Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Tuesday, 13 March, 2018.

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
Two months after he directed Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris (IGP) to relocate to Benue State and stop killings by herdsmen, President Muhammadu Buhari discovered only yesterday that his order was not carried out.

But the revelation that Idris spent just a day in Benue and left for Nasarawa State has never been lost on the public, reinforcing insinuations that a cabal has been shielding the president from reality.

“It is only now that I am hearing this. But I know that I sent him here,” Buhari told his shocked audience at the Benue People’s House in Makurdi.

The president was in the capital city, as part of a string of visits to states affected by security crises, especially attacks on farmers by herdsmen.

“You swiftly directed the IGP to Benue. But the IGP did not do the work you sent him. He stayed for less than 24 hours in Benue and relocated to Nasarawa, and then said what he saw was a mere communal clash. Few days later, his men were killed too,” a former military governor, General Atom Kpera (rtd), told the president.

“I know you have other sources of intelligence. Please, have a second thought on what the IGP told you. We were happy when you sent the military’s Exercise Ayem Akpatema. We thought their coming would relieve us of our pains and get our killers. But the killings have persisted,” Kpera added.

Buhari however told the people there was no way he could “deliberately overlook” the security problem in the state or in any other part of the country. “So, please, try to convince your constituencies that through the processes of law enforcement agents, the police, the Department of State Service, and the military, I am doing my best,” he assured stakeholders.

He called for restraint, warning that long after his administration and that of Governor Samuel Ortom have ceased, relationship between cattle herders and farmers in Benue State would continue. This, according to him, “is the reality of the situation.”

Accompanying the president to the stakeholders’ meeting were National Security Adviser General Babagana Mongunu (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff General Gabriel Olonishakin; Minister of Defence General Mansur Dan Ali (rtd); Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff Sadiq Ibrahim; Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbe; and Director General of the Department of State Service Lawal Daura.

Pleading with the Federal Government to compensate persons displaced by the attacks, Ortom noted: “On January 11, we buried 73 persons. And 65 more have been killed since then, while 26 more were killed in Okpokwu Local Government Area, with over 5000 displaced in Mbatoho community.

“As it is now, 170,000 people are living in displaced camps across the state and 60 per cent of them are school children. Also, yesterday, two police officers were killed in Guma.”

He called on the president to expand the scope of the military’s operation in the state and sought the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, widely accused of being behind the killings.

Earlier in an interview, the governor expressed optimism that the visit, though late in coming, would nevertheless help to end the crisis. According to him, “Mr. President’s coming to Benue should fast-track the process of rehabilitating the people and facilitating the provision of the needed security push, so that the people could go back home.”

He dispelled concerns about the state’s anti-grazing law, saying: “This law is not against anyone. Is not against any ethnic group. It is not against an individual or group of people. This law is a win-win for both farmers and herdsmen. If you want to stay in Benue State, the only thing we require is ranch your cattle, if you are a herdsman. But if you think you cannot ranch and you prefer open grazing, you can go to other states that have land available. Here, we do not have land.” 

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
The $12 billion Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project (TSGP), expected to help Nigeria achieve zero gas flaring by 2020, remains an illusion, 17 years after it was conceived.

The project should have been completed this year.

Nigeria signed a treaty with Niger and Algeria in 2009 to build the pipeline, which should begin from Calabar and pass through Kano to the border.

The estimated length is about 4,400 km, with over 1,037 km in Nigeria, 853 km in Niger, 2,310 km in Algeria, and 220 km connecting Algeria to Spain.

In 2013, the Federal Government approved a budget of $400 million for commencement. But some national and international companies that showed interest, including Total and Gazprom, grew pessimistic on security along the pipeline route. They also worried about increasing costs.

A source told The Guardian that the delay in taking the Final Investment Decision (FID) on Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Brass LNG and the Nigeria LNG Train 7 project hindered commitment by financiers.

“The investors are aware that Nigeria is currently facing the challenge of meeting its gas obligation to neighbouring African countries through the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company, due to insecurity in the Niger Delta.

“If we are unable to deliver gas to Ghana and Togo, how can we meet the demand for gas in Europe through the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline? Ghana has started looking elsewhere for its gas supply and this is not good for the country and investors in the pipeline project,” the source said.

The e-mails to Total and Gazprom, inquiring about their levels of commitment to the project, were not replied to, after two weeks.

The Chief Infrastructure Officer, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Adamu Umar, confirmed that the project is yet to move beyond the first stage.

According to him, the promoters are in charge of the situation, stressing that all necessary approvals have been granted. The investors, according to him, are consortiums of Nigerian and Chinese companies.

But an associate researcher at the Africa and Energy Programmes of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Benjamin Auge, is of the view that the project could remain a dream for much longer.

He said: “On analysis of all the elements of the route and the geopolitical realities, it appears that there are more reasons to believe that the pipeline will not be constructed in the near future.

“On topography, there would certainly be a few difficulties that would weigh down on the cost of the project. An example is the Hoggar Mountains. But this would not be impossible for specialised companies. A study of the solutions proposed by the developers confronted by this sort of obstacles should wait until a final choice is made on the route.”

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
Beyond the prevailing harsh operating environment, the faulty business models airlines’ operators often adopt may be responsible for the perennial low market penetration and short lifespan of local carriers in the country, findings by The Guardian has shown.

Further findings by The Guardian also revealed that equally poor extant policies of regulators are not encouraging niche markets and other innovations to maximise the potential market at large.

