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Meet The Talented African Woman Who Lectures At Harvard But Has No Formal Education

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Nike Okundaye

Nike Davies-Okundaye aka “‘Nike Davies’” aka “‘Nike Twin Seven Seven’” aka “‘Nike Olaniyi’” aka “‘Mummy Nike’” is a Nigerian batik and textile designer, considered to be the foremost designer on the west coast of Africa.
Not many in Nigeria appear to know about her unique story. But in other lands, especially Europe and America, she is a ‘goddess’ whose works are cherished by kings and presidents.
Without a doubt, the story of Nike Okundaye, the face behind the huge success story of Nike Arts Gallery, located in Lagos, Abuja and Osogbo, is as compelling as it is inspiring.
At a time when young Nigerians are in desperate need of a role model and inspiration in what self-belief and hard work can achieve, Nike’s rise from the status of an unknown village girl born into a seeming insignificant family in a rustic village to a globally celebrated icon would make an A-list inspirational novel.

Born in her native village of Ogidi, Ijumu Local Government Area, Kogi State, young Nike had high dreams about what type of future she wanted for herself. But her dreams were truncated even before they could take form when she lost her mother at age six. “I was six when my mother died,” she said with a tinge of sadness.
With the blow inflicted on her dreams by her mother’s death, young Nike was taken away to live with her grandmother. At the time, many believed that by going to live with an old woman, the young girl’s future had been compromised. But events have since proved that destiny may indeed have been at work in her journey through life.
She had her first contact with the world of arts through her grandmother, who at the time, was the leader of cloth weavers in the community.
She said: “I come from a family of craftsmen. My parents were crafts people from Ogidi in Ijumu Local Government Area, Kogi State. My life as an artist is something that I was born with. I started weaving at the age of six.

“I started with weaving different things, including adire, a traditional Yoruba hand-painted cloth design. As a matter of fact, I can say everything that had to do with textile. They taught me how to weave, using a little calabash. Gradually, I graduated to using bigger materials.”
Though Nike was six years old and barely able to tell the difference between her left and right hands, she already had a picture of the kind of future she wanted.
“My grandmother was the head of all the weavers in our community. So, even as a little child, I already had a dream that I would own a big studio when I grew up. People came from different areas to buy the cloth from her. So, at that time, I already sensed that I might not have the opportunity to go to school.”
With the death of her mother, her grandmother, whose responsibility it was to look after her, did not pamper her in any form. She ensured that the virtue of hard work was instilled in Nike’s young, impressionable mind.
At that time, young Nike, unaware of the reason behind her great grandmother’s action, would cry, believing that she was being unnecessarily punished. “I would cry and lament because I thought she was wicked and punishing me. But today, I always thank her for inculcating in me the virtue of hard work. It was through her that I learnt that you must persevere in whatever you do and never give up on your dreams.”
Although she lost her mother at a time she needed her most, Nike believes that destiny might have been involved in the way her life played out, including her mother’s death. According to her, the mother was a very hard working young woman who would have spared nothing to ensure that her child got a good education up to the university level.
“Even at that young age, I knew that my mother was very hard working. And I am very sure that if she had not died, she would have trained me up to university level. My father was a farmer. He also did several other things like basket weaving to supplement his income. So, definitely, I would have been educated very well if my mother had not died.
“But today, I look at my childhood and all that I went through as something designed by destiny. Who knows, maybe if my mother had not died and I had gone ahead to be educated, I may never have had the kind of opportunity that I have today and may never have risen to the level that I am.”
Nike never went to school to study art, the vocation that has brought her to global spotlight. Vocational training in art was passed down to her by her great grandmother, the late Madam Ibikunle. Watching her great grandmother in the art of adire textile processing and helping her out, Nike walked up the line to become an expert in adire making, dyeing, weaving, painting and embroidery.
A product of the famous Osogbo Art Movement, Nike is today a world acclaimed artist and textile designer. She brings vivid imagination as well as a wealth of history and tradition into the production of adire. Her works are celebrated in major capitals of the world, with her designs exhibited in countries like the USA, Belgium, Germany, Japan and Italy, among others.
Nike spent the early part of her life in Osogbo, a recognised hotbed for art and culture in Nigeria. During her stay in Osogbo, her informal training was dominated by indigo and adire.
Nike’s romance with international exposure began in 1968 when she had an exhibition at the Goethe Institute in Lagos. Since then, she has grown to become a major name on the international art circuit. She is most outstanding in paintings and design of adire, beadwork and batik.
Among Nike’s proudest achievements was her invitation to Italy by the Italian government in 2000 to train young Nigerian sex workers on how to use their hands to engage in creative ventures. Her invitation was as a result of complaints to the Italian government by the young Nigerians that they left Nigeria in search of work, not knowing what they would be forced into. When Nike got to Italy, she taught them skills in craft making and many of the women became self-reliant in no time and stopped their old means of income.

