MATTERS ARISING: Politics& Policies: Private Jets Abetting Private Crimes
In the light of increasing ownership of private jets in Nigeria, the Federal Government has said illegal consignments and cash in local and foreign currencies were being smuggled on a daily basis in and out of the country aboard private jets, while some persons that security agencies had declared wanted were being airlifted out of the country aboard private and chartered jets.
The federal government has therefore insisted that pilots flying such jets must declare the passenger manifest before being allowed to take off.
Addressing reporters recently in Lagos, Coordinating Information and Communications Manager for aviation parastatals, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said the order for the declaration of passenger manifest was necessary to check the abuse of the use of private and chartered jets.
Dati explained that the measure is for security reasons, especially the need to arrest those who had constituted security threats to the country, adding that the government would not renege on its decision for pilots of private jets to file their manifests before being given Air Traffic Control clearance.
Obasanjo dares FG
In rection to the war of words between former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, and the presidency, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has dared the federal government to come after him if it is keen to probe his administration; instead of going after the people that served under him.
Speaking at the at the 50th birthday thanksgiving service for Ezekwesili, Obasanjo said, “I have always said this, whatever you want to blame in my government, blame me; don’t blame any of those people who assisted me. If there is any credit to dispense, we share it. But for anything you want to say is wrong, I was the one in charge and I was in charge.”
Ezekwesili, had accused Jonathan’s administration of squandering the $67bn it inherited Obasonjo’s government, with the presidency describing her statement as being reckless.
Economy: Tax Rebate for Creative Brains
The Federal Government has called for support from the private sector to enable it to address the unemployment situation in the country. As part of measures to address the country’s huge unemployment rate, the government has signified its intention to give tax rebate to job-creating firms
The Project Director, Graduate Internship Programme of the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme, Mr. Peter Papka, who revealed this said, “The major challenge of the GIS is that the level of buy-in from the firms is below expectation. This is despite the advantages that will accrue to such firms. They should enjoy free labour at government expense as government will pay the monthly stipends of the interns; they get the best interns to join their workforce and get a cost-free opportunity to render their corporate social responsibility. The project is also planning other incentives like tax rebates for companies registered with it.”
The GIS was inaugurated in October 2012 to create opportunity for graduates to be attached to firms where they could work for a year and enjoy a monthly stipend of N18, 000. Such interns can use the opportunity to gain work experience and enhance their employability.
Bank: First Bank Expanding to 11 African Countries
First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc (FBNH) has disclosed plans to extend its business to 11 other African countries.
Disclosing this at the World Economic Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bisi Onasanya said “Essentially we’re looking at West Africa, Francophone and Anglophone countries. We will never do green fields and it has to be in line with our retail banking strategy.”
Onasanya declined to name the countries but stressed that the financial institution would not undertake any expansion that will hurt its plan to dominate the domestic market.
Four Nigerians shortlisted for Caine Prize
Four Nigerians have been shortlisted for this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing. The four Nigerians whose 2012 titles made it to the final list of five are Elnathan John for his “Bayan Layi”; Tope Folarin for “Miracle”; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim for “The Whispering Trees” and Chinelo Okparanta for “America”. Sierra Leonean writer, Pede Hollist’s “Foreign Aid” completes the list. The five finalists were chosen from 96 entries from 16 African countries.
Helon Habila, the first Nigerian writer to win the prize, Segun Afolabi, E.C Osondu and Rotimi Babatunde, winner in 2012, comprise the list of Nigerians who have won the Caine Prize. Winner of this year’s 10,000 pound ($15,200) prize will be announced on July 8 in Oxford, England, and will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2013.
UN Security Council: Nigeria gets AU endorsement
African Union members have endorsed Nigeria in her quest to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in October. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, who disclosed this after a closed door meeting with other foreign ministers at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, said “we had convinced ECOWAS to support us and then we engaged in vigorous campaigns among other African countries and with the endorsement we received today, they would come out and vote for us during the election in October.”
The minister however stressed that a lot still has to be done to convince similar groups outside Africa to get the required votes. “We still have a lot of work to do outside Africa in terms of convincing similar regional groupings like the African Union. This is because we need two-thirds majority in order to be formally voted into the Security Council as a non-permanent member.”
Ashiru also noted that the UN Security Council is the highest legislative body in the world which any country craves to be part of and countries who would like to be in the council in ten years time have started their campaigns now. The 10 non-permanent members that Nigeria seeks to join are: Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Morocco, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Korea, and Togo.
Judases in the Army
In the light of the present engagement of the military in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, has made a shocking revelation that some saboteurs among the military officers are leaking information to Boko Haram insurgents.
Ihejirika who disclosed this at the Nigerian Army Transformation Seminar, recently held in Abuja said some soldiers have been caught giving the Boko Haram members vital operational secrets of the army. He said while some were busy posting negative comments on the internet, others were opening up communications with insurgents and giving them information on the movements of troops.
He however warned that any officer caught in such act will be severely dealt with. “Let me warn, let me also use this opportunity to warn officers and soldiers who indulge in giving out information both from army headquarters and other formations. I want to state that any officer or soldier caught one way or the other will be disciplined severely; there are no two ways about it.”
A similar incident occurred last year which led to the attack on an army convoy carrying troops deployed to Mali in Okene, Kogi. Ihejirika stated that the soldier had been caught and would face the court martial.