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Herdsmen and Farmers: Realities, Response and Resolution of a National Dilemma

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Herdsmen and Farmers: Realities, Response and Resolution of a National Dilemma

A Lecture Delivered by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano at Double Tree by Hilton, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independent Anniversary.

It is a great honour to stand before you today to deliver a Lecture on Nigeria’s 58th Independent Anniversary. I had looked forward to this moment just as I had looked forward to the month of October in particular. Every October, I celebrate two of the most important women in my life… my wife and my country. Yes, my beloved wife, Ebelechukwu, marked her birthday last Sunday. So, you can see how important October is to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely do not know where the idea of looking at a country as a woman came from but there is probably no better way to look at Nigeria than to see her as a beautiful woman…very lovely and glamorous, but full of shakara. A beautiful woman needs care and tenderness to remain fresh and glamorous. Nigeria needs care and tenderness to reward our hopes and fulfil our dreams. Nigeria needs us now more than we need Nigeria. And we must not let her down!

Engaging Nigeria
Indeed, it is difficult to think of Nigeria without thinking of her enormous gifts and endowments; or her many unfulfilled promises. With an estimated population of almost 200 million people and a land area of 923,768 square kilometres, Nigeria is potentially a big country. But sitting on the 157th position in the global Human Development Index in 2017, it is obvious that Nigeria has not kept the promise of a huge material wealth to her population. It is not for want of effort on her part though but a challenge of sustainability.

To illustrate this point, as at 2015, Nigeria was rated as the 20th largest economy in the world with a nominal GDP in excess of $500 billion. A year earlier, it had overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy. Consequently, the World Bank rated it an Emerging Market and Nigeria became a Regional Power on the continent, a Middle Power in International Affairs and an Emerging Global Power. Yes, Nigeria has shown tremendous promise. So, I have no doubt that Nigeria can and shall attain greatness. It is just a matter of time!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an empty rhetoric. Nor is it a statement driven by excited optimism. If history is any guide to memory and knowledge, then we may remember that the area known today as Nigeria covers a wide expanse of geography that once brimmed with outstanding human achievements. Long before much of the world knew anything about civilization, the area that covers Kaduna and Plateau States gave the world the Nok Culture which dates from between 1000 BC to 500 BC. It documents a movement in civilization that covers the Neolithic or Stone Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. It drops hints about what might be the oldest organized human society with current research suggesting that the Nok Culture may have predated the founding of Rome by about 500 years. In contemporary history, the ancient Eri Kingdom in my own Anambra State, the glorious Benin Kingdom, the Yoruba Kingdoms, Kanem Bornu Empire and the great Hausa city states are a sparkling confirmation that greatness is neither strange nor new to modern Nigeria. And if our ancestors did it, then we too can do it. The key is in our own hands!

Introducing the Dilemma
Nigeria is a fascinating study in human tribulations and resilience. But that is not an extraordinary story. Every progressive society known to man has its own stories of socio-political turbulence, mutual suspicions, bitter rivalries, armed conflict or full blown war.

Essentially, since the end of the Biafran War, Nigeria has had many dangerous disagreements, violent eruptions, wild protests and other symptoms of a society in transition. But none of these past experiences is as menacing and wide-spread as the recent clashes between farmers and cattle herders. Even at their most violent peak, the exploits of the dreaded terror group, Boko Haram, were restricted mostly to the North East region of Nigeria. But the violent clashes between the herdsmen and farmers present a different test of willpower. What many Nigerians would like to understand is why everyday people who have lived together for ages would suddenly become each other’s dread. Why the farmer who is bound to his ancestral farmland by sweat and blood should run for his dear life when he hears a rustle in the tree. Why the herdsman who had walked the open fields of Nigeria with his dropping straw hat and a harmless stick across his shoulders should suddenly become a source of fear and anxiety. And finally, why after 58 years of living together as a country, we have allowed this mild irritation to develop into a national nightmare?

Ladies and gentlemen, once in every while, I ask myself hard questions and I think you should do same too. I ask myself if all that history had taught us about our ancestors were a heap of lies. Are we the true heirs to the Nok Culture, the great Eri Kingdom, the Kanem Bornu Empire, the Benin Empire, the Ife and Oyo Empires or even the more recent Opobo Kingdom where King Jaja taught the British a few lessons in trade and statecraft? Are we the true inheritors of all those great civilizations that our ancestors wrought with their own hands? Are we the great grandchildren of those great men and women who created those magnificent kingdoms and ran them with unbelievable efficiency? If we are, how can we not manage a mild headache like an argument between a farmer and a cattle herder? Again, I ask HOW?

Why the Stakes are High
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petrol in the world, the 8th largest exporter and the 10th largest confirmed reserves of crude oil but what keeps Nigeria going is Agriculture. That is why I made Agriculture the number one pillar of my Economic Blueprint. All statistical and geographical facts point us in the direction of Agriculture and that is why the stakes are sincerely high. It may be important to know at this juncture that in agricultural terms, Nigeria has 91 million hectares of land. 84 million of these hectares are arable. But only 40% of our arable land has been cultivated. Nigeria also has 230 billion cubic meters of water and has abundant rainfall in over two thirds of her territory. These facts make Agriculture the natural route to greatness for Nigeria. Our founding fathers knew this and designed all their economic plans with it in mind. That was what led to the groundnuts pyramids and made Nigeria the largest producer of palm oil and the second largest exporter of cocoa at the dawn of independence in 1960. And this is why the stakes are high!

