NIGERIA NEWSPAPERS: Today's Thisday Newspaper Headlines [30 January, 2018].

Below are the headlines found on Thisday Online Newspaper for today, Tuesday, 30 January , 2018.

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would only comply with the amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 if it is passed into law six months before the next general election.

The commission spoke Monday through its National Commissioner, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, who represented the National Chairman, Prof, Mahmood Yakubu, during a function at the Electoral Institute in Abuja, asserting that the amendment by the lawmakers was still a proposal, which would need to scale through some hurdles before becoming a law.

Against the background of the proposed amendment to the electoral law altering the sequence of the 2019 general election, which was passed by the House of Representatives, the INEC boss said as a law-abiding organisation, the commission would obey the amendment once signed into law.
He said: “INEC works with the Electoral Act. If there is a legitimate amendment to the Act, INEC will have no option than to obey, but that must happen first.

“Like I said, the role of INEC is to conduct elections based on the law; if there is a legitimate amendment to the Electoral Act, INEC will obey it.”
Under the proposed amendments, the National Assembly election would hold first, followed by the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections. The presidential election would be conducted last.

INEC, in its timetable released on January 9, had scheduled the presidential and National Assembly elections for February 16, 2019 and governorship and House of Assembly for March 2, 2019.
Ibeanu said: “It is still a proposal by the House of Representatives. I think it is still going to enjoy the concurrence of both chambers of the National Assembly for harmonisation.”

On the timing of the amendment with regard to the elections, Ibeanu said that there was a six-month timeframe for amendments to the Electoral Act.
“Practically, there is the ECOWAS protocol discouraging amendments to the Electoral Act in less than six months to an election and we still have more than six months.”

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, has said that his party was in support of plans to alter the sequence of the next general election.
Okorie, who spoke to THISDAY on the sidelines of the event organised by the Electoral Institute, said: “I want to commend the National Assembly for altering the order of the elections.

“This is the argument we have made in the past. It appears Solomon has come to judgment, where the presidential election should come last, so that those people contesting for elections will do so on their own merit and on their own steam and not ride on the back of a winning presidential candidate, which eventually will give you a lopsided National Assembly and that would not checkmate the executive arm of government.”

On her part, the national chairman of the newly registered Mass Action Joint Alliance Party (MAJA), Ms. Chika Ibeneme, bemoaned a situation whereby the leadership of political parties imposed candidates on its members, ignoring the electoral process.

On the plan of her party for the 2019 general election, the MAJA chieftain said youths between the ages of 18 and 35 years would be given a waiver to obtain nomination forms for free.
On how best to solve the problems afflicting the country, she said the solutions were not in the formation of new parties and coalitions but through a determination to fight poverty and to increase food production for Nigerians.

The guest lecturer, Prof. Jibril Ibrahim, said there was need for political parties to abide by the dictates of internal party democracy by ensuring that only aspirants that have the highest votes at the primaries emerge as their candidate.

While recounting what happened in 2011, he said INEC tried very hard to monitor party primaries and conventions but the commission had its hands tied when the courts pronounced that the parties had the final say on who to give their ticket.

According to Jibril, the result of parties’ non-adherence to their constitutional provisions led to the imposition of candidates who lost woefully at the elections.
Meanwhile, the chairman, House Committee on Electoral and Political Matters, Hon. Aishatu Dukku (APC, Gombe), Monday asked INEC to vacate all rented offices in order to be seen as truly independent.

She said occupying rented buildings has the potential of affecting the credibility of its operations.
This is as the commission’s chairman, Yakubu, said its budget for the 2019 general election would soon be ready and submitted to the parliament for approval.

Both spoke at the budget defence session of INEC in the lower legislative chamber.
Dukku said INEC’s budget should be made to show widespread public accountability and transparency by the commission, which would be a significant reform and have a multiplier effect on electoral reforms.

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
Nigeria’s stocks have been rated among the world’s best-performers in the past four months, and foreign investors are a big reason for that, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The New York-based financial software, data, and media company said net foreign inflows to Nigerian equities totalled N337 billion ($940 million) last year, the first time flows have been positive since at least 2013.

It said December 2017 was the best month since Bloomberg started compiling data at the beginning of 2014, with net inflows of N140 billion, signalling a switch in sentiment towards equities in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

According to Bloomberg, foreign investors were heavy buyers of Nigerian shares last year.
“Nigerian equities have gained in allure for international traders, thanks to the rise in Brent crude prices to around $70 a barrel and an easing of dollar shortages, which are helping Africa’s largest economy recover from its worst slump in 25 years.

“They’re also attracted by what remain among the cheapest valuations on the continent.
“The turnaround has seen investors pile into the New York-based Global X MSCI Nigeria ETF this year, too.
“That’s increased the exchange-traded fund’s market capitalisation to almost $100 million, triple the size of a year ago,” Bloomberg said.

The world-beating rally in Nigerian stocks might not be over yet, adding that the main equity index in Africa’s biggest economy had surged 12 per cent in the first two weeks this year in dollar terms, the most among 96 major bourses tracked by Bloomberg, pushing it to the highest level since 2008.

