NIGERIA NEWSPAPERS: Today's Thisday Newspaper Headlines [7th February, 2018].

Below are the headlines found on Thisday Online Newspaper for today, Wednesday, 7th February, 2018.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
The Conference Committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill comprising the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its counterpart in the House of Representatives Tuesday voted to change the sequencing of general elections in the country.

The committee by its action has adopted the position of the House which on January 23 voted for the National Assembly elections to be conducted first, followed by state Houses of Assembly and governorship elections, then rounded off by the presidential election.

The amendment to Section 25 of the Principal Act, which was substituted with Section 25(1), would be adopted at both chambers of the National Assembly before transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
According to the amended version, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly elections (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election, on separate days.

The conference committee also voted to concur with all other amendments made in the version of the Act passed by the House at a session presided over by the chairman of the conference committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif.
Section 87 was harmonised with the new Sub-section (11) on the sequencing and timing for the conduct of primaries of political parties.

The amendment specifies: “The primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence: (i) State Houses of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship, and (iv) Presidential.
“The dates for the above-stated primaries shall not be held earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”

The co-chairman of the conference committee, Hon. Edward Pwajok, responding to questions from reporters after the voting session, said the harmonised bill would be presented to both legislative chambers for adoption.

“From here, we are going to consider other items that need concurrence where there are differences between the Senate’s version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and the House’s version.
“When we harmonise all the areas of differences between the Senate and the House, then we will report progress to both chambers.

“It is expected that when we concur, the Senate would sit and vote in support and the House would also sit and concur. After the concurrence (by both chambers), we will send the harmonised bill to Mr. President for his assent,” Pwajok said.
The development confirms recent reports by THISDAY over fears in the presidency and at INEC that the Senate would adopt the amendment of the House, which could significantly affect the outcome of the 2019 general election.

The concern in the presidency stems from the fact that the bandwagon effect of the first set of elections into the National Assembly could influence the other elections.
Under the current sequencing, the reverse is the case as the outcome of the presidential elections, in particular, has a bandwagon effect on the governorship and state assembly elections.

The amendment would also throw INEC’s timetable for the 2019 general election, which was released about a month ago, into disarray.
Going by the INEC timetable, the presidential and National Assembly elections were slated for February 16, 2019, while the state Houses of Assembly and governorship elections were scheduled for March 2, 2019.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has questioned the sudden turnaround by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over its decision to file corruption charges against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Umar, after the same commission had cleared him of corruption allegations in April 2016.

In a post on his Facebook page, Saraki said the dramatic turnaround by the anti-graft agency was amusing.
The Senate President maintained his innocence of the three charges for which his trial resumed Tuesday at the CCT and expressed his confidence in the judiciary to do justice in all cases.
The post read: “I sympathise with the chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, for his travails in the hands of the EFCC which suddenly woke up four days to the resumption of this case to file criminal charges against him.

“You will recall that in April 2016, when our lawyers asked the tribunal chairman to recuse himself from our case because of the criminal investigation against him, the EFCC swiftly cleared Mr. Umar of any wrongdoing.
“Now, I find it amusing that in a dramatic turnaround, this same EFCC now thinks that Mr. Umar has a case to answer just before the commencement of my case before him.”

What has changed since April 2016, he queried.
Saraki also noted that as much as many Nigerians want to continue to believe that his case at the CCT was merely about assets declaration irregularities, the manoeuvres, manipulation, intrigues and scheming and the “House of Cards” nature of the whole case have proven otherwise.
“I really wonder whether those who genuinely love this government appreciate the damage that all this is doing to our so-called ‘War Against Corruption’.
“However, in all of this, my confidence in the judiciary and its ability to do justice in all cases remains unshaken,” he said.

In an earlier post late Monday night, Saraki said he chose to appear before the CCT even though there was a pending appeal before the Supreme Court in respect of three of the 18 charges for which he had already been cleared by the CCT.
“This is following the verdict of the Court of Appeal which ordered that we should go and open our defence on three of the counts.

“My lawyers actually advised that we should apply for a stay of the CCT proceedings, pending the determination of the appeal that we earlier filed before the Supreme Court.
“But I have a different opinion. I feel that despite the pending appeal before the apex court, I should and will put up my defence as regards the three counts.