Indeed, the stakes are high because the National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 25% of Nigeria’s GDP comes from Agriculture while 70% of Nigerians are employed in the Agricultural sector. At the same time, recent studies indicate that Crop Production accounts for 93.45% of overall nominal growth in the agriculture sector. In the light of this therefore, a disruption of the natural balance that has kept things together is bound to throw large populations out of employment, create avoidable food scarcity and lead to a painful loss of revenue. A clear demonstration of what could happen when a disruption occurs in the food supply chain could be seen from the acute shortage of tomatoes that hit Nigeria in the early part of 2017. The scarcity was so severe that tomatoes became an instant metaphor for Nigeria’s national grief.

On the other hand, Nigeria is home to about 22m cattle. The other day, the Minister of Agriculture was quoted as saying that Nigeria consumes about 90,000 of this figure per day. Lagos alone consumes 6000 cattle per day. At N150,000 per head, the cow business stands at about N3.4 trillion or $16.2 billion today. This is a huge amount of money. The cow business is a big business. And that is also why the stakes are so high!

The Sources of Trouble
One of the most recurrent causes of conflict between the cattle herders and farmers is cattle-rustling. Herders often point fingers at farmers for their missing cattle which they consider a serious loss of revenue. There is also the usually unspoken emotional attachment that the herders have to their cows which outsiders to the cow business do not easily understand. They rightly or wrongly believe that herders exact revenge in blood for missing cows because of this strange attachment. Another point of conflict that is regularly cited is that cattle herders graze their livestock on the crops of farmers, ruining a whole season of work and throwing families into avoidable hunger. In some instances too, herders brazenly graze on large industrial farms thereby destroying huge investments. Not quite long ago, it took all the political will of the government of Anambra State to move cattle herders away from the famous Coscharis Rice Farm in Anambra State which is valued at over $200 million dollars. We can all imagine what would have happened if we had not intervened. There are so many other reasons offered for these bloody conflicts. But what no one has been able to tell us is the reason why they seem to have risen just when the flames of Boko Haram began to die down.

Gauging the National Rhetoric
Anyone who has followed the farmers and herdsmen conflict will recall that when it started, many people did not know what to make of it. It began slowly like a typical quarrel between unfriendly neighbours and quickly grew in dimension and scale into a national tragedy. And when conversations eventually began about it, views were polarized along ethnic and religious lines. While that should be expected, our diversity should be our strength and not our weakness. However, the dominant views that emerged from the deluge of commentaries and opinions are quite fascinating. There have been strong moves for the establishment of Cattle Colonies. There has also been an effort to introduce a National Grazing Reserve Bill. Interestingly, neither the establishment of cattle colonies nor the National Grazing Reserve Bill has gained the acceptance of the Nigerian people. On the contrary, many Nigerians prefer that rather than roam freely in the wild, cattle should be properly ranched as is the case in most countries in the world. They argue that since cattle-herding is a private business, it should not be allowed to evolve into a public headache!

Introducing Anambra State
For purposes of enlightenment only; not as a prescription of what should be the standard response to this national dilemma, I would like to share the Anambra story here. I avoid prescriptions because prescriptions are usually subjective and easily misunderstood. Now, Anambra presents a very interesting scenario. Anambra is blessed with natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, kaolin, salt, gypsum, lead, lignite, limestone and iron ore among others. We have the largest retail market in West Africa. With an economy of N3.8 trillion, Anambra has the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria with $1,615 per capita. And if Anambra were an independent country, our GDP would be 17th in Africa. We have great tourism potentials with the Ogbaukwu Caves and Waterfalls in Owerre-Ezukala and Ogbunike Cave in Ogbunike. Anambra is the 10th most populous state in Nigeria with a population density of 860 per square kilometre. And in the past four years, we have been Nigeria’s safest state. With only 4,844 square kilometres of land, Anambra is Nigeria’s second smallest state. It is just slightly bigger than Lagos. But while Lagos has expanded into the sea with the Eko Atlantic City Project, Anambra has lost a sizeable chunk of her precious land to over 950 gully erosion sites. Anambra has 100% arable land. Land is not something we have in abundance in Anambra, and with the growing reports of violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen over land, my administration needed to think its way out of the danger that loomed over Anambra.

Solving a National Dilemma
In Anambra State, we like to look at the big picture. We realize that diversity is life and that if God wanted a homogenous world, He would have made everyone look the same. Being the birthplace of the Igbo, our worldview is broad. We believe in the ancient Igbo saying that the world is like a dancing masquerade; you cannot appreciate its full splendour if you choose to watch it from the same spot. This philosophy is at the heart of our people’s wanderlust and drive for success. We are almost everywhere on the planet. The large Anambra Community in this great city is enough proof of this.

Now, during our routine scenario-planning in 2015, we foresaw the impending threat by herdsmen in some parts of the country and moved quickly to save Anambra State from the looming attack. That was long before the menace of the herdsmen took over the front-pages of our national newspapers. Our counter strategy was to include the threat of a possible attack from them into the security architecture of Anambra State. We had prided ourselves as Nigeria’s safest state for a while and we did not want that profile to be shattered. Once we did that, our next step was to set up the Herdsmen/Farmers Cattle Menace Committee. Members of this Committee are leaders of the Hausa-Fulani Community, government officials, the traditional rulers of agrarian communities and the Service Commanders of the various security agencies in the state. Through the mediating influence of this Committee, an agreement was sealed between the agrarian communities and the herdsmen, which specifies that compensation would be paid by either party for breaching the rules of engagement between them. In other words, the herdsmen would pay compensation if they allowed their cattle to destroy people’s farms while the host communities would pay for confirmed cases of cattle rustling or any other breach of the agreement reached with the herdsmen.

To further strengthen our interface with the Hausa-Fulani Community, I appointed one of them known as Garuba Haruna as my Special Assistant on Islamic/Hausa-Fulani Affairs with the mandate of nurturing and sustaining cordial relations between the farming communities and the cattle herders. This agreement was unanimously applauded by all the members of the committee including Mr Sidiq Gidado, the Chairman of the Fulani Herdsmen Association in the South East. Similarly, the leader of the Muslim Community in the state, Alhaji Sule Momodu also commended our decision to give a Hausa-Fulani a position in the government; the first since the creation of the state.

