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2015: Arewa Youths to begin voters’ sensitisation

arewayouthsThe Arewa Youth Development Association (AYDA) on Tuesday said it would use local languages to sensitise voters on their civic responsibilities ahead of the 2015 general elections.

The President of the association, Alhaji Imrana Nas said this in a phone chat with Naija247news in Abuja

“We shall soon commence voter awareness campaign through the use of the media.

“Every coordinator will use the media in creating awareness, distribute pamphlets and use local languages including Hausa, Kanuri to reach out to the people.”

According to him, the aim is to enable voters and other Nigerians to understand what is expected of them to ensure credible and peaceful elections.

Nas advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disabuse the minds of the electorates that the time table it released for the elections was meant to favour a particular party.

“We are urging INEC and advising them to do their best in assuring the people that they are not trying to favour anybody by carrying out their duties dispassionately.

“It is only free, fair and transparent elections that will meet the desire of Nigerians to have leaders that will respect their yearnings and aspirations,’’ he said.

On the forthcoming National Conference, the AYDA president said it was a waste of resources.

According to him, all issues to be discussed could be effectively handled by the National Assembly.

“When there is a National Assembly, where every federal and state constituency is represented, it will be a duplication of efforts.

“It will be a waste of resources to convocate the national conference whose decisions would still be subject to the decision of the legislators,” Nas said.

Delta to inaugurate power plant in December

The Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has said t the state’s Independent Power Plant will be inaugurated by the end of the year.

Uduaghan said this in Abuja while delivering a lecture, titled ‘Leadership-My Personal Experience’, to participants of Course 22 of the National Defence College, Abuja, a statement on Tuesday by the state government said.

He added that leaders in the country must to be transparent, sincere and run an inclusive government, stressing that “for a leader to lead, he must have strong self-belief and strong internal and unshakeable values.”

The governor explained that the Delta IPP would be privatised to ensure better management.

“Delta State in the foreseeable future should be energy sufficient to support domestic, household demands and for industrial use,” he said.

Uduaghan added that the state government involvement in the Benin Electricity Distribution Company would boost power supply to the rural areas which will improve the economy of these areas.

He said the state’s power plant would produce between 120 and 150 megawatts of electricity.

Uduaghan noted that rumour mongering, propaganda and destructive criticism were the worst of distractions any leader could suffer as such would create internal dissension, internal rivalry and insurrection.

He observed that the most harmful rumours emanated from those closest to the leader and decried the use of social media for rumour mongering and propaganda.

Military aircraft crashes in eastern Algeria, 103 killed — Report

An Algerian military transport plane, on Tuesday, crashed in the mountainous area of Oum al-Bouaghi province, killing more than 103 people, a report said.

The Chinese News Agency, Xinhua, reported that the air traffic control of Algeria’s Constantine Airport lost contact with

the C-130 Hercules aircraft, adding that the 103 passengers on board were killed in the crash.

It said that ambulances rushed to the scene to provide first aid to survivors but it was not clear whether there were any survivors.

Military and civil rescue services were at the scene to help out, Xinhua added.

Benue assembly gets new member

The Speaker of Benue House of Assembly, Mr Terhile Ayua, on Tuesday swore-in a new member of the assembly, Mrs Ngunan Adingi, to represent Buruku constituency.

Performing the ceremony during plenary session, Ayua recalled that Adingi was a sole aspirant of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) during the 2011 general elections but was short-changed during the party’s primaries.

He stated that her mandate was given to Mr Adugu Gbileve who defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the ACN because he was denied nomination.

“Following this development, Adingi challenged the action at the Makurdi Federal High Court but the judgment was not in her favour.

”She proceeded to the Appeal Court but the end result was still not in her favour.

”She then proceeded to the Supreme Court and on Jan. 31, the court ruled in her favour, ordering Adugu to vacate the seat so that Adingi should be sworn in immediately,” he said.

The speaker stated that the court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to her without delay.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adugu was the Minority Leader of the assembly.

Speaking after being sworn-in, Adingi stated that she was overwhelmed as her mandate was given back to her.

She commended the judiciary for being the last hope of the common man and urged them to maintain the tempo for the sustenance of democracy.

Katsina constitutes committee to rectify pension problems

The Katsina State Government on Tuesday constituted a committee to verify complaints on the payment of pension to retired civil servants in the state.

This is contained in a statement issued in Katsina by the Press Secretary to the Secretary to the State Government, Malam Sani Kabomo.

According to the statement, the committee will be headed by Justice Sadiq Abdullahi Mahuta, a retired Chief Judge of the state.

