I want Arsenal to be back among Europe’s elite, says Unai Emery

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Unai Emery
Unai Emery

Unai Emery said he wants Arsenal to be among Europe’s elite once more when he appeared at his first news conference since being appointed as Arsene Wenger’s successor.

The 46-year-old was officially appointed on Wednesday before he, along with chief executive Ivan Gazidis, addressed a packed media room.

He said: “Success next season would be developing, but how? By battling for every title.

It’s very important for the club, after two years outside the Champions League, to work to be the best team in the Premier League and also in the world. That’s in Arsenal’s and my history.”

Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League in 2017 and won’t feature in the 2018-19 competition having previously been in every year since 1998.

Emery is meticulous, experienced, successful – and still a risk
Gazidis revealed that the Spaniard was on an eight-man shortlist for the job, but was the club’s main target.

“All eight took part in extensive interviews and none of them withdrew from the process,” said the chief executive, who added that the job was the most attractive in world football.

“We were in a fortunate position to name our first choice.

“Our first interview was on 25 April and our last was on the 15 May. A formal recommendation to the board was supported by a 100-page dossier with a great degree of background information.

“All of the board members were energised and enthused by our decision.”

Transcorp Hotels MD laments neglect of tourism sector

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Transcorp Hotels Plc, MD, Valentine Ozigbo
Transcorp Hotels Plc, MD, Valentine Ozigbo

The managing director/chief executive officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc, Valentine Ozigbo, has lamented the neglect of the Nigeria’s tourism sector by governments at all levels.

Ozigbo revealed that this was demonstrated by the abysmal marketing of the sector by relevant ministries and agencies of government.

Speaking at a national tourism transport summit and expo in Abuja, Wednesday, he advised the relevant ministries and agencies of government at the federal and state levels to spearhead the marketing of the tourism sector in Nigeria, saying doing so would help in leapfrogging the sector into a major revenue earner.

He said: “If well harnessed, the tourism sector, with its vast potential, could displace oil as the nation’s highest revenue earner.”

Ozigbo, who was a panel discussant in one of the sessions of the event on “Marketing Destinations in Nigeria: What Role for the Transportation and Tourism Sectors”, stated that everywhere in the world, governments play the critical role of enablers and marketers of the tourism sector while the private sector acts as the driver.

According to him, with the kind of symbiotic relationship between the government and the private sector in the tourism business, the former should spearhead the marketing role while the latter drives the process.

He noted that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, for instance was expected to be the chief marketing officer of the tourism potential in the nation’s capital.

According to him, doing so would equipped the minister with the challenges in the sector and propel him to seek solutions with a view to boosting it.

He also explained that with the absence of a potent marketing of the tourism potential in the FCT, Transcorp Hotels Plc had gone out of the way to market and ensure that its customers are availed of the pleasure of visiting some tourism sites in the FCT.

“In Transcorp, we’re not only serving our customers, but selling the city. We’ve been putting together tourism destinations. Our job will be made easier when the government plays their role,” he said.

He also recalled the strides of a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke in marketing the tourism potential of that state, which eventually etched the Obudu Resort and other sites in the state on the global map.

Ambode grants scholarship, N5m cash reward to best LASU graduating student

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Gov. Ambode with best LASU graduating student
Gov. Ambode with best LASU graduating student

It was an emotional laden moment filled with joy, excitement and sense of fulfillment when Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi on Wednesday granted scholarship and N5million cash reward to the overall best graduating student of Lagos State University (LASU), Ogunsanya Fuhad Adetoro.

Adetoro, who is of the Faculty of Management Sciences, was announced as the best graduating student at the 22nd convocation ceremony held at the Auditorium Complex of the University in Ojo having scored CGPA 4.78.

Responding to Adetoro’s request for scholarship to go for masters’ study outside the country, Governor Ambode said he would personally finance the student’s education in any university of his choice anywhere in the world.

“In response to the best graduating student’s request, Lagos State Government does not generally give scholarship anymore but only bursary. So, I adopt him.

“His story is too compelling and it reflects on my own story. So, any university he wants to go, I will do it personally; I will be responsible.

“In addition to that, because he is the best graduating student, I dash him N5million,” Governor Ambode said.

The Governor said occasions such as university convocation deserved necessary attention as the future of any nation could only be guaranteed when its youths, who form a majority of the population, are educated enough to contribute to the economy and the continued sustenance of the country.