The lesson here is that we must create more room for tolerance and diversity in our communities. That is one of the sustainable ways of forestalling extremist tendencies and maintaining peace in our communities. Many Nigerians may not know that 1% of the population of Anambra State does not speak Igbo Language. They speak Igala Language. But my administration appointed an Igala man, Bonaventure Enemali, as a Commissioner and a member of my Cabinet; another first since the creation of Anambra State. It is a gesture that carries a loud message of tolerance and inclusiveness.

Finally, Nigeria must hasten up to join the 43-nation group of Climate Vulnerable Forum. This Forum is a global partnership of countries that are most vulnerable to global warming and have come together to negotiate for special concessions and considerations from the United Nations. Many analysts have pointed at climate change as one of the remote causes of the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen. They point at the rapid pace of desert encroachment in the far North as the reason behind herdsmen’s invasion of farmlands in the North Central and some parts of Southern Nigeria. It is believed that membership of the Climate Vulnerable Forum will attract some concessions that will checkmate the spread of this national anxiety. This is an option worth exploring!

The Anambra Success Story
At the risk of sounding immodest, I would like to observe that under my watch, Anambra State has evolved into one of the model states in Nigeria today. And there is really no magic to it. We simply started with clearly defined Vision and Mission Statements which serve as a roadmap to our overall development drive. When we started out, we declared that our Vision was to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities. We also declared that our Mission was to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. To ensure the realisation of these two Statements, we crafted a Blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development which revolves around Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas. The Vision and Mission Statements come together in a perfect synergy with the Four Pillars of Development to make up my dream for Anambra State. We also have what I call the Enablers. There are fourteen of them. The Enablers are those basic things that must be in place for the Pillars to function. Some of the Key Enablers include Security, Education, Health, Roads and Social Infrastructure, the Environment, Finance, Transportation, Public Utilities and others.

Ladies and gentlemen, after four years on the saddle, I am quite happy with the decision we took on matters pertaining to security. I have come to realize that for most of the developing world, security is the master-key to sustainable development. When we assumed office on March 17, 2014, we knew that no matter how bright our ideas or how eloquent our rhetoric was, if we failed to tackle the persistent challenge of insecurity in Anambra State, we would be dead on arrival as an administration. So, we designed a security architecture that helped us stamp out crime of all shades from Anambra State. And today, because of our decision to make security the number one priority of Anambra State, because we have donated a gunboat to the Naval Outpost in Onitsha to secure our waterways and 25 smart cars to the police to patrol our streets and alleyways, and finally because we occasionally launch surveillance helicopters into Anambra skies to detect threats beyond the range of human eyes, our dear state is a better place and we are within a touching distance of our vision and mission as a government.

Ladies and gentlemen, the results are there to see in all key areas of development. Commercial and socio-cultural activities have been on a steady rise in Anambra State. The impact is so much that in 2016/2017 when Nigeria’s economy went into deficit, the sub-national economy of Anambra State grew by 1% because of the measures we initiated to fight recession. We established the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) to anchor our investment drive. The Agency swiftly became a One-Stop investment powerhouse, offering first class solutions to all investment enquiries. It signed 42 MoUs across various sectors in the state valued at $5.4 billion out of which $1.6 billion worth of investments had come from the indigenes of the state alone.

We have also recorded many success stories in our drive for investments into Anambra State but I will mention only three here because of time. We have some interesting case studies especially in the agricultural sector where some indigenous entrepreneurs like Coscharis Farms has invested $200m in a large mechanized rice farm located in Anaku. We also have JOSAN Agro Limited which has invested $180m in an Integrated Farm in Ufuma and Umumbo and finally, Lynden Farms Limited which invested $180m in a modern integrated poultry farm in Igbariam. Similarly, our rice production output currently stands at 345,000 metric tons. When my administration took over four years ago, Anambra was producing only 80,000 metric tons. We have also paid a serious attention to roads and infrastructure. We built three iconic flyovers which have become aesthetic landmarks in Awka and Amawbia as well as the longest bridge in the South East of Nigeria which leads to the oilfields. Lately, we have focused a lot of attention on giving a facelift to our cities. We rolled out the Light-up Anambra Campaign which has turned our cities, towns and communities into dazzling beauties at night. Our quest to enhance the beauty of our cities recently witnessed the remodelling of the famous DMGS Roundabout in Onitsha. We have turned it into a magnificent monument with five long elephant tusks rising from the base to form a canopy of unity at the top over a refurbished sculpture of the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe. The five tusks symbolically represent the five states of the South East held together in unity by a bead at the top. Indeed, the remodelling of the DMGS Roundabout further confirms that leadership must inspire the society to remember what it might so easily forget. It was this impulse that informed the deceision of my administration to introduce a remarkable State Anthem which has powerful lines that inspire the citizens as they sing it at every event. By the Grace of God, I will continue to build monuments like the DMGS Roundabout to constantly remind Ndi Anambra of our common heritage and the imperatives of social peace. Indeed, Anambra State is on the rise! We have put our house in order and we are now ready to welcome the world.

We have had a fruitful interactive session with European businesses in June this year during my investment tour of Austria. And we are here today in Boston to open our doors to American investors. We would never contemplate all these if we didn’t consider Anambra safe enough for investors or if live with the dread that any part of Anambra State could suddenly come under the assault of some cattle herdsmen. To you our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, I say, come home and invest and change the story of our people. Let us be guided by the encouraged by the inspiring stories of the contributions of the Jewish Diaspora to the greatness of the modern state of Israel today. The Nigerian Diaspora can do just the same. Nigeria is a better place today than it used to be!

