Friday, October 5, 2012

kaka returns


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OLUFEMI ATOYEBI writes on the sudden return of Kaka to the heart of Real Madrid as the 2012 El Clasico first leg looms

With the El Clasico coming up on Sunday, Real Madrid midfielder, Kaka, could not have wished for a better time to regain his position in Jose Mourinho team after months of struggle to return to full fitness.

In a week when Barcelona suffered the loss of captain and defender Carles Puyol in the Champions League match against Benfica, Real revel in the return of Kaka as he had an impressive appearance on Wednesday, a day after Puyol dislocated his shoulder. Kaka was involved in all the thrilling moments against Ajax, providing an assist and coming so close to getting on the score sheet in the 4-1 win.

Apart from Puyol loss, Barcelona will be without Gerard Pique for the match against Real on Sunday with coach Tito Vilanova being forced to rely on make-shift defenders Javier Mascherano and Alex Song.

Kaka’s sudden return to Mourinho’s team is like unleashing a secret weapon ahead of the clash against rivals Barca.

But his return was not a smooth one. The Brazilian endured difficult 12 months, culminating in the rumour of his sale back to AC Milan, where he spent six years, scoring 70 goals in 193 appearances, before joining Real in 2009. But the deal fell through and the 2007 World Football of the Year was forced to play his way back to reckoning. After scoring a hat-trick in a friendly match against Millionares last week Mourinho was convinced that the player should be given a second chance in the heart of the team.

Since joining Real in £53m deal, Kaka has not had an injury-free season and the coming of Geran Mesut Ozil from Shalke 04 in 2010 was a sign of how frustrated Real were with the Brazilian.

At the beginning of the season, Mourinho surprised many by including the midfielder in his Champions League team list, despite growing rumour that the player would leave in January.

But he did not play his first match of the season until Sunday, coming off the bench in Real’s 5-1 La Liga win at home to Deportivo Coruna, their ninth game of the season. But Kaka seized the moment to win Mourinho’s confidence. The coach said there was never a problem with the midfielder’s quality, even though he had confined him to the bench in crucial games.

He said, “I decided that with his characteristics, the nature of the opponents and the work he did during the week, it would be good for us if Kaka played against Ajax.

“The media thinks every time a player of status is on the bench it’s a big problem. My job is to think about who will play and to tease out the best performances. I have to choose 11 players and there will always be someone left out.”

Aware of his growing recognition, Kaka knows there is a chance of featuring in the El Clasico on Sunday, agreeing that the week had been a great one for him.

“This has been a very good week for us so far. I think I’m headed in the right direction. I showed that the work I’ve been doing is paying off and I’m regaining the confidence of the coach, and that’s what I always hoped would happen.

“I want to gain his trust, play more, and bit by bit I think things will turn out the way they should. Now we can look forward to giving our all in the clásico because it’s a crucial match for us.”

Mourinho was not the only coach that is happy about Kaka’s return, Brazil coach, Mano Menezes, was quick to recall the player to the national team after the hat-trick against Millionares. The call came two years after Kaka last played for Brazil and he will feature in the two friendly matches against Japan and Poland in October. The last time he was called to the team, an injury prevented him from featuring against Egypt and Gabon in November 2011.

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Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi
TEAM Nigeria has continued to win medals at the London 2012 Paralympics as Folashade Oluwafemiayo and Victoria Nneji won silver and bronze medals respectively on Monday.Oluwafemiayo broke the world record twice before setting a new one at 148kg to better Chinese Taoying Fu’s 147kg in the women’s powerlifting -75kg class.Oluwafemiayo and Fu lifted 146kg in their third attempts respectively but the Chinese was awarded the gold medal because she weighed 2kg less than the Nigerian. Fu weighed 72.53kg, while Oluwafemiayo weighed 74.17kg. Tzu-Hui Lin of Chinese Taipei won the bronze medal with her 137kg lift.Their fourth attempts where Fu lifted 147kg and Oluwafemiayo 148kg were not to determine the winner but to have a new world record in the category.Nneji, who earlier in the day had a poor start in the women’s powerlifting -67.5kg class, attributed her failure to win gold to a shoulder injury she sustained during camping for the Games in Korea.She lifted 125kg to finish behind France’s Souhad Ghazouani (gold) and China’s Yujiao Tan (silver). Ghazouani had lifted 146kg in her first attempt but failed to complement in the subsequent attempts, while Nneji was only able to lift 125kg in her third attempt.“My bronze is like gold to me because I didn’t enter the competition very fit. The injury I sustained from the camp actually hindered me from making a better attempt,” Nneji, who lifted 132.5kg to win silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, said on Monday.“I knew I was a medal prospect but I was not sure how I would end up in the competition because of the injury. I was not able to train very well due to the pain.”

