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the Federal Government had traced Anjarwalla to Kenya, following his escape from lawful custody in Nigeria.

Following the development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

In the earlier report, Saturday PUNCH reported that Anjarwalla, whose cover has now been blown, went into hiding immediately after he landed in Kenya.

“We have found him. We know where he is; he is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria.

“All hands are on the deck, the government and all the security agencies are working hard in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities and INTERPOL, to ensure his return to Nigeria to face the charges brought against him,” the report had quoted a source as saying.

Meanwhile, the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, had in the March edition of its bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” onfirmed that the commission was working in conjunction with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya to extradite Anjarwalla.

Olukoyed said, “The takeover of the prosecution of Binance chiefs by the commission is no less a strong message in the direction of EFCC’s resolve to hedge in distortions and disruptions in the country’s forex market.

“Tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000 and are at the foundation of the Commission’s five counts against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s chief executives.

“While Gambaryan is currently in the Commission’s net, the process of extraditing the fleeing Anjarwalla is revving in full swing. Involved in partnership with the EFCC to nick Anjarwalla in flight are the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya as the clock winds down to his arraignment in absentia alongside the company and Gambaryan.”

 

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