“I am convinced of my innocence on these counts and confident consequently of a favourable decision of the tribunal on them. This has always been my position from day one.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
The long missing painting of an Ife princess that attained an almost mythical status after going decades unseen has been discovered in a north London flat, the London-based Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday.

Ben Enwonwu’s 1973 painting of the Princess Adetutu Ademiluyi, known as Tutu, is a national icon in Nigeria, with poster reproductions hanging on walls in homes all over the country.

The artist, regarded as the founding father of Nigerian modernism, painted three versions of Tutu and the image became a symbol of national reconciliation.

But all three were lost and became the subject of much speculation.
Reacting to the discovery of what might be the original Tutu, renowned Nigerian novelist and Booker Prize winner, Ben Okri, said it amounted to the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over 50 years.

“It is the only authentic Tutu, the equivalent of some rare archaeological find. It is a cause for celebration, a potentially transforming moment in the world of art,” he said.
According to The Guardian, the discovery was made by Giles Peppiatt, the director of modern African art at the British-based auction house Bonhams.

He estimated he gets sent a Tutu every eight weeks and it invariably turns out to be a print. But late last year, a family in north London approached him asking him to come and see a painting they said was by Enwonwu.

“Sometimes you go somewhere on a wing and a prayer, you don’t know what you are going to see … this was an enormous surprise.
“It is a picture, image-wise, that has been known to me for a long time, so it was a real light bulb moment; I thought: ‘Oh my god, this is extraordinary’,” he said.

The family have asked to remain anonymous, but Peppiatt described them as perfectly ordinary. The painting was something their father had acquired, he said, adding: “As is often the way, there are things your parents buy and you haven’t a clue why they bought it or what the value of it is … you just inherit it.”
The painting will be sold at Bonhams in London on February 28 but such is the anticipated interest – “its appearance on the market is a momentous event”, said Peppiatt – that the sale will also be broadcast live to bidders in Lagos.

It is expected to sell for between £200,000 and £300,000. If it goes over the upper limit it will set a new record for a modern Nigerian artist.
Okri, writing in the forthcoming Bonhams magazine, said he hoped Tutu’s rediscovery would help bring about a wider re-evaluation of African art.

“Traditional African sculpture played a seminal role in the birth of modernism in the early years of the 20th century, but modern African artists are entirely absent from the story of art,” he said.
“This is an oversight that urgently needs rectification if the art world does not want to imply that contemporary Africa has made no contributions to the world’s artistic achievements.”

Okri said Enwonwu was already world-renowned as the greatest living African artist when, in the summer of 1973, three years after the end of the Nigerian civil war, he encountered the princess and was entranced, asking to paint her portrait.

Enwonwu was a student at Goldsmiths, Ruskin College, University of Oxford, and the Slade in England in the 1940s. He became more widely known when he was commissioned to create a bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Nigeria in 1956, a work that now stands at the entrance of the parliament buildings in Lagos.
However, Tutu is regarded as his greatest masterpiece – the image was on display at his funeral in 1994. The whereabouts of the other Tutu paintings remain a mystery.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and human rights lawyer and activists, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), have expressed outrage over what they have termed the “intimidation and harassment” by the police of Mr. Kassim Afegbua, the spokesman of General Ibrahim Babangida over a statement he issued on behalf of the former military president at the weekend.

Afegbua had issued a statement on behalf of Babangida, in which he had counselled President Muhammadu Buhari to step aside for a new breed of leaders come 2019.

However, shortly after the statement was released, another statement purportedly issued by Babangida asked the public to discountenance Afegbua’s statement.
Even though Babangida was later to speak to THISDAY affirming the authenticity of Afegbua’s statement and saying that he stood by it, the police went ahead to declare him wanted for what it termed, among others, “impersonation and defamation of character”.

The police chose this path without any charges pressed against Afegbua by Babangida.
Reacting to the development, the PDP Tuesday cautioned the police and other security agencies not to allow themselves to be used by the sinking All Progressives Congress (APC) as instruments of persecution against Nigerians perceived to be against the re-election bid of the president.

