PDP, APC bicker over Osun schools merger

OSOGBO — The main opposition party in Osun State, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condemned the merger of schools by the state government under the schools reclassification programme, describing it as an attempt to barstardise the state educational system.
The party in a statement by its chairman, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa on Osogbo, yesterday, said the government of Rauf Aregbesola would through the schools’ merger cause confusion and crisis among the school children and communities in the state.
But the All Progressives Congress, APC, described the PDP condemnation as lacking in merit, saying that Aregbesola was only clearing the rot created during PDP seven and a half years rule had brought to the state.
The APC Director of Publicity and Strategy, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi said the Aregbesola’s government would not be detracted from its set programmes to put the state on a sound footing.
Olaoluwa said the recent merging of schools by the state government was an open invitation to anarchy, adding that the government policy would do no good to any of the stakeholdesr in the education sector, especially the students and parents.
He alleged that the present administration in the state had brought untold hardship to the school children and also caused crisis in most parts of the state.
Under the new education system in the state, the PDP leader lamented that school children would suffer greatly as they would be made to trek long distances before they get to their schools.
“It is highly unfortunate and worrisome to see school children trekking several kilometres before getting to school under the new education system in Osun State. Aregbesola has made education almost impossible for the masses of Osun State,” he stated

Guinea Bissau apologises to Nigeria over attack on embassy

WARY of a possible diplomatic backlash that could carry corresponding sanctions, the government of Guinea Bissau has apologized to Nigeria over Tuesday’s incident, which saw an attack on the Nigerian embassy in Bissau by armed gangs.
In standard diplomatic practice, an attack on any country’s mission is considered an attack on the country.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mission in the country, (a non combat mission) meant to lend training support to Bissau’s armed forces in the pursuit of security sector reform, is essentially a Nigerian affair with support mainly from Senegal and the Gambia.
But authorities in that country consider the peculiar xenophobia as the handiwork of some disgruntled and apparently misguided political elements that see Nigeria’s role in trying to stabilize the troubled West African country as a huge cog in the wheel of their own political ambition.
President Goodluck Jonathan is the chairman of ECOWAS Contact Group on Guinea Bissau, charged among others with the task of stabilizing the country.
Confirming the latest development Wednesday, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed, also debunked reports of number of Nigerian casualties, stating, “one Nigerian died in the incident, contrary to media reports. We have received their commiseration and investigations have already begun because the killing of one Nigerian is not something that we as a government would allow to go without justice in the new foreign policy practice.”
The minister who spoke late yesterday in Abuja after emerging from the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting gave insights into possible implications of the attack and the future of Nigeria-Guinea Bissau relations after the normalization of affairs.
According to him, relations have almost returned to normal. “Things have calmed down with an apology letter dispatched today (yesterday). The embassy is now well secured and our ambassador has sent a dispatch from that same building… Normal activities have resumed. It was a random mob, spontaneous activity borne out of pent up anger against Nigeria and our role in restoring civil democratic order there.”
“ECOWAS stood between vested interest in that country and rest of the world presumably has a different interest and so there is the need to maintain the precarious balance, which could easily be used to whip up sentiments against Nigeria,” he added.
The minister disclosed that the country’s President, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who was away in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj when the incident took place, is fully aware of the situation and has directed appropriate action to prevent a recurrence.
Dr. Mohammed made further disclosures: “The Guinea Bissau authorities have today confirmed to us that they are suspecting political enemies who are trying to put a wedge between Nigeria and the actualization of the overall political yearnings of the citizens…the unruly mob had political motives.
Some political groups see Nigeria as the country standing between them and an illegitimate ambition. So, there is that sentiment under the guise of anti-Nigeria demonstration. Fortunately our ambassador was not at the embassy when they struck. The mission was not the primary target. There was a group of Nigerian community who went there to meet with their welfare officer. So, the mission was a secondary target not a primary target. And the talk of looking for Nigerian kidnappers is just a rumour, a wild lie. In fact investigations have today shown that the alleged kidnapper was a citizen of Guinea Conakry, not a Nigerian.”
On the immediate future of diplomatic relations, Mohammed said, “But for this (attack), Guinea Bissau is a friendly country. It was a rude shock to everybody. Following our first line protest now lodged, we have been assured that it won’t recur. We are investigating the root cause of the problem and where necessary, appropriate punishment would be meted out.”