In 2006, she was awarded one of the highest Italian national awards of merit by the government of the Republic of Italy in appreciation of her efforts in using art to address and solve the problems of Nigerian sex workers in Italy.
About two years ago, her adire painting was accepted at The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, located in Washington DC, US. Some of her works can be found amongst the collection of prominent personalities around the world, including the White House.
While little is known about Nike and her works across the country, two former presidents of the USA, Bill Clinton and George Bush, were so enthralled by her works at various times that they sought audience with her during their visits to Nigeria. Much more than just meeting and shaking hands with the two former presidents, it was Nike that decorated George Bush’s room in Abuja during his stay in the country.
These two incidents, Nike told The Nation, were some of the best things to have happened to her.
She said: “When President Bill Clinton of the US visited Nigeria, he asked to meet the woman behind Nike Gallery, and I was taken to Abuja to meet him. It was the same thing with President George Bush. I was invited to meet him in Abuja during his visit to Nigeria. I was the one that decorated the room where the president stayed during the visit. What honour can be greater than this? I feel accomplished.”
As an accomplished artist, Nike has taught in several universities in the US, imparting the knowledge of her traditional adire designs in thousands of eager students from across the world. Her teaching exploits, she disclosed, have taken her to revered institutions like Harvard and Edmonton in Canada.
“I have lectured and held workshops in several noble institutions across the world. Some of the universities include Harvard, Columbus, Edmonton, Ohio and in Los Angeles, among others. My first experience with teaching was in 1974. At that time, I taught people with doctoral degrees.”
Interestingly, all the education she had at the time, according to her, was the traditional education that parents pass onto their children.
“The type of education I had at the time was the education that is passed from parents to their children, not the education you get in a classroom. It was the practical type of education,” she said with a wry smile.
In 1983, she established the Nike Centre for Art and Culture in Osogbo, Osun State, where trainings are offered free of charge to Nigerians in various forms of arts. The centre was opened with 20 young girls who were picked from the streets and offered a new life in arts. So far, according to her, more than 3,000 young Nigerians have been trained at the centre.
The centre also admits undergraduate students from many universities in Nigeria for their industrial training programmes in textile design. The centre now admits students from Europe, Canada and the United States of America. International scholars and other researchers in traditional African art and culture also visit the centre from time to time for their research works on the processing of adire fabric and African traditional dyeing methods.
But she says the true story of the gallery started in her bedroom about 47 years ago.
“The gallery you see today actually started in my bedroom in 1968. In 2008, we opened the one in Lagos, and my husband was always the motivator. It was intended to give the young and old a platform to hear their voice.”
As she spoke, with signs of fulfillment splashed on her face, her husband, Reuben Okundaye, a retired commissioner of police, who had remained quiet since the interview started, suddenly joined in the conversation.
He said: “It is with practical education that she has continued to teach and impart knowledge into people with doctoral degrees and masters in Fine Art. Some of these people even come here under the cover of night to seek advice from her. Yet, some would say she is not educated.”
Speaking about another experience, Mr. Okundaye said he once had an encounter with a prominent Nigerian who told him that his wife would have been made a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria if she was educated. Surprised, he said he took a swipe at the man, telling him his wife was better educated than most of the people that were being flaunted.
He said: “You can imagine, I was discussing with one big man the other day and he said that my wife would have been made a minister if she was educated. I was angry and I asked him what he meant by that. Here is a woman who teaches people with doctoral degrees in higher institutions all over the world, yet you say she is not educated. But when the chips are down, they come to her for advice.”
Asked how she feels whenever she teaches in the classroom, Nike looked up as if relishing her achievements, and said: “I feel fulfilled. It was a very high sense of fulfillment. Imagine, a little girl who grew up in a rustic village without any sign of hope for a good future. Now I stand before PHD holders and teach them. I have been invited to meet presidents of foreign countries. I think I should be proud of my little achievements and be grateful to God.”
In spite of her seeming low education, she insists she has no regrets about not attending school. “I have no regrets at all. I give thanks to God for making all these things possible for me. I also thank my husband for standing by me all these years. I must confess that it was not easy coming this far. You will agree with me that for a woman to be recognised, she has to work three times harder than a man.”
Reechoing his wife’s position, Mr. Okundaye said Nike could not have had any regrets, having attained the heights sought by many across the world. “You asked if she has any regrets. How can that be possible? What kind of regret was she supposed to have with all her achievements? She is fulfilled in every sense of the word,” he enthused.
Expectedly, the couple was attracted to each other by their mutual love for arts. Okundaye told The Nation how it all started: “I have always been an arts lover. I have some of her works. Perhaps, like you said, maybe it was destiny that brought us together.”
With a sterling career as a police officer, which saw him attaining the rank of Commissioner of Police and serving in more than four states, the couple has in the last 20 years of their coming together enjoyed the beauty of marriage and weathered the storm together.
Nike, who would be 64 in a couple of weeks, has also successfully created an identity for herself. Her most treasured clothes, she confessed, are adire fabrics. And it is not surprising that she cannot remember the last time she wore anything other than that.
“You may be right if you say I have created an identity for myself with my adire clothes. It is the only thing that I am known with. I don’t wear any other clothe, even when I travel out of the country,” she said.