In conclusion therefore, as we celebrate Nigeria’s 58th Independence Anniversary, we may do well to remember that no human society, no matter how advanced is without conflicts. So, the conflict between herdsmen and farmers is just one more hurdle Nigeria must scale on her way to a stronger union. And we can all lend a hand in the search for a sustainable solution to this dilemma by building more tolerant, more diverse and more inclusive communities.

God bless Nigeria
God bless Anambra State
Thank you

Willie Obiano
Governor

Governor Obiano's Tour of BostonDetermined to ensure that Anambra State remains the safest state in Nigeria, Governor Obiano recently visited the offices of IV & C in Boston Massachusetts. IV & C is the security firm that developed the hi-tech security gadget that was used in tracking down the Boston Marathon bomber.Governor Obiano is not sparing any efforts in his search for ideas and innovations that will make Anambra State a better place.Enjoy the video below….

Slået op af James Eze i Lørdag den 13. oktober 2018

 

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Nigerian President vows to return recovered monies to treasury

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President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that monies recovered from the properties confiscated by the EFCC will be sold and kept in the Country’s treasury for National development.
He made the promise while addressing the mammoth crowd in Hausa at the Presidential flag off ceremony which held earlier in Kaduna.
He promised that his administration would use all the recovered looted funds for the well-being of the citizens and reassured that, his administration, if re-elected in the 2019 general election, will continue to make life easier for all Nigerians.
“All those funds, properties and companies recovered so far would be sold and proceeds returned to the treasury”, he stressed.
Bumper Harvest
While speaking on the Agric sector, he said farmers in the Country had bumper harvest following the availability of fertilizers provided at the cost of N5,500 as against the N9000 it used to be and had been provided in each of the local government areas of the Country.
“We have stopped spending our foreign reserve to import rice, as there is sufficiency in rice and we now produce it locally. Therefore, I am thanking governors, especially those of Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and Ebonyi States who have tried in the production and processing of our local rice,” he noted.
While promising to do more to improve the economy, Buhari said, larger population of the Country are youths between the ages of 35 and below, Nigeria has lots of work to do, to get them employment and sufficiency.
Appreciating the people of Kaduna State who turned out in large number to welcome him, the President said that, “I have nothing to say than to remind you of the situation we met this Country and the promises we made to you. So the best we can do for our Country is to return the APC to power.
“The biggest gift we can give to our Country is security and sufficiency and economic prosperity,” he added.

Security Situation
The President further stated that the APC administration had so far addressed the security situation in the country, as the 17 local government areas, which were hitherto under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East had been recaptured.
According to the President, “There is no one local government in the North East remaining in the hands of the insurgents. But they resorted to using youth, especially young girls as suicide bombers, by sending them to markets, motor parks and worship centres to kill people. Even that had been brought under control”.
While expressing gratitude to the people of Kaduna state, he however stressed that, the mandate given to him requires the support of entire Nigerians, especially for peace and economic development of the Country.
Corruption and Insecurity
On the fight against corruption, Buhari said, as promised in 2014, his administration would continue the fight against corruption and insecurity in the Country, “the anticorruption fight in the current democratic dispensation is difficult compared to the period I was a Military Head of State, when those who looted the economy were arrested and prosecuted easily”.
He however promised that those who have looted the country would be investigated and prosecuted in the course of time.
Speaking on the militancy in the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta, the President said the federal government was engaging them in dialogue to make them understand that the Country belong to all Nigerians.
“The Constitution has spelt out the percentage that should be provided for the oil rich region and every other resources belong to all Nigerians irrespective of where such resources are located”.

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‘I wasn’t banned in US’ , Atiku Tells VOA Hausa Service in Washington DC – Full Transcript

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In an interview with VOA Hausa Service in Washington DC, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said stories that he was banned from the United States was ‘disinformation’.
He spoke on Thursday, after his arrival to the US capital, where he lodged at Trump International Hotel.
Here is the transcript of the interview conducted by VOA’s Aliyu Mustapha Sokoto
VOA: What has been in the news for many years has come to past right now I’m together with the former Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after he had just returned from some interactive session with some high ranking Congress Men and Women. Your excellency, now that you have visited Washington D.C, does it have to do with those who said you cannot come to the United State of America or the visit is for what purpose?
Atiku: Aliyu I told you before that my coming to the United State is in the hands of Americans if they decided to issue a Visa to me I will definitely come and if they refused to give me I cannot come. And now they have issued it to me and I am here. I’m having some positive discussions with some of the officials. I was in the Congress and I had discussions with some high ranking Congress men and Women about Nigeria and how Nigeria intends to improve her relationship with the United States of America.
VOA: After visiting the Congress, do you intend to meet with some other people?
Atiku: Yes, by tomorrow (Friday) I will go to the State Department in order to have vital discussions with some of their officials.
VOA: Will you also meet with the members of the United States Chamber of Commerce?
Atiku: Yes, I will meet them tomorrow (Friday) by the Grace of God.
VOA: Who invited you to the United State?
Atiku: I was invited by many organizations in United States.
VOA: Before some people are saying that you cannot come to the United States of America but now you are here people will stop doubting.
Atiku: The whole thing is about misinformation
VOA: What do you mean by misinformation?
Atiku: Because for a very long time they have been lying to them (Nigerians) and they agreed; I tried to explain to them but they refused to listen. And I hope now people are going to understand.
VOA: Your coming to America has shown that you are going to have some interactions with some top officials of the United State are they in support of your candidacy?
Atiku: Yes.
VOA: Are you convinced that the United States Government are in support of your candidacy?
Atiku: There is no doubt because the United State is ready to support any country that is practicing democracy.
VOA: People know you as a businessman; do you think that your business background and experience will influence the United States Government to support you?
Atiku: One good thing is that Nigeria is a country that is practicing democracy and everyone knows that we have played a significant role and have done a lot to sustain democratic governance in Nigeria and it is very important.