Other members of the committee included the Chairman, State Local Government Service Commission, Alhaji Abdulkarim Abubakar, as well as Alhaji Danyaya Mashi, Alhaji Labiru Musa and Alhaji Sada Abubakar.

The SGS’s office will provide the secretary to the committee.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state government introduced e-pension payment system in November 2013.

NAN also gathered that some pensioners had not received their November and December 2013 pension, while pension has not been paid in January.

Malam Mukhtar Musa, Katsina Chapter of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, told newsmen that the problem had affected about 40 per cent of the members.

Musa said that their members were facing hardship due the delay in the payment of their pension.

He, therefore, urged the state government to urgently take measures to resolve the problem.

Obasanjo’s Church Reject West’s opposition to anti-gay law

Chapel of Christ The Glorious King, the church founded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday deplored threats by some Western countries to sanction Nigeria over its anti-gay laws.

The CCGK also urged the Federal Government not to be intimidated in its determination to check such anti-social vices among Nigerians.

The chapel as part of its support for the signing of the law against same-sex, will on Thursday hold a public lecture on the theme ‘Anti-gay law and the politics of grants’, to be delivered by the former Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Peter Akinola.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees of CCGK, Deacon Victor Durodola, said this during a press conference organised by the chapel in Abeokuta, Ogun State, to herald the fifth anniversary of the church.

Durodola stated that same-sex marriage was alien to the culture of the society and negated the dictates of both Christianity and Islam.

He noted that the government and the people of Nigeria should remain resolute about their opposition to gay practices and same-sex marriage.

The BoT chairman said, “We wish to lend our voice to the matter of same-sex marriage. As a church, we reject it because it is against our culture; it is anti-social; it is against our religion. Both the Christian and Muslim religions abhor gay practices. The Holy Bible specifically prohibits same-sex relationships in marriage.

“Therefore, we reject gay practices, we reject same-sex marriage and also reject the threats by some Western countries to withhold their grants to Nigeria. We support our government in its efforts along this line. We should remain resolute. Yes, gays need our empathy but they also need to accept God’s love and surrender themselves to God’s healing power.”

Jonathan Appoints Chief Raymond Dokpesi As New Chief Of Staff

Chief Raymond DokpesiPresident Goodluck Jonathan has announced the appointment of Chairman Daar Communications PLC, operators of African Independent Television, AIT, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, as the new Chief Of Staff.

Dokpesi replaces Mike Oghiadomen, who also resigned on Monday.

Both Dokpesi and Oghiadome hail from Edo State.

It is believed that the appointment of Dokpesi like most others made in recent times by President Goodluck Jonathan is targeted at smoothing the way for Jonathan’s re-election.

Dokpesi connections in the media, political and business circles are expected to come in handy as Jonathan seeks to burnish his heavily buffeted image ahead of the 2015 election .

Dokpesi was appointed as the Director General of Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Organization in 2010 in the build up to the 2011 presidential election before the former head of state withdrew

Meanwhile, the Presidency has debunked the media reports on Monday that Oghiadomeh was forced to resign over his alleged involvement in the $20b NNPC scam.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, in an interview with State House correspondents on Monday, said that Oghiadomeh resigned to pursue his political ambition.

The presidential spokesman described the speculation as “callous and unreasonable”, saying the chief of staff had, in his resignation letter, said he wished to pursue “other political necessities”.

According to him, the president had already asked any ministers or other political appointees who have political ambitions to quit.

Abati noted that Jonathan appreciated Oghiadomeh’s diligent contributions.

He said: “Nothing extensive to say other than to confirm that the Chief of Staff has resigned his appointment, and it has nothing to do with the speculation that one online has tried to put out. The president received the letter today which is titled “Letter of Resignation” and it (the letter) says he wishes to pursue other political necessities in our great party.

“You would recall that about two weeks ago before the president travelled to Ethiopia, he announced in council that if there was any member of the cabinet or any major political appointee who wants to pursue some other political roles; that he had been hearing rumours that some people maybe wanted to go and pursue other things in whatever capacity, that such people are going to be engaged heavily in political activities, they should let him know; and if they see that they’re going to be really busy, and such activities may occupy their time extraordinarily, they should please step aside or come and see him for discussion.

“That, you can confirm. It happened in the open floor of the council. And you can see what I’ve pointed out as the reason for the chief of staff’s resignation is in line with that. So, we find the speculation, particularly by some of the online platforms, callous, completely unreasonable considering that this is a man who has served and given time and energy to the pursuit of the good interest of our country. Mr President appreciates his contributions and he would like to put on record that indeed, he was a man who discharged his responsibilities diligently and the country is very grateful to him and the president personally would like to wish him well in his future endeavours”.

