Saturday, October 23, 2021.

Blood flows as APC factions clash in Abeokuta

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IGP Abubakar

Pandemonium broke out on Friday in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital as factions of the newly registered All Progressive Congress (APC) clashed, leaving no fewer than 50 party members serious wounded.

The imbroglio it was learnt occurred around 4pm at the state secretariat of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which dissolved into the new APC and was said to have been masterminded by suspended state CPC chairman, Kunle Mudashiru, former acting state Public Relations Officer, Shina Oduntan as well as one of the elders of the party, Chief Adekola.

Ogun state chapter of CPC had on June 6th, 2013 suspended Mudashiru on the allegation of financial mismanagement and maladministration, while Oduntan was suspended on the ground that he led a group of thugs to disrupt the session of the state meeting.

The quick intervention of men of the Ogun state command of Nigeria Police Force who raced in to the scene of the melee however, restored normalcy to the area.

Among those who sustained varying degrees of injuries in the melee were the state Publicity Secretary of CPC, Bola Adeogun, Assistant State Legal Adviser, Dele Timothy, State Youths leader, Anthony Amos, state Woman Leader, Funmi Ogunsanwo among others.

Two members of the warring factions, Oduntan and Adekola were however, whisked away to the Ibara Police Divisional headquarters in the Abeokuta metropolis.

Speaking with newsmen at the scene, the state secretary of the defunct CPC, Godwin Odeyemi explained that CPC members were in their state meeting when the trio of Mudashiru, Oduntan and Adekola arrived in company of some heavily armed hoodlums.

He said the hoodlums freely used guns, cutlasses, broken bottles as well as other dangerous weapons to attack members at the meeting before they eventually vandalized property at the state secretariat.

“We were in the mid of the state meeting when we saw some hoodlums, armed with machete, cutlasses and broken bottles invading the meeting venue and started rough-handling us.

“In the process, many of us were macheted and wounded with broken bottles. Many others sustained cutlass cut at the head”.

Odeyemi further stated that the suspension of Mudashiru and Oduntan had culminated in the factionalisation of the party, which led to the two factions holding their meeting separately before yesterday’s attack.

He also told newsmen that the police recovered an unmarked black coloured jeep bearing inscription of “SIA” on both front and back.

Odeyemi also told newsmen that the national headquarters of the party had directed all the factions to await directives on how to harmonise the state executive committee before their attackers arrived the venue of the incident in an unmarked blacked jeep.

Lamenting the incident, Odeyemi who said several other members have been hospitalized following the incident, also explained that “we expect Mudashiru to hold on for that National directive but we were surprised to see the development today”.

When contacted over the matter, the Command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi confirmed the incident and added that two of the warring factions were already assisting the police in their investigations.

“We are aware of the clash between the two factions; the parties are with us at Ibara police station. We are looking into it and we are going to investigate properly”

Cross River deputy governor’s father abducted

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IGP Abubakar

The Police in Cross River on Friday confirmed the abduction of Etubom Essien Cobham, the father of the Deputy Governor, Efiok Cobham, by gunmen at his country home in Creek Town.

The Public Relations Officer of the Cross River State Police Command, Hogan Bassey, who confirmed the development while speaking with newsmen in Calabar, however said he cannot disclose what the police is doing to rescue him.

“The Commissioner of Police, Kola Sodipo, and senior officers of the command have gone to Creek Town to see the building and the damage done.” he said.

Eye-witnesses said the gunmen abducted the elder statesman at about 2 a.m. on Friday in his residence at Creek Town in the Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.

Sources said that the deputy governor’s uncle, whose name was not immediately ascertained, was also abducted by the gunmen.

According to the sources in Creek Town, there was so much shooting while the operation lasted.

On the number of persons abducted across the state, Bassey said: “For now we are talking of the father. In due course we will give you details.‚Äù

Sources disclosed that the heavily armed abductors, accompanied by an Alsatian dog, came in through the Calabar creeks with two speed boats.

