Editorial Suite

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BY the time you will be reading this we will be already in the New Year. As at the time of writing this piece, it’s remaining five days to the end of the year. And most people are already counting their gains and losses in 2014. Those who recorded appreciable results in their endeavour will resolve to do better in the year 2015, while those who lost out will equally resolve to do better in the New Year. And so everybody is looking at 2015 with a lot of optimism and apprehension.

The optimism springs from the belief that a new year will invariably bring good tidings to remedy the wrongs of the old year. There is also apprehension because of the desperate situations in the country caused by Boko Haram insurgency, insecurity that pervades the land and the palpable fear that things will fall apart completely in 2015, going by the prediction of the US State Department many years ago. Some Nigerians are apprehensive over 2015 because of the general elections and because the year appears pregnant with uncertainty over the country’s economic and revenue blues as a result of fall in crude oil prices; with whatever will happen depending on who wins and loses the election both at the federal and state levels.

It is expected that there will be violent eruption is some volatile states. On the other hand, some diehard optimist think that the elections will come and go and Nigeria and Nigerians will trudge on as if nothing happened. Whichever, way it goes, the Realnews team is very mindful of all the permutations and challenges and has decided to put the major happenings of the year in perspective to remind us of where we were coming from in 2014, to enable us prepare for where we are headed in 2015 as a country. To do this effectively, we have chronicled major events in the year in politics, economy, judiciary, sports, education, entertainment not forgetting the big winners and losers in the last edition of the year, published January 5, 2015. It is entitled the Events of the Year 2014 and done in segments by members of our editorial team. Your will enjoy reading the scintillating prose. Happy New Year!

Maureen Chigbo

Editor

mechigbo@yahoo.com  |  mechigbo@realnewsmagazine.net

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Events of the Year: Economy

By Maureen Chigbo  |

NIGERIA’s economy in the year 2014 had a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly. In the first quarter of the year the nation was greeted with the good news that the country has rebased its gross domestic product, GDP, from 1990 to 2010, resulting in the 89 percent increase in the estimated size of the economy. As a result, the country now boasts of having the largest economy in Africa with an estimated nominal GDP of $510 billion, surpassing South Africa’s $352 billion.

The exercise also reveals a more diversified economy than previously thought. Nigeria has maintained its impressive growth over the past decade with a record estimated 7.4 percent growth of real gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, up from 6.7 percent in 2012. This growth rate is higher than the West African sub regional level and far higher than the sub-Saharan Africa level. The performance of the economy is underpinned by favourable improvements in the non-oil sector, with real GDP growth of 5.4 percent, 8.3 percent, and 7.8 percent in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Agriculture – particularly crop production – trade and services – continues to be the main drivers of non-oil sector growth. The oil sector growth performance was not as impressive with 3.4 percent, -2.3 percent and 5.3 percent estimated growth rates in 2011, 2012 and 2013, correspondingly. Growth of the oil sector was hampered throughout 2013 and 2014 by supply disruptions arising from oil theft and pipeline vandalism, and by weak investment in upstream activities with no new oil finds. It got worse with the pumping of Shale oil into the international market and the resumption of production by some war-turn countries in the middle east who succeeded in repairing their burst pipelines and also increasing oil supply in the international market. This was followed by a crash in the price of oil and dwindling revenues from crude oil sales which accounts for the 85 percent of the Nigeria’s revenue. The made the country to adopt austerity measures to cope with the financial blues facing the country.

Adesina
Adesina

There is no gain saying that the good news of the GDP rebasing was overshadowed by the fall in oil prices which grossly affected the revenue of the country. This made the federal government to bench its 2015 budget on $65 per barrel of crude oil sales and brought down the growth rate at about 5 percent in 2015 with a budget of 4.3 trillion as announced by Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy on December 17. With the dwindling oil revenue, the nation is expecting a harsh economic environment in 2015 even though the government has assured that it has put measures in place the cushion the effect of the austerity measures on the masses. It also appears the rich will seemingly bear the brunt of the economic downturn as there will be increased taxation on luxury goods and service.

Nonetheless, poverty and unemployment continue to be the lot of many Nigerians despite the fact that government said that it created more than 1.7 million jobs in 2014 alone. But the good news is that the economy is being diversified especially in the agriculture sector where food supplies has continued to increase with a reduction in imported food items into the country. The inflation has also held steady standing at about 5.6 percent as at November with marginal increase in prices of food items. “We should see these challenging times as times of opportunities to further move this economy on the right path. Luckily, this administration had taken to diversification seriously and began to make inroads prior to this time. The non-Oil sector, whose growth has averaged about 8 percent in the last few years’ is the primary driver of growth in the economy unlike the oil sector which is actually contracting,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Emefiele
Emefiele

Other evidence of this diversification, according to her, can be seen in the agriculture sector, where food imports declined from N 1.1 trillion ($6.7 billion) in 2009 to N 684 billion ($4.35 billion) in 2013 and continues to decline, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. NBS data on consumer price index for the month of November 2014 also shows that inflation eased for the third consecutive month from 8.1 percent to 7.9 percent as a result of slower rise in food prices. So the efforts of government to boost food production all across the country are paying off.

This year alone, the federal government added 12 million MT of food to our domestic food supply according to Ministry of Agriculture data. These include maize: 6.13 million MT; rice: 3.25 million MT; cassava: 2.12 million MT, amongst others. Despite crash in the value of the Naira from N150 per dollar in January to N185 per dollar in the parallel market in November,  there has been a very marginal increase in food prices due to increased food harvests. “Nigerians are not paying more for food despite the devaluation, because agriculture is working. Commodity prices monitored and published by the NOVUS Agro Nigeria Commodity Index buttress this assertion,” the minister said during the presentation of the Budget 2015 in Abuja.

The economy was also affected by the ongoing precarious security situation in certain parts of the country. Despite this and many other misgivings associated with its overall governance deficits, some international institutions and organisations have still reposed confidence in Nigeria to the point of getting her to host major international conferences in 2014. For example, in May Nigeria hosted the first ever World Economic Forum in the country despite the security scare that followed the twin bombings in Nyanya in Abuja, in which many were killed and hundreds injured and the kidnapped of Chibok school girls in Borno State.

Alison-Madueke
Alison-Madueke

It also hosted the 35th Conference/General Assembly of the 130-member country strong International Federation of Surveyors; the World Conference of Engineers and, of course, the UNESCO’s “World Book Capital for 2014” held in Port Hacourt, Rivers State.

On May 6, Barrack Obama, president of the United States of America, declared Nigeria as the world’s next economic success story, stressing that the discovery was one of the major reasons why his government was committed to helping the country build strong democratic institutions and as well remove constraints to trade and investment through the African Growth and Opportunity. Obama said this the US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum, an event organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, NIDOA, in Washington DC, yesterday, President Obama was represented by Ambassador Eunice Reddick, a top official of the US Department.