Source : punchng[dot]com

Militants criminalised N’Delta struggle – Amaechi

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has said that militants in the Niger Delta criminalised the struggle for the development of the region.

Amaechi faulted the mode of operation of those who paraded themselves as Niger Delta militants, but commit atrocities against their brothers.

The governor who spoke in Port Harcourt on Thursday while declaring open the first Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Economic Zone Development Summit.

He expressed worry that the so-called militants could kidnap a three-year-old child in the name of the struggle for the development of the region.

He also recalled that militants had once kidnapped a 97-year-old man and demanded ransom, describing the act as a crime that had nothing to do with the Niger Delta struggle.

Represented by the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Tele Ikuru, the governor queried the rationale behind kidnapping in the region, insisting it was wrong for anybody to link the agitation for a better life in the region to abduction of innocent human beings.

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Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah

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Oke promises more schools if elected

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Oct. 20 election, Olusola Oke, has said his government will bring primary school facilities closer to the masses.

Oke said this at the local government rally of the PDP at Ore, in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.

“Our administration will employ more teachers and bring primary schools closer to the electorate. I will do so in line with the United Nations education for all campaign. Our children will only walk five minutes to their respective schools if we are voted into power,” he said.

The lawyer said Governor Olusegun Mimiko had built only two primary schools in over 45 months.

He said, “We will build more classrooms across the state and spend more on capacity building for our teachers. This, I strongly believe, is important than one big structure that has badly altered the UN education for all campaign.”

The PDP candidate said he was prepared to make the necessary sacrifices in leadership that would transform the economy of the state and its people.

He said the state was blessed with the needed human and natural resources that could be used to drive its development.

Oke stated that leadership with defined focus was required to deliver good governance that would have positive impact on the people.

At Bolorunduro, Ondo East LGA, Oke said it would be difficult for the state to grow economically under its present state of encumbrance.

He said the cost of financing the state debt had stalled economic growth of all the LGAs in the state.

He criticised the incumbent over what he described as a high debt profile, economically unfriendly interest rate and an over-bloated administration.

He said the state ought to divert its resources to activities that would open up its economy so that it could work with other states’ economies to attain synergy.

“I have gone round the state, I have visited the 203 wards in the state, what I saw is misplacement of priorities and display of cosmetics. At this critical stage of our development, our resources should not be splashed on town halls, old market stalls and other intangibles.

“We need to move fast on the track of employment provision, delivery of quality education and reduction of government overheads so as to attain sustainable development. We need urgent intervention on the critical areas of our development. These, we shall do for our people,” he said.

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ACN Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

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Rivers to re-certify teachers

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, on Friday announced the re-certification of teachers in government-owned schools.
He said this during the 2012 World Teachers Day celebration in Port Harcourt.
Amaechi said the initiative was part of the reform process of his administration to boost the quality of education in the state.
He observed that many teachers in public schools could not spell words correctly and wondered about the quality of knowledge they would impart to their pupils.
“I visited Community Secondary School, Rumuokwurusi, where I met some teachers who could not spell some words correctly. The policy of my administration is that all teachers must have their qualifications re-certified.
“What you studied in 1979 is what you are teaching students in 2012. Are you being fair? That is why we said go and write the qualification examination. With this new method, we will be able to know if the NCE is still current, so that while the students are reading, the teachers are also reading,” Amaechi said.
He stated that his administration would scrutinise teachers through the Quality Assurance Agency, to pick out indolent and unserious teachers in the profession. Amaechi promised incentives for teachers in 2013.
He said, “It is compulsory for teachers to be ICT compliant, anyone who is not would be asked to leave our schools. The new tax, which will be deducted from your salaries, will be used to fund the education and health sectors.”

