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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) assures airline passengers of their safety, says they have no reason to fright because there is no Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft currently operating in the country.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Sam Adurogboye, NCAA spokesman, said the agency will continue monitoring developments in the aviation industry to ensure flying safety.

The safety of Boeing 737 Max 8 has been questioned after two almost brand new planes crashed after takeoff.

The first crash was a Boeing 747 Max 8 belonging to Indonesia’s Lion Air and the other belonged to Ethiopian Airline.

“Presently, the accident aircraft type, Boeing 737 Max 8 is not in operation in the Country,” NCAA’s spokesman said.

“However, the Authority, in line with its Safety Oversight mandate enshrined in the Civil Aviation Act 2006, is consciously monitoring the development (s) with a view to take the necessary steps that will enhance the safety of all aircraft in operation within the Nigerian airspace.”

He further said: ” This is to assure the public that NCAA will continue to ensure that safety regulations are strictly adhered to for the safety of all in Nigeria.

“Our heart is with the Airline and families of the victims of the accident.”

Several airlines had grounded their Boeing 747 Max 8 till investigations are complete on whether the crashes are related.

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The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) have regretted what they described as the lack of progress in election administration and conduct of political parties in Nigeria.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, March 11 Abuja, the African Regional Director of IRI, John Tomaszewski, expressed the disappointment of his delegation at the conduct of the 2019 general elections. He stated that opinions of Nigerians on the entire exercise pointed to retrogression, as the country had not made any significant progress since the 2015 outing.

According to him, the secrecy of the ballot was not uniformly protected in polling units observed, adding that insufficient physical space within some of the units meant citizens marked and cast their ballots in very close proximity to party agents, polling and security officials as well as the public.

He also called for a national conversation on progress made and vulnerabilities that must be overcome to further strengthen the credibility of the electoral process and safeguard the nation’s democracy. He urged the federal government to expeditiously implement the reports of the Justice Mohammed Uwais and Senator Ken Nnamani panels raised in 2008 and 2017 to allow for the establishment of relevant institutions to oversee political parties and prosecute electoral offenses and other responsibilities that currently impede Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) focus on election management.

He noted that the Nigerian government had not given vent to the 35 percent affirmative principle captured in the 2006 National Gender Policy, adding that the National Assembly had continually bungled the opportunity to adopt legislation that supports greater participation of women in politics. He further called on the National Assembly to prioritize legislation that would promote women’s leadership and political participation, notably by the adoption of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.

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Kenyans who were sent to Israel to study dryland farming technologies and automated agriculture have warned President Uhuru Kenyatta that the collapsed Galana-Kulalu may have been sabotaged by cartels. 


The graduates who were drawn from various public universities and colleges have also petitioned the government to revive the project. 


They stated that the food security venture would have provided employment for them as well as many other unemployed young people. 


Vision 2030 Youth Entrepreneur Association Chairman, Edward Githaiga, accused the government of abandoning them despite being sent to Israel to acquire skills.  


“This flagship project that was undertaken by the government with support from Israel was meant to boost food security in the country. But some ruthless cartels keen to sustain their business in maize milling and importation are working to shoot down the project,” Githaiga regretted. 


In 2016, President Kenyatta had stated that the knowledge learned by the students would be used to revolutionize agriculture in Kenya starting with the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme where the students would first apply their skills.


“A desert can truly be a paradise if we are committed. This place is drier than any part of Kenya but looks at what they produce,” noted Uhuru during a tour of farms in Israel. 


According to investigations by Daily Nation, the construction of Galana-Kulalu stalled due to sour relations between the contractor, Green Arava, the National Irrigation Board (NIB), the implementing agency for the project, and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.


Initially, the project was to run for 30 months, with March 9, 2017, set as the completion date. However, Green Arava requested an extension to January 2018 after failing to meet the deadline but again failed to deliver. 


In September 2018, the firm asked for another extension to finalize by April 2019. On January 17, Noam Flecha, a project manager at Green Arava, wrote to NIB complaining that the agency was solely to blame for the incomplete project.


Source

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Tuesday, the Incoming US ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, has noted that he will do everything within his power to help prevent Kenya from being used as a terrorist gateway by enhancing the two countries’ strategic alliance to defeat terrorist threats.

Kenya and the United States have long been close allies and have enjoyed cordial relations since Kenya's independence. Relations became even closer after Kenya's democratic transition of 2002 and subsequent improvements in human rights.