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Atiku Abubakar US Case History – Full Text

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For more than 13 years, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria and now presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, kept away from the United States.

PDP Presidential candidate @atiku and DG Campaign @BukolaSaraki with Congressman Smith.

Once, the US even turned down his request for a visa.
But on Thursday, he landed in Washington DC for talks with some American officials on his campaign in Nigeria. His visit, said to have been facilitated by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo and other lobbyists, threw up questions as to why he had avoided America in the first place.
What is known is that nine years ago, there was a US Senate Committee report detailing money laundering activities against him, including being a recipient of a bribe by Siemens.
The Committee known as the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was chaired by Senator Carl Levin.
The probe was motivated by US government concern about corruption in the Third World and its corrosive effects on the development of honest government, democratic principles, and the rule of law.
“It is also blamed for distorting markets, deterring investment, deepening poverty, undermining international aid efforts, and fostering crime. Some have drawn connections between corruption, failed states, and terrorism. Corruption also continues to be a massive problem. The World Bank has estimated that $1 trillion in bribes alone exchange hands worldwide each year,” the committee noted in its bulky report.
Abubakar was not the only foreign Politically Exposed Person(PEP) probed by the committee. He had company in Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, now the 48-year-old son of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea (EG), late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo and three Angolan PEP accounts, involving an Angolan arms dealer, an Angolan government official, and a small Angolan private bank.
The committee submitted its report on 4 February 2010, three years after Abubakar left office as Nigeria’s vice president.

Atiku met with representatives of Nigerians in D.C metropolis. Discussed my plans and commitment to work with the diaspora to get Nigeria working again.

The report unveiled violations of US laws by Abubakar and his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas. It also included revelations about Siemens bribe paid into one of the accounts, and it possibly provided the basis for Abubakar being barred from entering the United States, since then.
This Report examines how politically powerful foreign officials, their relatives, and close associates – referred to in international agreements as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) – have used the services of U.S. professionals and financial institutions to bring large amounts of suspect funds into the United States to advance their interests. Using four case histories, this Report shows how some PEPs have used U.S. lawyers, real estate and escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and even university officials, to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anti- corruption safeguards. This Report also offers recommendations to stop the abuses.
Here is a summary of the report:
The (Atiku) Case History.
From 2000 to 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.
In a 2008 civil complaint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Ms. Douglas received over $2 million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002, from Siemens AG, a major German corporation.
While Ms. Douglas denies wrongdoing, Siemens has already pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges and settled civil charges related to bribery and told the Subcommittee that it sent the payments to one of her U.S. accounts.
In 2007, Mr. Abubakar was the subject of corruption allegations in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund.
Of the $40 million in suspect funds, $25 million was wire transferred by offshore corporations into more than 30 U.S. bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas, primarily by Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., LetsGo Ltd. Inc., and Sima Holding Ltd.
The U.S. banks maintaining those accounts were, at times, unaware of her PEP status, and they allowed multiple, large offshore wire transfers into her accounts. As each bank began to question the offshore wire transfers, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her money.
When one bank closed her account due to the offshore wire transfers, her lawyer helped convince other banks to provide a new account. In addition, two of the offshore corporations wire transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington, D.C., to pay for consulting services related to the development of a Nigerian university founded by Mr. Abubakar.
American University accepted the wire transfers without asking about the identity of the offshore corporations or the source of their funds, because under current law, the University had no legal obligation to inquire.
Executive Summary
Combating corruption is a key U.S. value and goal, due to its corrosive effects on the rule of law, economic development, and democratic principles. In 2001, the Patriot Act made the acceptance of foreign corruption proceeds a U.S. money laundering offence for the first time, and required banks to apply enhanced scrutiny to private banking accounts opened for senior foreign political figures, their relatives, and close associates. In 2003, the United States supported the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, now ratified by over 140 countries. Also in 2003, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) formed an investigative group dedicated to combating foreign corruption by PEPs. In 2004, President Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying U.S. visas to foreign officials involved with corruption, and Congress later enacted supporting legislation. A 2009 study sponsored by the World Bank analyzed PEP controls worldwide and recommended stronger measures to reduce corruption.
The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (Subcommittee) initiated this investigation to learn how U.S. laws apply to PEPs utilizing the domestic financial system, and examine how foreign senior political figures, their relatives, and close associates may be circumventing or undermining anti-money laundering (AML) and PEP controls to bring funds that may be the product of foreign corruption into the United States. It is the latest in a series of Subcommittee hearings examining foreign corruption and its U.S. aiders and abettors.
During the course of its investigation, the Subcommittee staff conducted over 100 interviews, including interviews of lawyers, real estate agents, escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, university professionals, and government officials. The Subcommittee issued over 50 subpoenas and reviewed millions of pages of documents, including bank records, correspondence, contracts, emails, property records, flight records, news articles, and court pleadings. In addition, the Subcommittee consulted with foreign officials, international organisations, financial regulators, and experts in anti-money laundering and anti-corruption efforts.

Read the full report here: https://s18694.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/FOREIGNCORRUPTIONREPORTFINAL710.pdf

In addition, there was the case of Congressman William Jefferson who was jailed for accepting a bribe from a would-be Nigerian investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire.
Jefferson told the investor that he would need to give then Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 “as a motivating factor” to make sure the company obtained contracts for iGate and Mody’s company in Nigeria.
The case put Atiku in bad spotlight, with his mansion in Potomac, Maryland searched by the FBI in 2005. But there was nothing incriminating found in the house.
About 12 years after the raid, Atiku sold the property.