Nigeria’s aviation sector on high-risk insurance status over crashes • Another victim dies, family sues DANA Air

NIGERIA may continue to have high insurance premium in the aviation sector compared to other countries following five air crashes in 16 months, experts have said.
In a related development, one of the remaining six survivors of the Associated Airline plane crash which happened on October 3, 2013 has died, an official at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) confirmed yesterday. This brings to 15 the number of people who died in the accident.
“There are five survivors left now. The survivor that died was in an intensive care unit. There were two of them there, both have now passed on,” the official said.
An official said Feyi Agagu, son of Olusegun Agagu, who was also involved in the crash, is doing very well.
Also, 15 months after the DANA aircraft crashed at Iju-Ishaga Lagos, the administrators of the estate of one of the victims of the disaster has sued the airline for its refusal to pay compensation to his family members .
Recently, there was the crash of a Nigerian registered cargo airplane in Accra, Ghana, on June 2, 2012, followed by Nigeria’s worst air crash involving DANA Air the following day, killing all 153 passengers.
In between that was the crash of a light aircraft flown by Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai and a helicopter conveying the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Brig.-Gen. Owoye Azazi and a former Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa.
There were several air misses. The recent ones were those involving Kabo Air and DANA Air which were subsequently grounded over near-mishaps in Sokoto and Port Harcourt last week.
Usually, insurers examine various variables in marking up insurance to end user. One of such variables is the frequency of accidents, access to repossession of leased aircraft and generally, the environment in which the airplane would operate.
While insurance premium is on the rise for Nigerian airline operators, countries like South Africa, Ethiopia and Ghana enjoy low insurance premium; a situation that has seriously improved the growth of such nations’ aviation.
Speaking with sources, former Assistant Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur, said in Nigeria’s circumstance, “five crashes and two incidents in two years generally classify the aviation industry as a high risk environment.
“But when you look at airport and aircraft movements in places like Niger Delta, the helicopter operations there attract higher insurance premium. Nigeria had before the recent accident involving Associated Airlines ranked among high-risk nations for doing business.”
The ‘strange status’ for the country is linked to the Sunday, June 3, 2012 crash involving DANA Air’s Flight 0992 in Lagos.
Efforts by Nigeria, through the NCAA to remove the high-risk tag have been resisted by aircraft insurance firms which viewed the operating environment for aircraft operations as “very risky.”
A source, who works with one of the top insurance companies based in the United Kingdom (UK) but who preferred anonymity, told The Guardian in Lagos yesterday that comments from the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, that the accident was an “act of God” and that “it (accident) was inevitable does not stand any scientific test”, noting that they find it extremely difficult to engage in aircraft finance for Nigerian operators because “of the high-risk of doing business here.”
In the wake of the DANA Air crash, major aircraft leasing firms such as GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), Cab Tree and Aercap raised lease on aircraft to Nigerian airlines by over 40 per cent and with a plan to increase it to 50 per cent soon.
Prior to the DANA accident, a B737-500, which was leased for $120, 000, attracted $200, 000 monthly.
For the new generation airplanes that are in high demand and popularly referred to as Next Gen (that is aircraft below 15 years), the lease, according to airline operators, has risen to $280,000 per month from $160,000.
Some airline chiefs, who spoke with The Guardian on the development, lamented that coupled with the declining passenger traffic, it has become very difficult for them to cope.
The lease remained stable from 2006 to June this year following near impeccable safety recorded in the aviation industry.
Added to this is the belief in the international aviation sector that Nigerian operators lack skills in negotiating for aircraft lease, which has led to most airlines to be on the receiving end. Most local airlines are said to lack the ability to understand minimum flight hour and engine cycles for aircraft under lease.
Also, the dwindling fortunes of the carriers have equally made lease rentals to be on the high side because the foreign firms do not trust Nigerian operators enough with their equipment.
The new high cost of lease is expected to affect the whole fiscal operations of the airlines, as they now find it difficult to buy fuel, pay workers’ salaries and still have enough operating fund.
The suit filed at Federal High Court, Lagos, delineated as No FHC/L/CS/1269/1213, is praying for orders of the court mandating the airline to pay the other instalment of $70, 000 and a declaration that it infringed on the victim’s family fundamental human right to life.
The suit, instituted by Hannah Erepita George, daughter of the late Moses Amaize George, a victim of the crash, is seeking a declaratory order that the respondent infringed on the victim’s fundamental right to life as well as other passengers of the airline whose journey from Abuja to Lagos ended abruptly following the crash of the aircraft on June 3, 2012.
In a 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion filed by her counsel, Mr. Oluyinka Oyeniji, the applicant is praying for orders to mandate the respondent to pay interest on all judgment sums ordered as compensation at the rate of 21 per cent per annum from the time of filling the action till judgment is obtained and at a further rate of six per cent till the final liquidation thereof.
Part of their argument in the affidavit deposed to by the victim’s daughter read: “The respondent had hidden under different guises to refuse to fully compensate my family and those other passengers, citing different inexistent circumstances inclusive genuineness of legal representatives of the family and retained solicitors. I know that we had responded at different times submitting letters of administration and authority for the law office of First Chronicles LP which were handed over to solicitors of the respondent but later refused to compensate.”