The incident, according to eye-witnesses, lasted for hours and took the community by surprise as the kidnappers fired gun shots indiscriminately to scare away any form of resistance before executing their act.

Efforts to get the State Government’s reaction on the incident was not successful as top government officials kept sealed lips on the incident.

Am interested in free, fair polls not who wins, Jonathan tells Anambra guber contenders

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President Jonathan
President Jonathan

The Presidency has assured that the November 14 governorship election in Anambra State will surpass those of Ondo and Edo States in terms of transparency and credibility.

This assurance is coming on the heels of the calls on the various candidates in the election to engage on issue based campaigns rather than attacking personalities.

Special Adviser to the President on Inter Party Affairs, Ben Obi, who made the commitment in Abuja, at a colloquium organized for the 23 candidates in the election, by Anambra State Towns People Association, ASTPA, and Anambra State Public Officers and Elders Forum,ASPOF, said that the government is desirous of conducting a free and fair poll.

Obi said that President Goodluck Jonathan had mandated him to repeat the feat he achieved in Edo and Ondo states by conducting workshops for political parties on the need to have a free, fair and credible election in the state, disclosing that he had fixed the exercise for the 21st of this month.

“I have a clear mandate from Mr. President to conduct sensitization workshops for free, credible and transparent elections in any state going into election, so that the people in that state will engage themselves in a free, fair and credible elections and bring about the state of harmony, state of peace. We did that in Edo State, it worked, we did that in Ondo State, it worked.

“So, we are bringing back what we did sometimes ago in Edo and Ondo State, where we organized thorough fora that brought in peaceful elections in those states,” he boasted.

He said the Presidency was not interested in who emerges victorious at the election, saying rather, it was after the success of the exercise.

“You recalled that the candidates that emerged from those states were all opposition candidates. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Olusegun Mimiko, from Ondo State emerged from the opposition and after their victories; the first congratulatory messages for them were all from Mr President.

“As far as this administration is concerned, we are committed to conducting credible elections at all levels in this country. That is why on the 21st of October the candidates have been involved; the parties have been involved for this sensitization exercise,” he stressed.

Obi, who insisted that the candidates must engage in politics of issues, added that they must have the mindset of coming to government to surpass Governor Peter Obi in terms of good governance after emergence at the poll just as he noted that Anambra State has the greatest entrepreneur in the southern region of the country.

“We have to engage in politics of issues, we have to engage in politics of understanding, selfless service. Anambra is a state that produces the greatest entrepreneurs in this sub region of the country.

“I told them here that we are not expecting anything less than what Peter Obi has done. Anybody that comes up after Peter Obi has to do double what he has done. Obi has done well, but there is need for improvement,” he insisted.

Hei said the Federal Government was expecting the candidates not to flout electoral laws, hence they must educate their followers and supporters to do the right things at before, during and after the poll.

Obi said he would have been happy if the various actors had heeded to the advice of the state governor, Peter Obi on the zoning of the governorship slot.

Chairman of the Organising Committee, Austine Ifedinezi, said the forum became necessary for Anambrarians to interface with the various governorship candidates on their programmes.

I may attend national dialogue if invited-Atiku

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Atiku
Atiku

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says he has no objection to the proposed National dialogue and will “consider’’ attending if invited.

Abubakar disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja on the sidelines of a reception organised by the Spanish Embassy in Nigeria to mark the country’s national day.

The former vice-president, who was among the dignitaries that attended the event held at the residence of Alvaro Aguilar, the Spanish ambassador, however, expressed concern at the timing of the conference.

“My worry is about the timing of the national dialogue, it’s too close to electioneering and I’m wondering whether we have the capacity to manage very sensitive issues.

“Electioneering in Nigeria can be a very sensitive and controversial issue and in addition to that you now have a national dialogue, otherwise I do not have any serious objection to it,’’ he said.

Abubakar suggested that the dialogue should consider the restructuring of the country, devolution of powers and increase revenue allocation to the state and local governments.

“I will like to see more powers to the components of the country. I will like to see the power at the centre considerably reduced as well as the responsibility and money allocated to the centre,’’ he said.

