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Mr Li Xuda, the Cultural Counselor, the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria says the 2018 China New Year celebration is dedicated to strengthening bilateral relationships with Nigeria. Xuda on Saturday in Abuja on the sideline of the 2018 Chinese New Year Temple Fair Festival with the theme,“ “Celebrating the Golden Era for China-Nigeria relations’’. According to him, the theme of this year’s Temple Fair is to further strengthen Sino-Nigerian exchanges and cooperation in all fields “2018 Chinese New Year is being celebrated by Chinese across the globe to mark the start of the Lunar Year of the Dog and the Spring Festival. “The annual cultural event, ‘Happy Chinese New Year’ has become a recognised brand, welcoming our guest and friends to experience cultural traditions associated with the celebration and enjoy art performances,’’ he said. Xuda said that the Chinese New Year celebrations are emblematic of the cultural tradition, heritage and aesthetic aspirations of the Chinese nation, abounding in distinctive Chinese symbols of great emotional appeal. He noted that the tradition of such celebrations in China dated back to more than 4000 years. He said the celebration also included the display of Chinese New Year couples, fireworks, preparing `jiaozi’ and family reunion, among others. The highlights of the event was the Chinese Cultural presentation by the “12 “China Corners Schools’’ in the Federal Capital Territory. The schools include Model Secondary School, Maitama, Government Secondary School (GSS) Byazhin, GSS Gwarinpa, GSS Jabi, GSS Apo and GSS Mpape. Others are Rahama International School, GSS Garki, Government Day Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Army Day Secondary School, Asokoro and Government Girls Secondary School Dutse.

Over 500 tricycle (Keke) operators in Imo state, Thursday, blocked the entrance into the Imo government house, over ban order. Vanguard monitored the protest which started from Control post, World bank and Wethdral to the government House. While giving reasons for their demonstration, they said that they were surprised that they got an information, that they had been banned completely on Thursday, contrary to the deadline date earlier given to them. According to some of the keke operators that the governor gave them upto December 1st as a deadline to stop operating in the metropolis. Just as some said that suspected government officials were using the ban order to intimidate and extort money from them. Speaking to Vaguard, one of them who introduced himself as Banky, said: “They have banned us three times. I believe Okorocha is not aware of all this, some people are taking advantage of the whole situation to get money.” Another Keke drive, simply identified as King, “We want Okorocha to pity us. Let him show us where to ply within the capital city and not ban us completely. Some of us do not have jobs, except for this Keke.” Earlir in his remark, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, said that the first phase of banning tricycle operating in the capital city of Owerri has commenced. He said: “On this issue of Keke operators we have discussed with them and they seize to operate in some areas from today (Thursday) We have replaced them with taxis. “What I understand is that the taxis we bought for them, they are using them outside the state, their reason was that as long as keke still ply in the capital city, it will be difficult for them to get passengers and they cannot compete with Keke. “So fotunately enough those that got the taxis are the the same keke riders. As a result of this, they packed the taxis in their houses. “However, we have agreed with them that we should start the first phase of the ban. That reminds me as from today (Thirseday) there will be no Keke on Wethedral road and among other areas. “We are also introducing Imo black cap. It is special designed buses, that help to take away VIPs. This is to compliment the effort of taxi scheme. It is a way to give Owerri a new look.” Over 500 keke operators, yesterday, blocked Imo government House, over ban order.