Nigeria’s aviation sector on high-risk insurance status over crashes • Another victim dies, family sues DANA Air

NIGERIA may continue to have high insurance premium in the aviation sector compared to other countries following five air crashes in 16 months, experts have said.
In a related development, one of the remaining six survivors of the Associated Airline plane crash which happened on October 3, 2013 has died, an official at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) confirmed yesterday. This brings to 15 the number of people who died in the accident.
“There are five survivors left now. The survivor that died was in an intensive care unit. There were two of them there, both have now passed on,” the official said.
An official said Feyi Agagu, son of Olusegun Agagu, who was also involved in the crash, is doing very well.
Also, 15 months after the DANA aircraft crashed at Iju-Ishaga Lagos, the administrators of the estate of one of the victims of the disaster has sued the airline for its refusal to pay compensation to his family members .
Recently, there was the crash of a Nigerian registered cargo airplane in Accra, Ghana, on June 2, 2012, followed by Nigeria’s worst air crash involving DANA Air the following day, killing all 153 passengers.
In between that was the crash of a light aircraft flown by Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai and a helicopter conveying the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Brig.-Gen. Owoye Azazi and a former Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa.
There were several air misses. The recent ones were those involving Kabo Air and DANA Air which were subsequently grounded over near-mishaps in Sokoto and Port Harcourt last week.
Usually, insurers examine various variables in marking up insurance to end user. One of such variables is the frequency of accidents, access to repossession of leased aircraft and generally, the environment in which the airplane would operate.
While insurance premium is on the rise for Nigerian airline operators, countries like South Africa, Ethiopia and Ghana enjoy low insurance premium; a situation that has seriously improved the growth of such nations’ aviation.
Speaking with sources, former Assistant Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur, said in Nigeria’s circumstance, “five crashes and two incidents in two years generally classify the aviation industry as a high risk environment.
“But when you look at airport and aircraft movements in places like Niger Delta, the helicopter operations there attract higher insurance premium. Nigeria had before the recent accident involving Associated Airlines ranked among high-risk nations for doing business.”
The ‘strange status’ for the country is linked to the Sunday, June 3, 2012 crash involving DANA Air’s Flight 0992 in Lagos.
Efforts by Nigeria, through the NCAA to remove the high-risk tag have been resisted by aircraft insurance firms which viewed the operating environment for aircraft operations as “very risky.”
A source, who works with one of the top insurance companies based in the United Kingdom (UK) but who preferred anonymity, told The Guardian in Lagos yesterday that comments from the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, that the accident was an “act of God” and that “it (accident) was inevitable does not stand any scientific test”, noting that they find it extremely difficult to engage in aircraft finance for Nigerian operators because “of the high-risk of doing business here.”
In the wake of the DANA Air crash, major aircraft leasing firms such as GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), Cab Tree and Aercap raised lease on aircraft to Nigerian airlines by over 40 per cent and with a plan to increase it to 50 per cent soon.
Prior to the DANA accident, a B737-500, which was leased for $120, 000, attracted $200, 000 monthly.
For the new generation airplanes that are in high demand and popularly referred to as Next Gen (that is aircraft below 15 years), the lease, according to airline operators, has risen to $280,000 per month from $160,000.
Some airline chiefs, who spoke with The Guardian on the development, lamented that coupled with the declining passenger traffic, it has become very difficult for them to cope.
The lease remained stable from 2006 to June this year following near impeccable safety recorded in the aviation industry.
Added to this is the belief in the international aviation sector that Nigerian operators lack skills in negotiating for aircraft lease, which has led to most airlines to be on the receiving end. Most local airlines are said to lack the ability to understand minimum flight hour and engine cycles for aircraft under lease.
Also, the dwindling fortunes of the carriers have equally made lease rentals to be on the high side because the foreign firms do not trust Nigerian operators enough with their equipment.
The new high cost of lease is expected to affect the whole fiscal operations of the airlines, as they now find it difficult to buy fuel, pay workers’ salaries and still have enough operating fund.
The suit filed at Federal High Court, Lagos, delineated as No FHC/L/CS/1269/1213, is praying for orders of the court mandating the airline to pay the other instalment of $70, 000 and a declaration that it infringed on the victim’s family fundamental human right to life.
The suit, instituted by Hannah Erepita George, daughter of the late Moses Amaize George, a victim of the crash, is seeking a declaratory order that the respondent infringed on the victim’s fundamental right to life as well as other passengers of the airline whose journey from Abuja to Lagos ended abruptly following the crash of the aircraft on June 3, 2012.
In a 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion filed by her counsel, Mr. Oluyinka Oyeniji, the applicant is praying for orders to mandate the respondent to pay interest on all judgment sums ordered as compensation at the rate of 21 per cent per annum from the time of filling the action till judgment is obtained and at a further rate of six per cent till the final liquidation thereof.
Part of their argument in the affidavit deposed to by the victim’s daughter read: “The respondent had hidden under different guises to refuse to fully compensate my family and those other passengers, citing different inexistent circumstances inclusive genuineness of legal representatives of the family and retained solicitors. I know that we had responded at different times submitting letters of administration and authority for the law office of First Chronicles LP which were handed over to solicitors of the respondent but later refused to compensate.”