On the issue of the tenure for the president and governors, the former vice-president argued that the current two- term, provided for in the constitution, be maintained.

He congratulated the government and people of Spain on the occasion of their National day.

“I look forward to a more strengthened relationship between Spain and Nigeria and I believe that our relationship has been very good.

“I will like to see more Spanish investment even though the country is going through very difficult economic times, we hope for more increased investment’’.

Earlier, Aguilar described Nigeria as a “strategic partner with Spain.”

He recalled that, “in 2012, 16 per cent of the gas and 14 per cent of petroleum consumed in Spain came from Nigeria adding that the financial exchange between the two countries rose to more than seven billion euros.

He also described the interest of Spanish business community into Nigeria as “growing’’ and noted that the volume of investments and exports from Spain recorded an impressive increase of 25 per cent in 2012.

The ambassador reiterated Spain’s support and solidarity to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.

According to him, the Spanish government has issued six official statements this year to condemn different terrorist attacks by insurgents in Nigeria.

Aguilar pledged that Spain would continue to promote peace, regional integration and stability in West Africa.

“Since 2006, Spain had made donations of more than 900 million euro to West Africa and our commitment is reflected in the areas of food security, rural development, migration, infrastructure, renewable energy and gender,’’ he said.

A major highlight of the celebrations was a traditional display of Spanish tap dance by a duo.
– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/10/will-consider-attending-national-dialogue-invited-atiku/#sthash.3RAKoBv9.dpuf

FIFA approves goal-line technology firm for 2014 World Cup

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Brazil World cup
Brazil World cup

The World Football Governing Body, FIFA, has named GoalControl GmbH, a Germany-based company, the official Goal-line Technology provider for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

A statement by FIFA on Friday said the decision was taken following the successful implementation of GLT at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

It said the company performed well during the FIFA Confederations Cup in April.

The world football governing body said, “Today’s announcement follows an evaluation process in which the relevant departments within FIFA examined the use of GoalControl-4D during the FIFA Confederations Cup.

“While there were no goal-line incidents in which the technology was required to determine whether a goal had been scored, the system met all necessary FIFA requirements.

“It indicated every one of the 68 goals correctly. Importantly, there was also a high-level of satisfaction reported by match officials.”

It added that the GLT would be used at the FIFA Club World Cup slated for December 11 to 21 in Morocco.

Crashed Associated Airlines plane technically unfit – Report

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The ill-fated aircraft
The ill-fated aircraft

Preliminary readout and analysis by the Accident Investigation Bureau on the Associated Airlines plane that crashed in Lagos on Thursday last week have revealed that the aircraft’s flaps and right engine were not technically fit before take-off.

The bureau said the crew, prior to departure, expressed some concerns about the plane.

Despite the concerns, the crew still flew the aircraft, which was conveying the corpse of the former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu. The plane eventually crashed and killed over 15 persons.

The Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer, AIB, Capt. Muhtar Usman, who spoke at the headquarters of the bureau in Abuja on Friday, said, “The Flight Data Recorder contains several engine related parameters which the AIB is studying. At this point, we can state that the right engine appears to be producing considerable less thrust than the left engine.

“A warning configuration setting suggests that the flaps were not in the correct position for take-off and there is some evidence that the crew may have chosen not to use the flaps for take-off.”

Usman said that the AIB had been able to determine from its preliminary assessment of the Flight 361 recorders, the likely causes of the crash.

According to him, the likely causes include, mechanical and electronic engine control issues related to the right engine and right engine propeller system as well as the take-off configuration issues with respect to flap settings.

He listed other likely causes as “aural warnings related to auto-feather and the flap settings, required for take-off and when and how the number two engine fire handle was pulled”.

The commissioner listed other likely causes to include crew decision making and training with respect to proceeding with the flight, in spite of concerns regarding the aircraft’s suitability for the flight.

“The investigation is also focusing on the standard operating procedure with respect to continuing the take-off roll, in spite of continuous automated voice warnings of both take-off flaps and auto feather when there was ample time to abort the take-off.