It said the advance would probably be sustained thanks to rising prices for oil, Nigeria’s main export, and as investors look to increase their holdings of what remained among the cheapest stocks in Africa.

“Still, there are some warning signs. The 120-day correlation between Nigerian stocks and Brent crude is now around the highest in two years. If oil prices reverse their 45 per cent climb since June, Nigerian assets could take a hit.

“That’s one reason HSBC Holdings Plc has a negative outlook on the stocks. The U.K. bank also says Nigeria will have to free its currency further.

“While the central bank eased some capital controls last year and opened a trading window for foreign portfolio investors, it continues to operate several exchange rates.”
It warned that Nigeria’s multiple exchange rate system was likely to remain a key drag, keeping long-term investors on the sidelines.

After four trading days of losses last week, the Nigerian bourse closed on a positive note Monday as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index appreciated by 1.22 per cent to 44,306.48, while market capitalisation rose to N15.8 trillion.

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
Suspected herdsmen for the umpteenth time went on the rampage Monday sacking the Tse-Torkula community in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, the ancestral home of the immediate past paramount ruler of Tiv, Ochivirigh Akawe Torkula, leaving scores injured and several people trekking for a long distance to Makurdi, the state capital.

In neighbouring Plateau State, fresh attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen also left four persons dead at three Miango villages in Bassa Local Government Area.
According to an eyewitness, the herdsmen stormed Tse-Torkula village very early in the morning burning houses.

He said: “They came in their hundreds shooting and chasing us away. We are yet to ascertain the number of deaths but a lot of our people are missing.”
Governor Samuel Ortom confirmed the attack but said investigations were still ongoing to give an accurate account of the incident.

This is just as the President-General of Mdzough U Tiv and tribal leader of the Tiv speaking people, Chief Edward Ujege, Monday warned against fake news and claims by the herdsmen that Tiv militias had killed 73 of their cattle in Kadarko, Nasarawa State, as reprisal for the new year day attacks that led to the deaths of 73 persons, stating that the claim was baseless and a mockery of the Benue people.

Ujege who spoke in Makurdi said: “The report is no doubt a mockery of one of the saddest periods in the lives of the Tiv people, Benue State and indeed the entire Nigeria, when 73 people including children, pregnant women and old men were murdered by Fulani herdsmen on new year day and were given mass burial in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

“It is very unfortunate that the fabricators of the phantom attacks in Nasarawa State have chosen to further ridicule and add insult to the injury and pain of the Tiv people by seeking to equate the same number of cows with those murdered in the new year day attacks on communities in Logo and Guma Local Government Areas in Benue State.

“We consider it the height of insensitivity, brutality and impunity that a group of people will reduce the precious lives of human beings to the same level and status with herds of cattle.”
In Plateau State, fresh attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen in three Miango villages in Bassa Local Government Area left at least four persons dead Monday.

The early attacks on Tafi Gani, Ariri and Nzhweego villages also left several houses and a seven-kilometre vegetable farm burnt.
Five of the attackers were however apprehended by the gallant youths of the area, who attempted to lynch the attackers before they were rescued by the military Special Task Force (STF) which then took them into custody.

Confirming the attack, the National President of the Irigwe Development Association (IDA), Mr. Sunday Abdu, expressed concern that the military who rescued the attackers, who were all middle aged Fulani men, was reluctant to parade them before the press.

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
More than a week after President Olusegun Obasanjo released his state of the nation commentary and devastating assessment of the Buhari administration, it has remained the main subject in the public arena in Nigeria. It is a measure of the stature, influence and capacity of the elder statesman that whenever he intervenes as he has done, he sets the tone for public debate and the country’s future political direction. I have already commented at length on the appropriateness, timeliness, depth, brutal honesty and shortcoming of that statement on both television and radio, more than twice, but there is an additional aspect that the statement further throws up, namely the nature and extent of presidential powers to wit: should Obasanjo blame Buhari?

It is common practice in Nigeria for political commentators, either on the streets or in formal situations to make excuses for Presidents, either serving or retired. You are likely to hear statements such as: “The President is a good man, it is just that he is surrounded by bad advisers and ministers”, or something like “Buhari is not the problem, the problem is that he has been hijacked by a cabal, or as the view was once expressed – “a cabal is now in charge!” The powers, style and limitations of the President are hardly ever placed in proper context. Proponents of the positivism of Presidential powers always speak in terms of “Good President, bad aides” in the Nigerian Presidential system, contrary to the norm that the buck stops at the President’s table.

President Obasanjo’s various assessments of sitting administrations adopt a different orientation. He holds the President personally responsible for the performance or non-performance of his government. In his recent statement on the Buhari administration, he thus characteristically accused President Buhari of nepotism, lack of understanding of the internal dynamics of Nigerian politics, blame-passing, condoning of misconduct and outright incompetence. He more or less ascribes to the President of Nigeria the powers and the responsibility to provide leadership and ensure good governance. In his view, in areas where the President lacks capacity, it is his duty to recruit competent persons to assist him and where and when he fails, he is still the one to be held responsible.