PDP said it believed that the attempt to arrest Afegbua over Babangida’s declaration that Buhari should not be voted or to continue in office after 2019, was a ploy to set the table for a vicious muzzling of constitutionally guaranteed free speech and right to the opinion of citizens in the country.

In a statement issued by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said recent distasteful events including unwarranted harassment of perceived opponents of the APC, supposed and actual presidential hopefuls, as well as opposition members, had shown that the APC has now gone into jittery mode, having realised that its chances of winning the 2019 general election have already vanished.

The party described the trend as a dangerous threat to the nation’s democracy and symptomatic of a failed party that is prepared to turn against the citizens in a desperate bid to hang on to power against the will of the people.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
The Bankers’ Committee rose from its meeting Tuesday with a consensus that commercial banks in the country should henceforth desist from charging customers commissions on retail foreign exchange (forex) transactions.

Retail forex transactions include the purchase of dollars for personal travel allowance (PTA), business travel allowance (BTA), school fees and medicals.
The chief executive of the FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Mrs. Hamda Ambah, disclosed this while briefing the media at the end of the meeting in Lagos.

Desirous of alleviating the pains of retail forex consumers, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in May last year had directed all banks to sell the greenback for BTA, PTA, tuition and medical fees to customers at not more than N360 to dollar, down from N380 to the dollar at which forex was sold previously for retail transactions.

The CBN sells to banks at N357 to the dollar. However, it was learnt that some commercial banks have been charging commissions on such transactions.
To this end, Ambah explained: “One of the things we discussed was a measure that would provide some sort of palliative for all individuals in the country to at least enjoy the benefit.
“It was agreed that the forex that banks sell to their clients for PTA, BTA, school fees and medical bills, that henceforth all banks should charge N360/$ and there would be no commission whatsoever charged by the banks for such sales.

“We want to make sure that this is uniform across all banks. Customers should report any bank that goes outside of this. It has actually been N360 for a while, but some banks in addition to the fee, are charging commissions.”

Earlier, the director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Alhaji Ahmed Abdullahi, who was also at the briefing, put the present value of the country’s external reserves at $42 billion, higher than $40.4 billion last month.
The last time the country’s reserves derived mainly from proceeds of crude oil exports hit $42 billion was in December 2013.

Recent Eurobond issuances have also helped in boosting Nigeria’s reserves position.
Abdullahi also expressed satisfaction with the positive growth of all economic indicators.
Responding to a question on why the modalities on the Agric-SME fund agreed by the committee were yet to be implemented, the CBN director said: “We had detailed discussions on the issues agreed at the last retreat and the modalities for disbursements have been agreed.
“By February, we would see traction in that regard. The modalities are now out and it is left for the customers to come forward.”

Also, the chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr. Demola Shogunle, disclosed that during the meeting, there was a presentation on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) by one of the special advisers to the president.
According to Shogunle, a major aspect of the presentation was that the federal government had agreed to focus on key selected areas in the ERGP to accelerate investments and job creation.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Executive Secretary President Muhammadu Buhari has reinstated the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf. Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in June 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct. A panel inaugurated by the minister after Yusuf's suspension later found him culpable of infractions that ranged [] 

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja The National Vice Chairman (South-south) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ntufam Hilliard Eta, has said the federal government will not resuscitate the rested issue of onshore-offshore dichotomy despite its inclusion in the report on fiscal federalism and restructuring submitted by the Malam Nasir el-Rufai-led committee to the ruling party recently. [] 

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
President Emmanuel Macron of France is billed to visit Nigeria in early July this year and is expected to address the joint session of the National Assembly, Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, has said. Speaking when he paid a visit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, at the National [] 

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Mixed reactions trail appointment Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos Confronted by apparent and prevalent internal squabble in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday named Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the leader of fresh reconciliation efforts in the party. The appointment of Tinubu for this onerous task [] 

Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Defend yourselves, Ortom urges Benue people Senate worried over killings, abductions in Kaduna Emmanuel Ukumba in Lafia, George Okoh in Makurdi and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all security agencies in the country to arrest and prosecute any person found with illegal arms. The directive came as Benue State Governor, Samuel [] 
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