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Achebe’s attacks on Awolowo stirs controversy

Chinua Achebe Chinua Achebe
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Chinua Achebe’s long awaited book on the Nigerian Civil War has turned the Internet into a battleground  between supporters of the famous writer and the admirers of the late Yoruba sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
The fight started on Tuesday after excerpts of Achebe’s memoirs, “There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra”, was published in the Guardian of London. 
The book focuses on the octogenarian author’s experiences during the war and explores the roles played by some of the major actors, including Awolowo.
However, it was Achebe’s claims that the late revered  statesman used his position  as the Vice Chairman of the wartime federal cabinet to “decimate” the Igbo as a race that stirred the hornet’s nest.
Achebe wrote, ”It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations.
“However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose–the Nigeria-Biafra war–his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”
The controversial excerpts has since spawned passionate debates on the social media, especially on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
Writing to support Achebe on Facebook, Frank Fabian accused Awolowo, who also served as Nigerian’s finance minister during the Civil War of masterminding an economic blockade that crippled Biafra.
Kalu Kalu also wrote that “Awolowo backed the policy of starvation as a tool of war. How could you say that a man who made and implementated these policies against a people does not hate them? Chinua Achebe is right but the truth is always bitter.”
But those who spoke up for Awolowo, however, described Achebe as biased.
Mayowa Akinsola wrote, “I consider this statement from the highly revered literary icon an attempt at sectional revisionism. Awolowo was perfectly right when he said that everything in war is fair.
“It is shameful that we are putting this type of argument forward, how reasonable to blame our enemies for making policy that will give them victory. It is childish to expect your enemy to feed you during the war. Both of you are looking for victory, and whatever you do to give you victory is fair. If at all there is something that is unfair during the war, not given your enemy food is certainly not one of it.”
Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina wrote that “Knowledge is an awareness over existence of a subject, but wisdom is the ability to rightly interpret/analyse collections of information without damaging its objective and original intention. The motive of the writer (Prof Achebe) was clearly borne out of hatred on the alleged character.”
Writing in one of the popular yahoogroups, Toyi Adepoju argued that Awolowo’s position was misunderstood.
He wrote, “He (Awolowo) stated that the food could get into the hands of soldiers. I am adding that not only is that true, but that the line between soldier and civilian in Biafra was not always clear cut.”
Meanwhile, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has reacted to Achebe’s remarks on Awolowo, describing it as an abomination.
Secretary General, Afenifere, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, said, “He has the right to live anywhere he likes but to start denigrating one of Nigeria’s founders and builders like the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo is not only unfortunate but a great abomination especially when he knows that the man is dead and cannot defend himself.
“The things that bind us together in this country are already undergoing a great stress due to the economic downturn, poor management of resources, ethnic clashes, religious intolerance, unemployment, and nepotism among others.
“All peace loving Nigerians should talk with restraints, trying to find solutions to our problems and ignore if truly he had said all those things.”
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Down, down plunges Nigeria’s aviation sector

Down, down plunges Nigeria’s aviation sector

Down, down plunges Nigeria’s aviation sector
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After a long period of crisis, Nigeria’s aviation industry is in danger of total collapse, write ADEOLA BALOGUN, ’NONYE BEN-NWANKWO, BOSEDE OLUSOLA-OBASA and COMFORT OSEGHALE

The ill fated Dana Air plane crash of June 3, 2012 in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos, which killed all the 153 passengers and crew on board has only served to expose the larger rot in Nigeria’s aviation industry.

Today, air travellers in Nigeria are experiencing a torrid time in their bid to get to their destinations. As a result of the widespread rot in the sector, travelling domestically by air has become an expensively painful habit, since passengers, even with their hard-earned money, are left to jostle for the few available seats on the surviving airlines to get to their destinations.

Sometimes, they try for hours without any success. As a result, riotous scenes – which don’t even happen at bus termini – have come to be associated with airports around the country.

Today, many travellers can’t say with certainty that they will be able to reach their destination by air, especially outside the economically and politically viable Lagos-Abuja route.

For example, Niiamarh Amareufo, a Ghanaian and one of the organisers of the Miss ECOWAS beauty pageant, complained about unnecessary delays and failure on the part of the staff of domestic airlines to explain the lateness as well as the high cost of flying Nigerian airlines.

In an interview with VISTA at the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Tuesday, Amerufo said, “I could connect from Ghana to Aero Contractors. We got here around 10 am in an effort to connect an Arik flight to Port Harcourt and we’re still here. We’re still trying to get our tickets. The most frustrating aspect is that the flights are often delayed and nobody is willing to explain why this is happening. You ask people what happened, but they don’t care.