British High Commission trains 200 Oyo teachers

AS part of its contributions to the development of education in Oyo State, the British High Commission in Nigeria has begun the training of over 200 teachers in public schools in the state.
The Deputy British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Carter, made this disclosure during a courtesy call on the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, in his office in Ibadan Wednesday.
He said that the training of the teachers marked the beginning of the collaboration between the commission and the state government, particularly in areas of education, trade and investment as well as gender equality.
The British envoy, who admitted that the commission had not been paying much attention to the South-West zone except Lagos, however, observed what he called the abundant investment opportunities in Ibadan, the state capital.
According to him, Ibadan is fast developing in preparation for future socio-economic opportunities, stressing that the commission would do everything possible to assist the Ajimobi administration in its unprecedented developmental strides.
Carter also lauded the urban renewal programme of the state government, which he said, was responsible for the influx of foreign investors into the state, noting with delight that Oyo had now become a preferred destination of choice for foreign investors.

ASUU denies hijack of strike by govt opponents • Warns UNILORIN against sharing N986.7m allowance • NUEE may join strike • NASU, others threaten to shut down UNN

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Wednesday said it was wrong for the Federal Government to claim that opponents of the government have hijacked its industrial action.
Meanwhile, there are signals that whenever the ASUU strike comes to an end, a fresh crisis may erupt at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) as the Joint Action Committee on Trade Unions of the university Wednesday threatened to shut down the institution as soon as academic activities resume.
ASUU has dashed all hope for a quick resumption of academic activities in public universities, as it vowed not to succumb to attempt by the Federal Government to blackmail it to calling off the over three months industrial action.
The union’s chairman in the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Antonia Okerengwo, told journalists yesterday in Port Harcourt that the Federal Government has been economical with the details of the reasons Nigerian public university teachers have been on strike in the last three months and that it is wrong to use ASUU to fight a political war.
Okerengwo said it was rather wrong for President Goodluck Jonathan to claim that those with political vendetta against the government have hijacked ASUU’s struggle, adding that it was sad that the government has allegedly decided to reduce the struggle to politicking.
“When I listened to the president saying that, I sent a message to somebody and said it is the government that is being political, we know our politicians, once something is not going their way, they explain it to mean their enemies are using it for political reasons, is this the first time ASUU is going on strike? We have been on strike for the same issues all along. Did we also play politics during Babangida’s time, during the military era in 1992 when we went on strike? Did we also play politics when Abacha was head of state and we went on strike, was it also political?” she stated.
She spoke as the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) gave the Federal Government one week to settle its differences with ASUU or face the mother of all strikes that may cripple the country if nothing is done.
Also, ASUU has warned the authorities of the University of Ilorin not to share the N986.7 million earned allowance disbursed to it by the Federal Government until the ongoing strike is over.
Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Dr. Ayan Adeleke, told reporters in Ibadan that the union chairman in UNILORIN, Dr. Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju had already conveyed the position of the university teachers to the institution’s management, warning that universities should not betray the struggle by disbursing the earned allowances until the struggle is over.
It was gathered that workers in the University of Ilorin early yesterday engaged themselves and the university management over modalities for sharing of the institution’s share of the N30 billion disbursed to the universities by the Federal Government.
Dr. Adeleke, who faulted the Professor Wahab Egbewole faction of the union in UNILORIN, reminded that the National Industrial Court had declared the group illegal.
University of Ibadan ASUU Chairman, Dr. Segun Ajiboye, said, “it is the height of immorality for these fellows in Ilorin to be squabbling over the proceeds of a struggle that they did not participate in”, adding that the union is committed to full revitalization of the public university system and not the peanut of earned allowances.