However, a report in an online news portal say the Edo born politician was sacked for alleged involvement in various fruads.

Osun Defender reported that that a huge dossier prepared on the activities of the erstwhile Chief of Staff of the President an extensive corruption profile.

According to the report, Oghiadomhe’s bag of tricks includes Kerosene subsidy fraud at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the magnitude of millions of dollars with a controversial businessman, Jide Omokore, owner of oil companies Atlantic Energy Limited and Seven Energy.

Both companies are at the center of the $6 billion fraud cited by the Governor of the Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in his recent revelation to the Nigeria Senate that the NNPC has not been able to account for $20 billion of the $67 billion worth of oil it lifted between 2012 and 2013.
Jonathan reportedly asked. Oghiadomhe to resign after security agencies revealed his deep involvement, first, in a Rice waiver scam used to fund Mr. Jonathan’s Presidential Election in 2011; the security reports traced billions of naira to the duo, showing that they did not declare or remit a greater portion of the “profit” from the Rice waiver to the Jonathan campaign.

In recent days, it also emerged that Mr. Omokore and Oghiadome benefited immensely from the N1 billion-naira-a-day Kerosene subsidy fraud.

Last week Tuesday, Omokore sent his wife, Angela, to meet with President Jonathan in order to explain that her husband did not partake in the fraud, but Mr. Jonathan appeared unconvinced as the CBN governor buffeted the nation with further revelation of massive fraud in the petroleum sector. Angela Omokore is Oghiadome’s goddaughter.

Also, Nigeria’s Petroleum minister Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke reportedly washed her hands off the fraud case claiming that Oghiadome and Omokore shortchanged Nigerians in the deals.

When the former Chief of Staff showed up for work at the Presidential Villa in Abuja this morning he was told to submit his resignation letter. After complying, he returned to his residence.

Oghiadomhe, the report added, was not subjected to any questioning or surveillance, leaving him free to do as he pleases with his time and resources.

In order to fend off inquiries, presidential spokesperson Reuben Abati told some reporters today that Mr. Oghiadomhe “voluntarily resigned” to pursue political ambition even though the Edo governorship election which he is eyeing will not hold in 2015 untill 2017. The truth behind Oghiadomhe’s sudden resignation despite efforts by the presidency to conceal the embarrassing scandal is gradually becoming public knowledge. Is Jonathan’s government a government that fights corruption or one that protects close officials and cronies that glaringly involved in huge economic sabotage through all manner of economic crimes and abuse of office?

Botswana to Sign Deal With Namibia to Develop Coal-Export Line

botswanaBotswana and Namibia will sign a deal at the end of this month to develop a 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) railway for transporting coal exports to the port of Walvis Bay, according to the Botswana Chamber of Mines.

“Technical glitches” delaying the Trans-Kalahari project have been resolved, Charles Siwawa, chief executive officer of the chamber, said in a phone interview today. While he declined to give further details, Siwawa said the joint-venture agreement, originally due to be signed last April, paves the way for funding initiatives and tenders.

Chinese and Indian demand for the more than 200 billion metric tons of coal in Botswana’s central Karoo basin could boost economic growth in the landlocked southern African nation, Siwawa said. The Trans-Kalahari line, which dovetails with Namibia’s plan to develop the port of Walvis Bay, requires an investment of about $15 billion, Siwawa said.

“It’s not clear as yet when this financing will come from but we would like this project to proceed as soon as possible,” Siwawa said. “There are significant coal deposits in Botswana but we need an exit route for shipments to markets overseas. At the moment, Walvis Bay is the preferred route.”

Alternative export options include transporting the coal by rail to either South Africa’s Richards Bay or the port of Beira in Mozambique.

Again, A Case of Uncounted Billions By Okey Ndibe

To a first-time visitor, much of Nigeria is likely to appear like the wreckage of a long war, what with its gutted roads, rutted infrastructure, the near-absence of electric power, and the paucity of pipe-borne water. It’s a developmental nightmare, a relic of the misshapen monuments of small-minded men and women, a patchwork of ill-conceived, abandoned projects.

Given Nigeria’s shape—or, more appropriate, its lack of shape—you’d expect a certain sense of urgency about transforming the space. You’d expect politicians and experts to focus at every opportunity on ways of creating a healthcare system worthy of human beings, revitalizing the educational sector, creating jobs for milling youths, providing basic facilities, and changing the moral tone.