This was preceded by sometimes frosty interludes during President Moi's regime when the two countries often clashed over bad governance issues, resulting in aid suspension and many diplomatic rows. Following the election of the new government of Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013, relations somewhat took a dip when the new president forged a new foreign policy looking east away from traditional western allies. Kenya–United States relations have been cemented through cooperation against Islamist terrorism and a visit by President Obama to Kenya, which is the homeland of his father.


Ambassador McCarter had emphasized on the importance of National security to both countries when he presented his credentials to President Uhuru Kenyatta.“National security is extremely important to both our countries".

“As Ambassador, I will use my experience to help advance the many development programmes and policy initiatives in our long-standing US-Kenya partnership towards self-reliance,” the US envoy added.

The US ambassador was among six envoys whose credentials were received by President Kenyatta Tuesday at a ceremony held at State House, Nairobi.

“Kenya is a top priority for this administration, as demonstrated by the elevation last year of the US-Kenya relationship to a strategic partnership following the historic meeting between President Trump and President Kenyatta in 2018, and by the many recent high-level visits to Kenya by senior US officials,” Ambassador McCarter said.

Other incoming envoys were High Commissioner Gobopang Duke Lefhoko (Botswana), Maria Alejandra Guerra (Chile), Meles Alem Tekea (Ethiopia), Jong Tong Hak (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and Unnur Orradottir Ramette (Iceland).  The Korean and Iceland are non-resident ambassadors accredited to Kenya.

Receiving the credentials, President Kenyatta welcomed the new envoys and assured them of his support to make their tour of duty in Kenya successful.

“Welcome to Kenya and feel at home. I look forward to working with you to strengthen the cooperation and bilateral relations for the benefit of the people of our countries,” President Kenyatta separately told the envoys.

Botswana Ambassador Lefhoko committed to traverse Kenya’s expanse during his tour of duty in order to interact with Kenyans from all walks of life to further strengthen the bonds of friendship that exist between the people of the two countries.

Ethiopian Ambassador Meles praised the consistent and stable relations that the two countries have maintained over the years.

“It is therefore high time for a new path to boost trade, investment, infrastructural development and to improve food security apart from deepening our people-to-people ties,” Ambassador Meles said.

Chilean Ambassador Maria Alejandra Guerra said Kenya and Chile have a lot to learn from each other especially in agribusiness and tourism, saying she looked forward to the signing of a Memorandum of understanding that will promote commerce and investment between the two nations.

Korean Ambassador Jong assured President Kenyatta that his government supports Kenya’s Big 4 agenda that targets improving the lives of Kenyans through the provision of universal healthcare, affordable housing, jobs through enhancing the manufacturing sector and boosting food security.


Iceland Ambassador Ramette said she will devote all her efforts to promoting the friendly relations that exist between Kenya and her country. She said her focus will be deepening development cooperation between the two countries.

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Scholarships have been offered to brilliant kids of 790 boys and girls by The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last year, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari notes.

Buhari, who won his re-election bid in the Saturday 23 presidential poll and is the current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, said this at the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN headquarters, New York.


Represented by Hajia Aisha Abubakar, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Buhari shared the interventions, accomplishments, and challenges of the 15-Member States.

He said with the scholarships, girls were now increasingly subscribing to scientific and technical subjects, such as agricultural research, biotechnology, molecular biology, mechanics, civil engineering and other technical and vocational courses hitherto dominated by boys.


“This programme has also significantly contributed to awareness creation on gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and early pregnancy,” he said.

Buhari said the sub-region was in full expansion and resolutely committed to the successful integration of its peoples through ECOWAS Commission.


According to him, ECOWAS is actively working to fight against exclusion, inequalities and the generational transmission of poverty in order to accelerate change with a strong social impact.

He also listed the ECOWAS’ interventions and accomplishments to include a programme of support on the reproductive health of women and girls.


“Through this programme, ECOWAS has successfully treated and reintegrated nearly 1,500 women and girls suffering from obstetrics.

“This programme is made up of three components, namely surgical repair of the fistula, the rehabilitation of the cured woman through financial and technical support.’’


In the area of youth training, the Nigerian leader said 169 young people from the sub-region were trained in building electrical wiring.

He added that 577 in Agro-business and pastoral studies and 310 young people in automobile mechanics, refrigeration and air conditioning.

Buhari added that an ECOWAS Youth Fund had been established to enhance youth employment through the provision of grants for projects and programmes initiated by the young people.


The Nigerian president said the ’50 Million Women Speak Platform’ project aimed to empower and help women entrepreneurs improve their skills to access financial and non-financial information.