Usman also said that the bureau was in the process of developing a comprehensive computer reconstruction of the aircraft to assist its investigation team to understand the sequence of events that led to the crash.

According to him, this will enable the bureau to come up with a comprehensive report of what led to the crash.

He, however, said that the bureau had not been able to come up with any safety recommendations yet.

Usman noted that the AIB would not wait until the final report to make recommendations, if any issue that needed immediate attention arose.

He said that the AIB planned to release the transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which contained the internal conversation of the two pilots, radio calls and the overall aural environment in the cockpit area microphone.

According to him, the CVR is of good quality and the bureau is in the process of generating a complete transcript of all relevant information.

“However, the actual recording is under international protocol, sensitive and therefore, privileged information and will not be released at any time‚Äô‚Äô he said.

The AIB is a parastatal agency in the Federal Ministry of Aviation and was established in 1989. It is responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within Nigeria.

Its fundamental objective is to improve aviation safety by determining the circumstances and causes of air accidents and serious incidents.

The AIB is also saddled with the responsibility of making safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence of similar accidents in future.

MOSOP writes Jonathan, issue 90-day ultimatum for the implentation of UNEP report

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President Jonathan

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People

6 Otonahia Close (By Kia Motors), off Olu Obasanjo Rd., Port Harcourt; Rivers State, Peace and Freedom Centre, Bori – Ogoni
P.O Box 10162, Port Harcourt, Tel/Fax: 234-84-233907, 230250; e-mail: [email protected]

1st October 2013

His Excellency
Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
President and Commander-in-Chief of the of the Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Villa
Abuja
Your Excellency,

IMPLEMENTATION OF UNEP REPORT: TWO YEARS AFTER
In the name of God, Ogoni, its spirits and fallen heroes, MOSOP conveys to Your Excellency and
members of your government, the felicitations and goodwill of the Ogoni people.

As you would recall Mr. President, MOSOP launched a titanic struggle in 1990 aimed at rescuing the
Ogoni people from the vagaries of political marginalisation, economic strangulation and environmental
degradation which had reduced the Ogoni people to the lowest rungs of society and imperilled their
survival as a people.

In the course of the struggle, the Ogoni had lost some of its best human and material resources and
continue to face instalmental death occasioned by ongoing pollution of its land-the pivot of Ogoni’s wellbeing.

As a response to the Ogoni campaigns, the United Nations passed several resolutions on Ogoni some of
which include the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 50/199 on the situation of human rights
in Nigeria mandating the then Secretary-General, Boutrous Boutrous Ghali to send a fact-finding team to

Nigeria in 1996. This was followed by recommendations from UN Treaty-bodies such as the CERD and
the 1998 Report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by the then Special Rapporteur to
Nigeria, Mr. Soli Sorabjee who had recommended the environmental study of Ogoniland.

It was therefore with great relief and appreciation that the Ogoni People received the news of the
invitation extended by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2006 to do a study of the Ogoni environment after decades of
unsustainable oil exploration. The environmental issue had been one of the tripod of core issues in the
ongoing Ogoni struggle for justice.

Your Excellency, the UNEP report released on August 4th 2011 validated earlier claims of ecological
disaster by the Ogoni people against Shell. It showed hydrocarbon pollution in surface waters throughout
the creeks of Ogoniland and up to 8cm in groundwater that feed drinking wells.

Soils were found to have been polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of five metres in 49 observed sites, while benzene, a
known carcinogen was found in drinking water at a level 900 times above World Health
Organisation(WHO) acceptable standards.

To quote the summary of the report, “Some areas, which appear unaffected at the surface, are in reality severely contaminated underground and action to protect human health and reduce the risks to affected communities should occur without delay.

In at least ten President: Legborsi Saro Pyagbara; Deputy President: Fortune Okwah Chujor; Secretary-General: Nennibarini Dube; Assistant Secretary-General: Elvis L.Ikomah; Financial Secretary: Theophilus Barine Dike; Publicity Secretary: Legborsi Esaen; Treasurer: Keaniabarido
Ntambu;(10) Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, public
health is seriously threatened”.