A Kenya Professor of Law, Patrick Lumumba on Monday decried rising wave of corruption in Nigeria, saying that the malaise has produced thousands of elite thieves in the biggest black nation on planet. Lumumba was the keynote speaker at the 9th edition of ‘Fela, the Debates,’ with the theme: “40 years after FESTAC. 20 years after Fela…Wither the Pan-African Dream?” The event was held at the NECA House, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the demise of Afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It was one of the activities lined up for this year’s Felabration Festival. Felabration is an annual festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of Nigeria’s foremost musical icon, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Speaking at the event, Lumumba lamented that corruption has been the bane of the African continent, saying that it was roughly estimated that through the activities of corrupt individuals who were in position of authority, the continent was losing huge sums of money. He likened Nigeria to the case of the popular book, “Alibaba and the 40 thieves,” saying that the case of Nigeria has gone beyond 40 thieves but thousands of thieves. “Today in Nigeria and the 36 states of Nigeria, you read the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves, you will discover that they are no longer 40 thieves, but thousands of thieves. Until the day we liberate ourselves from the clung of these thieves, Africa is going nowhere. “We are in a continent where the occupation of public office is a gargantuan of acquiring wealth. We have to ensure that the continent of Africa is free from corruption and it must come,” he stated. Lumumba added that when former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu was fighting corruption, he was forced out of the system, saying that when the same Ribadu vied for the presidency despite his pedigree, he was rejected. According to him, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari came out with the mantra to fight corruption and was elected, lamenting that when he started fighting corruption, some people were now saying “oh let corruption come back. What do you want your president to do? “ The professor said if corruption must be won, it must not only be at the top, but that all, including civil servants, companies and others must say no to corruption. “Civil servants, don’t be corrupt, Petroleum minister, don’t be corrupt. There is no justification for corruption. Corruption undermines education, values, infrastructure; corruption destroys our being, it is the reason why Africa countries can never be allowed to sit at the UN Security council, Corruption must be dealt with. Fela saw it many years ago, Fela was a human being and not a Jewish prophet,” he said. Lumumba stated that when Fela introduced the Afro Beat music, he never meant it to be for entertainment and for dance alone, but that he wanted the nation to ‘dance’ to the Afro Beat of good education, infrastructure, good health system, among others, which he said were lacking in the system due to corruption. He also said that more than ever, the call for Pan-Africanism was louder as many nations in the continent were still under the siege of neo-colonialism after decades of exit of the colonial masters. He said since the partition of Africa at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885, several Africans, such as Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana and the rest championed the course for independence for Africa, adding that after the 1963 meeting in Accra by Nkrumah for Africans to decimate neo-colonialism, Patrick Lumumba of Congo, Tafawa Balewa and a host of others were assassinated due to the force of neo-colonialists. Lumumba lamented that Africa remained the only continent where the countries had been polarized as Francophone, Anglophone and the rest, which he said had been the tragedy of the continent. He said the late Fela was right when he said ‘if they want to enslave you forever, they won’t let you know who your grandfathers are.” The legal luminary added that 40 years after the Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC, was staged in Nigeria, the culture of the African continent had been eroded, while the continent was still to realize its potentials. He decried that the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the entire two billion population of the African continent was not up to the GDP of Spain alone, asking: “are we children of a lesser God? God in His divine wisdom gave us all the resources that we need. Our presidents can’t attend our hospitals when they are sick.” Lumumba also said it was proper for every tribe in Nigeria and in the continent to know their root, saying it was only through this that they would be proud Nigerians and others. “Here in Nigeria, it is proper and right for the Igbo to know their origin, it is proper and right for the Yoruba to know their origin. It is proper and right for the Ibibio, Hausa and Fulani to know their origin because it is when they have all discovered their origins and are proud Yoruba, Igbo that they can make a great Nigeria. This must happen in all countries in Africa. “There must be unity in diversity. When I think of the music that Fela put in place, it is telling us that we should be proud of our black skin, that God was not mad in creating us black, it is telling us that there is beauty in our being negroes,” he said. Lumumba further stated that secession would not do Nigeria and any other country any good, saying that the unity of the nation could be negotiated so that everyone would be happy. “You, the Igbo and Hausa in Nigeria, your destiny lies in Nigeria, your problems can be solved within Nigeria. There is no need to slaughter yourselves. We can talk about the unity of Africa. We must have the moral courage to tell ourselves that we can resolve our problems without resolving to fight,” he added. Also speaking at the event, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN faulted Lumumba that Africans were more corrupt than their western counterparts, saying that America and Britain were the most corrupt countries in the world. He said all those rankings that Nigeria and other Africa countries were the most corrupt were being exaggerated, but agreed that it was high time Africans decimated neo-colonialism and champion the course of Pan-Africanism. Replying Falana, Lumumba said even though there is corruption in the western countries, they still provided the necessary infrastructure for the people unlike in Africa where the leaders would steal and do nothing for the masses. The panel session was anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, a media entrepreneur and season journalist, while the Editor of the Guardian, Abraham Ogbodo was on the panel along with Falana. The Excutive Editor, The News/PM News, Kunle Ajibade lamented that the abolition of history from school curriculum in Nigeria for a long time had impacted negatively on students’ acquaintance with the culture of the nation and the people they should have emulated as role models. According to Ajibade, “For more than a decade, history was taken off the curriculum, even though it has just been brought back; what happened to all the hundreds and millions of students who went through secondary schools without history? What happened to those who removed history? What were they smoking?” •