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No Diaspora/Out-of-Country Voting in 2019 General Elections.

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The attention of INEC has been drawn to a report by a section of the media which gave false impression that the Commission has “made special provisions for IDPs outside Nigeria to vote in the 2019 Elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wishes to inform the general public that “there will be no Diaspora or Out-of-Countyr voting for any Nigerian”, and that “only duly registered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within Nigeria will be allowed to vote.”
Read the full Press Release here:

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GOVERNOR WILLIE OBIANO INAUGURATES ANAMBRA STATE LAW REVISION COMMITTEE

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By Harrison Madubueze
Gov Willie Obiano inaugurates the Anambra State Law Revision Committee. The committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing the laws of Anambra State.


The laws of the state was last revised in 1991 making it 27 years since the laws guiding the state was reviewed. This is against best known practices where laws should be reviewed at least every 10 years.
It is worthy of note that laws have been enacted by the state since then but there has been no effort at harmonizing these laws to put them together in one document.
It also important to revise these laws to conform to modern trends and also align with internationally recognised best legal practices.
This is a timely initiative of Gov. Willie Obiano to bring Anambra state up to speed with current legal trends round the world.
The Committee Members are:
~ Hon. Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu (Chairman)
~ Hon. Justice Aniukwu Fidelis (Member)
~ Mr. Theo Osanakpo SAN (Member)
~ Barr. Dr. Mrs. Uju Nwogu (Attorney General of Anambra State).
~ Barr. Mrs. Pat Igwebuike (Special Adviser, Legal Matters) (Secretary).
~ Barr. Ifeanyi Obiakor (Member)
~ Prof. S.A.M Ekwenze (Member)
~ Barr. Tina Emekwekwue (Member)
~ Barr. Uju Metuh (Member)
~ Barr. Mrs. Theo Okwy Igwegbe (Member)
~ Barr. Mrs. Lynda Chinwuba (Member).
Light of the nation!
#WillieisWorking
Awka, Anambra State.

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News Pictures Of The Day : Moments at 60th Anniversary of Francis Cardinal Arinze

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‘PROViDENCE iS THE WORD: Lord We Thank Thee!’ The 60th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze held on Thursday 13th December 2018 at Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha as captured by Emeka Ozumba
Photos…


Pix 1: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and Wife, Dr. Ebelechukwu carrying the Oblate to the Alter at the Holy Mass.
Pix 1b: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and Wife, Dr. Ebelechukwu at the Holy Mass.
Pix 2: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and Wife, Dr. Ebelechukwu receiving the blessing from His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze at the Mass.
Pix 3 & 4: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and his predecessor, His Excellency, Chief Peter Obi exchanging pleasantry after the Mass.

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FG Assures ECOWAS, UN of Credible 2019 Elections

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The Federal Government has assured the economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN election monitoring team of credible elections in 2019.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama said this at the 41st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council in Abuja on Thursday.
Onyeama, who is also the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, commended several member states in the region on efforts made in the various political, constitutional and security sector reforms to improve democracy.
“We welcome the positive developments in several West African countries including steps being taken to promote human rights and encourage national stakeholders to continue to engage in dialogue in the spirit of tolerance and inclusivity.
“To this end, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the ECOWAS/UN team on the election monitoring in Nigeria that his government will organise a credible election in 2019.”
The minister noted that security challenges were a source of “grave” concern despite successes recorded.
Onyeama added that security and sustainability could only be achieved through the promotion of good governance and the adoption of liberal policies that would enhance greater economic cooperation in the region.
He further assured of continued efforts by ECOWAS to sustain peace in the region.
“On the political front, we will continue to accompany Guinea Bissau to ensure the conformity and the full implementation of the Conakry Accord as well as a support for the successful conduct of parliamentary presidential election in 2019.
“Furthermore, positive strides have been attained towards the resolution of the political crisis in Togo. ECOWAS will continue to support the government of The Gambia for successful transition programme,” he said.
The ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council meeting will end on Dec. 15.