Recalling the pledge to construct 6000 capacity hostel for the institution, Governor Ambode said it was gratifying to report that preliminary works had already been concluded on the project, while work would start in few months, adding that other ongoing projects in the university were on course and would also be delivered on schedule.

“Already, preliminary works on the Six Thousand (6,000) capacity hostel for the University which we promised last year have been concluded and in the next few weeks, construction would start.

“In addition, the Government’s Legacy Projects in the University including the New Senate Building, the Ultra-Modern Library, Students’ Arcade, LASU Homs (Staff Quarters) and the New Faculty of Management Sciences Buildings are all nearing completion simultaneously,” the Governor said, adding that the projects, when completed, would change the entire overview of the landscape of the University.

While alluding to the fact that provision of qualitative education was a cardinal duty which government must render to its people, the Governor said such necessitated the 12.07 per cent allocation for education in the total 2018 Budget of the State, saying the education of the teeming youths remained a priority for his administration.

“Our State has always been a trailblazer in various spheres of life and in order to consolidate on the economic gains made so far, the education of our youth is paramount.

“We seek the cooperation of all Lagosians to ensure we eradicate illiteracy in the State, groom the next generation of leaders and captains of industry as well as position our State as the standard bearer for the nation in the provision of qualitative tertiary education,” the Governor said.

Besides, Governor Ambode said he was encouraged by the successes so far recorded through Ready.Set.Work (RSW), an initiative of the State Government targeted at equipping penultimate and final year students of public tertiary institutions in the State with employability and entrepreneurship skills.

“The feedback we get from the Corporate World is that with adequate and proper mentoring, our graduates can stand toe-to-toe with their colleagues from anywhere across the globe.

“These success stories are a huge motivation for us to increase the scope of this initiative to accommodate more of our students as we have resolved to make every succeeding year of the programme bigger and better than the previous edition.”

While lauding LASU management, staff and students for the feats recorded by the institution, Governor Ambode assured of continuous support in ensuring accreditation of courses and completion of all ongoing projects in the University.

“On our part, as Government, we will support the University in the Accreditation of its various programmes and courses. We will work with the University to ensure that all our facilities and personnel meet the required standards for accreditation because we understand that the rating and sustenance of the University is hinged on the Accreditation of its programmes by the National Universities Commission and other bodies with such responsibilities,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Chancellor of LASU, Justice Adesola Oguntade (Rtd) lauded Governor Ambode for the RSW initiative introduced by the present administration in the State, saying it was gratifying that the scheme keeps getting bigger and better.

He said the initiative had turned out to be a game changer in the lives of students, adding: “It is rapidly changing the thinking of students from being job seekers after school to job producers even while in school.”

Besides, Oguntade charged the graduands to make integrity their watchword, broaden knowledge by reading very well, be bold to take risk and never be afraid of failure, just as he urged them to strive to create a better world for incoming generations.

Also, LASU Vice Chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun said the graduands have been found worthy in learning and character, saying they have been adequately schooled to contribute to the development of the country.

He said due to reforms put in place, the institution ranked first among state universities in the 2018 maiden edition of National Universities Commission (NUC) ranking, while LASU was also selected by NUC as lead institution for the development of blueprints on how to ensure health security by 2050 and blueprint for transportation in Nigeria.

He lauded Governor Ambode for the various initiatives designed to promote education in the State and projects executed in LASU especially the RSW through which over 1500 students of the institution had been trained in employability and entrepreneurship skills and Code Lagos programme, among others.

A total of 29,710 students graduated with 201 awarded diploma; 21,481 first degrees; 7982 Post Graduate Diploma (PGD); and 46 Doctorate Degrees. In all, 26 students graduated with first class.

Why Bauchi deputy governor resigned

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Nuhu-Gidado, ex-Bauchi-Dep-Gov
Nuhu-Gidado, ex-Bauchi-Dep-Gov

The Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Nuhu Gidado, has resigned.

Gidado reportedly submitted his resignation letter to Governor Mohammed Abubakar on Wednesday, citing his waning enthusiasm for the job as reason for leaving.

His departure brings to three the number of high-ranking officials that have left Governor Abubakar’s cabinet.