Instead, what you find is a deranged obsession with a rat race whose sole goal is the primitive accumulation of riches. The country’s political leaders, who incidentally lead the rat race, seem to miss the point that the winners of such a race remain rats! Yes, a lot of them amass obscene sums of illicit wealth, but lucre merely raises their rating as ridiculous figures. The more they steal, the more they consolidate their contemptible quotient.

But Nigeria’s political “leaders” are far from the only problems. If anything, they seem to reflect a broader cultural malaise. Many Nigerians, one suspects, are hostile to the deep thinking that is a precursor to remarkable transformation. We’d much rather muck around in sectarian, ethnic and partisan baiting. Confronted with evidence of systemic collapse, many of us are content to blame Christians or Muslims, Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, the North or South. We fail to realize that, where it counts, so-called Christian and so-called Muslim figures collaborate in schemes that impoverish the rest of us; that Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa politicians are not averse to acting together to corner looting opportunities; that men and women from the North and South work together daily to abort Nigeria’s promise.

The reportorial priorities of the Nigerian media mirror, I suggest, Nigerians’ little tolerance for substance. Despite Nigeria’s abysmal condition, it’s hard to see any serious debates in the media. It’s all about PDP this, APC that. Nobody, least of all the two parties’ top officials, can articulate what either party stands for. In lieu of any sustained presentation of ideas for making Nigeria a habitable address, both parties settle for parading personalities. What’s worse, the advertised political henchmen (and women) have pedigrees defined less by ideas than their possession of stupendous wealth.

You’d expect Nigerians to pay attention when somebody who ought to know talks about billions missing from the national treasury. But perish the thought!

Last week, Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank of Nigeria appeared again before the Finance Committee of the Nigerian Senate, and spoke about huge frauds in the oil sector. Mr. Sanusi’s presentation rang with grave claims. Speaking with a directness hardly ever used by any past occupant of his seat, he accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of failing to account for $20 billion from crude oil exports. According to him, the NNPC sold $67 billion worth of crude oil, but deposited only $47 billion.

He told the committee that two companies, Seven Energy and Atlantic Energy (which he said were owned by the same persons), were beneficiaries of a curious deal with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). The deal enabled the ostensible private investors to pocket billions of dollars that ought to belong to Nigeria, the CBN head asserted. He also spoke about “leakages from the system through opaque and complex Swap transactions between PPMC [Pipeline and Products Marketing Company] and some counter parties.” He added: “The Agreements signed by PPMC contained a troubling clause that permits the destruction of documents after one year.”

These are startling allegations, worthy of particular attention by Nigerians and their media. When I googled Mr. Sanusi’s presentation, I found that it received relatively tepid reportage in Nigerian newspapers. It was played up more by online media, especially those based outside of Nigeria.

Even if Mr. Sanusi were talking nonsense, the proper response would be for reporters versed in oil transactions to thoroughly dissect his presentation and expose his misrepresentations. Besides, President Goodluck Jonathan and his aides ought to debunk Mr. Sanusi’s allegations by providing proof that no money is missing. It’s far from an adequate response to point to the fact that the CBN governor’s figures have shifted since September, 2013. The discrepancies may point, in fact, to the complex, labyrinthine nature of the schemes used to defraud Nigerians.

The role of the media has been shameful—but let’s put it aside for now. How about labor unions, student organizations, and such professional bodies as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), and the Nigerian Guild of Editors? What explains their astonishing silence on the matter? Is Nigeria so affluent—so awash with cash—that $20 billion don’t count?

On the Internet, some anonymous commentators fixated on the fact that Mr. Sanusi, bearer of a disquieting message, is a Muslim and a Northerner. Some accused him of awarding billions of naira worth of contracts to his cronies. Others raised issues about his personal life. Mr. Sanusi’s faith and ethnicity have nothing to do with anything here. If he illegally awarded contracts, he deserves to be called on it—and prosecuted, if he broke the law. If there are lapses in his personal life, they should concern us only if he meddled with public funds. Otherwise, it is up to the stakeholders in his personal life to hold him to account, or choose not to.

If students, lawyers and editors didn’t find the case of the missing billions worthy of a single raised eyebrow, who would blame the rest of the populace for going on, unconcerned? It was as if most of us yawned and quickened our stride to that pepper soup joint! Few, if any, bothered to contemplate all the things that $20 billion could do for Nigeria.

I can’t help contrasting the collective indifference to Mr. Sanusi’s expose with the hysteria over former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s decision to leave the PDP and enlist in the APC. Nigerian newspapers not only rushed to cover this relative non-event, they have also offered their readers numerous follow-ups.

