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Our London talks centre on national interest — Wike

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… Says consultations continue

Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike said his team is more interested in a better Nigeria and they are consulting widely with those who mean well for the country.

Governor Wike spoke when he interacted with journalists at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, shortly on arrival from London on Friday.

In the company of the Rivers State governor were the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.

Governor Wike, who confirmed their meetings with the Peoples Democratic Party, Presidential

Candidate, Alh. Atiku Abubakar; All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo in London, explained that topmost on the agenda is how to make Nigeria better than what is it currently.

The Rivers State governor noted that all is not well with Nigeria and they are seeking remedies that will restore enduring hope in Nigeria.

“I can confirm that this is the first time as a team that we are meeting with presidential candidates. We met with the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and we met with our leader, former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

“We met the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party. We also met with our Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar. For whatever it’s worth, consultation is ongoing.

“Whatever we are talking about, is for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is not parochial and tied to one person or group of persons. We believe that with what is going on, it will be for the interest of Nigerians at the end of the day,” Wike said.

The Governor decried the situation where standard, training and competence have always been traded for mediocrity.

He said leadership should not be about one individual and the interest of his family, but about the collective interest of everybody.

“Consultation is still ongoing. Never mind some people who do not believe in the existence of this country.

“Leadership is not about you and your family. Leadership is about everybody. It’s unfortunate that we are in a country now where a man finishes eight years as a governor and brings his own son as a governor too and as member of National Assembly.

“It’s only in this part of the world that you can see that, when we are talking about poverty everywhere. These are people who do not mean well for this Nigeria,” he said.

Governor Wike also wondered why religion and ethnicity are used as the tenable identity to describe Nigerians when competence is required.

“The only identity they have in this country is religion and ethnicity, nothing more. It’s either, I’m a Christian or I’m a Muslim, I’m a Fulani or I’m an Igbo. Nigeria cannot move forward except they think it will be them. That’s where we are.

“We are in a country where someone with primary school certificate can be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. That tells you how bad this country has become.

“But with our consultation, all these will be a thing of the past. No amount of intimidation or blackmail will deter us. We are determined to right the wrong,” Wike stressed.

In his response, the leader of the team, Ortom, noted that they have met with renowned persons in the last few days because of their belief that Nigeria is in distress and required concerted effort to rescue it.

He stated that they had fruitful talks with those they had met and it was beyond partisan politics, because well meaning Nigerians need to work together in ensuring that Nigeria survives.

“For us, we are looking at the larger picture. Nigeria today is in distress. It is about what can we do. No man or woman alone can get it right for our country.

“We are looking at how we can harness ideas and put ourselves together to ensure that we get out of the present challenge we are in Nigeria today.

“From top to bottom, consider what has happened from 2015 and where we are today. So, what we are doing is a concern that we have for our country, Nigeria.

“This is beyond partisan politics. We are looking on how we can come together and find a way of ensuring that Nigeria survives. Nigeria is on drip, Nigeria is on oxygen and it is about how can we get out of this,” he said.

Governor Ortom stated that the three separate meetings they had within the week were worthwhile session for them.

According to him, they have individually also had earlier commitments in Europe even if consultations are still going on because nothing concrete has been decided.

“The consultation is going on and will continue to go on. We are still going to meet here. We are still going to meet some persons some other time and see how we can work to ensure that the project Nigeria works,” Ortom said.

On his part, Dr Ikpeazu emphasized that they are on a mission and are determined to find a way of rescuing Nigeria.

He noted that they are mindful of what society to bequeath to the present generation, their children and grand children alike.

“And this is a country with great potential and we have to protect it well. We think that we need to engage across board.

“We are also looking at speaking with civil society organisations and those who have ideas, with Nigerians in the diaspora. All the resources available in this country has to come together at this time to see how best we can move Nigeria forward,” he said.

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3 injured as 2 armed drones from Lebanon explode in Israel

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Two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Lebanon carrying explosives exploded in northern Israel on Tuesday, lightly injuring three people, Israeli authorities said, amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iran and its allies.

The Israeli military said in a statement that the armed drones crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory and exploded in the area of Beit Hillel in the Galilee.