In June, Godwin Emefiele assumed office as the new governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN following President Goodluck Jonathan’s sack of his predecessor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who went to court to challenge his removal from office before his due date for retirement early June.

On September 25, Cowrie Partners hosted its inaugural Nigeria Agriculture Investment Conference which focused on sustainable sources of Agriculture funding and how to address the attendant risks in Lagos. The conference will be held annually to create the forum to address topical issues pertaining to investment in Nigeria Agriculture.

On October 12, Emefiele, governor of Central Bank said at the the JPmorgan event in Washington on the sideline of the 2014 IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings, that “For the first half of 2014, the economy has created over 500, 000 jobs and “interestingly, almost 40 per cent of employers cited “business expansion” as the reason for hiring new staff.”  The jobs were created in the private sector.

— Dec. 29, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

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Boko Haram’s Bloody War Against Nigeria

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By Olu Ojewale  |

THE year could be best described as perhaps, the bloodiest year since Boko Haram began its campaign of terror in 2009. Throughout the year, the Nigerian military was engaged in a fierce battle with the imperious insurgents in the North-East. While the Nigerian security agencies were intensifying their assaults on Boko Haram terrorists, the fundamentalists appeared to be more nefarious in their terror activities. The sect carried out two major attacks that shocked the nation and caused international uproar on April 14. First it was a baffling attack on Nyanya Bus Terminal, near Abuja, where a twin bomb attacks killed 75 persons. While security agencies were still battling on ways to unravel the jigsaw, the sect in another attack abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok Federal Government Secondary School, Borno State. The abduction invoked an international condemnation and led to the establishment #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which has been receiving international sympathy with leading advance countries offering various kinds of assistance.

Badeh
Badeh

Nevertheless, there was no let up in the activities of the sect which carried out series of bomb blasts, even using underage girls as bombers in various parts of the North.

  • Between January and March of the year 2014, 18 communities were attacked by Boko Haram insurgents and more than 17,000 persons were killed. Kenneth Minimah, a lieutenant-general and chief of army, disclosed at a news briefing in Abuja. Among those killed in March were 59 children in Yobe State. In one of the incidents, insurgents attacked Air Force base and set ablaze some military facilities.
  • On May 1, more than 30 persons and several others injured in the attack on Kashi Taxi Park in Abuja.
  • Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist group claimed responsibility for the attack on fuel depot on Creek Road, Lagos in which two persons were killed, on June 25.
  • Also on Wednesday, June 25, a bomb blast rocked Emab Plaza, an Abuja shopping mall, killing 21 persons, including Suleiman Bisalla, managing editor at New Telegraph
  • Less than two weeks after the killing of Bashir Mohammed, who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram sect, another video was released by the sect on Thursday, October 2, claiming that he was not killed by the Nigerian military.
  • Two female bombers struck at Federal College of Education, Kotangora, Niger State, killing one person and injuring many others.
  • Fifteen persons were killed and several others injured when insurgents attacked two communities in Borno State on October 17.
  • Minimah
    Minimah

    On October 17, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, chief of defence staff, announced ceasefire agreement with Boko Haram insurgents. But two weeks later, the sect denied any agreement even as it stepped up its attacks on North East of the country.

  • Fulani herdsmen slaughtered 31 persons in some parts of Wukari Local Government, Taraba State on October 19.
  • Boko Haram insurgents freed 366 prisoners during their raids on Mubi town in Adamawa State, on Thursday October 30.
  • Suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked Central Motor Park in Gombe State on Friday, October 31, killing more than 30 persons.
  • Between July 27, 2009 and October 2014, Ope Fitinikun, spokesman of Nigerian Prisons Service, disclosed that Boko Haram sect had released 2,255 prison inmates from various facilities across the country. Fitinikun made the disclosure at a news conference in Abuja, on November 5.
  • On Sunday night of November 2, Boko Haram insurgents in a raid on Kogi prison, freed 145 prison inmates.
  • Mararaba, Michika, Madagabi, Mubi and Vintim towns were captured by Boko Haram insurgents in October and declared Islamic rule in those places before Nigerian military recaptured them early in November.
  • A Police station at headquarters of Nafada Local Government, Gombe State was attacked and set ablaze on Tuesday, November 4.
  • Internally displaced persons from Adamawa State
    Internally displaced persons from Adamawa State

    In November, there were series of bomb attacks in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states. Almost 100 people were killed. There was even an attempt by Boko Haram insurgents to take over Damaturu, capital of Yobe State.

  • On November 10, 47 schoolchildren were killed in a terrorist attack on Government Comprehensive School, Potiskum, Yobe State. At least 98 students and teachers were injured in the attack.
  • Boko Haram insurgents infiltrated an Islamic procession of members of the Shia’a muslim Brotherhood at Potiskum, killing 26 persons on November 13.
  • Two female bombers killed more than 30 people in an attack on Monday Market in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Monday, November 24.
  • At least one prison warden was killed when gunmen stormed the Federal Prison in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State on Sunday night of November 30. Twenty sniffer dogs were killed in the attack in which more than 100 prison inmates escaped.
  • Nigeria suffered one of its bloodiest terrorist attacks on Friday, November 28, when two bombs exploded outside the Central Mosque of Kano city, killing more than 100 people. Some of the terrorists also attacked with guns as people were trying to escape the blasts.
  • On December 1, Boko Haram practically put Damaturu, capital of Yobe State, under siege in an attempt to seize the Government House in the state. Many people were killed in the attack and several others injured. On the same day, insurgents attacked Maiduguri killing two persons.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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2014: Year of Political Activities

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THE year 2014 promised to be an eventful one in Nigerian politics. It did not disappoint; more so because it preceded the year 2015 which had been slated for Nigerian general elections. As expected there were several political moves, mudslinging and horse-trading in the political firmament. The year began with the much talked about issue of the proposed National Conference dominating after President Goodluck Jonathan had agreed to the necessity of the conference.

On March 1, President Jonathan formally inaugurated the 492-member conference. It was headed by Justice Idris Kutigi, former chief justice of the federation, serving as chairman, and Bolaji Akinyemi, former minister of foreign affairs, as deputy chairman. The five-month old conference concluded its mission on July 14.

Sanusi
Sanusi

The defection of 42 members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the House of Representatives to the opposition All Progressives Congress the previous year (2013), was another issue that gripped the political scene early in the year. On March 31, a federal high court in Abuja declared as unconstitutional the defection of the 42 legislators. The matter remained a judicial matter until end of the year.

