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Today’s Guardian Newspaper Headlines, Tuesday 4th December 2018

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Why northwest should vote Atiku, Obi, by PDP
Tue, 04 Dec 2018

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) began its presidential campaign in Sokoto yesterday with a promise that Nigerians would get a better deal if they vote for its candidate former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. National Chairman Uche Secondus described the huge crowd at the Atiku/Obi Northwest Presidential Campaign as a sign the party would sweep the polls in next year’s general elections. It was also evidence that the region has spoken its mind, he said.

Insisting the PDP has the best candidate, Secondus said Atiku has all it takes to boost the nation’s economy, provide food, combat insecurity and solve many of the challenges facing the country.

Speaking in the Fulfulde and Hausa languages, Atiku told cheering supporters that having climbed to success from a humble beginning, he could replicate the pattern for Nigerians. He told the crowd he currently had 1,000 cows and urged the people not to be fooled by those who claim to have only 150 cattle, a veiled reference to President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking re-election.

Also in a statement by his media office yesterday, Atiku condemned the killing of 50 policemen by bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State and called for a seven-day mourning in honour of the personnel. He sought the declaration of a state of emergency “not in Borno or Zamfara, but in financing the military and security services.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan maintained that the PDP “is still the number one party in Nigeria.” He urged Nigerians to cast their votes for Atiku, saying the candidate has experience and capacity to tackle the country’s problems.

Others who took turns to explain why Atiku is the candidate of choice included Senate President Bukola Saraki; former National Chairman Ahmed Makarfi; Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal; Board of Trustees Chairman Wali Jibrin; former Governors of Jigawa State Saminu Turaki and Sule Lamido; and former Niger State Governor Aliyu Babangida.

This came as Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris declared a ban on the possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons at political rallies. He also urged politicians to shun hate speech.He gave the warning in Ibadan, Oyo State, during an interactive session with political parties on security arrangements put in place for campaigns.

Represented by Deputy Inspector General of Police Agboola Oshodi-Glover, the IGP said the police would not fold their hands and watch any person or group breach the law. Some stakeholders in the southwest meanwhile have declared that Yoruba votes in the elections must be cast only for the candidate with a focus on restructuring.

Atiku has repeatedly said he would execute this agenda once he is elected.One after the other, speakers at a colloquium held at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, yesterday, warned that the Yoruba nation must unite and not allow an opportunity to achieve the goal slip by.

A former PDP Deputy National Chairman Bode George, who organised the event, said: “The Yoruba people will never negotiate on the purity of restructuring. This federation, as presently constituted, is skewed and disproportionately unfair in the distribution of the national wealth. We insist on a balanced, equitable expanse where every section of the Nigerian society will be free and unhindered in the cultivation of their natural resources.”

Also, a Second Republic senator, Prof. Seth Akintoye, noted that the elections would afford the Yoruba a chance to redefine their destiny. According to him, “Many may not think or feel so, but the Yoruba civilisation is endangered. It is endangered to the extent that the country to which we belong is endangered. It is not part of the Yoruba to surrender to failure or poverty. But at present, we are going through a degree of poverty, hopelessness and failure that we have never seen before. The onus is on us to fight until we achieve success and overcome.”

The forum tagged, ‘Southwest Yesterday, Today and the Challenges of 2019’ was attended by Yoruba leaders including Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee on the 2014 National Conference Femi Okorohunmu; former Minister of Transportation Ebenezer Babatope; Senate Minority Leader Biodun Olujimi; Lagos State PDP Governorship Candidate Jimi Agbaje; and former Lagos State Deputy Governor Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele.

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Flight disruption looms over obsolete navigation equipment
Tue, 04 Dec 2018

Massive flight delays and cancellations await local travels later this month due to near obsolete navigational facilities at airports nationwide. The facilities, including Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs), VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR) and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) are at sub-optimal working condition and unable to ensure safe operations during harmattan.

The concerned body, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), had disclosed efforts to upgrade equipment in readiness for the season, “but nothing significant has changed in the last 12 months,” said operators. The implication is that several routes, excluding the Lagos-Abuja-Lagos stretch, could be closed down again later this month and in January, to forestall weather-induced accidents. Also, the revenue of airlines, already struggling to survive, could plummet further.