“The introduction of passports and identity cards and the removal of customs barriers for all citizens of ECOWAS have greatly facilitated the free movement of people and goods at the regional level and reduced harassment at the borders, to which women were particularly exposed.

“ECOWAS also seeks to achieve integration through equal access to sustainable infrastructure. The ECOWAS Commission has a master plan for the realization of regional infrastructure.

“This plan has made it possible to initiate important projects such as highways to connect ECOWAS Member States, the ECOWAS maritime company project, strengthening of the air transport system, and the energy interconnection programme, among others.

“All these efforts are aimed at achieving the regional common market with a particular focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment,” he said.


NAN

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Zinedine Zidane is set to make a shocking return as coach of Real Madrid after the club decided on Monday to sack Santiago Solari, say reports in the Spanish press.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has reportedly met with the board and resolved to dismiss Solari, with Zidane set to be his replacement, nine months after he resigned at the end of last season.

Zidane could take training as early as Tuesday and be in charge of Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday.

His priority will be to secure Madrid’s place in the top four after a turbulent fortnight that has seen them lose twice to Barcelona and knocked out by Ajax in the Champions League.

Zidane won that tournament in each of his three seasons in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, as well as La Liga in 2016-17 while enjoying a strong relationship with the majority of the players.


Gareth Bale was one of the few not to see eye-to-eye with the Frenchman and Bale’s future will become even more uncertain, should Zidane’s appointment be confirmed.

Sergio Ramos had said earlier on Monday he accepts blame for the club’s “deeply disappointing” season but insists the players have no say on the coaching situation.

Ramos posted a series of questions to himself on social media after Madrid had beaten Real Valladolid 4-1 in La Liga on Sunday night.


“As footballers, we like to do our talking on the pitch but this season is not turning out that way,” Ramos wrote.

“Recent events have been disastrous and I’m not hiding. We are not hiding. We the players are primarily responsible and I, as captain, more than anyone.”

On Solari’s position, Ramos said: “It’s a decision that’s not ours to make and in which we never interfere. We have enormous respect for the position and we always support the Real Madrid coach.

“These reflections are, without doubt, the result of a deeply disappointing season but if success didn’t stop us, we’re not going to let defeat stop us. It’s our obligation to carry on, to work and to evolve.”


AFP

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s wife was sedated and on a respirator but was confirmed “stable” on Monday following a lung transplant, the president’s office said in a statement.

Nechama Rivlin has long been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, it said, adding that Monday’s surgery took several hours and took place “after a long period” on the transplant waiting list.

“She is in a stable condition, and is surrounded by close family,” it said.

A presidential spokesman was unable to give her age, but she is reportedly in her early 70s.

The statement quoted the surgeon, Dan Aravot, as saying that the operation, on a single lung, has a success rate of around 80-90 percent.

Reuven Rivlin, 79, was elected to his post by the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, and sworn in for a seven-year term in July 2014.

In Israel, the presidency is largely ceremonial and executive power rests with the prime minister.


AFP

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The Benue state governorship election has been declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The Returning Officer, Professor Sabastine Maimako passed the information on Monday.

According to him, the election was inconclusive due to the gap between the canceled votes of 121,019 as against the winning margin between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is 81,554.

The PDP candidate, Samuel Ortom polled 410,576 votes while the APC candidate Emmanuel Jime polled 329,022 votes.

PDP leads with 81,554 votes but the number of canceled votes is 121,019 which prompted the Returning Officer to declare the election inconclusive.

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The Returning Officer(RO), Christian Ogbuagbu, in Imo State has handed over two collation officers to security agents over the manipulation of results in Ohaji/Egbema LGA.

According to reports, one of the collation officers, Ehirim Kelechi, confessed to the RO that after issuing duplicates of the results to party agents, he altered the original copy, injecting more than 1,000 votes to the results.

This was said to be discovered after the results he read out at the collation center was disputed by party agents and the RO compared the results.

The RO subsequently handed the matter over to security operatives who arrested them.

He said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, firstly, the results of the ward, Obitti/Mgbishi, stands canceled because after the CO had given the results to the agents,  result manipulation was discovered.”

“I have been advised to note that the action constitutes electoral malpractice. I hereby hand over the case to the security agents to handle.”


More to follow…

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Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen's case resumes:

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has resumed the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

Justice Onnoghen appeared in court today, alongside the parties in the suit.

The defense counsel said that there are about five applications.

The first was filed on January 14, 2019, and the second on February 4, 2019.

He asked the tribunal to strike out the charge, while prayed for an adjustment to allow the NJC to decide on the issues before the CJN can be tried.
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