*   On February 12, President Goodluck appeared to do the needful when he relieved Stella Oduah, former minister of Aviation, of her job over the purchase of two bullet-proof cars for the sum of N255 million the previous year. The issue had heated up the polity for sometimes. But Oduah did not go alone. Also sacked were Godsday Orubebe, minister of Niger Delta; Caleb Olubolade, minister of Police Affairs and Yerima Ngama, minister of state for finance.

*   Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now Emir of Kano, lost his job as governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, when President Jonathan suspended him from office based on various allegations of corruption and abuse of office. The president’s action was seen much as a political move rather than economic because of Sanusi had been a stoic critic of his administration.

*   On June 21, the electorate in Ekiti State elected Ayodele Fayose, former governor and a member of the PDP as new governor. Fayose defeated Kayode Fayemi, incumbent governor, representing the APC. Fayose was formally inaugurated on October 16 at a colourful ceremony.

Nyako
Nyako

*   One person was killed in a political rivalry that engulfed Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, between September 21 and 25. Supporters of Fayose were said to have stormed the state high court where the governor’s eligibility was being challenged.

*   On July 7, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State lost his position following his impeachment by the state House of Assembly. He was replaced by Ahmadu Fintiri, speaker of the state House of Assembly, following the purported resignation of James Ngilari, deputy governor. On October 8, Ngilari became the governor after he won his suit in court challenging his purported resignation.

*   Also in July Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, escaped from being removed from office when impeachment moves against him failed because he was absolved of all wrong doings by the panel set up to investigate him.

*   In Osun State, Governor Rauf Aregbesola was re-elected as governor on August 9. He defeated Iyiola Omisore of the PDP in the election.

*   Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and 25 members of the state House of Assembly defected from the Labour party to the PDP.

*   In October, Tom Ikimi, former minister of foreign affairs and chieftain of the APC, defected back to the PDP.

Fayose
Fayose

*   On October 28, Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, defected from the PDP to join the APC. He announced his defection at the end of the proceeding at the House on the day. For his daring move, the police on the second day removed all the security details attached to Tambuwal saying he was no longer recognised as speaker.

*   President Jonathan after much prompting, formally declared his intention to run at a rally held the Eagles Square, Abuja, on November 11.

*   Olusegun Osoba, former governor of Ogun State and Segun Adesegun, deputy governor to Governor Ibikunle Amosu, announced their defection from the APC to the Social Democratic Party, SDP.

*   November 20, the day the House of Representatives were to discuss President Jonathan’s letter asking for extension of the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and yobe states, police besieged the National Assembly, with the aim of preventing Tambuwal and his supporters from gaining entry.

Aregbesola
Aregbesola

*   On November 20, seven members out of the 26-member Ekiti State House of Assembly, belonging to the PDP removed Adewale Omirin of the APC, as speaker of the House. He was replaced by Dele Olugbemi of the PDP, who had acted as speaker when the controversial seven met on November 17, to approve the list of political aides to the House by Fayose. The 19 members of the APC were still at loggerheads with their PDP counterparts by the end of the year.

*   December 3, Bamanga Tukur, former national chairman of the PDP and Aliyu Abuba Gurin, a House of Representatives aspirant, were suspended from the party for one month for anti-party activity. Gurin had challenged the resignation of Tukur in court, while the former party leader later joined him in the suit with the aim of regaining the party leadership.

* Tambuwal won the APC governorship ticket in Sokoto State. Akinwumi Ambode, an accountant, won the APC ticket in Lagos, while Jimi Agbaje, a pharmacist, won the PDP ticket in Lagos State. Umana Umana, former secretary to the state government, won the APC in Akwa Ibom, while Udom Emmanuel, also a former secretary to the state government, won the PDP governorship ticket in the state.

Tambuwal
Tambuwal
Buhari
Buhari

*   December 11, President Jonathan formally got the approval of the PDP as the party’s presidential candidate. The APC similarly elected General Muhamadu Buhari as its presidential candidate in keenly contested primaries held in Lagos. Buhari defeated Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership newspaper.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Events of the Year: Scandals

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By Fidelia Salami  |

AS usual, Nigeria had its own share of scandals in the year 2014. One of the darkest periods in the history of the country was the wave of cold-blooded killings and kidnappings of civilians by Islamist militants, who until end of the year, were still holding hostage more than 200 schoolgirls whom they abducted April 14, at Chibok, Borno State. The saga generated so much noise that shocked the whole world.

On August 28, there was a scandal about the new Nigerian National Identity Cards which was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan, with branded logo of the American firm, MasterCard. It sparked outrage across the country amid fears of serious security and economic breach. Several Nigerians called for the immediate stop of the deal. An anonymous source said, allowing MasterCard’s emblem on the Nigerian National Identity Card could only compare to the trans-Atlantic Slave trade abolished in the 19th century.

One of the biggest scandals was when the South African government seized a total of $15million from Nigeria government representatives on separate occasions on the suspicion that the money was meant for illegal arms deals. Nigeria said the deals were legal. The first transaction raised so much dust because it involved the use of a private aircraft belonging to Ayo Oritsejafor, a pastor and president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. The aircraft was seized on September 5, for illegally transporting $9.3 million cash to South Africa. The money which was packed in several suitcases was discovered at the Lanseria Airport following a luggage search. The money was ceased because it was not declared to South African Customs as required by the law. While the dust raised by that was yet to settle, South Africa confiscated a second tranche of funds meant for arms purchase to fight the extremist Boko Haram sect. The $5.7 million wired by the Nigerian government through a bank to an arms dealer in that country was also seized.

In the oil and gas sector, the Nigeria Oil Bloc corruption scandal in which Claudio Descalzi, the chief executive officer of ENI, was probed barely four months after assuming office almost razed hell. ENI, Italy’s biggest listed company, is still under investigation by authorities for alleged corruption relating to the United States $1.3 billion Malabu Oil Deal in Nigeria’s Oil Prospecting Lease, OPL, 245 in September 2014. The Milan prosecutors, who recently opened a probe into the acquisition, had placed the company, Paolo Scaroni, its former chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, incumbent, under investigation for alleged international corruption surrounding the deal for the Oil Prospecting Licence 245 offshore oil field concession.

Exactly two weeks after, Italian prosecutors accused Eni of paying $533m bribe to Nigerian politicians and others to purchase an oil field in 2011, United Kingdom-listed independent oil and gas producer, Afren Plc, dismissed Osman Shahenshah, its chief executive officer, and two others over payments involving Oriental Energy Resources, a Nigerian oil firm. The review found that Shahenshah and Ullah had agreed with Oriental to receive 15 percent of the net cash flows that was due to Oriental from the Ebok oil field for five years from 2013 in exchange for $400m in funding by Afren. Oriental paid $45m in 2013 into a special purpose vehicle owned and controlled by Shahenshah and Ullah, who used the funds to pay bonuses to themselves and selected employees of Afren, according to the review. The Royal Dutch Shell was also implicated in the Oil Bloc OPL 245 scandal.