Speaking during a training workshop organized for labour leaders of the union in Enugu, General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Joe Ajaero said the union would align with others across the country to embark on a solidarity strike with ASUU if the impasse persists.
In University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the ASUU and NASU at a press conference said the plan to shut down the institution has become necessary following alleged ongoing corruption, looting and flagrant abuse of office by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barth Okolo.
The two unions alleged that Okolo had run the institution since he assumed office without a budget. They called on the Federal Government to constitute a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the activities of the vice chancellor and the immediate past council of the school with a view to sanitizing the system.
When contacted, Okolo said the issues raised by the unions were “instigated” and calculated at tarnishing his achievements in office, adding that they had no relationship with the goings on in the school.
Okolo, who would not want to respond pointedly to the issues raised by the unions added: “The type of growth that has happened in the UNN presently has never happened anywhere since the inception of the institution. It is being testified everywhere and I am yet to believe that it is all the members of the unions that addressed the press conference.”

BATTLE OF ADDIS ABABA -Keshi: Eagles Are Motivated to Reach Brazil 2014

Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, has said Nigeria can stand the harsh test in Ethiopia as they are well motivated to reach next year’s World Cup final in Brazil.
Nigeria will bid for a fifth appearance at the FIFA World Cup when they travel to Addis Ababa this weekend for the first leg of the play off matches against the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia that will decide who qualifies for Brazil 2014.
Keshi said at a media parley Wednesday that the Eagles would be fired up by the challenge of qualifying for football’s most prestigious spectacle- the Summer World Cup finals in Brazil.
Though Nigeria featured at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in June, Keshi admitted that the players would be motivated to make another return to the South American country next year given that the stakes are higher.
“The players realise that after going to Brazil for the Confederations Cup, we have to go back next year  to Brazil for the World Cup which attracts more prestige”, Keshi said.
The Super Eagles will hold three more training sessions before they fly out on Saturday by charter plane for the match that will be played on Sunday in the rarified airs caused by Ethiopia high altitude.
Keshi, who admitted that he was yet to see the Ethiopians play since Nigeria defeated them 2-0 in the group stage, en-route to winning the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, said that any result other than a defeat in Addis Ababa will be a good outcome for the Eagles.
He said that the task would not be particularly easy as the East Africans will be different from the team Nigeria walloped at the Africa Cup of Nations this year.
The ex- captain of the national team is bidding to become the first individual to lead the Eagles to two different World Cup tournaments as player and coach said his player would keep calm in the face of expected crowd provocations and challenges of playing on a patchy Addis Ababa pitch.
“We will deal with the pitch conditions in Addis Ababa as we have seen grounds that are worst than that. We must also maintain our calm as we expect a hostile reception from the crowd,” Keshi said.
Meanwhile, Shola Ameobi has rubbished suggestions that he is too old to play at the highest level for Nigeria.
The 31-year-old Newcastle striker is a late bloomer to international football as he made his Eagles debut only last year with four appearances up to date.
Ameobi said that he feels he can help the Nigerian squad to achieve great things, including reaching the FIFA World Cup finals.
“I did not realise that I am that old. Though I am only 31-year- old, I feel I still have the energy to play at the highest level. I want to help Nigeria achieve great things and I plan to play for as long as the coach wants me. It is all about representing my fatherland,”  he said.
In addition, the player who has scarcely featured for Newcastle since the start of the English Premier League season because of injury said the conditions in Ethiopia will not be a concern as both sides will contest in the same situation.
“The weather will not be an issue as we will play in the same conditions and are prepared for that. We can replicate what they have as they are coming here as well in November,” he concluded.