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FRSC Approves Establishment of 30 Road Camps

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has approved the establishment of 30 road camps across the country along critical designated corridors.
The Corps Marshal, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, disclosed this at the Fourth Quarter 2018 Strategy Session with 12 Zonal Commanding Officers and 37 Sector Commanders in Abuja on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the session was the last in the year.
Oyeyemi said that the session would enable the corps strategise toward ensuring a successful Operation Zero Tolerance (End of Special Patrol Sessions).
He noted that FRSC had also activated all Road Side Clinics and the Emergency Rescue Ambulance Scheme.
Oyeyemi said that the Emergency First Respondents Scheme members across the country had also been mobilised.
He said that all commands were to work in close concert with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and States Traffic Management Agencies, among others.
“Already, a total of 201 Mobile Courts have been put on notice to sit throughout the operation period, which is Dec. 15, to Jan. 15, 2019.
“In addition, motorists who commit life threatening offences will be referred for emotional and psychological evaluation test,” he said.
He further said that within the quarter, the corps commissioned three permanent Sector Command offices in Oyo, Ekiti and Kano, bringing the total to four out of eight newly constructed ones.
“Three others are on the last stage of procurement process and will be commissioned in early 2019,” he said.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had accented to the UN Convention on Road Traffic Signs and Signal of 1968, adding that the instrument of accession was deposited at the UN Treaty Office in October.
He urged members of the corps to ensure that the core values of the convention were brought to bear on the country.
Oyeyemi said that the corps had received FRSC Traffic Radio licence from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), saying that the radio station would be on air in the first quarter of 2019.
He further said that the FRSC Establishment Act was currently with the National Assembly undergoing the process of repeal and re-enactment.
The corps marshal explained that the purpose was to align the corps appropriately with best global practices such that can fulfill its responsibilities better for the benefit of humanity.
He urged Commanding Officers to take inventory of all corps logistics and communication facilities so as to ascertain their working order.
Oyeyemi, however, called on all road users to consider compliance to road traffic regulations sacrosanct, particularly as over 75 per cent of crashes resulted from human errors.
“The FRSC will not hesitate to invoke its powers to bring to book road users who will not willingly comport themselves in traffic.
“Compliance with road traffic regulations remains a compulsory civic obligation for which defiance will not be tolerated,” he said.

(NAN)

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Nigeria’s cabinet approves N7.13bn for maritime security

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Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council has approved N7.13bn (about $22.995million) for security in Nigeria’s coastal waterway.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi said the contract was approved for six companies to protect six sections of the coastal waterway.
He said that the contract was approved to enhance security in the maritime sector.

Steady recovery from recession
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said that he presented a report to the cabinet meeting that indicated that the economy, when measured by real GDP, grew at 1.81% in the 3rd quarter 2018 compared to 1.5% in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
He stated that the Federal Executive Council noted that economic growth continued to be driven by the non oil sector which grew by 3.32% in the 3rd quarter.
“This has been the strongest growth in non-oil GDP in twelve consecutive quarters since the fourth quarter of 2015,” he said.
Udoma said the non oil growth was driven by transportation, electricity, telecommunication, metal oils, quarry among others.
“In addition, agriculture and manufacturing sectors also grew, agriculture by 1.91% manufacturing by 1.92%.
“These are stronger growth than in the 2nd quarter, so overall, council most encouraged by these results shows improvement in the economy.
“It also shows that our plans are working it equally shows that we need to intensify our economy and keep fit with our reforms through continuous implementation of the ERGP in order to continue to attract investments and set the economy on a more sustainable inclusive growth trajectory.”
Udoma said the cabinet was encouraged by this and believed that the economy would do even better in the 4th quarter.