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Son of Igwe Obosi Eze AC Iweka 111 wins Multiple awards for best Anambra NDA graduate

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2nd Lt. Ugochukwu Nwama from Anambra State has written his name in gold as a result of his sterling performance at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). He was adjudged the best graduating Cadet Adjutant of the 2018 Course.
The young officer, who is the son of Igwe Obosi Eze, A.C. Iweka 111, was presented with four different awards as rewards for his achievement at the just-concluded Passing out Parade in Kaduna State.
Nwama won the prestigious Golden Sword (the highest award to a cadet) ‘Sword of Honour’ (NDA’s highest accolade); the Indian Shield as well as the Best Graduating Student.
Nwama, who is indigenous to Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area, was ordered to be promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant after out-performing his fellow cadets.
This rare feat came soon after a recent exceptional performance of five Anambra-born police constables at the Nigeria Police Training College, Nekede Imo State.
According to records from the institution, Nwama not only emerged the best in the Army but was the overall best in the entire military–the Army, Air Force and the Navy in the final year of his training at the academy.
Nwama majored in Electrical Electronics Engineering during the convocation, Presidential Commissioning and Passing out Parade of the 65 RC graduates.
His statue was unveiled to perpetuate the memory of his sheer brilliance, focus, hard work and exceptional life of discipline.
In a congratulatory message, the State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba described Nwama as a special breed of soldier with an emerging character of an “officer and gentleman’’.
He attributed the feat to the dogged and resilient spirit of an average Anambra citizen, made possible by the effort of the current administration.
Adinuba noted that the state had become the most competitive state in Nigeria, recording great achievements in almost every sphere in public and private sectors.
His words: “Indeed, Anambra State has consistently maintained enviable top position as the most peaceful state in Nigeria.
“The security architecture in Anambra firmly guarantees the safety and protection of lives, property and businesses of all who reside within its territories and even beyond.

“Anambra has equally maintained excellent position in all external examinations, including the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Examinations Council (NECO) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations, recording the least level of examination malpractices across the country.”
According to Adinuba, the generous funding of schools and adequate motivation of teachers have delivered excellent results and brought accolades to the state and deserving individuals.
“On March 19, last year, the world bore witness as Anambra Golden Girls outshone other students from not less than 100 countries to win the Technovation Challenge in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA.
“Other Anambra students had also won meritoriously in different international debates.
“Teachers from the state are also not left out as they have consistently led their colleagues in almost every Federal Government nation-wide assessment.
“In the health sector, Anambra State remains the trail blazer, breaking frontiers and setting the pace for others to follow.
“Perhaps, in recognition of resounding achievement in infant and maternal health care, the Federal Government, in June, last year, presented an award to Anambra State for winning the top prize in immunisation.
“The Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme has also been adjudged the most people-oriented health schemes in the country,” he added.

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Anambra Continues It’s Run Of Excellence Under Obiano

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By any measure, Anambra is an exceptional state. Given the number of renowned Nigerians that hail from the state as well as its well-known reputation as the industrial and business hub of the South East and Nigeria, Anambra is certainly outstanding in the comity of states.
In today’s world, the good news is that, under the current administration of Governor Willie Obiano, Anambra has not only retained its exceptional features as a state with some of the highest achieving avatars of business, politics, the arts, the sciences, etcetera; it has also grown its capacity to compete in myriad areas.
The evidence cannot be denied. An indigene of Obosi in Idemili North, Nwama, last month, won the overall best result among graduands of the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna State, carting home almost every available prize for academic and military excellence. The brilliant
performance is reminiscent of the feat achieved by Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu when, in the fifties, he became the first university graduate to join the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Though Ojukwu had already obtained a master’s degree in Modern history from the University of Oxford and his father was Nigeria’s first millionaire, he joined the army, not as a cadet, but as a non-commissioned officer. In other words, Ojukwu went into the army, not to amass wealth, but to render great service.
Ojukwu was, of course, from Anambra State. Obiano asserted recently, based on recent and emerging developments, that Anambra is becoming an even stronger competitive force in Nigeria. It is difficult to fault the governor, considering the impressive performance of Anambra State indigenes in the recently announced results from the training programme of police constables at Nigeria Police College, Nekede, Imo State. Constables from the state took home five out of six prizes awarded to the 192 constables. Obiano’s joy was palpable in his
reaction to the news.
The governor, who never misses any opportunity to celebrate and encourage accomplishments by Ndi Anambra, promised to reward the security officers whose efforts he described as “the brilliant performance of the fresh policemen and women” and “the latest show of excellence exhibited by our people in both international and national competitions”.
The stellar achievement by the rookie policemen was preceded by similar performances in education by various exceptional representatives of the state. For the third consecutive year, the
state recently won the first prize in the annual national President’s School Debate Competition for secondary schools. In the final part of the contest, Anambra roundly defeated Benue State by four points to one.

The state equally won the first prize in the 2018 performance assessment of schools conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education and relevant agencies under its supervision. It was the second time in two years that the state would be performing the feat.
It would be recalled that students of Regina Pacis International Model Secondary School, Onitsha had won, in the United States, the Golden Prize in the Global Technovation competition by developing an internet application for detecting a local and international scourge that has devastated individuals, families and communities: fake drugs.
The triumphant Anambra girls, who represented Nigeria in the contest, beat students from over 100 countries, including the US, to clinch the prestigious award. Obiano beat his chest and said: “We are the only state to achieve such remarkable consistency in educational performance.
We record the least number of malpractices in examinations conducted by such bodies as the West African Examinations Council (WAEC)”.
Anambra’s competitiveness goes beyond the educational sector. Many Nigerians may not know that Anambra State won the first prize in the 2018 National Immunization Campaign under the World Bank supervision.
Above all, the state is nationally acknowledged as more secure than any other. This, in large measure, is due to the strategic policies and initiatives of the Obiano government which are proactive in anticipating challenges and nipping them in the bud. A key priority is providing materials and other forms of support for the security agencies. Clearly, the security situation in the state has improved so much so that Anambra is considered, not just the safest state in Nigeria, but also the safest place in West and even Central Africa.


