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The French government, a former friend of Biafra in the 1967 secession bid, has ruled out any support for the secession of any part of the country, particularly Biafra.

France’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, told The Guardian, that his country would not in any way work with any group agitating for the dismemberment of the nation.

He said France was working with Nigeria and supporting it as a country.

Speaking against the backdrop of France’s previous support for Biafra during Nigeria’s civil war, Gauer pointed out that Nigeria has evolved since the civil war.

France has been cooperating with the country to overcome its challenges, especially the fight against insurgency.

However, Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu, told The Guardian that the struggle for Biafra “is real and cannot be stopped by any man created by God”

He added: “We in MASSOB do not believe what he said because that does not represent the position of France. France is a friend of Biafra and even during the Nigeria/Biafra war, they assisted us so much.

“In this current agitation for Biafra, France has sympathy for us. We advise our people to disregard what he said. We think that the Nigeria media misinterpreted what the French envoy said.

But the French envoy further pointed out that there is no future for Biafra and urged proponents of secession or Biafra to continue to be part of the country.

“We are working with Nigeria and we are supporting it as the only country. This is absolutely clear and I don’t think there is any kind of future for Biafra. They are part of Nigeria and Nigeria has to remain as the only country,” he said.

He disclosed that France is working with the country in its fight against insurgency, saying the fight against Boko Haram has brought the two countries together, more than before.

The Ambassador explained how France helped the former Goodluck Jonathan government to organise a regional meeting with neighbouring francophone countries, Chad, Cameroon and Republic of Benin, in Paris, in 2014, following which the Multinational Joint Task Force, MJTF, was established to fight Boko Haram.

“Apart from encouraging neighbouring African countries to cooperate with Nigeria we have also developed a strong bilateral relationship with the Nigerian Armed forces.

In May 2015, the Defence Ministers of Nigeria and France signed a cooperation agreement between the two armed forces, which we did not have before.

Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, recently warned those agitating for an independent state to “forget it.”

The groups are Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) .

Though they have the same aim but are rival groups; they have consistently clash with themselves and with security agents.

Speaking in Abuja after receiving an award conferred on him by a coalition of over 80 civil society organisations (CSOs), Buratai said the army would not condone any act that could lead to the disintegration of the country.

“Those individuals and groups that are bent on destablising our country I think they have to wait till may be the next three or four millennium for them to do that.

That is, may be the next generation of officers and men will allow them at all,” he said.

 

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says Kenya has complied with international safety standards and can have direct flights to the U.S. after waiting for more than a decade.

The FAA in a statement Thursday said Kenya has received a category 1 rating under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment Program. With that rating, Kenyan air carriers can establish services to the U.S.

Kenya’s transport minister James Macharia described the category 1 status as a major milestone in the country’s aviation industry. Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy.

Kenya transformed its main airport after a 2013 fire destroyed its international terminal because the airport had only one fire engine working. Some rescuers, including police, looted ATMs and forex bureaus instead of fighting the blaze

 

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Kenya declared a national disaster on Friday, calling for aid to counter drought that is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

The Kenya Red Cross has estimated around 2.7 million people are in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November and the next rainy season not due before April.

President Uhuru Kenyatta called for “local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation,” a statement from his office said.

The U.N. World Food Programme said it was short of $22 million (18 million pounds) for the next six to nine months to provide support such as school meals for 428,000 children who often depend on them as their only substantial meal of the day.

The presidency did not set out how much the government needed for the drought, but said it had released 7.3 billion shillings ($70 million) and local authorities had provided another 2 billion. Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought.

“The government intends to enhance the interventions including doubling of food rations and cash transfers among other measures,” the presidency statement said.

Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves.

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Abiodun Dabiri, Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), told newsmen in Alausa that Commuters using the LAGBUS and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses in Lagos will pay more from March 1, following the Lagos State Government’s approval of upward review in their fares.

The Lagos State Government said on Monday that it had approved fare increase ranging from 20 per cent to 50 per cent on different routes plied by the buses.

The new fare structure for regulated bus operators in the state would take effect from March 1.

He said that though the government was mindful of the current financial difficulties residents were going through; it approved the fare increase to save the bus schemes from collapse.

Dabiri said what the bus operators spent on fuel had gone up 71 per cent, oil by 64 per cent and tyre by 90 per cent, threatening their continued operations.

“In view of this and with government’s responsibility to avert a collapse of the franchise scheme, which currently serves over 500,000 commuters daily, government had to consider request by the operators for an upward review of bus fares,” he said.