“Last week, we flew from Port Harcourt to Abuja and our flight to Accra was delayed for more than an hour. Nobody was ready to tell us anything. I don’t want to mention the airline. I don’t know whether it has to do with their years of experience. They don’t care and leave you with the option of accepting your fate or ignoring it. It’s just not fair.

“In terms of cost, I don’t know why some airlines are more expensive than the others. Yesterday when we were coming from Accra to Lagos, we booked Aero Contractors business class for $338, while Arik charged $358. I don’t understand why it is so. But from Lagos to Port Harcourt, they charged the same for business class and I don’t know why it was so.

“About six months ago, the airfare from Ghana to Lagos was around $248 for economy class, while those travelling in business class had to pay between $258 and $270. Now, it’s very expensive and I read in one of the magazines that the airlines are complaining about the high cost of aviation fuel. I don’t know why because I want to believe that since Nigeria has oil, the product should be cheap.”

In spite of the current hike in domestic airfares in Nigeria, many travellers feel they are left with no choice other than adjust to the constant new price regimes being introduced by airlines.

At the local wing of the MMIA on Tuesday, it was business as usual for airline operators. In fact, a member of staff of IRS Airline told VISTA on condition of anonymity that business had improved and the increase in airfares did not affect the daily sales of flight tickets.

“Everyday our planes are filled with passengers. People still fly and no matter what happens, they simply don’t have any choice,” the official said.

To travel economy class a few years ago from Lagos to Abuja, the average traveller was required to pay about N18,000 to obtain a flight ticket. But that era seems to be gone and forgotten. A prospective passenger on that route today will not spend less than N30,000 on a one-way ticket, and this could rise to almost N40,000 at weekends, depending on the direction you are headed.

An Abuja-based lady, Nkechi Agbara, describes her flight from Abuja to Lagos during last weekend as nightmarish.

She says, “I paid N61,980 for a return ticket. The crowd I saw at the airport in Lagos and Abuja was mad. I had to tip somebody an extra N2,000 in both cities to check me in.

“I contemplated going by road, but I was scared after learning that the roads had become very congested. I’m not happy because I had to cough up so much money to travel and for the fact that I would be travelling to Lagos only once or twice in a year instead of five times.”

But Agbara is just one among many Nigerians that are worried about the high cost of air travel in the country.

Laide Thomas, a Lagos-based lawyer, told VISTA that she had paid a ‘ridiculous’ amount of money to travel by air since the “terrible increment,” as she put it.

“I flew Aero Contractors the other day and the amount I was charged was totally ridiculous,” says Thomas. “They said the economy class was filled up and I had to buy business class. It was a crazy trip. Even if I was going to Jamaica, would I have paid that much?

“The service that we get is not commensurate with the money we pay as fare. If we had better alternatives like good roads and good rail system, some of us would not be bothered even if they increasedtheir fare by 100 per cent.”

Another traveller, who introduced himself as Malik, blamed the rising cost of air travel on the high cost of aviation fuel.

“The cost of living in Nigeria has gone up. I also learnt that the Central Bank (of Nigeria) has stopped giving out loans to some companies. This could also be a problem and at the same time, it is not proper to borrow money from the bank and not repay it.

“I paid N34,000 to fly to Kano. You don’t know how I was able to get this money. The situation is unbearable. I even feel that the number of travellers has reduced,” Malik says.

Also, Kehinde Umaru said he parted with N30,000 in exchange for a ticket to fly to Abuja from Lagos.

“It is crazy. But for the fact that I have an interview to attend in Abuja tomorrow, I wouldn’t have bothered. How do we continue like this? Is this not disheartening?

“Nothing has ever gone up and come down in Nigeria. This fare will be static now. If only we can have more airlines, I think it will help a bit. In a country where you have less than four airlines in operation, these people will assume a monopoly of the business and increase their fares at will.

“People cannot even travel by road again. Look at what happened in Lokoja. Flood overtook the city, people travelling to Abuja and even coming from Abuja became stranded and had to find alternate routes. I feel so sad,” he says.

He is not as sad as Charles Nwagbara, the publisher of High Society magazine, who complained bitterly about the situation in the aviation industry.

“I flew IRS from Abuja to Lagos. It was meant to be a 4.45 pm flight. It didn’t take off till 8 pm. You can then imagine when we got to Lagos. It is not only IRS. Other airlines cancel their flights without bothering about their passengers. Now, the fare of a 50-minute flight is now between N32, 000 and N34, 000. This is totally ridiculous,” he says.