The underlying principle in Obasanjo’s statement is that those to whom power is bequeathed must be accountable for the exercise of such power. In his only reference to advisers in his intervention, Obasanjo uses the word “so-called advisers.” It is most unfortunate that in the various responses from government and its agents to the Obasanjo statement, there has been no attempt to take on Obasanjo on the issues. He has been called names by hired voices, or system sycophants, and all he got from the Minister of Information was an acknowledgement note and a patronizing “Baba-is-a-patriot”, tepid climb-down, without a word of defence on the substantial question about how the incumbent President has abdicated responsibility and failed the leadership test.

For me, there are a number of projected questions: Can a President actually be held responsible for the failings of the government he heads? Should the blame for an administration’s failures be heaped on the head of a past government and its officials? Who can be held liable in the circumstance – a cabal, former Ministers, or those exercising delegated authority? For whereas Obasanjo holds every President accountable, I have heard persons claim that he has no moral right to do so. It is even alleged that President Buhari cannot be questioned because he is answerable only to the people whose sovereignty he personifies.

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
It was a day of tributes as Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and governors of the South-east Monday received the body of former vice-president the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who died in London last November.

While Osinbajo took delivery of the body at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the South-east governors received the remains at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

Speaking on behalf of the federal government, Osinbajo, who led cabinet ministers and other senior officials to the reception ceremonies, described the late deputy to Second Republic President Shehu Shagari as a committed statesman who gave his best to the country.

He said: “I am deeply honoured on behalf of the President, Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and government and people of Nigeria to receive the body of the first elected Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
“As we receive his body this morning, we are reminded of his selfless service to the nation, to our region, to Africa and indeed the world.”

Osinbajo said Nigerians would be reminded of Ekwueme’s commitment to the timeless ideals of integrity, loyalty and kindness to all and thanked God for giving the country 85 years of his life.
According to the vice-president, “When he was asked what his visions are for the country, he said, ‘I would want to see Nigeria be a nation, not just a country’.

“Those words tell us how committed he was to the unity of this country and I pray that in death, and as we remember him, that this would not only encourage us but also cement the relationship between all of the people and nationalities of this country so that we could become and remain one.
“We thank the Almighty God for his family and all of us who he has left behind and we pray that his great wishes for this nation and all that he sacrificed for will not be in vein.”

Anambra State Deputy Governor, Dr. Emma Okeke, who represented the governor of the state, while speaking to newsmen at the Abuja airport, said: “I think what we all need is to be steadfast; if you believe in something do it and continue to stand out.
“Apart from the qualities, we all know he had as a Nigerian,” adding that the deceased was a man who always stood by what he believed in.

He said Anambra State would decide on what to do in terms of immortalising the former vice-president after his burial, adding that the governor would honour the late vice-president.
Ekwueme’s body was later in the day received at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, by governors of the South-east zone and the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, even as the Archbishop of Anglican Church, Enugu Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, faulted the federal government over its claim that it had spent N1 billion for the burial of the late elder statesman.

The body of the late former vice-president was flown from Abuja in a Nigeria Air Force plane marked NAF 918. The plane landed in Enugu at 2:08 p.m.
At the brief airport reception were the Chairman of South-east Governor’s Forum, Chief David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Dr. Willie Obiano (Anambra State), Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu State), and Mr. Rochas Okorocha (Imo State).

Other dignitaries at the airport were Nwodo; Archbishop Chukwuma; the National Chairman of United Progressive Party, Chief Chekwas Okorie; Speaker, Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Mr. Ogbonnia Nwaifuru, who led all the members of Ebonyi assembly; and Secretary to the State Government of Ebonyi State, Prof. Bernard Odeh, who led the state’s cabinet.

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
AU member states adopt common aviation market, to float carrier Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday canvassed the speedy establishment of a single and unified market in Africa to increase trade, create more jobs and reduce poverty. In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba [] 

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
James Emejo in Abuja The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and Refugees, Hon. Sani Zoro (APC, Jigawa) on Monday refused to allow the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFR) to defend its 2018 budget over faulty accounts rendition and lack of transparency in the [] 

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
Indications have emerged that the federal government has deported the 12 Cameroonian separatist leaders who were arrested earlier this month, their lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), told Premium Times yesterday. They were reportedly deported last Friday. Julius Ayuk Tabe and 11 others were arrested at Nera Hotels Abuja on January 6 and were detained at [] 

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja There are conflicting accounts as to the alleged assault on Senator Abiodun Olujimi on Monday at the premises of the National Assembly by a sergeant at arms official (security). This followed fisticuffs involving Olujimi's orderly and the sergeant at arms whose name was given as Kingsley, in one of the elevators [] 

Tue, 30 Jan 2018
Emma Okonji Having identified six telecoms operators that are involved in call masking and refilling, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is considering outright revocation or suspension of the licences of those involved by next week based on their responses in defence of their action. THISDAY reported last week that NCC had concluded its independent investigation [] 
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