Another big scandal was the employment test for recruitment into the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, conducted across the country turned deadly as stampede at three centres claimed the lives of 16 applicants and left scores injured. Eight people died during a stampede at the National Stadium Abuja, five lives were lost at the Liberation Stadium, Elekahia, Port Harcourt, while three applicants also died in Minna. However, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, confirmed that seven people were killed and 40 were injured in the stampede in Abuja. The 60,000-seater Abuja stadium was filled up.

Churches were not left out of scandals. On September 12, a building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations headed by Pastor T.B. Joshua collapsed killing more than 115 people, including more than 80 South Africans. The six storey guest house was undergoing reconstruction when the incident happened.

Earlier in the year, it was Chris Oyakhilome, founder of the Believers Loveworld Ministries, also known as Christ Embassy, who had faced divorced scandal. The development on the matter worsened as Anita, wife of Oyakhilome, filed for the dissolution of the marriage on the grounds of “unreasonable behaviour” and “adultery” on April 9, 2014. Two days after it was reported that Anita had filed for divorce in London, Christ Embassy deleted her pictures and personal information from its official website.

On November 20, honourable members of the National Assembly had to scale the fence like criminals to gain access to the Assembly premises in order to consider the request of President Goodluck Jonathan for the extension emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. The police had forced the action by shutting and blocking the gates in order to prevent Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, and his supporters from getting to building. The Police also tear gassed the Assembly members.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Year of Mixed Fortunes for Media

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By Olu Ojewale  |

THE media had mixed fortunes in 2014. It won and lost. The bad fortune started with Ebere Wabara, associate editor of The Sun newspaper, being abducted from his Surulere, Lagos home on March 28, by men of the Abia State Police Command, who later took him to Umuahia, Abia State, in handcuffs. The police later slammed him with a 10-count charge bordering on seditious publications against Governor Theodore Amaefule Orji of Abia State.

On June 25, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, lost one of its own when a bomb blast which rocked Emab Plaza, Abuja, killed Suleiman Bisalla, managing editor of New Telegraph newspaper. Bisalla had gone to repair his mobile telephone at the complex when the incident happened.

Wabara
Wabara

Also, 14 journalists were abducted in Warri, Delta State by suspected a group of Ijaw militants led by Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, on Sunday, November 16. The 14 journalists, alongside six members of the Ogidigben community were returning to Warri when they were accosted by a horde of fierce looking youths suspected to be militants around Oporoza community. The journalists and their hosts were returning from Ogidigben, where they attended a press conference addressed by the Itsekiri community of Ugborodo on the groundbreaking of $16 billion Delta gas city project to be sighted in the area. The journalists said they were held face down while one of them was forced to hold an AK 47 rifle pointing at them while their pictures were taken. They were held for several hours before being released.

Akpan
Akpan

President Goodluck Jonathan ordered a full investigation into the matter and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan apologised for the incident. He said in a statement: “I owe it a duty and responsibility as chief executive of Delta state to apologize to Nigerians in the incident that 14 journalists were held hostage, I dare say it is unfortunate, condemnable that those who were involved in the abduction of the journalist will soon be brought to book.”

In middle of June, there was a three-day siege on circulation vans in Abuja. Throughout the three days the military harassed, assaulted and seized some national newspapers resulting in loss of millions of Naira.

Oyo
Oyo

On September 6, the NGE lost Dimgba Igwe, a columnist and vice chairman of the SUN Newspaper and a fellow to the cold hands of death when he was killed by a hit and run driver near his Okota residence, Lagos. It was the turn of Realnews to mourn on September 30, when Mike Akpan, editor-in-chief of the online publication died after a brief illness. Akpan was a fellow of the NGE.

Also on October 1, Remi Oyo, former managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, died of cancer related illness. Oyo was also a former president of the Guild.

But it was not all that bad in the media in the year. On November 19, Realnews magazine rolled out the drums to celebrate its second anniversary at Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos. It also unveiled of its book; “Paragon of Journalism.” The event attracted many dignitaries across all walks of life.

Between November 7 and 9, the Nigerian Media Merit Awards was hosted by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in Owerri, the state capital city. Thereafter, Diamond Awards for Media Excellence was held in Lagos on Saturday, November 22 as well as the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative journalism which took place in December. He awards saw many journalists smiling home with different prizes.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Events of the Year: Judiciary

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By Anayo Ezugwu  |

THE judiciary in Nigeria witnessed a lot of controversial issues in 2014. The year started with the crisis which bedeviled the Rivers States judicial system. The judiciary in the state has been under siege since the appointment of the chief judge of the state by the National Judicial Council, NJC, which has been fighting with the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission.

The NJC had at its 67th Meeting which was held on May 27, 2014, deliberated on the state of affairs in the Rivers State Judiciary and noted with concern non-appointment of a Substantive Chief Judge or Acting Chief Judge for Rivers State and its attendant consequences on the general administration of justice, particularly vis-à-vis assignment of cases and other related administrative duties in both the High Court of Justice and Customary Court of Appeal of Rivers State. Consequently, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, the council decided that the most senior Judge in the High Court of Justice of Rivers State Judiciary should perform the functions of assigning Cases to all the Judges of the Court and also carry out other related administrative duties.

It also decided that the most senior Judge in the Customary Court of Appeal of Rivers State Judiciary should perform the functions of assigning cases and also carry out other related administrative duties.

Obasanjo
Obasanjo

But the Rivers State government through the office of its attorney general and commissioner for justice said the directive of the NJC was unconstitutional and unknown to the constitution adding that the NJC does not have powers under the law to manage a state judiciary. It said the issue of the appointment of a Chief Judge is a constitutional matter. What the NJC did is not known to law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The right as to who should appoint an acting Chief Judge or Chief Judge in a state is vested in the governor. Even the President of the country can’t usurp the powers of the governor. It is sad that a body as the NJC that is the custodian of the law is doing this. The crisis is still lingering.

Apart from the crisis in Rivers State, the judiciary was heavily violated in Ekiti State as political thugs invaded the state High Court premises, beat up a High Court judge and tore his clothes on September 22. This ungodly act prompted Justice A. S. Daramola, chief Judge of the state, to order the immediate closure of all courts in Ekiti State until adequate security has been put in place.

The assault was said to have taken place at the hearing of an application filed by Ekiti State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, who were seeking to nullify the 2014 governorship election that produced Ayo Fayose as the governor of the state. Obafemi Fasanmi, chief registrar of the court, who narrated what transpired in the court, said even in the court room of the chief judge was not spared in the orgy of assault and destruction by the thugs.