At least five people are feared dead on Saturday after a fuel tanker exploded at Tafa village along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. An eyewitness told Channels Television correspondent in Kaduna State that the tanker laden with kerosene was trying to avoid dangerous potholes on the road when it suddenly fell by the roadside and burst into flames. Two of the deceased were said to have been killed after inhaling fumes from the flames and the other three were burnt by the fire. According to reports, many others who sustained severe burns have been hospitalised while several vehicles parked by the roadside were burnt to ashes. Thousands of Abuja-Kaduna bound passengers are said to have been left stranded following the incident. The spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Yushau Shuaib, also confirmed the incident to Channels Television. He, however, said they could not ascertain if lives were lost in the incident or not. The busy Kaduna-Abuja highway links the Federal Capital Territory with the North West and North East, with thousands of vehicles plying it every day. It also links the North with the South through Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.

The Bankers Committee says commercial banks will start the disbursement of the N26 billion equity contribution to Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) in agriculture by end of 2017 third quarter. The Managing Director of Unity Bank, Mrs Tomi Somefun, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Bankers’ Committee meeting on Thursday in Lagos. She said that the framework for the process of the fund had been developed and finalised, while the body of banks will be the shareholders. Somefun said that the CBN had also created a special export intervention to support it to generate more funds. She said that many of the SMEs would benefit from the fund once it started . The Unity Bank boss, however, said that the issues in the past where exporters failed to repatriate proceeds from their businesses would no longer be tolerated. She said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had agreed that Bankers Committee should henceforth sanction defaulting exporters. Somefun also said that the sanctions would ensure blacklisting of defaulters such that banks would no longer do businesses with them. On further developments in the foreign exchange market, the Managing Director of the FBN Merchant Bank, Mr Kayode Akinkugbe, said it had recorded stability. Akinkugbe said the stability was seen in the foreign exchange and capital markets as well as moderation in the inflation rate. Akinkugbe said that the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth would be more deepened and robust following the positive developments. He said that the committee also commended the CBN’s efforts on stability and boosting liquidity in the foreign exchange market. Akinkugbe said the CBN was steady-fast in its approaches on ensuring stability and that brought the confidence in the market. He also said the CBN, not withstanding its successes, had reiterated its commitment in ensuring constant supply of foreign exchange. Also the Managing Director of the Union Bank, Mr Emeka Emuwa, said one of the other areas of discussion was process of collateral registry for SMEs. Emuwa said the collateral registry, which had started, would be an opportunity for small business operators to access funds from bank. According to him, the process facilitates easy lending to small businesses which have potential to contribute to the nation’s economic growth and development. He warned Nigerians to desist from investments that promised too good returns, saying such were likely to come up in the last quarter of the year. Emuwa cited the return of the Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM). The Director (Banking Supervision) in CBN), Mr Ahmed Abdullah, said there was the need to deepen the growth that the country recorded after existing from reccession. Abdullahi said that the committee recognised that the growth was still fragile and more efforts were needed to improve on it. The CBN director said that a number of projects had been discussed to ensure that the growth became more robust. (NAN)