As Your Excellency will no doubt be aware, the UNEP report was a confirmation of the death sentence
that had been imposed on generations of Ogoni people since the beginning of oil exploitation in the area
that needed to be upturned with political will and a sense of justice on the part of the President.

The risks inherent in the findings of the report as known to you, Mr. President , are not theoretical risks but reports
of exposure to a daily hazard for which UNEP recommended immediate actions and health checks in these communities.

Your Excellency, in climes where lives are treated equally and people entitled to the same respect, the above scenario in Ogoni would have imposed a sense of national emergency on the part of government in terms of its response to the environmental crisis in Ogoni. Had this crisis happened elsewhere but Ogoni, we believe that the response would have been different.

Just last year , in the wake of the flood disaster that rocked Ibadan and other parts of the country, the Ogoni people saw the way you mobilized the nation to rise up to the challenge. Ogoni had expected the same from you. We had expected a type of national mobilization akin to what the Obama Administration coordinated in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill incident in the USA. Unfortunately, this had not been our portion in Ogoniland.

Two years after the release of the report, MOSOP assessment of the implementation of the UNEP recommendations indicate that the Ogoni people are still dealing with the pains of loss of livelihoods, impoverishment and misery resulting from the destruction of their environment. Two years after the release of the report, the assessment showed a scorecard of woeful failure on the part of both the Federal Government and Shell’s efforts which is less than 1% implementation demonstrated only by the erection of signposts on polluted deadly waters that dot the Ogoni landscape.

Your Excellency, it is sad that two years after the release of the report, the government and Shell have been promoting a piecemeal and superficial approach to remediation measures recommended by UNEP.

The response of the Nigerian government smacks of complicity and a deliberate action that is punitive of the Ogoni struggle and guarantees that Shell does not take responsibility for its mess in Ogoniland. The Ogoni people had seen this manner of punishment being meted to them with the Niger Delta Development Commission and would not accept it any longer.

Angered by the lukewarm response of your government to the UNEP report, saddened by the ineffectual and polarising approach adopted by Shell and determined to take their destiny into their own hands to ensure that the UNEP report is implemented , the Ogoni people had on August 9 , 2013, to coincide with this year’s anniversary of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples embarked on a Nonviolent
Peaceful Protest in which we amongst other things have given the Federal Government a 90-day Ultimatum to set in motion a holistic and multi-stakeholder process for the implementation of the UNEP report which respects all parties to the Ogoni dispute.

As part of MOSOP’s demands during the protests, the Ogoni People have stated that:1. More than a year after the setting up of HYPREP, we have not seen any direction and clear framework of intervention by the body on the Ogoni cleanup and everything related thereto is shrouded in secrecy. We therefore call for the scrapping of the hastily constituted Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project(HYPREP) and put in place a proper statutory mechanism to oversee the Ogoni Clean Up Programme

2. We call for the Establishment of the Ogoni Environmental Restoration Fund as recommended by UNEP.
3. To ensure that the legitimate interest and rights of the Ogoni people are protected, the Ogoni
people should be consulted and involved at every stage of the planning and implementation
process.

Consequently, MOSOP is asking for adequate representation of the Ogoni people on all the relevant committees and bodies related to policy, execution and supervision of the project in line with the internationally recognised Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent which has
become imperative for any intervention process in Indigenous communities.

4. The payment of adequate compensation to the Ogoni people in respect of the damage that had been done to its environment as part of Federal Government efforts to address socio-economic issues.

5. MOSOP is deeply concerned about reported agitation by certain individuals and business entities to commercialize the prospective clean-up process by positioning themselves to corner the contracts, which, of course they would hardly implement after collecting the money. Ogoni is not
and cannot be put up for sale.

6. To guarantee the integrity and effective implementation of the UNEP report, there is need for supervision by an international oversight body recommended to the Nigerian government by the United Nations in consultation with MOSOP. This agency should collaborate with other
institutions dealing with the clean-up of Ogoniland.