This article was written by  JOHN OBIEGBU

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Dogara Urges Buhari to Review National Security Architecture

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to review the security architecture to urgently end wanton killings in the country.
Dogara made the call on Thursday, in Abuja, while addressing members of the house during plenary.
He decried the continuous deterioration of the country’s security situation, especially in the North East, North West and some parts of the North Central.
“Only three days ago, scores of people were killed in Sokoto State and elsewhere; hardly any week passes without reports of mass killings and bloodletting, either by terrorists or armed bandits.
“This calls for drastic, urgent and concerted action and efforts to bring the situation to a quick end as citizens are looking up to us.
“And we cannot afford to fail them because security of lives and properties is the primary purpose of government.
“It is therefore imperative for the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces to take a hard look at our national security architecture with a view to fixing the malady, in order to secure lives, national pride and prestige,” Dogara said.
The speaker said that the fight against unbridled violence was one the country could not afford to lose as it was tantamount to loosing civilisation.
Ahead of the Feb. 16 and March 2, elections, Dogara urged lawmakers to strike a good balance between commitment to legislative duties and participation in the campaigns.
He urged all political leaders to cultivate the highest level of decorum, responsibility and respect for the laws of electioneering campaigns.
`We must, through our conduct, show our commitment to the successful and peaceful conduct of the elections; and above all, the sustenance of our democracy.
“We should avoid the tendency of being hypocritical by engaging in misdeeds that we are quick to point out in our opponents.
“Let us be guided by our conscience and the teachings of our religions, which demand that we judge ourselves before judging others,’’ the speaker said.
Dogara maintained that National Assembly was proud of its efforts to guarantee successful and rancour-free conduct of the elections by passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill for the third time after the president declined assent twice.
He said that lack of passage of the amended bill meant that the impending elections would not benefit from the innovative mechanisms crafted in its collaboration with International and Development partners.
According to him, well-meaning Nigerians and the International community foresee the possibility of manipulating the coming elections because of the gaps in the current Electoral Act.
He said there were fears that the identified loopholes in the act might become a reality if proactive steps were not taken by critical stakeholders.
Dogara said the series of serious allegations by stakeholders, corroborated by some media reports, against INEC and the Nigerian Police in recent elections, which are already subjects of litigations, were some of the factors raising uncertainties on the success of the coming polls.
He said that the intention of lawmakers to improve on the successes of the 2015 General Elections through the Amendment Bill, was very clear to all fair-minded Nigerians.
“We had intended, through this Bill, to minimise the risk to the survival of our hard-won democracy through responsive and timely legislation aimed at ensuring free, fair and transparent elections.
“Nonetheless, as Parliament, we have done our best to guarantee the stability and growth of our fragile democracy and I have no doubt that history will be very kind to us.
“Under the present circumstance, we have no choice than to take INEC and the Police by their words and give them the benefit of doubt in their recent assurances to be impartial, efficient and truthful in the conduct of the coming elections.
“This is the minimum that the country deserves from them at this auspicious time, nothing short of complete openness, a level playing ground and strict adherence to extant laws will be acceptable to Nigerians,” Dogara said. (NAN)

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Atiku confirms arrival in US, embassy in the dark

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Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has confirmed his arrival in the United States.


In a post on Twitter, he said: “Just arrived Washington D.C for meeting with US government officials, Nigerians living in D.C metropolis and the business community. -AA”, with a photograph, showing him clutching a bouquet of flowers, along with Senate President Bukola Saraki and a lady.
The Embassy of Nigeria in Washington, DC, had said it was not sure if the former Vice-President would be visiting the United States any moment soon.

A competent source at the embassy told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the embassy was yet to get official information about the former vice president.
Atiku, who is the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was then being rumoured to have arrived the United States on Thursday night. Some other reports said he was on his way.
The embassy source, however, said the embassy was still awaiting official communication to that effect.
“Actually, we have not received any information for the embassy but we are just trying to find out whether really he is coming. That is what we are doing right now.
“They told us he’s coming tonight, today, so we are trying to find out whether he’s really coming.
“Mr (Peter) Obi, (Atiku’s running mate), he was to come last week but the event was cancelled.
“So we are still trying to see but if you get anything, please just let us know also because they said he’s coming here so that if you’re able to get any updated information, just inform us so that we can prepare vehicles to go to the airport and meet him and all that.
“For now, we have no information. If I am able to confirm anything, I will get back to you and please, if you too get any confirmation or any update, just get back to me, just call me.
“As a former Vice President, the Embassy is supposed to organise to receive him at the airport and all that, but then we have not received anything in that regards,” the source said.
NAN reports that Obi was billed to be in the U.S. last week and was scheduled to have a New jersey/New York Townhall but the event was postponed.