In December 2017, the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Shehu Ningi, resigned from his position, a day after Governor Abubakar presented the 2017 budget estimates to the state’s House of Assembly.
The then commissioner said he left because the governor did not encourage members of his cabinet to offer advice on how to run the state.

Ningi explained that the environment in which he would have exercised his advisory role as member of the State Executive Council was “unaccommodating, debilitating and non-adviser friendly”.

In March, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Investment, Samaila Sanusi, also resigned due to “unfriendly working environment”.

Sanusi said all avenues to hold talks with the state governor on official issues and development were unsuccessful.

Also around the same time, Munnir Yisin, deputy caretaker chairman of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, also tendered his resignation.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Communication, Sabo Mohammed, could not be reached Wednesday night for comment on the deputy governor’s resignation.

Buhari yet to get 2018 budget from National Assembly

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Senator Udoma Udo Udoma
Senator Udoma Udo Udoma

President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to get a clean copy of the 2018 Appropriation Bill as passed into law by the two chambers of the National Assembly last week.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Udoma said there was no truth in some reports quoting him as saying that the President would not sign the document as passed by the federal lawmakers.

The minister stated, “The President has yet to receive the budget. It is therefore impossible to make a statement about the budget that has not been received.

“Once we get it, we will work very quickly on it. When it is submitted, I am sure the National Assembly will inform Nigerians.”

The minister said from all indications, the nation’s economy was improving with the current Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 1.95 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

The Senate at the plenary on Wednesday approved the Conference Committee’s report on the 2018 Appropriation Bill, which corrected errors in the versions passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

The errors bothered on grammar and syntax.

The National Assembly passed the N9.12tn budget last week Wednesday after the Appropriation Bill had spent more than six months with the legislature.

The final figure was raised by over N508bn from the initial estimates of N8.612tn that the President laid before lawmakers on November 7, 2017.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives, however, identified and corrected various errors in the bill, while the Committees on Appropriations of both chambers formed a conference committee to harmonise the corrections.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, presented the Conference Committee’s report.

The House of Representatives also on Wednesday adopted the harmonised report on the 2018 budget, preparatory to Buhari’s assent.

With the adoption of the report, the budget is set for transmission to the President.

Bandits abduct 21 passengers, kidnap 10 others in Kaduna

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Gunmen
Gunmen

In separate operations, some bandits reportedly abducted at least 31 persons at Kwanan-Dutse and Labi villages in the Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State between Tuesday and Wednesday.

The bandits reportedly wielded assault rifles and in military fatigue in the course of their operations.

On Tuesday, the local Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Birnin-Gwari, Mallam Danladi Duniya aka Iron, confirmed that 10 persons, mostly commuters travelling from the South to Kano were abducted.

Also, on Wednesday, 21 passengers were abducted in Labi village along the same road, the NURTW chief added.

Duniya said, “The incident involved commuters in a Sharon and three Golf 3 brand of cars. They were waylaid by the bandits while the people inside the two vehicles were whisked into the bush.

“Those kidnapped include, both females and males and the drivers of the vehicles. They were going to Kano for various business activities.”

He added that the abductors stripped their victims, mostly women naked before forcing them into the bush.

Duniya said the union had begun to mobilise vigilance groups to go into the forest in search of those kidnapped.

He, therefore, called for urgent intervention from the authorities concerned to rescue the victims.

“Victims are on their way to various destinations when the kidnappers struck and carried them into the bush.

“Today (Wednesday), around 8am another 21 persons were abducted near Labi village along the same Kaduna – Birnin-Gwari Road.

“The victims are said to include males and females going to Kano for various business activities. They (victims) are traveling in three golf cars, a trailer and a tanker when they were abducted.

“The union is now mobilising members and the vigilance group to go and take back all the vehicles involved in the incident,” he said.

Lagos to begin embedded power project in July, set to name pilot locations

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Lagos Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Wale Oluwo
Lagos Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Wale Oluwo

The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said that all is now set for the commencement of the much anticipated Embedded Power Supply Project by July 2018.

The Lagos State Embedded Power Programme, a brain child of the present administration is targeted towards generating 3,000 megawatts electricity for the State within the next three to five years.

Commissioner for Energy, Olawale Oluwo who disclosed this at the ongoing annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, said the project when it takes off would commence the journey to deregulate Nigeria’s power sector from Lagos State and ultimately achieve energy security for the State.