7. The Ogoni people decry their current marginalisation under the Jonathan-led administration. As we write, there is no federal project in Ogoniland that positively impacts our lives and the Ogoni people appear to have been deliberately excluded from the scheme of things. No Ogoni person has been given any major appointment in the current dispensation at the Federal level. MOSOP is therefore calling for an end to this level of political exclusion.

8. MOSOP earnestly urges the Federal Government to prevail on NNPC to ensure that its Surveillance Contracts are given to Ogoni sons for proper monitoring of pipelines passing through Ogoni to avoid unnecessary buck-passing of failures to Ogoni people.

We wish to assure Your Excellency that we remain committed to working with the Federal Government through any effective process for the peaceful resolution of the matters stated therein.

We look forward to this matter being addressed with a renewed sense of urgency and MOSOP stands ready to co-operate with you in ending the death sentence passed on the Ogoni people through unmitigated pollution that has killed scores of our kith and kin.

Yours sincerely,
Legborsi Saro Pyagbara
President

FG stops striking lecturers’ salaries

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Prof. Julius Okoye
Prof. Okoye, NUC boss

The Federal Government may have commenced the implementation of the “No Work, No Pay” rule as part of desperate moves to suppress the ongoing strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which enters the fourth month.

Very reliable source at the National Universities Commission, NUC, told our correspondent that the government has passed a directive to the various universities governing councils to stop payment of salaries of the striking lecturers.

The ASUU Zonal Chairman in Abuja, Clement Chup confirmed this yesterday after a zonal conference of ASUU, University of Abuja chapter, which took place at the Gwagwalada campus to review the nationwide strike.

He said his colleagues were yet to receive their September salaries.

According to Chup, “we have resorted to other welfare strategies to cope with the effect of the strike, particularly to contain the various attempts by government to break the resolve of the union.

“The Federal Government has through the National Universities Commission, directed universities to stop the payment of our salaries effective September this year and since then our salaries have not been paid.

“Part of the welfare strategy, involved distributing food items, giving out soft loans and cash advances to members.”

He urged members of the public to ignore the rumour that the strike has been called off. “Nigerians should disregard rumours making the rounds that the three months old strike has been called off,” adding that “the strike continues until the government demonstrates a positive inclination towards implementing the 2009 agreements and the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties.”

US shutdown may affect Nigeria oil price – IMF

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IMF President, Christine Largade
IMF President, Christine Largade

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), has said that the ongoing shutdown witnessed in the US might affect Nigerian and other countries’ trade on oil prices.

Laggard who stated this at a news conference on the official opening of the ongoing annual meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington DC, stated that “Now, as far as Nigeria is concerned, clearly, we would have to look into how it would affect the price of the oil, because Nigeria is an oil consuming and exporting country.

“We are, as I said, currently working on this analysis and engaging in a dialogue with countries,” she said.

Lagarde said that the shutdown would have negative consequences for the US economy and also very negative consequences outside of the US economy.

According to her, the IMF does not take a stand and does not make recommendation as how politically such matters can be resolved. “This is not for the IMF to say; we don‚Äôt have a political view; we only look at the economic consequences of the measures decided anywhere in the world.

“When it affects largest economy in the world, we are bound to not only look at the immediate domestic consequences, but also have to look at what happens elsewhere.

“And we have to engage in a dialogue with our members to see how they can best prepare for that and anticipate,” the managing director said.

Lagarde said that the effect of the shutdown might materialise in various channels in different economies.

“In Nigeria, it would include the trade channel because the US economy would have to balance its budget and would certainly reduce its economic activity starting from the third quarter onward.

“The second channel, which is probably going to be much more active, is the financial channel, where as a result of uncertainty and material, practical issues having to do with impaired versus non-impaired securities, we are likely going to see.

“If that matter is not resolved, we are likely to see volatility, uncertainty and consequences on the rest of the world.‚Äô‚Äô

On the global economic outlook, she said that “2014 looks a little better in forecast with point five and seven per cent up from this year‚Äô‚Äô.