Those who have been in the sector for some time are also lamenting the turn of events.

One of them is Capt. Yakubu Okatahi, a senior pilot with Arik Air, who has had over 30 years of flying experience. Before he joined the privately-owned airline, he had worked with the defunct Nigeria Airways after training at the Flying School in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Okatahi has had stints with virtually all the major airlines that have graced the aviation industry in Nigeria. He actually pioneered the local operations of the defunct ADC Airlines, another privately-owned concern that ran into trouble after one of its planes crashed.

Since he witnessed the growth and development of the aviation industry over the past 30 years, Okatahi is deemed to be in a position to comment on the challenges facing the sector.

Having been in the thick of the operations of most airlines in the country, past and present, the soft-spoken pilot, no doubt, has also observed the steady decline of the sector.

When he was contacted for his reaction to this, especially with regard to the fact that only about three airlines are operating domestic flights in the country at present, he could not help but shake his head in disappointment.

“Nigeria has the resources and the knowledge to run an efficient aviation system. God has blessed this country,” Okatahi begins. “In fact, there was a time that the technical know-how of aviation rested with the old Bendel State. At that time, Bendel State had the manpower to run the entire aviation industry in Nigeria.

“As at 1978, Nigeria bought DC10 planes with cash. In 1980 or so, it bought two brand new Boeing 727 planes. Also in 1983, it bought four Airbus 8310 and six Boeing 737 300 series with cash. I am sure you understand what it means to buy all the planes with cash.

“By now, Nigeria should have been in the forefront of the aviation industry in Africa. We were the first African nation that had an all-black crew in the 1970s and 1980s. In those days, whenever we landed in a city like Nairobi and filed out, the people marvelled and stared at us in awe. The entire West Coast used to see us doing something out of this world.

“So, how did the decline in the aviation sector come about? Well, I will say that there was no effective management. If the Federal Government did not dabble so much into the aviation business, we probably would not be where we are today. If the government can buy five per cent into one local airline and leave the rest for the management to run, the story will be different. Because of mismanagement, all the aircraft we had are gone.

“Government interference will not help in any way if we want to revive the aviation sector. See the British Airways, what stake does the British government have in it? Probably one per cent. Yet the government hardly interferes. Or is it Lufthansa? All of them carry their countries’ flags and they are doing very well.”

An industry analyst, Emmanuel Adeogun, urges Nigerians to take another look at the $6.5bn that wealthy Nigerians reportedly spent on private jets in the country, while noting that the financial burden borne by owners of the private jets may have compelled some of them to acquire their own aircraft out of necessity rather than luxury.

Adeogun says, “Because of the nature of their business, some of our rich men may have acquired private jets to move around at a very short notice, a service that is no longer possible with the present airlines.”

Investigations by VISTA show that over the last five years, some of Nigeria’s wealthiest people have spent about $6.5bn on the purchase of new private jets, thereby making the country Africa’s biggest market for private planes.

In a report published recently by The PUNCH, the number of privately-owned aircraft in the country has risen by 650 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

The report said that in 2007, there were a total of 20 private jets in the country. Now, the number has risen to about 150.

Citing documents sourced from various aviation agencies in the country, the report said that over 130 new private planes had been acquired since 2007 at the average cost of $50m per plane. It said that the rich are struck by the luxury syndrome because of the need for privacy, fear of insecurity, and the urgency required to compete in the modern business environment.

The scramble among the rich to acquire private planes over the last decade has been unprecedented. Between March 2010 and March 2011, this class of Nigerians spent about $225m on private jets.

There is an indication that more private jets are on the way, ordered as usual by some of the country’s wealthiest people. While some of the aircraft will be delivered this year, others will arrive between 2013 and 2014.

The increasing expenditure on private aircraft means that Nigeria is currently rivalling China as one of the two fastest growing markets for private jets in the world, and airplane manufacturers across the world are beginning to take notice of this fact.

Investigations by VISTA showed that insecurity, the rot in the aviation business, and the bad – and dangerous – road network in Nigeria might be the other reasons why many businessmen would continue to spend a sizeable percentage of their resources to acquire private airplanes.

However, despite the release of bailout funds meant to save Nigeria’s failing airlines, the fortunes of air travellers in the country are yet to improve.

Instead, the number of commercial airlines dwindled recently, first, from five to four after the ill fated crash of a Dana Air plane on June 3, 2012.