“Our Power Reform Programme which is the Embedded Power Project all things been equal will take off in July 2018. The House passed the law in January and the Governor the bill into law in February. The implementation committee is already working and a lot of work has been going on the field and everywhere. We would do our Expression of Interest sometime in June and that process will kick-start this project,” he said.

He said the 13 locations for the pilot phase of the Embedded Power Project was currently awaiting approval of the State Executive Council and would be released soon.

Oluwo said that the power and gas sectors reforms were key interventions of the Governor Ambode led administration to correct the structural challenges in the power sector and gradually position the State for 24-hour power supply.

He said that apart from the reforms in the power sector, the State Government had began implementation of other sectoral reforms including the downstream petroleum sector, the gas sector as well as the solid minerals sector and regulatory reforms.

“The essence of all this is that we want to give Lagos, energy security and to achieve this, you must have security of electricity, gas and petroleum products,” he said.

The Commissioner said that when the reforms are fully implemented in the next three to five years, the State’s reliance on gas from the Niger Delta region would be less critical to the State’s economy.

“The overall objective of the gas reform is to open the Lagos gas market to local and international players in order to make the Niger Delta gas less critical to future of Lagos economy (the ultimate goal is to make Lagos State to be fully independent of Niger Delta gas in three to five years,” Oluwo said.

Oluwo said plans were already in the pipeline to increase gas supply to Lagos from the present 500 million standard cubic feet (scf) per day to approximately 1.25billion scf per day in three to five years, adding that the State would soon sign long term off-take contracts for gas found in any oil field in Lagos to power the Lagos economy.

He said seven agencies would be driving the reform in the gas sector as plans had been concluded for the reticulation of gas to homes starting from Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Ikeja GRA.

Amnesty International, FG bicker over allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity against military

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Soldiers
Soldiers

Nigeria’s military has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including torture, rape and killing civilians during its fight against Islamist insurgency Boko Haram, human rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The crimes were perpetrated for years and have continued despite a presidential inquiry established last August whose findings have not been made public, said the watchdog.

In a statement, the Nigerian military described Amnesty’s findings as “a false report on fictitious rape incidents in IDP (internally displaced person) camps in the North East region of Nigeria.”

A presidency statement said Amnesty’s report lacks credibility.

The 89-page report is based on hundreds of interviews and is replete with accounts of sexual violence, torched villages and other abuses.

“The soldiers, they betrayed us, they said that we should come out of from our villages,” said a woman whose name was given as Yakura in the report.

“They said it would be safer and that they would give us a secure place to stay. But when we came, they betrayed us. They detained our husbands and then they raped us women,” said Yakura, who fled Andara village, Borno state, in December 2016.

Nigeria has waged a nine-year war against Boko Haram and its now more powerful offshoot, Islamic State West Africa. The country has fought alongside Cameroon, Chad and Niger and been supported by the United States, Great Britain and France.

The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

For years, rights groups, aid organizations and journalists have documented military abuses, with little resulting action from the armed forces.

According to Amnesty’s report, interviewees “said that when the military conducted operations in their villages, they burnt down homes and opened fire at remaining residents indiscriminately.”

Often the military would “forcibly” take people to camps for people displaced by the conflict, the report said.

People the military detained without food and water would die, the watchdog said. Many of the women were held for six months to two years without charge, some were tortured and beaten, and some, along with 32 children, died, the report said.

One woman whose name Amnesty gave as Aiya detailed her experience after arriving at a displacement camp, where she was sent to the prison: “I was pregnant and I went into labor. I found the toilet and I had my baby next to it. No one helped me. At the beginning, I didn’t know if my baby was alive or dead.”

Hunger and sickness still kills people in displacement camps, where “sexual violence has been and continues to be perpetrated on a wide scale,” the report said, adding that many women are forced to have sex in exchange for food and supplies.

However, the presidency, in a statement by Garba Shehu said that the Amnesty International report is inherently battling with credibility, falling vehemently short of evidential narration.

The presidency said the report is short on credibility because it does not contain factual leads that could have laid the foundation for investigative actions.

“Findings are attributed to people but proper description of such people constituting the source of information is not provided.

“Engagement was claimed to have been made with Nigerian authorities but which authority is it, is not provided with clarity. This then is just a wild goose chase report, in essence.