The Registrar-General, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Mr. Bello Mahmud, said on Tuesday in Abuja that the cost of business registration in Nigeria was now cheaper and its process simplified to enable small entrepreneurs to register their businesses. Muhmud announced this in a statement by Head, Public Affairs, CAC, Mr Godfrey Ike. Muhmud disclosed this while addressing the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Clinic. He said that with the Company Registration Portal (CRP), any member of the public could now register businesses on-line at the comfort of their homes and offices. “This has drastically reduced the registration cost hitherto charged by professional middlemen (Lawyers, Accountants and Chartered Secretaries), in the registration process. “Entrepreneurs who had already registered their businesses have the obligation to file Annual Returns with the Commission as and when due. ” Failure to file Annual Returns will result to striking-off of such defaulting entities on ground of dormancy. ” The MSME Clinic is an initiative of the Office of the Vice President, which is aimed at holistically addressing all the operational challenges and bottlenecks of MSME in Nigeria,” Muhmud said. According to him, the commission is one of the critical government agencies that has been participating in the on-going nationwide MSME Clinic that commenced in Aba in January. He added that the MSME Clinic was expected to be held in all states of the federation. “So far, the Clinic has been held in 13 states of the federation,” he said. According to him, other relevant agencies like FIRS, SON, Bank Of Industry (BOI), NAFDAC, SMEDAN participated in the clinic. (NAN)

Six members of a family were found dead at their home in the southern Indian city of Madurai in an apparent suicide pact over debt, officials said on Monday. Two more family members were rescued from their residence in a critical state late Sunday night and were being treated at hospital, administration official, Veera Rao said. The family which ran a school, committed suicide by consuming poison and police found a suicide note that said they were under a huge loan default, Rao added. The family, in the suicide note, asked authorities to sell their property to help settle the dues, according to the police. Police were investigating if the family was under pressure from any private money lenders. Madurai is notorious for unscrupulous money-lenders in spite a state-government ban and local media has reported on a number of cases of harassment by money-lenders. (NAN)

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has commended the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for remitting the sum of N5 billion to the coffers of the Federal Government. NANS’ President, Mr Chinonso Obasi, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said such remittance from JAMB within a short period under the leadership of Prof. Is-haq Oloyede showed a great deal of probity. Obasi said that he was in support of the Federal Government’s move to probe the former administrations of JAMB and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). He urged the Federal Government to extend the probe to other agencies. The Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided by President Muhammadu Buhari recently ordered the probe of past heads of JAMB and NIMASA over poor remittances in the past. The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, told the FEC that JAMB for the first time remitted N5 billion to the government with a balance of N3 billion still to be remitted. She said it was a big difference when compared to maximum N3 million per annum remitted in the past. Obasi said that the remittance of such amount from a non-focal revenue generating agency of government underscored the importance of transparency in the administration and management of government business. “The development is highly commendable and all heads of Federal Government agencies and parastatals should emulate the registrar of JAMB. “I urge President Buhari to beam his eagle eyes on all other agencies of the Federal Government to ensure that all loopholes that encourage corrupt practices are prevented and blocked. “Corruption is evil and the worst thing that can happen to a country in dire need of financial resources for development. “I wonder why any right thinking person would choose to abuse public trust bestowed on him by engaging in corrupt practices, stealing public funds that can used in addressing other development challenges,’’ he said. Obasi called on Nigerians occupying public offices to endeavour to be responsible and patriotic in the management of government businesses. He reiterated his call for the inclusion of the association in anti-corruption fight in order to stamp out the scourge and channel resources to critical needs of national development. He said that the association would reach out to Federal Government agencies with a view to fostering interaction and building leadership capacity for Nigerian students.