Fayose
Fayose

On Thursday, September 25, another set of political thugs came in their hundreds and invaded the High court premises in Ado-Ekiti and in the process assaulted Hon Justice J. O. Adeyeye of the High Court No 3 in Ado-Ekiti, beating him up and tearing his suit into shreds while the police officers on guard looked unconcerned and uninterested as judges, magistrates and other members of staff had to run for their dear lives. The courts’ properties were either damaged or completely destroyed. The court room of the Hon Chief Judge was not spared in the orgy of assault and destruction as members of staff attached to his office were beaten up and his court record book torn into pieces by these political thugs who also invaded and disrupted proceedings at the Election Petition Tribunal within the High Court premises in Ado-Ekiti.

Okey Wali, former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, was abducted in his home town in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. According to Augustine Alegeh, president of NBA, Wali was kidnapped by unknown persons on Saturday, October 11, at about 9 p.m.

Justice Mariam Aloma-Mukhtar, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, retired from active service after reaching clocked the mandatory 70 years. Her retirement made the federal government to appoint Mahmud Mohammed as the new CJN. There were also some landmark judgements in the country like the removal of Murtala Nyako, former Adamawa State governor, over corruption charges and stopping of the publication of Olusegun Obasanjo’s autobiography. But the former president has gone to court to challenge the ruling.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Events of the Year: Sports

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By Anayo Ezugwu  |

THE year 2014 recorded a mixed grill in the sporting arena in Nigeria. It was not a very good year for most soccer enthusiasts as soccer teams recorded series of disappointing outings while some athletes performed very well in their various endeavour.

In the area football, soccer fans agonised the inability of Super Eagles to qualify for the Nations Cup to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea in 2015. Although they failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON, the Super Eagles participated in the FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil, where it performed credibly well. The team reached the knock-out stage of the tournament, which they have not qualified for since France 1998. The country, had previously qualified in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010.

Unlike the Super Eagles, the Super Falcons won the 2014 Africa Women Championship hosted by Namibia. The Super Falcons of Nigeria defeated Cameroon to win the ninth edition of the AWC for a record seven times to qualify for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Canada.

In the Nigerian league, Kano Pillars FC, won the Nigeria Glo Premier League for a record third time consecutively. Two Super Eagles players were nominated for the Glo-CAF Award in 2014 for their performances in the year under review. They include Vincent Enyeama and Ahmed Musa.

Super Eagles
Super Eagles

At the Glass House in Abuja, the lingering crisis rocking the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, continued as Chris Giwa-led faction and Amaju Pinnick-led board failed to resolve their differences. The senate committee on sports is also working to abolish the Nigeria Football Association, Act of 2004 and to enact Bill 2014. This new bill seeks to legalise the NFF and reduce government’s interference in football administrations. The committee also fixed the tenure for the NFF executives. Speaking after the passage of the Bill, Adamu Gumba, chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, explained that the new law would stop the endemic succession problem in the football house as there a fixed tenure for the NFF executives has been fixed.

On the European stage, Real Madrid of Spain won the UEFA Champions League for the 2013-2014 seasons for a record tenth time.

On July 13, the German national football team also won the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil. In England, Manchester City won the English Premier League for 2013-2014 seasons. The year also witnessed the biggest ever transfer deal in England. Manchester United bought Angel Di Maria for $59 million from Real Madrid FC of Spain, making him the most expensive football player in Britain.

Super Falcons win AWC 2014
Super Falcons win AWC 2014

In athletics, Nigeria recorded its best performance in any athletics championship at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. The Team Nigeria finished in the eight (8) positions on the overall medals table and second best among the Commonwealth countries in Africa, after South Africa, with a total of 36 medals, comprising 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze.

Blessing Okagbare, captain of Team Nigeria in the track and field events, won 100 metres gold medal in the women’s event in 10.85 seconds. She also won gold in the 200m race, thereby becoming the first Nigerian to win double gold medals in the Common wealth Games. Remarkably, wrestling accounts for the majority of Nigeria’s medals at the games, with 12 medals, comprising two gold, two silver and eight bronze medals.

Apart from these, Chika Amalaha, Nigeria weightlifter at the games, who won Nigeria’s first gold medal, was denied of her medal after she tested positive to a banned substance. At the African Senior Athletics Championship, in Marrakech, Morocco, Team Nigeria put up a brilliant performance to finish top of the log. Blessing Okagbare, won the 100m gold medal in the women event with a new championship record. Also, the men and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay was also won as well, with Okagbare anchoring the female team to gold in 43.56secs.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Big Winners, Big Losers

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THE year 2014 recorded a lot of big time winners and losers in all sectors in the country starting with politics, socio-economic, and so on. President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari were winners in the year as they emerged as the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Congress, APC, respectively.

All the governorship and National Assembly candidates who won the tickets of their different political party to contest 2015 elections were among the winners in 2014. They include Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State, Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of EFCC and PDP guber candidate in Adamawa among others.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Losing out in the political contest were AbdulJelil Tafawa-Balewa, son of the late Tafawa-Balewa, former Nigerian prime minister, who jettisoned his ambition to contest the presidential primaries against Jonathan having been persuaded by the party hierarchy that he had as much a chance as a snow in the hell.

Four prominent individuals who contested the primaries against Buhari were similarly made to lick their wounds as the retired general beat his opponent hands-down. They were, Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership newspaper.

  • Stella Oduah, former minister of Aviation, is among the losers as she was  removed by President Jonathan because of her alleged role in the purchase of two bullet-proof cars for N255 million.
  • Sanusi Lamido Sanusi lost his job as governor of Central Bank of Nigeria for daring to criticise the government of President Jonathan, on February 20.
  • Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, won the race for the post Emir of Kano, following the death of Ayo Bayero on Friday, June 6. Sanusi defeated three other contestants on Sunday, June 8.
  • On June 21, Ayodele Fayose, former governor of Ekiti State, was a winner in the gubernatorial contest. He defeated Kayode Fayemi, the then incumbent governor, at the poll.
  • Osundare
    Osundare

    Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State lost the struggle with the state House of Assembly on July 7, when he was impeached. He was replaced by Ahmadu Fintiri, speaker of the House of Assembly, who eventually lost out to James Ngilari, former deputy governor