Then early last month, things got worse as the number plunged from four to three when Air Nigeria, the offshoot of Virgin Nigeria (itself the offshoot of Nigeria Airways), suddenly suspended its operations despite being the largest beneficiary of the bailout fund to the tune of N35.5bn.

When VISTA sought the reactions of the various airlines over the ordeal being suffered by air travellers in the country, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Akin George, said the airline had already made an arrangement to take care of the spill-over arising from a reduction in the number of local airlines operating in the country.

George said, “In the next one month, additional 3,000 seats will be added to Aero Contractor’s schedule to reduce problem of insufficient seats. Our customers should also expect better days; our loans are being refinanced by the banks as a result of the bailout fund which we have received. We also expect a reduction of interests on our loans.

“Concerning flight delays, these have been partly caused by the amount of rainfall being experienced all over the country. It has affected our ability to maintain flight schedules.

“When it comes to maintenance, Aero is known for strict adherence; we also undertake third part maintenance as well. Our planes are quite safe; we have gone through over seven audits from different professional organisations in the last two months and have passed every one.  We don’t skip on maintenance but ensure we carry it out as stipulated by the manufacturer.”

The spokesperson for Dana Airlines, Mr. Tony Usidamen, however, declined making any comment. He said, “I cannot make any statement at this time because Dana Air is presently undergoing recertification with the NCAA. A statement will be issued when we are through with the process and ready to commence commercial operations.”

Air Nigeria’s spokesman, Mr. Samuel Ogbogboro, was not available for comments as his phone indicated it was switched off.

Efforts to get the reactions of some aviation regulatory agencies proved abortive. Despite promising to respond to the issue, comments from the General Manager, Public Relations, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Sam Adurogboye, were not received as at the time of going to the press.

He did not respond to the email sent to him or answer subsequent phone calls to his phone to follow up on an earlier discussion.

On his part, the General Manager, Public Affairs, Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Akin Olukunle, said that he was not in the capacity to speak on behalf of FAAN because of an ongoing restructuring which may bring another officer into his office.

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Consumers, PHCN trade blame on non-reading of meters

A PHCN employee at work in Ipaja, Lagos State A PHCN employee at work in Ipaja, Lagos State
| credits: Odutayo Odusanya
Electricity consumers have accused the Power Holding Company of Nigeria officials of deliberately avoiding reading meters so as to arbitrarily bill them on estimation.
But in a swift response, PHCN marketers blamed the failure to read such post paid meters on the lack of access.
Two recent letters received from Saturday PUNCH readers vividly illustrate the situation.
The first showed the price paid by some consumers in a bid to give PHCN marketers access to their building in Lagos.
Adekunle, a resident of No. 31A, Arigbanla Street, off Iyana Ipaja Road, Orile-Agege, said that one Wednesday afternoon last August, two men who claimed to be PHCN officials carted away four post-paid meters from the building.
He said the men, who visited the premises when all the adults had gone to work, successfully tricked the gateman into believing that they were from PHCN, and eventually made away with the meters.
He said, “But when we got back home and the children and gatemen narrated what happened, we quickly called the PHCN marketer in charge of our place (Dipo), he said no such action was taken by the PHCN office. Subsequently, we had to inform the Elere Divisional Police Station about the matter, but as it is, we have no meters.
“The implication is that we’re now on estimated billing. You can’t believe that at the end of September, the bill for my apartment went up to N10,000. This is really unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, in a sharp contrast, Mr. Eriunu Oluwaseun of House 15, C Close, 31 Road, FHA, Ipaja, suspected a deliberate failure by the PHCN marketer to read his post-paid meter, thus causing him extra expenses on electricity.
“The meter reading on my monthly bill has remained the same since February, but the monthly charge has skyrocketed. I’ve made several visits to the PHCN office, yet the situation has not improved. I’ve also called the marketer, Ashiru, several times on the phone but he keeps promising to correct the situation and yet it persists,” he said.
Responding to Oluwaseun’s complaint, the Principal Manager, Public Affairs, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Pekun Adeyanju, said that his meter was not accessible for PHCN marketers to read.
He said that security dogs stationed within the compound usually prevented PHCN officials from gaining access to read the meter, urging him to make his meter accessible.
 “Our investigation revealed that there are about four big dogs in that premises, which makes it difficult for our marketers to gain access and read the meter. In fact, the Senior Manager Marketing, Akowonjo Business Unit personally visited the house on Sept. 25.
“The reading on the meter was only given to him by an occupant of the house. He could not enter the premises. This is however wrong as meter reading is supposed to be carried out by a PHCN employee. Please make your meter accessible. Your marketer is Segun Fasanmi,” Adeyanju wrote in response to our enquiry.
However, Saturday PUNCH investigations showed that the PHCN officials and their customers on post-paid meters could safety reach a consensus without jeopardising security.
The Public Affairs Officer, PHCN Sagamu Business Unit, Mr. Abel Osungbawaye, advised electricity consumers to make their meters accessible by not locating it within their apartments. He said that the only reason why meters would not be read is if the marketers could not gain  access to it whenever they visited.
He said that even if the consumer was not home when marketers came around, he could call them to come and do the reading when he is available by using the phone number usually printed on the monthly electricity bill.
“Every month, marketers go round to distribute bills and read meters among others, so there is no evidence to prove that they deliberately fail to read a customer’s meter. In most cases, the meters are sited in parts of the house that are not readily accessible.
“They should locate the meters outside within the compound. They can also let the marketer know when they are available to have the reading taken; that is the essence of printing contact numbers on the bills. They are also free to complain about this at the customer care units.”
The Public Relations Officer, Ota Business Unit, Christie Ukpabio, gave consumers further advice on security and accessibility of PHCN officers to read meters.
Although Ukpabio reiterated the point on making meters accessible, she warned that care should be taken not to give unwanted persons equal access to the meters because of its conspicuous position.
She stressed the need for customers to always demand proper identification from unknown persons claiming to be employees of PHCN before allowing them to have access to their houses.
She said that these days, no one should allow a security lapse. “Insist that they show you their PHCN identity cards and if you are not convinced about what they are asking you to do, call the customer care number or the number on your bill to get clarification. That is the standard; customers should not take security for granted,” she said.
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Source : punchng[dot]com