“In some breath, the report seemed like the one in 2015, and the one in 2016, and the one after that year, the same things being recycled again and again.”

The statement claimed that the report ignored the fact of the existing mechanisms put in place by the military, as a self-correcting step and the high-level committee constituted by the Presidency to examine any such claims.

“Over this period of time, the Nigerian military had indeed established cases of abuse and punishments meted out from Orderly Room trials and Court Martials that resulted in losses of rank, dismissals, and trials and convictions by civil courts.

“Indeed as President Buhari said during his recent joint press conference with President Trump at the White House: “the government of Nigeria remains deeply committed to the principles of human rights, as well as promotion and protection of people’s freedom, even in the process of fighting terror. We commit to ensure that all documented cases of human rights abuses are investigated, and those responsible for violation held responsible.”

Obasanjo’s administration one of Nigeria’s most corrupt – Sagay

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Olusegun-Obasanjo
Olusegun-Obasanjo

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said on Wednesday that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration was one of the most corrupt regimes in Nigeria’s history.

He said Obasanjo acts like a saint when he is the “most stained” person around.

Asked if the ex-President should be probed over the $16billion he allegedly spent on the power sector without result, Sagay said: “Honestly I think he should be probed. You see, President Buhari has been very generous and mild towards his predecessors, not wanting to cause discomfort and embarrassment for them out of respect for the positions they held.

“But, Obasanjo is a man who does not respect himself, who thinks he’s the President-General of Nigeria for life and has a right at any time to wade in and be very caustic and publicly insult his successors just because he’s envious of the same position he held. He cannot detach himself from the presidency.

“I think he needs to be brought to order. He has been tolerated enough in this country. The President’s remark was very appropriate and more and more should come because Obasanjo ran one of the most corruption governments this country has ever seen.”

On if the Federal Government can prosecute Obasanjo, the PACAC chairman added: “It’s possible but not likely. It’s possible in the sense that there are issues like Siemens, Halliburton, funding for his library, and not to talk of this electricity thing.

“But, because people decide to be quite and let bygones be bygones. He won’t let peace to prevail, he must raise dust and behave like a saint when you’re the most stained person around. He may bring it on his own head if he’s not careful.”

Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Emeka Ngige, urged the anti-graft agencies to do their work no matter who is involved.

“I believe there was a report of the House of Representatives Committee on Power that indicted President Obasanjo in 2008 for various infractions on power sector contracts during his regime. The committee recommended that EFCC or ICPC should do further investigation and possibly prosecute him if found culpable. That report was kept in a deep freezer till date.

“So, the remark of President Buhari is not new. I still believe that the EFCC or ICPC should do its job as recommended by the House. The earlier we start jailing our present and past leaders who made Nigeria a fantastically corrupt nation the better for our democracy,” Ngige said.

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), called for strong measure against all those found culpable over the $16 billon spending.

8.2 million Pupils enjoying Buhari’s meal in 24 states – Presidency

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Free-school-feeding-Programme
Free-school-feeding-Programme

The Presidency on Wednesday said that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s National Home-grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) is now feeding 8,260,984 pupils in 45,394 public primary schools across 24 states.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Laolu Akande, said that the government has achieved its target of 5.5 million pupils being fed free daily under the programme in 2017.

He said that the 24 states currently benefitting from the school feeding programme are Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Kaduna, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Jigawa, Niger, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Ondo and Borno.

According to him, over 80,000 direct jobs have also been created from the School Feeding Programme; with 87,261 cooks currently engaged in the 24 participating states.

All 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, he said, will eventually benefit from the programme.

He said “The programme’s educational, economic and health benefits have been praised by many.

“Not only has the Buhari administration’s School Feeding Programme created jobs for thousands of Nigerians in these communities where the programme is being implemented, it has also helped to boost local economies by linking the local farmers to the school feeding market.

“Similarly, the school feeding programme continues to record significant milestones in the classrooms as the scheme has led to an increase in enrolment.

“Another important aspect of the School Feeding Programme is that by providing a meal a day for millions of pupils, it addresses the issues of malnutrition and stunting among children, increasing the chances of the pupils making a significant headway in their learning and in life.

“The NHGSFP plans to implement feeding in 28 States in the coming months, and all over the country soon after,” he stated.