Harmattan haze, late 2017 and early 2018, led to the shutdown of local flight operations for some days, with horizontal visibility dropping below the stipulated minimum of 800 metres. While local airlines were forced to reschedule or refund fares to restive passengers amid attendant losses, their foreign counterparts with advanced onboard technology operated unhindered by the weather.

In August this year, NAMA disclosed that CAT III equipment were being installed to replace CAT II at Lagos and Abuja airports, to boost operations and safety at the two busiest airports in the country. Similarly, in May 2017, the Federal Government reportedly deployed new sets of Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) to 18 airports nationwide.

An ILS enables aircraft to land even if the pilots are unable to establish visual contact with the runway due to haze, fog and snow. It does this via transmitted radio signals. The Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, recently explained that seamless operations during harmattan depend on the equipment on ground and on the operating aircraft.

Findings however showed that NAMA is struggling with keeping the equipment functional at all airports, including Lagos, where regular power supply is not a guarantee. An operator and a former director at NAMA, who did not want to be mentioned, confirmed the sub-optimal situation. He told The Guardian that ILS is clunky, very expensive and difficult to maintain, especially with its need for regular calibration and power supply.

“The reason we cannot go beyond CAT l in most of our ILS systems in Nigeria is not because of the equipment itself but because we cannot guarantee power supply. So, we are all CAT II capable but all of these have been downgraded to CAT I.”He recalled that this type of “amazingly expensive” terrestrial equipment emerged after the Second World War. He said the world has since moved on to better and more advanced options that are cheaper to purchase and easier to maintain.

“But whenever you want to change, you will come against vested interests. For a complete ILS, we would probably buy ours for $2 million. But that is about $1 million elsewhere. Everything bought by government in Nigeria tends to cost more. So, tell them about a technological leap that will do more for a few hundred dollars and nobody – those selling and those buying – will seem to be interested.”

A former managing director of NAMA, Capt. Roland Iyayi, said a CAT III ILS would ensure an aircraft could land blind at zero visibility, granted that the aircraft is equipped and the pilot is trained.

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‘Why Nigeria must develop vibrant commodity exchange’
Tue, 04 Dec 2018

The need for Nigeria to develop a vibrant commodities exchange capable of attracting investors into the agriculture value chain, and enhancing job creation has been stressed. Capital market experts who spoke in an interview with The Guardian linked Nigeria’s inability to diversify its export base away from oil over the years to the absence of an efficient commodities market.

They noted that vibrant commodities exchange would help increase incomes for farmers and agro-businessmen since as it ensures appropriate pricing of produce.The Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX), formerly known as the Abuja Commodities and Securities Exchange, was originally incorporated as a Stock Exchange on June 17, 1998. It commenced electronic trading in securities in May 2001, and was converted to a commodities exchange on August 8, 2001.

The conversion was premised on the need for an alternative institutional arrangement that would manage the effects of price fluctuations in the marketing of agricultural produce, which adversely affected farmers’ earnings since the abolishment of Commodity Boards in 1986. But the exchange had challenges living up to expectations till date.

Therefore, experts suggested that government must as a matter of urgency, reposition the exchange to enable it carry out its business effectively in facilitating trade, and developing settlement instruments and platforms in agricultural produce and basic minerals.

Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Nominees, Akeem Oyewale, said Nigeria must toe the path of countries like Malaysia, and Ethiopia that developed their economies through a vibrant commodities market, by allowing proper dealings and pricing of commodities, without the middlemen dictating the price of major agricultural produce.
“Nigeria is a country that is blessed with so many commodities. Before we discovered oil, we had agriculture powering our economy extensively. But we do not have proper pricing of agriculture, even developed economies like the United States have the Chicago Mercantile Commodities Exchange that allows proper dealings and pricing of commodities.

“When you have a functioning commodities exchange that is vibrant, properly regulated with adequate broadcast, you will find a very efficient way of meeting the suppliers of these commodities with people that are demanding the commodities.”The Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said a well-functioning commodities exchange will help integrate Nigeria with global commodities exchanges.

“Commodities-based derivative instruments represent a key feature of a modern financial architecture. It would help diversify the country’s export base away from oil, and make the economy less vulnerable to external shocks.“It will enhance forex market stability through accretion in external reserves. Again, adequate warehousing facilities will minimise wastes and support stable prices throughout the year.”

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