You’d think that the answer to Nigeria’s crises of underdevelopment lie in Mr. Atiku’s choice to register with a party that has yet to spell out how it differs from the PDP, much less what answers it has for Nigeria’s worsening state.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Eagles best CHAN team –Blatter

Sepp-blatter-006During the medal presentation ceremony of the African Nations Championship at the Cape Town Stadium, South Africa, FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, held on to Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, after the Nigerian had received his bronze medal.

Indeed, it looked like the FIFA boss didn’t want to let go of the Nigerian coach, who led the home-based Eagles to a third-place finish in the country’s first participation in the event.

Blatter smiled as he held Keshi closely and whispered to him. The words seemed comforting as Keshi beamed while leaving the podium.

In an interview with The PUNCH, Keshi refused to disclose what the Swiss told him.

He said, “You want to know what Blatter told me? I don’t want to discuss that with anybody. What he said is for me and not for the media. So, I will keep it to myself.

“Of course, what he said would inspire me (at the 2014 World Cup) but I am not revealing what he told me.”

However, a backroom staff, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent that Blatter had commended Keshi and his team ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

Our source said, “Immediately Keshi came down from the podium, he came to me and told me what Blatter had said. He said Blatter told him that Eagles were the best CHAN team and that Keshi should continue with the performance at the World Cup.

“He said Blatter told him that his team played good football and that he would be happy to see his World Cup team also put up a better performance.”

Brent Slips After Biggest Gain in Three Months on Libya

dollarBrent retreated after its biggest advance in three months as Libya continued to restore supplies and Saudi Arabia boosted crude sales in January.

Futures lost as much as 0.6 percent in London, after a 2.2 percent rally on Feb. 7 that was the largest since October. Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, increased production after protests at the country’s Sharara field ended, according to National Oil Corp. Saudi Arabia, while trimming output last month, increased shipments to the market to 9.916 million barrels a day, according to a person with knowledge of the country’s supplies.

“With the partial recovery of Libyan supplies, the spare capacity of OPEC will be increasing and that scenario is not too far off,” said Andy Sommer, an analyst at Axpo Trading AG in Dietikon, Switzerland.

Brent for March settlement fell as much as 70 cents to $108.87 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange and was at $109.40 as of 1:28 p.m. London time. The European benchmark jumped $2.38, or 2.2 percent, to $109.57 on Feb. 7, the biggest daily increase since Oct. 28. It was at a premium of $9.61 a barrel to West Texas Intermediate. The spread on the ICE exchange widened for a third day on Feb. 7 to close at $9.69.

WTI for March delivery dropped 10 cents to $99.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.04 to $99.88 on Feb. 7, the highest close since Dec. 27. Prices are up 1.4 percent this year.
Libya Returns

Libya is pumping about 600,000 barrels a day, and exporting 440,000 barrels of this, Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp., said by phone from Tripoli. Output from the second-largest oil field, Sharara, expanded to 327,000 barrels a day after protesters re-opened a pipeline valve near Zintan, he said. Production remains less than half of total capacity as demonstrations continue to halt export terminals in the east of the country.

WTI increased the past four weeks, the longest rising streak since July, as Arctic weather in the U.S. boosted energy demand. Last month was the coldest January since 1994 in the contiguous U.S. based on gas-weighted heating-degree days, according to Commodity Weather Group LLC.
Colder Weather

Crude also gained amid speculation that slowing jobs growth may prompt a halt in the reduction of economic stimulus. The Federal Reserve has been tapering bond purchases meant to boost the economy. The unemployment rate slid to 6.6 percent, the lowest level since October 2008, while payrolls climbed by 113,000 in January, Labor Department data show. The jobs figure was below the 180,000 median estimate in the Bloomberg survey.

“Energy markets saw the disappointing payrolls as good news in terms of what it may mean for tapering,” Mark Pervan, the head of commodity research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said in an e-mailed note today.

Money managers boosted net-long wagers on WTI by 15,649 contracts, or 6 percent, to 275,931, in the week ended Feb. 4, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. That’s the highest level since Sept. 17. Long positions advanced by 4,943, while shorts retreated by 10,706.

Hedge funds and other money managers cut net bullish bets on Brent crude to the lowest level in almost 15 months in the week ended Feb. 4, according to data from ICE Futures Europe. The reduction of 13,995 contracts, or 14 percent, reduces net-long positions to the lowest since Nov. 13, 2012.

WTI may extend its rally after settling above its 200-day moving average on Feb. 7 for the first time this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. This indicator is at about $99.40 a barrel today. Investors typically buy contracts when prices climb above technical-resistance levels.