PDP NWC Declares cease fire with New PDP

The mainstream faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday moved towards defusing tension in its fold as it resolved henceforth not to escalate the crisis in the party by engaging its splinter group, the New PDP and its seven governors in further verbal war.
The party’s National Working Committee (NWC), after a meeting in Abuja, said it would no longer respond to comments from the breakaway group, led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, in order not to endanger the ongoing reconciliation being carried out by President Goodluck Jonathan and other party leaders.
At the September 15 peace talks between the two factions of the party  in a communiqué  had urged both sides to sheathe their swords so as not to aggravate the tension in the party.
It was also learnt that the president had reiterated the need to keep peace to facilitate the healing process embarked upon by party leaders at the last meeting between the two sides on Monday.
The issue to maintain peace in the party topped the agenda of the NWC meeting yesterday as the PDP resolved to take all necessary steps not to endanger the peace process by engaging in recriminations with the New PDP.
The meeting also ratified the appointment of Second Republic Minister of Transport, Alhaji Umaru Dikko as chairman of its disciplinary committee and announced the constitution of a finance committee, to be chaired by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, told reporters that  it is the resolution of the party not to do anything that would endanger the ongoing reconciliation under the leadership of Jonathan and the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih.
He said:  “The PDP is a united big family and it is not our wish to respond to comments by our estranged brothers. No, we will not comment on any issue, but we will do everything to ensure peace.”
Also in an apparent move to bring erring members to order and ensure discipline within the party, the NWC  ratified the appointment  of Dikko as the chairman of the party’s disciplinary committee.
The party also announced the constitution of a new 20-man finance committee to be headed by Akpabio.
His Katsina State counterpart, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, was named the deputy chairman with other members being Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, King A.J. Turner  and 16 others.
On the controversy over Dikko’s membership of the PDP, Metuh said  despite his name appearing on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the national chairman of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the former minister is a PDP member.
According to Metuh, “I can confirm to you that Umaru Dikko is a registered member of the PDP and he is in good health”.
The finance committee, he added, would be inaugurated next Thursday, while that of the disciplinary committee would be done a day after .
Besides Dikko, other members of the disciplinary committee include Chief Ebenezer Babatope who is the deputy chairman, Chief  Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, Nana Ayishat Quadir and Hussaini Duraki Kazaer while  the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Onwe Solomon Onwe, will serve as the secretary of the committee.
Meanwhile,  factional chairman of the  PDP  in Adamawa State,  Chief Joel Madaki, has said the party would not accept any unreasonable conditions from the New PDP peace to return to the party.
Madaki, while receiving two Toyota buses donated to the party by the son of the PDP National Chairman Awwal Tukur , who was represented by Alhaji Danjuma Aliyasu, said in Yola that PDP would shock those who thought the party would fail without them.
“Some people are trying to give us superfluous conditions in order to hijack the party. The party belongs to all Nigerians not one man or some people who think they can do as they wish. Therefore we cannot accept any mundane condition as the party is not the property of anyone and hence no one has the right to say return the party to him,”  he added.

NLC to Jonathan: Save Education Sector from Collapse

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Wednesday called on President Goodluck  Jonathan to quickly tackle the crises in the education sector to prevent a total shutdown of the sector.
It cited the ongoing strikes or threats of strike in the sector by academic and non-academic unions to illustrate its position that the threat of a total shutdown is present and immediate.
The NLC said in a statement in Abuja by its President, Abdulwahed Omar, that the developments in the education sector were symptoms of greater ills in the society.
The strikes in the sector are caused by the refusal of government to honour subsisting agreements or to pay salaries, it added.
University teachers have been on strike since July while their polytechnic counterparts on Monday began a strike over the federal government’s poor attitude to technical education.
The NLC said the situation in the sector was worrisome and urged President Jonathan to intervene to save the students from undue extension of their study period.
“We urge Mr President to muster all the necessary will and skill to confront the issues that threaten this vital sector. As President of the country, he has the onerous task of  rising to the challenge of restoring normalcy to the sector whether the issues are political as he has made the nation to believe or whether they are purely industrial,” it added.
The statement recalled that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for almost four months with dire consequences which are likely to disrupt an entire academic year.
“The three other leading unions in the education sector, viz, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU); the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU); National Association of Academic Technologies (NAAT); and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), have all threatened to go on strike within the next few days except their demands are met,” it added.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has also threatened to embark on a solidarity strike with ASUU  in the next two weeks if the federal government does not resolve its dispute with the university teachers.
NLC also appealed to   Jonathan to discountenance the impression that the strikes are politically motivated by the opposition in order to embarrass his administration.
“Those who pursue this line of thinking are the ones who do not wish Mr President well. Rather than tell him the truth, they prefer to indulge in sycophancy, hypocrisy and bootlicking because it serves their personal motives.
“In order for Mr. President to convince himself about the absence of any ulterior motive against his administration by any of the unions, especially ASUU which has come under accusation, we crave the indulgence of Mr President to insist on being availed the details of these agreements,” the NLC said.