Rather, an environment is created where all operators converge on the small viable high traffic routes, with gross under-utilisation of available equipment and neglect of potential traffic.

The consequence is that less than seven per cent of the population travel by air till date, with perennial low turnover for operators and steady decline in terms of viability and lifespan of airlines.

Records made available by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) show that no fewer than 40 registered airlines, scheduled and non-scheduled, have colapsed in the last 15 years.

Among the carriers are Associated Aviation, Allied Air, Hak Air, Kabo Air, TAT Nigeria, Belview, Sossoliso, Chanchangi, Sky World Express, Virgin Nigeria, ADC, Concord Airlines, IRS and Okada Air.

The high turnover in mortality rate,  perhaps a record in global aviation, is often blame on various reasons including unfriendly business environment, multiple charges, lack of government’s support, non-viable routes and low patronage.

Indeed, Nigeria has about 180 million population and one of the lowest air traffic demands by population. For instance, the air travel sector in 2017 transported a total of 11.3 million passengers, which is a dip from 12.2 million that travelled in 2016, as shown by the NCAA’s factsheet. By implication, less than seven per cent of the population travel by air.

Meanwhile, there are 26 airports scattered across the country with more than two-third of the 36 states,  including the Federal Capital  Territory (FCT), having at least an airport.

Station Manager at Yola Airport in Adamawa State,  Sheik Abdullahi, told The Guardian that it is not that people in Yola, Sokoto, Jalingo, Jos, Markurdi, Minna, Yenogoa, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri and so on, don’t want to travel by air, being the fastest and safest mode of transportation. “But we all get frustrated having to sleep in airport for two to three days waiting for an airline that may not even come,” Abdullahi lamented.

Fact is that it makes no economic sense for airlines to fly to an airport where there is no guarantee of at least 80 per cent load factor as the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and, sometimes Kano, routes offer.

Chief Operating Officer of one of the popular airlines narrates that it costs at least N800,000 to N1million to fuel a Boeing 737 aircraft to do a frequency of two landings. “Imagine if all you have as passengers are 20 persons going and 10 on the return with each paying N24, 000 for ticket (N720,000). Is that a profit or loss, on fuel alone?”

But route viability, as a determinant, was hardly the case in the 80s and 90s. Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), recalled that the defunct Nigerian Airways in its hey days strategically covered most parts of the country, including regional and international routes.

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr has strongly hinted that Plateau United goalie, Dele Ajiboye and Feirense starlet, Dele Alampasu will not be included on the 23-man roster for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

The German argued that Alampasu is inactive at his Portuguese club, while Ajiboye has not been selected in the latest squad because he was given the chance to displace Ikechukwu Ezenwa as the number one goalkeeper in the African Nations Championship team and could not do so.

‘’They had already their chance, remember that we invited Dele [Ajiboye]. Dele is no. 2 in CHAN team and it’d be surprising that he is no. 1 and Ezenwa no. 2 in the Super Eagles,’’ Rohr was quoted as saying by

‘’Alampasu, unfortunately, is never playing. You cannot take a goalkeeper who is never playing

‘’Uzoho made his debut for Nigeria against Argentina and did very well. He plays for the second team of La Coruna; we could see him [at the World Cup].

“Ezenwa was injured but he is returning gradually and he’s played with the second team at his club already. We’ll see who will be the fittest.’’

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
The Lagos State government yesterday approved payment of over N1.4 billion as compensation for affected properties/owners on the alignment/right of way for construction and re-construction of dilapidated roads, flyover and ramps aimed at alleviating traffic gridlock in parts of the metropolis.

The approval, the state said, was to improve the economic lives of affected property owners. Appreciating the gesture, the Special Adviser, Urban Development, Mrs. Yetunde Onabule, in a statement signed by the Public Affairs Officer Lands Bureau, Kayode Sutton, lauded the governor’s approval, which will remove encumbrances in the construction of a dual carriage flyover and ramps at Agege-Pen Cinema.

She said processing of payment is following the detailed enumeration exercise on acquired/revoked properties on Orile/Badagry Road Expansion, Isawo Road in Ikorodu, Epe Road Expansion Project (Phase II) Igbogbo Baiyeku, Lagos Airport Road, Free Trade Zone Resettlement Land, Lekki Coastal and Adiyan Waterworks Phase II.

The compensation payable to affected properties amounts to N1,245,678,602 and N203,352,995 for Agege Pen Cinema Flyover and Irede/Abule-Osun reconstruction respectively.

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
A bill aimed at ensuring the establishment of the federal university of technology, Auchi in Edo State has made significant inroads on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
Telecoms operator, nTel has announced plans to expand its operations beyond Lagos to 20 states of the country including Abuja and Port Harcourt. 

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
The Chartered Institute of Bankers Professional Examinations has been upgraded from the traditional paper-based modal to Computer-Based Testing (CBT) platform for its students. 

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
Coalition of Civil Societies has appealed to all Houses of Assembly (SHA), particularly Nasarawa State's, to support the local government (LG) autonomy in the ongoing constitutional amendment process or risk reelection next year. They made the call in Lafia during a workshop for delegates of different civil society and the media from Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau [] 

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
Doctors in Edo state have embarked on a five days warning strike to press home their demand for better working conditions, insufficient personnel and other demands. 

Tue, 13 Mar 2018
The Federal Government has said it would extend the 2017/2018 Measles Vaccination Campaign to prisons in order to vaccinate the children of the female inmates. 
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