Kerosene subsidy: Alison-Madueke, Yakubu’s absence stalls probe

NNPCThe absence of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, on Monday stalled a public hearing on kerosene subsidy by the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream).

Officials of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company and the Department of Petroleum Resources also shunned the hearing.

The House had on November 27, 2013 resolved to probe the subsidy regime on kerosene after fresh revelations indicated that the regulatory agencies were subsidising the importation of the product contrary to a Presidential directive stopping it.

Besides, the House had observed that the product was not being sold at the approved pump price of N50 per litre at distribution outlets in the country.

But, on Monday, the minister and key officials of the regulatory agencies failed to turn up for the hearing.

A frustrated Chairman of the committee, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, lamented that between January 10 and February 6, the committee had sent up to five invitations to the officials, including using the mass media, to no avail.

Peterside came to address the stakeholders, who had gathered for the hearingsession, and offered his apologies after most of them had waited for over two hours for the hearing that was never to be.

According to him, the first set of letters went out on January 10, informing the officials that the hearing would take place on January 29.

He said because there were no responses, the committee sent reminders on January 18 and January 27.

On January 28, Peterside stated that the committee resorted to media invitations but still did not get adequate responses from the agencies as they reportedly refused to forward the documents the committee requested from them.

W’Cup 2022: Qatar draws up workers’ charter

2022Organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have drawn up a ‘Workers’ Charter’ in an attempt to protect the rights of migrant employees.

Almost 200 Nepalese men are reported to have died last year working on construction projects in Qatar.

The International Trade Union Confederation says up to 4,000 could die by 2022 if current laws persist.

Qatar had until February 12 to inform football’s world governing body, FIFA, how it would reform working practices.

The new 50-page charter has been developed in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation.

As well as 185 deaths last year, it is believed a significant number of workers in Qatar suffered injuries as a result of unsafe working practices.

There have also been complaints about the standard of accommodation many workers live in.

Trade unions and human rights groups have also criticised Qatar’s ‘kefala’ employment system that ties migrant workers to their sponsor companies and the exit visa requirements that prevent workers from leaving without the permission of employers.

The new document, entitled ‘Workers’ Welfare Standards’, details the measures that Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee plan to enact when dealing with contractors and subcontractors over key World Cup stadium and infrastructure projects.

Specifically, the charter states Qatar 2022 will act to ensure the following measures are put in place:

Health and Safety – foster and actively encourage a world-class health and safety culture
Employment Standards – comply with the Supreme Committee’s required employment standards and all relevant Qatari laws
Equality – treat all workers equally and fairly, irrespective of their origin, nationality, ethnicity, gender or religion
Dignity – ensure that workers’ dignity is protected and preserved throughout their employment and repatriation
Unlawful Practices – prohibit child labour, forced labour, and human trafficking practices
Working and Living Conditions – create and maintain safe and healthy working and living conditions
Wages – ensure that wages are paid to workers on time
Grievances – prohibit retaliation against workers who exercise any rights deriving from the Supreme Committee’s required employment standards or relevant Qatari laws
Access to Information – provide access to accurate information in the appropriate language regarding workers’ rights deriving from the Supreme Committee’s required employment standards or relevant Qatari laws
Training – provide workers with training on skills necessary to carry out their tasks, including areas related to health and safety.

Hassan Al-Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s supreme committee for the World Cup, has insisted the tournament would not be built “on the blood of innocents”.

Zahir Belounis, the French Algerian striker who was unable to leave Qatar after a dispute with his club, is due to address the European Parliament on Friday about his experience.

A senior member of FIFA’s executive committee, Theo Zwanziger, is also expected to deliver an update on Qatar’s planned reforms at the hearing in Brussels.

After clarifying in October that Qatar would still host the World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter promised to address the issue of workers’ rights and visited the Emir of Qatar to discuss the matter.

The supreme committee said its principles will be “robustly and effectively monitored and enforced for the benefit of all workers”.

The charter will also force employers to:

Install a telephone hotline for workers to raise grievances and report concerns
Grant workers a minimum of three weeks’ paid annual holiday based on a 48 hour week that cannot exceed eight hours per day
Guarantee workers a rest day or compensate them; and create welfare officer posts as well as a forum for grievances to be resolved

Qatar is reported to be spending more than $200bn (£121bn) on a series of infrastructure projects, and says the World Cup is a catalyst for a nationwide building project.