Three people sustained light injuries, Israel’s state-owned Kan reported.

The drones did not trigger air raid sirens, and the military said the incident was under review.

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CBN expresses commitment to harnessing digital technologies

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The Central Bank of Nigeria says it is committed to harnessing the power of digital technologies to enhance financial inclusion.

Mr Yemi Cardoso, CBN Governor, said this on Tuesday in Abuja, during a strategic institutions tour by participants of Senior Executive Course 46 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).

Cardoso, who was represented by Dr Bala Bello, Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, said that digital technologies would also boost productivity and create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

According to him, the apex bank has already deployed robust digital technologies in driving most of its processes towards achieving optimal performance.

He said that NIPSS, as a foremost national policy think-tank, had made invaluable contributions to the socio-political and macroeconomic development of Nigeria.

“We are, therefore, not surprised at the apt and relevant choice of your research theme.

“The CBN and NIPSS have had a long-standing and robust working relationship since the establishment of the institute. This has culminated into positive mutual benefits for the two institutions.

“The CBN, on the one hand, has provided infrastructural support to the institute through construction of an auditorium and a hostel, in addition to the provision of technical support.

“On the other hand, NIPSS has supported the technical capacity of the CBN through the training of some personnel both at senior executive course level and intermediate course cadre,” he said.

The Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, said that the study visiting would be representing the institute in getting information from operators of the apex bank on the relevance of digital technology to developing jobs for Nigerian youths.

According to Omotayo, a lot of progress has been made globally in using digital systems to run the economy.

“The more of our activities that we can put in digital format, the more we get the opportunity of providing employment access to a whole lot of the 120 million active Nigerians.

“We at NIPSS always knock at the frontiers of knowledge, checking what is going to happen in the immediate future.

“We are working towards a system where we believe that almost every service can be delivered digitally,” he said.

The Acting Director, Monetary Policy Department of the CBN, Dr Lafi Bala Keffi, commended the NIPSS study group for its interest in the apex bank.

She urged the participants to explore the time-tested culture of NIPSS, which is to diagnose national, profer practical solutions and recommend ways of making such solutions realisable.

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NCAA suspends licences of 3 private jet owners

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Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended licences of three Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF), otherwise known as private jet owners, over alleged failure to comply with regulatory requirements.

Acting Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Chris Najomo, disclosed this to newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos.

Najomo said that after issuing a stern warning to the PNCFs in March, the authority deployed its men to monitor activities of private jet owners at airport terminals across the country.

He said that consequent upon the heightened surveillance, three private operators were found to have violated the annexure provisions of their PNCF and Part 9114 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, 2023.

Najomo further stated that NCAA would be carrying out a re-evaluation of regulatory requirements compliance of all PNCFs owners within the next 72 hours.

This, he said, this was in line with the authority’s zero tolerance for violations of regulations.

“In line with our zero tolerance for violation of regulations, the authority has suspended the PNCF of these operators.

“To further sanitise the general aviation sector, I have directed that a re-evaluation of all holders of PNCF be carried out on or before April 19, to ascertain compliance with regulatory requirements.

“All PNCF holders will be required to submit relevant documents to the authority within the next 72 hours,” he said.
Najomo recalled that in 2023, the use of private jets for commercial purposes had gotten the attention of the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), who issued marching orders for cessation of such acts.

He said that in March, NCAA issued a stern warning to holders of the permit for non-commercial flights, PNCF, against engaging in the carriage of passenger cargo or mail for hire and reward.

Najomo said that the riot act was also directed at existing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders who utilised aircraft listed on their PNCF for commercial charter operations.

“It must be emphasised that only the aircraft listed in the Operation Specifications of the AOC are authorised to be used in the provision of such charter services.

“Any of those AOC holders who wish to use the aircraft for charter operations must apply to the NCAA to delist the affected aircraft from the PNCF and include it into the AOC operations specification.

“NCAA wishes to reiterate to the travelling public not to patronise any airline charter operator who does not hold a valid AOC issued by the NCAA, when they wish to procure charter operation services,” he said.

The NCAA boss, thereafter, encouraged legitimate players in the aviation industry to promptly report such illegal activities to the authority for necessary action.

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