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Senate passes Bill establishing South-East Development Commission

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Nigerian senate has passed a bill to establish the south east development commission (SEDC).
The Bill was passed on Wednesday after consideration of the report of the Committee on establishment and public service led by the chairman, Senator Emmanuel Paulker.
Speaking shortly after the Lawmakers passed the Bill, Leader of the south eastern senator’s caucus, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe expressed appreciation with the senate for passing the bill and urged President Buhari to graciously give his assent to the Bill.
According to Senator Abaribe, the passage of the bill, and expected establishment of the commission, will put to rest the long agitation of the people of the south Eastern part of the country on issues relating to civil war among others.
Flanked by other Senators from the south east region, with majority wearing their traditional Igbo red cap, Senator Abaribe expressed hope that the House of Representatives will concur with the senate decision and pass the Bill.

Deposit Insurance
Also on Wednesday, the Senate in plenary confirmed the appointment of the Chairman, and six other Board members of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
Wednesday’s confirmation of the nominees was sequel to Senate consideration of the report of its committee on Banking, Insurance, and other financial institutions, which screened and recommended the nominees for confirmation.
Chairman of the NDIC Board according to the Senate’s confirmation, is Mrs. Ronke Sokefun from Ogun state. Alhaji Garba Buba is from Bauchi state, and representing the North East region, Alhaji Garba Bello hails from Sokoto state, and representing North West region, while the South East region is represented by Brigadier General Josef Okoloagu, who hails from Enugu state.
Other members are, Mr. Adewale Adeleke from Ondo state, representing the South West region, Mustapha Mudashiru who hails from Kwara state is representing the North Central region, while Mr. Festus Keyamo is representing South South region, and he hails from Delta state.

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In Pictures : Zik Mausoleum Buhari built, that PDP failed to do in 16 years

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President Muhammadu Buhari has completed the mausoleum in honour of Nigeria’s first president, Nnamdi Azikiwe, what the Peoples Democratic Party failed to do during all its 16 years in power.
Azikiwe, a foremost Nigerian nationalist died on 11 May 1996, during the Abacha administration. He was 92 years old.
A Mausoleum was to be erected in his honour. A contract was awarded and work started 21 years ago.

Inside the Mausoelum

In 16 years of the PDP in control of Nigerian affairs, Zik was totally forgotten, his memory consigned to the dustbin of history, by the rapacious regime, even as members helped themselves to the commonwealth and looted the treasury. The mausoleum was abandoned and it became the playground of all kinds of reptiles.
It took the Buhari administration just in three years, to face the project squarely, despite dwindling finances of the country and deliver the mausoleum.

On Monday, 10 December, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola was at the mausoleum site in Zik’s famous town of Onitsha, Anambra State to declare the project completed, 21 years after.
Fashola, who came in company of Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Productivity described the completion of the project as `promise kept’.
“During the build up to 2015 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari made commitment that he would complete Azikiwe’s mausoleum. Today Mr President has kept his words and we are happy,” he said.
Fashola said though furnishing of the monument was yet to be accomplished, the federal government would before long do it. It is a promise and the administration will surely fulfil it.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Ngige who also spoke, described the completion of the Mausoleum as sign of `Mr President’s open and fair leadership style’.
“As a South East son, I am happy that this project for the memory of our late father and son was finally completed, it is a big honour done to our people by Mr President,” he said.

 

 

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Atiku Signs Peace Accord

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday appeared before the National Peace Committee convened by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (RTD) and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese, REV. Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, where he signed the peace accord for the 2019 general elections.

 

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Minister Of State For Environment Resigns

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Nigeria’s minister of state for environment Ibrahim Jibrin has resigned his appointment as a member of the Federal Executive Council.

Jibrin tendered his resignation on Wednesday at the end of the weekly federal executive council meeting presided over by president Muhammadu Buhari.
The former minister is stepping down to take up a role in the traditional institution as the new emir of Nasarawa.

Speaking at a valedictory session in his honour shortly after Wednesday’s council meeting at the state house, Abuja, Ibrahim Jibrin thanked president muhammadu buhari for considering him worthy to serve the country, saying the position offered him the opportunity of contributing his quota in tackling the many environmental challenges confronting various parts of the country.
Jubril’s resignation comes exactly two years after Amina Mohammed resigned her position as the substantive minister of environment to take up a higher responsibility as United Nations deputy secretary general.
Meanwhile, council at its meeting on Wednesday welcomed the latest report by the national bureau of statistics which showed that Nigeria recorded a GDP growth of 1.8% in the third quarter of 20i8.
Minister of budget and national planning Udoma Udo Udoma says government would continue to push its economic reforms to hit its target of 3% GDP growth in 2019.

Council also approved over billion naira for the Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency, NIMASA, to improve maritime security in the country.

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