Dabiri said the current fares charged on some of the schemes had stayed constant for more than six years in the case of some operators.

He said that though the government granted the request for fare increase, it will not allow transport users to do so arbitrarily.

According to him, the operators have also been advised to improve their cost efficiency and effectiveness.

“It will be difficult to pass the entire cost of operations to the consumers, bearing in mind that a lot of the users are in the low income bracket,” Dabiri said.

He appealed to commuters to show understanding as the new fares take effect.

From March 1, commuters from Ikorodu to Mile 12 would pay N100 as against N75.

According to Dabiri, combining two zones like going from Ikorodu to Fadeyi will be N200 instead of N120, while combining three zones – Ikorodu to CMS – will be N300, instead of N200.

Giving a breakdown of the new fares on the LAGBUS routes, its Managing Director, Idowu Oguntona, said that the fare from CMS to Ajah would be N200, up from N150.He said that commuters from Leventis to Eko Hotel would pay N100 instead of N70, while those going to CMS from Oshodi would pay N150 as against N100.

 

 

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South Africa will introduce a national minimum wage of 3,500 rand (261 dollars) per month in 2018, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday, following protracted negotiations between the government and labour unions.

Supporters of a minimum wage say it can stimulate growth as workers can spend more, as well as reducing inequality.

Critics say it could lead to increased unemployment as employers will be unable to afford higher wage bills.

Credit ratings agencies have said agreeing a minimum wage would help Africa’s most industrialised economy hold onto its investment-grade rating by stabilising the labour market and reducing the number of strikes.

“The balance we have sought to strike is that it must not be too low, so that it doesn’t affect the lowest paid workers, but not too high that it leads to massive job losses,” Ramaphosa told a news conference.

Ramaphosa said the national minimum wage, which equates to 20 rand (1.50 dollars) per hour, would come into effect in May 2018.

Businesses that are unable to afford the minimum wage would be permitted to apply for an exemption of up to 12 months, Ramaphosa said.

The Treasury had also thrown its political weight behind the policy initiative.

Chief economist at Nedbank Dennis Dykes said the agreement was a sign of an improving relationship between labour, business and government, but warned that its implementation needed to be monitored.

“It is by no means certain this will lead to job creation.

SOURCE:TODAY.NG

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Speaking yesterday at the 14th yearly lecture of the Centre for Value and Leadership, with the theme: Living well together, tomorrow: The challenge of Africa’s future cities, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said that by 2020, Lagos State aspires to be the third largest economy in Africa. Towards this, investments in infrastructure and all other social economic efforts are geared towards making it ready to accommodate the new status.

He maintained that the state has all it takes to be the third largest economy on the continent, as it has not just a huge population and market, but also technology and human and material resources to drive it.

Aside revealing the commitment of his administration to take yellow buses off Lagos roads this year without mentioning a definite month, he reiterated that by July, the city would become cleaner and healthier, as concerted efforts were already being made to ensure better management of waste.

He said the daily inflow of migrants challenges the government to be on its toes to provide the facilities and infrastructure to accommodate the new residents.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Paul Collier, said that between now and 2050, the population of cities on the continent would triple and for any mega city to work, issues of energy, connectivity, housing and land are critical, which means investment in infrastructure is necessary.

In another development, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, has cautioned against use of ‘hate-speeches’ by Nigerians.

Kazeem spoke yesterday at a Price Media Moot Court Competition organised by the University of Lagos (UNILAG), in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

According to him, hate-speeches have the propensity to cause public disorder.

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     Nigerian energy firm Forte Oil has raised 9 billion naira ($30 million) with the sale of five-year bonds carrying an interest rate coupon of 17.5 percent, under a 50 billion naira debt programme, its advisers said on Tuesday.
The bond was issued at a par value of 1,000 naira each and was fully subscribed, they said in a state.
    March last year, the firm said it planned to raise capital to expand its operations in the West African country either through a share or bond sale.
Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy, has been issuing bonds at yields below the inflation rate, making i
t difficult for cooperates to raise debt, as the government increases borrowing to try to spend its way out of its first recession in 25 years.
In January the government sold a five-year bond at 16.89 percent to raise 34.95 billion naira.
    But domestic bond sales are likely to be subscribed to as risk-averse local pension funds awash with cash seek investment outlets, analysts say. Funds can invest more than 80 percent of pension assets in government bonds.
Annual inflation in Nigeria hit 18.55 percent in December, its 11th straight monthly rise to a more than 11-year high.
On Tuesday Forte Oil posted a 24 percent fall in profit before tax to 5.34 billion naira ($17.55 million) for its 2016 financial year,
($1 = 304.25 naira)

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Credit: Rueters

 

 

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Nigerians’ economy is in a downward spiral as electricity supply dropped from the 4,883.9 mega watts (mw) it recorded in the last one month to 2,200mw as at January 21, 2017.