Jungle Justice :4 UNIPORT Students Burnt Alive For Allegedly Stealing Laptops And Mobile Phones (PHOTOS)

OMG!!, this is case and scenario at Aluu community when three students of the University of Port Harcourt namely Ugonna, Aladdin and Chidiaka were beaten and burnt alive by irate indegenes of the said community for allegedly stealing phones and laptops in an off campus hostel..

where is our conscience, must we take the law into our hands?? Instead of calling the police and getting them arrested, these birds of a feather put tyre over the heads of these students who were not armed & burnt them to ashes. Then they took pictures, filmed the brutality & spread it around. This happened today in PH. We are gradually losing our humanity in this country. The boys were all in their early 20s.

Lagos Won’t Allow Other States’ Number Plates – Government

The Lagos State Government yesterday said it would no longer allow the use of vehicles with number plates from other states of the federation for commercial transportation in the state.

It also advised residents with private vehicles to change to the state’s number plates to reflect the fact that they are living in Lagos.

The Director, Vehicle Inspection Office, Mr, Gbolahan Toriola, said the measure was meant to achieve “sanity, standard, safety and security” as stipulated by the road traffic law.

Toriola spoke at the vehicle inspection safety campaign organised by the Ministry of Transportation in conjunction with the Political and Legislative Bureau for commercial drivers in Ikeja.
He said, “There is nothing wrong in bringing commercial buses from other states. But if you must use it in Lagos, you have to change the colour and re-register it with us so that we have your information in our database.

“This is a standard procedure. As a matter of fact, it you have lived in a state for about three months, you are no longer a visitor and therefore you must change your number plate to reflect the state. It is done in America and other developed nations.

“Of course, this provision did not affect inter-state vehicles carrying passenger from other state. But we don’t expect them to pick or drop passengers at every bus stop. There are dedicated bus stops and parks for inter-state vehicles. If they violate this and we get them, they will face our law.

“You must put waste basket in your buses; there must be first aid box; you must carry extra tyres. These are what our law stipulates.”

The VIO boss who highlighted the provisions of the traffic law, advised them to cooperate with the government to ensure security in the state.

A director in the ministry, Mr. Bola Matanmi, also advised the drivers not to turn themselves to traffic officials, but instead apply to the ministry so that they would be given a Special Marshall status.
He added that the union would be given the privilege to choose the colour of the uniform for drivers and conductors.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Political and Legislative Affairs, Mr. Muslim Folami, said the traffic law, which has 43 sections and four schedules was for the interest of Lagosians. He urged the drivers to submit to the law for sanity and safety.

Source: Punch 


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