‘How T.B. Joshua Committed Adultery With My Wife’ – Pastor Peter Kayode Opens Up

tb.joshuajpgPastor Peter Kayode Falarungbon is the Head Pastor of Awakeners Chapel International. He was the first Head Pastor of the Ghana branch of T.B. Joshua’s Church, Synagogue Church of All Nations.
In the latest edition of the world acclaimed Nigerian Religious magazine-Lifeway, Pastor Kayode reveals how the Head Pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua, virtually sent him into exile in Ghana in order to have canal knowledge of his (Pastor Kayode’s) wife, Lola.
This is his story:
It was in 1991 that my wife, Lola, and I went to the Synagogue. We went there because we had been married for nine years without any child. When we met Joshua he looked like a gentleman, a kind person and someone that could be relied on. I saw him as someone representing God because of his physical and outward appearance. Within two weeks of our going there, he had gotten very close to my wife. That got me concerned but then I concluded that it could be because my wife hailed from the village next to his in Ondo State, Nigeria.
One day my former wife told me that the Prophet wanted her to work with him; that she had to do this before God could answer our prayer for a child. Since I did not want to be an obstacle, I gave her the go ahead. Suddenly I found myself going there every day because we wanted the fruit of the womb. One day, Lola told me the Prophet wanted to see me. T.B. Joshua told me God wanted to use me and that I should surrender myself to the service of the lord. It was a big battle in my heart and with my family but finally I succumbed.
The first thing he did was to relocate me from where I lived in a three bedroom apartment at Ipaja road. He gave me a Chamber and hall at Ikoutun Egbe. He told me that if I wanted to serve the Lord, I have to separate myself from the world, from my family and my friends. That was the beginning of my journey. I abandoned my parents and refused to see any of my siblings. I was placed in the evangelical department to study the scriptures. However, because of my Salvation Army background, I found loopholes in some of the things he taught us but I could not openly challenge him.
He later asked my wife to move into the church permanently, while I continue to stay in the chamber and hall. I would leave the house in the morning, go straight to the church and return home in the evening alone. On Sunday mornings, she would rush in early in the morning around 6am, take a change of clothing and rush back to the church. Anytime I showed my desire for intimacy, she will refuse on the grounds that the Prophet said we should not engage in sex yet.
After going through the Bible Training course for about three to four years, most of my colleagues left. I was one of two or three people who remained from my set. After a while, a Ghanaian named Ben and I came to Ghana in 1997 to plan a crusade, We contacted the Ghana Pentecostal Council and we marketed Joshua very well to them even though many of them did not know him. We returned to Nigeria and about months later. I was sent back to Ghana to start a fellowship. We began to grow from there. Up till this time, my former wife remained in Lagos; we could not talk on the phone and I could not talk to my family as well. Once in a while, maybe once in six months or once in a year, Joshua would call me and put my wife on the line. Our conversation usually went like this: “How are you?” “I am fine.” “Well I just want to find out if you are okay.” That was all. Meanwhile, the real reason why we went to Synagogue was yet to be resolved – that was our childlessness.
At some point during the years, I began to awaken from my spiritual slumber. I took a series of decisions. One of them was I must see my parents. Early one morning, while in Lagos on his orders, I left Ikotun Egbe at 5.am.for Agege and traced my parents. They received me coldly. I was not in the least surprised. But then my mum later disclosed to me that my wife had told one of my old friends that Joshua told her it was impossible for her to conceive through me, that the lack of conception was my fault.
An incident I witnessed convinced me there was something between Joshua and my wife. Joshua used to flog his followers, old and young. I was privy to him trying to flog my wife once, but she just walked out on him without anything happening. For her to have the guts to walk out on him when he was flogging others convinced me there was more to their relationship.
The allegation of my wife with the connivance of T.B Joshua that I could not father a child continued to bother me. I battled with temptation. I came to a decision that I needed to remarry in order to prevent falling for temptation and also to prove to Joshua, Lola and everyone who believed the lie that they were wrong. In Ghana, I met a lady here and I told her everything about my situation. And she agreed to my proposal. To the glory of God she got pregnant. I jubilantly announced to my parents, “I told you there was nothing wrong with me!
Five days before my father passed on, he insisted on speaking with me. But because none of siblings had my telephone number they could not reach me. Eventually, my father persuaded my siblings to take him to The Synagogue to meet with Joshua. He was sure that through Joshua a call would be placed to me.
Unfortunately, when they got to The Synagogue they were left at the gate unattended to for two hours. They sent for my former wife and briefed her. She went inside to return two hours later to tell them that the Prophet was not available to see them. They had to return home. The next day, my father passed on. That was why my siblings shunned me. Right there I made up my mind to leave The Synagogue. I told myself it was time to leave!
Source: Nairaland

Transnet Looks at Coal Port for Black-Owned Mine Exports

The Transnet CEOTransnet SOC Ltd., South Africa’s ports and rail operator, said it’s battling mining companies for influence over coal export port access as their dominance shuts out small black-owned producers.