This is far below the country’s installed capacity of 11,165.40mw and network operational capability of 5,500mw.

Over 450mw of electricity has been trapped at the Afam V Power Station in Rivers State following a fire incident, in which Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) protection and control equipment were destroyed last week.

The drop in electricity supply, according to the Head, Programmes and Membership, Institute of Directors’ Centre for Corporate Governance, Nerus Ekezie, will worsen the suffering of the citizens as the rate of inflation in the country is already 19.6 per cent.
Ekezie added that inadequate electricity would lead to high cost of production, increase in prices of goods and reduced purchasing power of consumers.

Besides, the prices of some petroleum products, such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also known as cooking gas; kerosene and Automotive Gasoline Oil (AGO) also known as diesel, recorded a significant increase, forcing Nigerians to spend a huge chunk of their earnings on the essential commodities.

Despite promises by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure maximum supply of all the petroleum products, the prices have remained high.

For example, the price of diesel rose from about N190 to over N250 per litre since last week, while the prices of cooking gas and kerosene, two important commodities used by almost every home in the country, rose from about N3, 500 for a 12.5-kilogramme cylinder and N83 per litre to N5,000 and N300 per litre.

Though kerosene is no longer scarce, the product is now selling at N300 per litre as against the pump price of N150 per litre. The situation has also led to an increase in the price of charcoal and firewood as alternatives to kerosene and cooking gas.

 

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According to a report by PREMUIM TIMES The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) yesterday asked Nigerians to prepare for fuel scarcity.

IPMAN Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Dankigari, lamented that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which sells the product for N133 per litre was no longer loading and that private depots around Calabar were already selling the product between N138 and N140 per litre.

Dankigari said marketers had decided to keep their trucks since the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) was already owing them over N200 billion for bridging the product, warning that there will be scarcity of petrol and kerosene in the next few days.

“If care is not taken, there will be fuel (petrol) scarcity because private depots have started increasing their rates; they are selling the product at a higher rate now in Calabar,” he told The Nation.

“Secondly, the cost of diesel is increasing. It is between N250 to N270 per litre. You can see that the cost of diesel is high but it is equally available because it has been deregulated. In addition, PEF that is supposed to be paying the transport fare is not paying.

“So, the marketers have decided to keep their trucks. The money PEF is owing marketers is now over N200billion. If this trend continues, there will be scarcity and the products will be very difficult to get. There is no kerosene at all.

“The major problem is that in Calabar, marketers are buying this product at N138 to N140 from the private depots. You know that what the NNPC said we should collect is N133, but they are not loading”, he added.

Dankigari noted that the foreign exchange rate was too high for his members to import products into the country.

 

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The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers say there is no going back on its planned warning strike scheduled to commence on January 11.

Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, the South-West Zonal Chairman of the union told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday that the union had mobilised its members for the strike.

He said that the union was determined to forge ahead with the planned warning strike, which would take place on from Jan. 11 to January 13.

Korodo said: “The warning strike notice had been given since the National Executive Council meeting that was held in Port Harcourt in December and we picked second week of January which commences from January 8.

“As I am speaking to you now, all zones including Lagos have mobilised to ensure the success of the strike as directed by NEC body of NUPENG.

“We are having another NEC meeting in Abuja on January 10, to appraise the preparation for the planned strike and meet the government officials.

“It has been the practice of the Nigerian government to wait until the ultimatum day before they start to run from one place to other to find solutions to it.

“If this warning strike is not properly handled as we have mobilised to ensure success of our action, nobody should blame the union.”

Korodo said that if the government had met the NEC of NUPENG before now, the action could have been “nipped in the bud’’.

NAN reports that NUPENG on December 16 gave the Federal Government a notice of a three-day nationwide warning strike from the second week of January 2017.

The action will be taken over unresolved labour issues with multinationals operating in the oil and gas industry.

President of the union, Igwe Achese, in a statement said that the decision was taken at the end of the NUPENG NEC, meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He warned that the three-day warning strike was preparatory to a nationwide strike if there was no intervention by the Federal Government.

 

 

 

 

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