According to her, the 2013 forecast by IMF indicates that there was recovery, but it was slow and unbalanced.

On support to the low-income economies, she said the IMF had reached the threshold of enough approvals from members to transfer gold profit to meet the financial needs of low income countries.

“We have what we call Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) that we very much want to be sustainable so that it can respond to the needs of the low-income countries. We need a threshold of 90 per cent.

“Ninety per cent of the membership has agreed to transfer over to the trust the windfall profit that was made at the time of gold sale that took place about three years ago.

“So that is the good news of this week for us and we are very pleased that the membership has recognised the need to actually make sure that the PRGT for low income countries be sustainable.‚Äô‚Äô

Similarly, Nigeria’s Finance Minisrer and Coordinating minister of the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that ‚ÄúThe present situation in the US creates uncertainties for people in the developing and emerging markets; that is why we look forward to a swift resolution of the issue of the debt ceiling.

“If not resolved it could upset the market, we could see higher interest rates, it could directly affect Nigerian bonds — as you know we do not have only the 500 million Euro bond we floated two years ago but also the highly successful Euro Bond we floated recently about three, four months ago”.

The minister said that the present administration was working hard to ensure that the growth which the nation’s economy has recorded was converted into better living standards for ordinary people.

According to her, the Federal Government is massively investing in infrastructure facilities, especially electricity which she identified as Nigerian’s most critical development impediment, among both the rich and the poor.

She said: “We are utilizing the funds freed from petroleum subsidy to create social safety nets in the area of maternal and infant health, which has won a commonwealth award for its initiative.”

Malawi president sacks cabinet over corruption scandal

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Joyce Banda
Banda sacked corrupt officials

Malawi President Joyce Banda dissolved the cabinet on Thursday after police arrested several junior officials in her government in recent weeks on suspicion of stealing state funds.

The presidency of the southern African state said in a statement that Banda, who came to office in April 2012, “will announce a new cabinet in due course.” It did not elaborate.

The presidency had said on Wednesday that Banda would meet her cabinet the following day to discuss the financial scandal and who was responsible.

It did not disclose details of Thursday’s meeting, but a senior government official, who asked not to be named, said Banda told the cabinet that she had “lost faith” in them.

The scandal, known locally as “cash-gate”, forced the government to shut down its payment system last week so that it could investigate over $4 million that went missing, delaying the payment of salaries to teachers, nurses and doctors.

Banda, who faces an election next year, has won acclaim in the West for austerity measures and moves to bolster the economy of the aid-dependent, impoverished country.

But steps such as an IMF-backed devaluation of the kwacha currency have stoked inflation, raised the price of food for the rural poor and eroded Banda’s domestic support.

The police said that about 10 junior government officials had been arrested so far for suspected graft, and that they had recovered tens of thousands of dollars in cash from their car boots and homes.

A small group of protesters marched in the capital Lilongwe on Thursday and delivered a petition calling for the sacking of top officials, including Finance Minister Ken Lipenga, over the scandal. Lipenga has denied any wrongdoing. He was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

Last week, envoys from eight Western donor nations, whose aid traditionally has accounted for about 40 percent of the state budget, asked Banda to deal with the alleged corruption at the treasury and investigate an attack on the budget director.

“These are worrying developments that potentially risk Malawi’s stability, rule of law and reputation,” the envoys said in a statement.

Budget director Paul Mphwiyo was shot last month, but survived the attack.

After the shooting, the government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau and police launched an investigation into the budget director and unnamed ministers over suspected graft, indicating the scandal extended beyond just a few junior officials.

“People have lost confidence in (Banda’s) leadership and the best thing she can do is to order the arrest of senior officials involved and ask her finance minister to resign,” Lazarus Chakwera, leader of the opposition MCP, said at a public rally over the weekend.

Malawi’s troubled economy has shown signs of improvement in the past few months with inflation that was once running over 30 percent easing slightly, while earnings from its main export tobacco are expected to double this year from 2012.