The PDP vice-presidential candidate is now rescheduled for the New/Jersey/New York USA Town Hall Meeting at Robert Treat Best Western Hotel, New Jersey on Monday, January 21.
The clarification from the embassy came as online reports said Atiku has either landed in the US or has taken off from Nigeria to address the US Chamber of Commerce on Friday, from 2:30pm to 4pm local time.
The Cable claimed that Atiku secretly flew out from Lagos on Wednesday night with most of his aides and associates taken unawares.
He was scheduled to be in Ogun state on Thursday morning but the event was cancelled, it said.
Atiku was said to have been issued last December with a US visa for the first time in 13 years. The visa was reportedly facilitated by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former foe, turned campaign endorser.
But reports said Atiku sensed the visa could be a trap by the Americans and thus asked for guarantee from the US government that he would not be arrested over a case of money laundering, for which there were reports of a sealed indictment by the US Justice Department.
In another case, former congressman William Jefferson was jailed for 13 years for accepting a bribe from an investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire. Jefferson told the investor that he would need to give then Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 “as a motivating factor” to make sure the company obtained contracts for iGate and Mody’s company in Nigeria.
But Daily Trust, quoting Atiku’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Paul Ibe debunked the report of Atiku travelling to the United States.
Ibe told Daily Trust via a telephone chat Thursday afternoon that online reports which stated that Atiku had travelled to the US were a figment of the imagination of the authors.
“You know what the social media can do. You know the social media for what they are now. It is not true. His Excellency hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said.

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Economic Council yet to decide on minimum wage

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The National Economic Council is yet to agree on the National Minimum Wage after meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
Although Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who briefed State House correspondent on the outcome of the meeting, said the issue came up at the meeting, he did indicate what the Council decided on the issue.
“The attitude of the governors and the committee was for evolving a National Minimum Wage legislation that can work,” was all Bagudu said when he was asked about the issue.
“On Wednesday, I was at a discussion but that is not for me to say because the Chairman of NEC has been mandated to talk about it,” he stated.
No outcome yet
Also, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige who spoke with correspondents after the meeting, said “there is no outcome as such, it’s a work in progress.”
Ngige said; “the information minister told you the other day after the Federal Executive Council that we are taking our deliberations to the National Economic Council and then we close up on the 22nd at the National Council of State after that, we will be able to say where we are going.”
He said; ”work was still ongoing on the figure, frequency of review, those that have exemption and everything about the bill before it would be ready for transmission to the National Assembly “in consonance with our agreement with labour that we will transmit the new bill on or before the 23rd of January.”
Asked if governors were insisting that they would not be able to pay N30,000.00, Ngige said “well it’s not a question that the governors are saying that they can’t pay N30,000; discussions are still ongoing and will terminate on 22nd of January, when we meet with the National council of state.
“Governors are part of Nigeria and they are part of the government side public sector.
“So don’t disengage them or disarticulate them from the Nigerian government, the public is the Nigerian government and the state government and even the local government,” Ngige stated.

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Osinbajo Says Buhari Unaware Of Onnoghen’s Arraignment Until Saturday

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Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, says President Muhammadu Buhari was not aware that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, was to be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Fielding questions at an online publishers conference in Abuja on Wednesday, Professor Osinbajo attributed this to a directive by President Buhari to public officials not to interfere with the operations of institutions of government.
The theme of the conference is “Free Press and Objective Reporting in the 2019 Election Year”.

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President Buhari launches new Nigerian passport

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President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the new Nigerian international passport, which has 25 features that differentiates it from the old passport.

The new passport was launched on Tuesday at an emergency meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Buhari.

Minister of Interior Abdurahaman Dambazzau, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting, said the validity of the Nigerian passport has now been extended for 10 years for citizens who would want longer validity.

“We realized too that most Nigerians in the diaspora have been hammering on the issue of 10-year validity passport because we have had five-year validity passport.

“So, we considered that to make the passport 10-year validity. As long as it is not filled up, you can use your passport for 10 years before renewal.”

Dambazzau said the new the need to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation stipulations and security challenges necessitated the production of the new passport.

“You know things are dynamic in technology and ICAO also brought out additional features which we have to comply with as early as possible for security reasons.

“We have series of cross border issues to deal with and series of challenges in terms of border security and management.

“And one of the ways to do that, in addition to biometrics, we have introduced is to ensure that our passport contains all these security features at least to make it foolproof against identity theft and against any criminal to use it to sneak into the country or out of the country.

“This is the reason we came up with policy in the ministry and we looked at it as against the standard that is required and we came out with additional features.”

Local production

According to Dambazzau, the production of the new passport would be domesticated to tackle the challenges associated with producing it outside the country, which has been the case in the past.

“We thought that for couple of reason that it is an issue we must, as a matter of policy, find a way to sought it out.

“One for security reasons, it is important that we domesticate passport production.

“Two, it would also provide opportunity for employment of Nigerians because if you take it to is the country that will benefit, employment wise.

“The third reason is the possibility of introducing technology or technology transfer. So, we took a decision that we must do that.”

The minister said the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, already provides platform for the production of the new passport in Nigeria.

He said the colours of the passports would remain the same with the standard passport, which is issued to Nigerian citizens, as green, the official passport issued to Nigerians who work government as blue, while the diplomatic passport issued to ministers and presidents remain red.

Features
Also speaking, the Controller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede, said that there are 25 differences between the old and the new passports.

“Some of them you don’t need to know, but those you need to know are very simple.

“The first, if you look at the passport, it easily fades; this has been improved.

“If you look at the other passport it was for laminating. We have improved the features.

“Also, sometimes when you go to the airport, they cannot read your passport when your are crossing the border.

“We have improved the chip to be more secured. There are other features which you don’t need.

Cost.

Babandede said the standard passport would have 32-page booklet for five years.

He said the cost of obtaining it would be N25,000, while it would be issued for $130abroad.

He said the 64-page booklet for five years would cost N35,000 in Nigeria and $150 dollars abroad.

The 64-page for 10 years, will cost N70,000 in Nigeria and $230 dollars abroad.

The Official passport will cost N15,000 but it cannot be issue abroad.

Also, the diplopmatic passport is not paid for since it is issued gratis.

It is not issued abroad.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was also at the briefing, agreed that the emergency meeting was called for the consideration of a new national minimum wage.

He however, said the minimum wage “is work in progress” and it would be discussed by the National Economic Council before it would be announced to the media.

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