  • On July 13, Germany was the winner at this year World Cup held in Brazil by defeating Argentina, 1-0 at the final.
  • Between September 6 and October 2, Nigeria Guild of Editors, lost three of its fellows to the cold hands of death.
  • On July 13, Germany was the winner at this year World Cup held in Brazil by defeating Argentina, 1-0 at the final.
  • Governor Raufu Aregbesola of Osun State, retained his governorship seat in the election held on August 9. The loser in the election was Iyiola Omisore of the PDP. But Omisore is not a gracious loser; he is still in court fighting his loss.
  • Nigeria was a loser as qualification for the African Cup of Nations ended in November.
  • Niyi Osundare, professor of English language, poet and social critic emerged 71st national merit award winner and was conferred with the honour on him at a ceremony in Abuja on Thursday, December 4.
  • Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, won the APC governorship ticket in Sokoto State. Akinwumi Ambode, an accountant, won the APC ticket in Lagos, while Jimi Agbaje, a pharmacist, won the PDP ticket in Lagos State. Umana Umana, former secretary to the state government, won the APC in Akwa Ibom, while Udom Emmanuel, also a former secretary to the state government, won the PDP governorship ticket in the state.
  • Agbaje
    Agbaje
    Oduah
    Oduah

    In the primaries in the National Assembly, David Mark, Senate president won the ticket to contest under the PDP; Ike Ekweremadu, deputy Senate president, won the ticket as well, to return to the Senate. But Victor Ndoma-Egba, Senate leader, could not get a ticket back for a re-contention. Goodwill Akpabio, Gabriel Suswan and Jonah Jang governors of Akwa Ibom, Benue and Plateau states won the tickets to contest senate seats in their states.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Events of the Year: Education

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By Anayo Ezugwu  |

THE year 2014 was not particularly good for the education sector in Nigeria. It started with a carry-over of industrial actions embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic, ASUP, and the Colleges of Education of Academic Staff Union, COEASU, which made students to sit at home for more than nine months before it was called off. The unions suspended their strikes in July after the federal government accepted to meet their demands.

The unions alleged that the federal government refused to implement the release of the white paper on the report of the visitation panel to federal polytechnics, non-implementation of the Needs Assessment of public polytechnics and welfare of members and removal of dichotomy between High National Diploma, HND, graduates and those with university degrees in placement and career progression.

As if that was not bad enough, in May, the country witnessed mass failure in most of the external examinations conducted in the country. The results of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, for 2014 released by the board showed that many candidates failed the entrance examination. According to Dibu Ojerinde, registrar of JAMB, 24 candidates scored 250 points and above in the examination, 315,401 candidates scored between 170 and 199 points, while 108,488 candidates scored between 200 and 249 points. He said this was the outcome of the Paper Pencil Test, PPT and Dual Based Test, DBT conducted for the year under review.

Ojerinde said 990,179 applied for the PPT while 25,325 applied for the DBT, making a total of 1,015,504 applications for both modes of testing. He said 275, 282 candidates scored below 150 points, 122,159 scored between 150 to 159 points while 115,456 scored 160 to 169 points in the PPT mode. The board also invalidated the results of 36,164 students.

Likewise, the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, results released for May/June 2014, in August recorded mass failure in Mathematics and English Language. Charles Eguridu, head of national office, WAEC, said a total of 529,425 candidates, representing 31.28 percent, obtained credits in five (5) subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics. The results of 145,795 candidates, representing 8.61 percent are being withheld in connection with various types of examination malpractice.

Ojerinde
Ojerinde

He said out of 1,692,435 candidates that sat for the examination, 791,227 candidates representing 46.75 percent obtained six (6) credits and above, just as a total of 982,472 candidates representing 58.05 percent obtained five (5) credits and above. In addition, he stated that 1,148,262 candidates, representing 67.84 percent obtained credits and above in four (4) subjects, while 1,293,389 candidates, representing 76.42 percent obtained credits and above in three (3) subjects.

In August the nation recorded another mass failure at the Nigerian Law School. The results of students released for the 2013/2014 set of graduates showed that more than 3,000 students failed the examination which is a prerequisite for them to be called to bar as barristers. The results showed that out of the 5,000 candidates who registered for the school, less than 2,000 candidates passed. This is the highest failure the Nigerian Law School has witnessed since its 50 years of existence.

The federal government in July appointed Ibrahim Shekarau, former governor of Kano as the minister of education. His appointment came at a critical time, when federal government was trying to implement its agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, and the National Association of non-Academic Staff Union of Tertiary and Allied Institutions.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Sterling Bank Deploys 700 ATMs

STERLING Bank Plc is planning to increase the number of its Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, nationwide from 585 to 700 before the beginning of next year. This is to enable its customers to transact business with ease in the coming year and also to cushion the effect of the recently re-introduced charge on remote-on-us ATM transactions on its customers.

The bank also said it would start the 2015 financial year with 5,000 Point of Sales, PoS, terminals. A statement from the bank explained that the additional ATM galleries would be put in place in strategic locations nationwide while a robust infrastructure to support the expansion has also been put in place.

Yemi Adeola, managing director of the bank, said the move would support the Central Bank of Nigeria’s, CBN’s cashless policy.

Also, Shina Atilola, group head, strategy and communications of the bank, said the bank has almost doubled its ATM count between December 2013 and September 2014. “We started the year with 300 ATMs but aim to close the year with about 700. This would involve additional deployments at existing locations, partner locations and ATM galleries,” he said.

Atilola also stressed that the public needed to know that beyond cash withdrawals, customers could confirm their account balances, do transfers (inter and intra bank), pay bills such as electricity and DSTV and buy air time at the bank’s ATMs

Fidelity Bank Rewards Customers

Reginald Ihejiahi, MD, Fidelity Bank
Reginald Ihejiahi, MD, Fidelity Bank

FIDELITY Bank Plc has rewarded 33 lucky customers with N11.62 million in the fourth draw of its ‘Save-4-Scholarship’ promo. Speaking at the event, Chijioke Ugochukwu, executive director, shared services of the bank, said as the name of the promo implies, the bank was focusing on cash awards to support education.

“This is because of the importance the bank, the country and individuals everywhere attach to education and the opportunities it offers. Education is the platform for generational transformation everywhere in the world and Nigeria is not an exception. It is Nigeria that a driver’s son can rise to have a master’s degree, it is in Nigeria that a market women can train six people schooling in the United States, and these are the type of things that the bank intends to encourage. We want a situation where someone will grow up tomorrow and say he was able to attain a certain level of education because of the money his parents won from the promo,” she said.

Commenting on the promo, Richard Madiebo, head of retail banking of the bank, said it would help the customers develop a culture of setting aside a fraction of their income to meet future needs. At the end of the draw, Charles Ukachukwu won the star prize of N2 million. Another customer from Lagos state, Chukwujekwu Osai won N1 million, while a total of eight customers of the bank across the country were rewarded with N500,000, respectively, 21 other lucky customers were rewarded with N210,000 each. In addition, generators and refrigerators were also won.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Telecoms Attracts N1 trillion Foreign Direct Investment

THE federal government has said that the Nigerian telecommunications industry attracted N1.08 trillion in foreign direct investment between 2011 and 2013. Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology, who said this at the 2014 ministerial platform held by the ministry in Abuja, said the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, sector contributed $50 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.