The state-owned company, which is based in Johannesburg, is considering the construction of its own export facility on South Africa’s east coast near the privately-owned Richards Bay Coal Terminal, the biggest standalone coal facility in the world, to create extra capacity for black-owned exporters. RBCT’s biggest shareholders, who include Glencore Xstrata Plc (GLEN) and BHP Billiton Plc (BHP), instead want to expand the terminal, which would maintain their control of the trade.

Transnet, which transports coal to the facility from mines in Mpumalanga province and the Waterberg region in northern South Africa, says the control by the shareholders of RBCT limits access for small, black-owned producers. South Africa is pushing companies to increase black participation in the economy to make up for apartheid and is also trying to encourage the development of new coal mines to ensure supplies.

The shareholders “want to make sure that they maintain control of the facility,” Transnet Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe, 47, said in an interview at Bloomberg News’ Johannesburg office last week. “If we build our own terminal, we would get control. Initially, it would be 10 to 15 million tons” of shipping capacity a year.
Record Shipping

Coal is the largest of South Africa’s mining industries with sales of 96 billion rand ($8.6 billion) in 2012, according to the Chamber of Mines, an industry body, compared with 77 billion rand for gold. About 186 million metric tons of coal were sold domestically that year, mostly to state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., while 76 million tons were exported through RBCT and other ports. Almost all of South Africa’s export coal is moved to ports by Transnet’s trains.

RBCT shipped a record 70.2 million tons in 2013 and is targeting exports of more than 73 million tons in 2014, Chief Executive Officer Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane said Jan. 22. That compares with a design capacity of 91 million tons, according to RBCT’s website.

While RBCT has blamed Transnet’s rail services for it operating below capacity Molefe says the mines don’t always produce enough coal and the facility struggled to cope when the train frequency was increased.
‘Mythical Capacity’

“This capacity is mythical,” Molefe said. “Nobody can say with absolute certainty that they have 91 million tons of capacity. They allocated only 4 million tons for about 21 small miners, who are saying that’s not enough.”

The Transnet CEO clashed with BHP last year when the Melbourne, Australia-based mining company declined to give up an additional 1 million tons of capacity to black-owned companies, according to Molefe. BHP said in October it doesn’t block access and that its own expansion in South Africa is held back by a lack of port capacity.

Glencore Xstrata, based in Baar, Switzerland, is the biggest shareholder in 38 year-old RBCT with a stake of about 32 percent, according to the company. BHP has a 21 percent stake, spokeswoman Lulu Letlape said by e-mail yesterday.

Spokesmen for Glencore and BHP declined to comment, saying it was a matter for RBCT. The terminal’s management didn’t immediately respond to seven phone calls, three text messages and three e-mails seeking comment.

Other shareholders in RBCT include Anglo American Plc, Total SA (FP) and Sasol Ltd.

While Transnet is in talks with RBCT on the expansion of the existing facility it has reservations, Molefe said.
Unreliable Power

Transnet could ferry as much as 90 million tons of coal to RBCT per year within 18 months, according to its CEO, as it adds more trains including the 200-wagon Shongololo, named after a type of millipede. The company is also expanding a dedicated line to transport manganese and building a railway through Swaziland as part of a wider expansion.

RBCT may not be able to handle the extra volumes from the coal line, according to Molefe. “I have seen situations at RBCT that were chaos” with 68 million tons, he said.

RBCT loaded 658 ships in 2013, compared with 645 vessels a year earlier. The number of trains ferrying the fuel to the facility increased 1.2 percent to 8,874 during the same period. Exports to Asia accounted for 75 percent of total volumes shipped, data from the facility shows.
Limited Power

Transnet also faces the challenge of limited power supply from state-owned Eskom. The utility generates about 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity and supplies the power that Transnet needs to run its trains.

“If we increase our capacity on the coal line Eskom may not cope,” Molefe said.

While Transnet has raised doubt over Eskom’s ability to supply sufficient power, the utility doesn’t have to expand beyond its existing plans, the Johannesburg-based company said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. Eskom is in the process of installing a 88 KiloVolt power line in order to strengthen the network on the coal line between mines and RBCT and will have additional power from two new power plants known as Medupi and Kusile, it said.

“Transnet has applied to upgrade the supply on the coal line in 2017 — after the additional generation capacity from Medupi and Kusile is commissioned,” it said. “Eskom will therefore be in a position to make the additional demand” of about 100 megawatts available to Transnet.