FG Moves to Regain Lost Oil, Gas Production

Nigeria’s dwindling crude oil production is expected to rise significantly in 2014 when many large fields would have come on stream, according to a new report from the United Kingdom-based Business Monitor International (BMI).
The country had in the last two years, witnessed the worst wave of oil production disruptions, with output falling to levels last seen before the federal government’s amnesty programme.
Output was said to have dropped to an all time lows of about 1.9mbpd owing to incessant attacks on oil facilities, which often resulted to production shut ins.
But hopes that crude production is set for a new high emerged with revelation by BMI that output would ramp-up more significantly, following the coming on stream of new oil fields.
“We expect feeble production from 2013 and for the following two years. Output should ramp-up more significantly as many large fields come online after 2014, more than offsetting current depletion,” said the report.
Highlighting main trends and developments for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, BMI noted that the weak output flows in 2012 were the consequence of flooding, repeated oil thefts and regulatory uncertainty.
“We expect feeble production from 2013 and for the following two years. Output should ramp-up more significantly as many large fields come online after 2014, more than offsetting current depletion,” said the report.
In BMI’s view, adoption of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is expected around the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, would be a strong signal for investors that Nigeria’s hydrocarbon sector is ready to move forward.
However, disturbances and outages due to oil theft have continued throughout 2013, with Shell, largest oil producer, having declared force majeure on Bonny Light exports several times since the beginning of the year.
“We, therefore, forecast that 2013 production will be slightly lower than 2012 estimates, reaching 2.50 million barrels per day (b/d),” BMI said, but indicated optimism for increased oil production to 2.70mn b/d by 2020, as ambitious projects such as Usan (180,000b/d) peak and Egina (150,000-200,000b/d) come on stream in the coming years.
Consumption of crude is forecast to rise at a compound annual rate of seven per cent year-on-year between 2012 and 2022, boosted by anticipated strong (GDP) growth.
“We forecast consumption rising from an estimated 252,000b/d in 2012 to 495,000b/d by 2022,” BMI said in its report, while forecasting a more than two fold increase in gas production from an estimated 36.4 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2012 to 85.3bcm by 2022, as the authorities and companies reduce the practice of flaring and start monetising associated gas resources.
The report further noted that booming demand from the government’s ambitious power sector plans and large export engagements will thus bolster production growth.
Also, BMI forecast Nigerian gas consumption rising from an estimated 5.8bcm in 2012 to 15.0bcm by 2022.
In terms of infrastructure, authorities in the West African country have ambitious plans in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and refining, the report added.
The downstream sector, according to the BMI remains highly inefficient and, despite a nameplate capacity of 505,000b/d, actual output is often around 100,000b/d.
“Many projects have been proposed, but there has been no update indicating that any are progressing”, said the report.
BMI omitted the projects in its forecast on account of the country’s past woes in the sector.
The report further noted that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is aiming to more than double its annual production of LNG, from 22mn tonnes per annum (tpa), or 30.36bcm, to over 52mn tpa (71.76bcm).
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, had in 2012 announced that the government was planning to direct more than US$1.6 billion towards the repair of traditional refineries, located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna Maintenance work, which started in late 2012 and was due for completion in October 2014. However, the Port Harcourt refinery is currently halted indefinitely, as oil thieves damaged the feeding pipeline in early 2013.
“Nigeria’s dependence on oil prices leads to high volatility in the country’s export revenues. Continuing tight supply, due to booming demand in emerging markets, is clearly an opportunity for the country,” the report added.
Meanwhile, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), last night shut-in 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the Eastern Niger Delta.
A top official of SPDC, who confirmed the development, however, declined to speak further on the issue, saying he was not yet authorised to speak on the matter.