The minister said the communications satellite put in the orbit by the government in alliance with the China Great Wall Industry Corporation in 2011 was already on the path of privatisation. Johnson said the ministry had signed a Memoranda of Understanding, MoU, with five states for the Smart States Initiative. The states are Lagos, Cross River, Bayelsa, Ondo and the Federal Capital Territory.

By the agreements, the states have undertaken to significantly reduce charges on telecommunications operators, while the operators undertake to roll out more infrastructures to ensure efficiency and better quality of services. Other states that have indicated interest in the initiative, according to the minister, are Anambra, Delta, Gombe and Osun states.

“We are on a clear path to creating an inclusive digital economy that supports the positioning of Nigeria as a top ranked economy globally, not only in terms of GDP but in terms of innovation, productivity, efficiency, transparency and good governance. By early 2011, more than 30,000 kilometres of long haul intercity fibre was laid. As of December 2013, the telecoms had deployed a combined total of 168,124km of fibre optic cabling. In 2014, the telecoms have deployed an estimated 238,000km of additional fibre optic cabling. Telco Base Transceiver Stations expansion efforts, 2G and 3G site deployments increased from about 22,578 to 28,289 2G sites and from less than 10,000 to 15,048 3G sites between 2013 and 2014,” she said.

For the underserved communities, the minister said the Universal Service Provision Fund had helped the telecoms operators to deploy 170 base stations in 2014. According to Johnson, one cluster of 22 BTS impacted 111 rural communities with an estimated population of 664,500. Another 158 BTS sites are currently at various stages of completion and on full deployment, while estimated additional 1.6 million Nigerians in various rural communities will be provided with basic ICT services.

The minister said although the contribution of postal and courier services to the GDP was low, the industry was growing steadily and would likely grow more with continued rise in electronic commerce. “The postal sector is an amalgam of transport, logistics and distribution, and related entities that are involved in the linking of communities by movement of messages, information, goods and services. Revised GDP figures show that the contribution of the post and courier services sector to the GDP at 0.03 per cent is low. The sector is, however, growing steadily and is likely to experience more rapid growth as e-Commerce expands.”

Importation of Goods into Nigeria Drops

Kale
Kale

THE National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has said the country recorded a N359.6 billion or 5.4 percent drop in merchandise trade from N6.65 trillion to N6.29 trillion in the third quarter of 2014. The bureau attributed the decrease to a fall in the value of exports and imports in the third quarter relative to the second quarter.

For instance, while exports declined by N202.7 billion or 4.3 percent to N4.47 trillion, the country’s imports also dropped by N157 billion or 7.9 percent to N1.82 trillion.

Yemi Kale, chief executive officer, NBS, stated that regardless of this drop, the country’s balance of trade remained favourable at N2.65 trillion. “The total value of merchandise trade in third quarter 2014 stood at N6.29 trillion from the value of N6.65 trillion recorded in the previous quarter of 2014. This indicates a decrease of N359.6 billion or 5.4 percent. The decrease was a result of both a fall in the value of exports and imports in the third quarter relative to the second quarter,” he said.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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NLNG Invests $1.8 Billion in Badagry

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THE Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, in collaboration with other investors are set to invest $1.8 billion in ship repair and dry docking business in the country to boost the economy and increase trade. The facility, according to its promoters, would be built in Badagry area of Lagos State because of its deep waters, human resources and proximity to other West African countries.

At the investors’ road show organised by the Badagry Ship Repair and Marine Engineering Limited, Babs Omotowa, managing director, NLNG, said the robust investment would contribute immensely to the nation’s economy, give the country the much needed foreign exchange aside its potential to create jobs.

The need for the establishment of the dockyard, Omotowa said, follows the conclusion of feasibility studies by Royal Haskoning DVH, an independent international engineering and project management consultancy company which has its headquarters in the Netherlands. The study, he said, is one of the benefits of NLNG’s $1.6 billion ship building contracts given to Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries to build six new ships for the company.

“This dry dock, when completed, holds huge potential for investors and for Nigeria; Our NLNG vessels and very large crude carriers of other companies in the oil and gas and marine industries, which are currently maintained overseas, resulting in millions of dollars in capital flight, will soon be maintained in our country with significant value-added for the Nigerian economy,” he said.

The feasibility studies for citing the dockyard, Omotowa said, were done in seven locations which included Badagry, Lekki, Ladol Island, Olokola, Onne and Bonny before the consultants picked Badagry as the suitable location for the project.

Power Firms Urged to Buy Locally Produced Meter

THE federal government has directed all the electricity distribution companies in the country to patronise indigenous meter manufacturers in line with the policies put in place by government to ensure accelerated development of the industrial sector. Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, said his ministry has received series of complaints about non-patronage and the influx of meters and transformers into the country.

Aganga
Aganga

The minister said at a one day stakeholders’ forum on meters/transformer manufacturing in Nigeria organised by the federal ministry of industry, trade and investment in collaboration with Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, that the purpose of the meeting was to bring together stakeholders to deliberate on the challenges confronting the sub-sector and come up with ideas and workable plans that could be used to formulate appropriate strategies and policies to support the sector.

According to the minister, the misconception by Nigerians, that locally made products are of substandard even when it is obvious that imported ones are inferior, needs to be addressed using procurement regime as a tool to develop local patronage. “Let us collectively ensure that we use local patronage as anchor to improve standards of Nigerian goods and services,” he said.

Aganga added that for Nigerian industries to thrive: “It is essential to know that our local market provides a strong base, from which Nigerian products can refine their standards, build a strong base, and then subsequently proceed into the global export markets.”

The minister commended the efforts of the local manufacturers for their commitment and resilience and urged them not to relent in producing quality products as government was all out to provide extensive infrastructure to ameliorate their challenges. He also commended NERC and other stakeholders for their support and understanding in organising the meeting to initiate sustainable strategies and policies to address the challenges confronting the meter and transformer manufacturers in the country, adding that both the manufacturers and the distribution companies would collaborate with each other to strive to make meter/transformer subsector a prosperous industry in the Country.

On his part, Muideen Adebayo, secretary, Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, EMMAN, said their members out of sheer patriotism and numerous challenges confronting manufacturers had undertaken undaunted risk with borrowed funds on high interest rate to established world class factories, adding that local manufacturers has production capacity of 1.2 million meters per annum with room for future expansion.