ice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the problem of irregular power supply in Nigeria is caused by inaccurate billing system resulting from insufficient metering machines. Osinbajo made the remarks on Saturday in Onna local government area of Akwa Ibom while inaugurating an Electric Metering Factory as part of activities marking the 30th anniversary of Akwa Ibom creation. The vice president said that Nigeria’s economic development hinged on effective power supply, lamenting that Distribution Companies (DISCOs) had not been able to collect tariffs because of non-availability of meters. “The electric metering factory is an important project. Inadequate power is the major obstacle to full economic development in Nigeria. “We have also identified the facts that DISCO is unable to collect tariffs effectively from consumers because we are unable to afford the cost of metering. “I think that there is an important policy innovation as there is no restriction on those who can actually produce meter for our consumers,” Osinbajo said. He commended the Akwa Ibom governor for establishing the metering factory, saying that the Federal Government was looking forward to other several factories across the country. “The country is open up for this kind of enterprise and we are looking forward to a lot more activities. “But we are looking at 2.7 million units of meters annually here and this is absolutely fantastic. “I know that job opportunities here will be substantial for a start,” Osinbajo said. In his speech, the Akwa Ibom governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, said that his administration was partnering with private sectors to put the state on the path of industrialization. Emmanuel said that the factory would manufacture an average of one million meters per year and thanked the investors for their confidence in the state. “The essence of this industry is to ensure power for all. Once you can buy recharge cards, you can have electricity, it is available for all. “The capacity can be doubled from 2.7 to 5.4 to enable us pay for the power that we generate. “The project is a private initiative for the betterment of all Akwa Ibom people and for Nigeria at large,” Emmanuel said. Vice President Osinbajo also inaugurated a syringe manufacturing company constructed by a Turkish firm in partnership with the state government. The company is expected to produce 2ml, 5ml and 10ml disposable syringes respectively at an annual production capacity of 350 million units. The Etinan General Hospital refurbished by Gov. Emmanuel was also inaugurated by the vice president, who was the special guest of honour at the 30th anniversary of Akwa Ibom creation. The hospital had witnessed a facelift with modern facilities and wards fitted with new electrical beds, well equipped theatres to manage all kinds of surgeries and fully stocked pharmacies.

With over 62 million Nigerians unable to read nor write, Nigeria is said to be contributing about 6 per cent of the over 1 billion persons around the World who can neither read nor write. The National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult Education and Non-Formal Education disclosed in Kebbi that the nation’s illiteracy burden was still high. Prof. Abba Haladu, Executive Secretary of the commission said this while on a courtesy visit to the Emir of Gwando in Kebbi state as part of activities to mark the International Literacy Day celebration. Haladu who called on the state government to ensure that its indigenes could read and write said that illiteracy burden was still very high in the Northern part of Nigeria. “The North-East and North‎-West of Nigeria have the biggest challenge as far as illiteracy is concerned and Kebbi state has a large share of it. “We use this opportunity to reiterate and appeal to the state government and Emirate council ‎to ensure the large number of non- literate citzens are provided with the access and opportunity to be able to read and write. “Also to enshrine in the them the culture of life long learning, so that will be the root of the development of the people of Kebbi state and nigeria as a whole. He thanked the Emir and the state government for their support to mass literacy and Non-Formal Education. Haladu also thanked the Emirate council and state government for the honour to host the 2017 International Literacy Day. The Minister of Education, ‎Mallam Adamu Adamu in his remarks said Nigeria had a high illiteracy rate and the highest number of out of school children. Adamu, represented by Mr Jonathan Mbaka, Director, Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry, however said the present ‎administration was doing everything to address the issue . The minister said education was the foundation for growth and development adding that any nation that neglects education was heading for failure. “This administration will not stop stressing the need for literacy; we are advocating for inclusive education for all,” he said. In his response the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Iliyasu Bashar said the government of Kebbi was committed to ensure all children were educated in the state. Bashar who is the 20th Emir of Gwando and a Retired Maj-Gen, noted that Gwando had been the centre for Islamic education ‎since after the Jihad. Bashar however acknowledged that education was one of the problems in some local governments of the state. “In one of the local governments we visited recently; we have told them to find out how many primary schools, classrooms, how many boys and girls in school and how many qualified and un qualified teacher they have. “We are very concerned about education in the state and we want all our children to be educated. ” The Emir also said that the Governor of the state had taken the responsibility to pay for scholarships for students in higher institutions. He called on parents to ensure their children were educated saying nobody wants to associate with an illiterate. The Emir also called on the Commission for Mass to ensure illiteracy is eradicated in the country. “Education is vital, with education you know what is happening, government and people will work with you. “It is time for us in Nigeria to correct this neglect to ensure we are no longer seen as a country that has the highest number of uneducated people. ” The theme for 2017 literacy day is “Literacy in a Digital world. ” The two day celebration which commenced on the 20th has in attendance education stakeholders from across the country and international bodies.

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