He urged government to create and make available a two percent interest rate special intervention fund in form of soft loans to the local electricity meter manufacturers in order to create more jobs for Nigerians, boost the annual revenue earnings of Nigeria and curb capital flight to their counterparts from China.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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Events of the Year: Entertainment

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By Anayo Ezugwu  |

IT WAS a year of creativity, celebration and mourning in the Nigerian entertainment industry. In 2014, some artistes who did not make much impact in the industry in 2013, made waves with their songs. Songs like, Dorobucci by MAVINS, Wake Up by Flavour, Show you the Money by Wizkid, Shake Body by Skales, Ejeajo by P Square, Aye by Davido and Authe by Phyno all made waves across the country. The other hit songs that debut in the year are VIP by Ice Prince, Durosoke by Olamide, Man of the Year by Phyno, First Class by Yung6ix, I Swear by Ice Prince, Sanctum by Boogey, I Go Whooz You by Eedris Abdulkareem, and Chairman by M I. George Nathaniel, a multi-talented music artiste from Akwa-Ibom, also released two hit singles, Beautiful Girl and Big Boys Party in November 2014 and Sean Tizzle released The Journey, in April 2014.

The industry also witnessed outstanding performances that led to different awards both locally and internationally. Davido was named the Artiste of the Year and equally won the Song of the Year for Aye at the 2014 The Headies Award held in Lagos. Others artistes that received awards include, 2face Idibia, Best R&B Single with Let Somebody Love You, The Mavins, Best Pop Single with Dorobucci, Phyno, Best Rap Single with Parcel, Olamide, Best Album of the year with Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, Ada Ada (Flavour) by Clarence Peters as the Best Music Video and Don Jazzy, Producer of the Year

Davido
Davido

The year witnessed outstanding performances that won awards both locally and internationally including the African Music Magazine Award FRIMMA which held in Dallas, USA.

At the 2014 Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMAA, held on May 24, at the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Bayelsa, the Nigeria’s movie industry, had a poor outing. Out of the 15 movies and 21 actors nominated, the country recorded only six victories, making it the poorest outing since the awards began in 2005. Winners of the night included Clarion Chukwura for Best Actress and Patience Ozokwor for Best Supporting Actress.

Don Jazzy
Don Jazzy

Half of a Yellow Sun, a film about the Biafran War, was delayed for months by the Nigerian Censor Board before it was premiered by the cinemas.

The Nigeria Entertainment Awards NEA, held in New York and the MTV European Music Awards EMA, Glasgow, Scotland in the entertainment industry.

There was also second edition of the African Magic Viewers Choice Awards, AMVCA, which held on March 8 in Lagos, which witnessed Nigerian actors and actresses shinning.  Pete Edochie, a legendary actor, emerged one of the big winners on that night. He received the Industry Merit Award which came with a Hyundai SUV car for his contribution towards the growth of the film sector in Africa. Michelle Bello, producer of the award-winning movie, ‘Flower Girl’, also emerged a big winner as she walked away with a brand new Hyundai SUV car, while Rita Dominic won the Best New Era Award which came with a trip to Dubai.

Tuface
Tuface

Other Nollywood stars who won big at the event were Funke Akindele, who won the Best Actress in Comedy, Nse Ikpe-Etim got the Best Actress in Drama award for her role in ‘Journey to self”, Osita Iheme walked home, with the Best Actor in Comedy award for his role in ‘The Hero’ while Desmond Elliot won the Best Supporting Actor in Drama award for his role in ‘Finding Mercy’. Elvis Chucks got the Best Actor award in Comedy and Obi Emenloye got the Best Sound Editor Award. Mercy Aigbe also won the Best Indegenous Language Yoruba award among others.

The sixth edition of Best of Nollywood Awards, BON, also witnessed Okey Bakassi emerging as Best Actor in Igbo movie. Pioneer Nollywood actress, Elizabeth Amaye, Reverend, popularly known as Liz Benson, was conferred with the award of Life-time Achievement.

It was also a year of morning in the entertainment industry as gospel singer Kefee, who was reportedly pregnant, fell into a coma while on a flight. She died on June 13. Charles

It was not all smiling for the industry in the year. Ini Edo, a popular Nollywood actress, parted ways with Philips Ehiagwina, her US based husband, because of some irreconcilable differences. While Uche Ogbodo’s marriage to Ato Ubby, ex-Nigerian footballer, was dissolved after less than one year. Death knocked on the door of the industry in 2014. On October 14, the industry lost Clem Onyeka, a veteran actor who died at young age, after he was shot by the armed robbers in Asaba, Delta State.

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Events of the Year: Passage

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By Anayo Ezugwu  |

THE year 2014 would be remembered for the death of many prominent personalities around the world. In Nigeria, for instance, Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano, died on June 6, at the age of 84. He was the longest serving Emir of Kano, and spearheaded the construction of many mosques and Islamic schools in the emirate.

The country also lost Olugbenga Ashiru, former minister of foreign affairs and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, on November 29. He died in a South African hospital after a long battle with brain tumor. He was 66 years old.

The cold hands of death also caught Dora Akunyili, former minister of information and communications. She died in India on May 11, at the age of 60, where she was receiving treatment for cancer related ailment. The former director general of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, was an internationally renowned pharmacist, pharmacologist, erudite scholar, seasoned administrator, and a visionary leader. Her role in the fight against counterfeit drugs in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

Akunyili
Akunyili

Bamidele Aturu, a legal luminary and human rights activist also died on July 10, at the age of 49. Until his death, aside being a frontline activist, Aturu was a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

The media profession also lost many icons this year. Mike Akpan, pioneer editor-in-chief of Realnews, an online investigative general interest weekly magazine published in Lagos and former editor of Newswatch magazine, died on September 30, at the age of 68. Akpan, who is also a fellow of the Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE, was on admission in Uyo Teaching Hospital in Akwa Ibom State, for a few days before his death. He at various times worked with the Daily Times, The Nigerian Observer, and the Nigerian Chronicle newspapers.

Bayero
Bayero

Oluremi Oyo, former managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, first female president, Nigerian Guild of Editors and first female to serve as a president’s spokesperson, died in London, on October 1, of cancer-related ailment. She was 61 years old. On September 6, Dimgba Igwe, vice chairman of The Sun Publishing Limited died. He was 58 years. Igwe was among the pioneers of The Sun Newspaper in 2003.

The year witnessed some air disasters that claimed lives of many Nigerians and the world in general. On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 227 passengers disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia to Beijing, China. Its disappearance remains a misery to the world. Also, on September 9, another Malaysia plane MH17crashed in Ukraine. All the passengers in the flight died after the plane crashed in eastern Ukraine to the border with Russia.

On the international arena, Myles Munroe, evangelical pastor, died on November 9, at the age of 60. He died in a plane crash with his wife and other passengers in the aircraft. Munroe and his wife were on their way to the Global Leadership Forum, which was organized by Munroe, and was scheduled to take place from the November 10 through November 13 at the Lucayan Resort Hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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