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Arik Air launches Arik Explorer

arik plane

Arik Air, West and Central Africa’s largest carrier, has once again expanded its horizon in the Travel Business with the launch of Arik Explorer; a ‘travel package’ product which incorporates airline seats with hotel and other ancillary options like car hire and travel insurance.

Arik Explorer, which was launched in Lagos on Friday as a subsidiary of Arik Air, offers travel package at two levels: ‘Premium’ and ‘Affordable’. The offering will be for both outbound and inbound travel from Lagos and other destinations serviced by Arik Air. Varieties of Packages can be tailored to suit the needs of the airline’s guests.

According to the Managing Director of Arik Explorer, Mr. Kencho Omojafor, the business strategy of the company will revolve around the need to provide quality service to the various target customers with the view to fully satisfy their needs.

APC Saved By Spare Tyre by Azubuike Ishiekwene


YEMII received a strange call after midnight on Monday. A top presidential aide wanted to know if the All Progressives Congress had finally chosen a running mate for the party’s flag bearer, General Muhammadu Buhari.

It was already four days after Buhari emerged, and both the candidate and his party seemed to be in misery about choosing a running mate. The Monday night caller from the ‘other camp’ had a legitimate interest in trying to find out. And the reason is simple: the choice of a running mate would make or mar the APC.

But what’s there in a position once described by a former U.S. vice president as not worth more than a bucket of warm piss?

Since religion and ethnicity have split the country down the middle under President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime, no serious ticket could hope to win
votes, much less start the healing, without addressing religion
and ethnicity.

That’s how the running mate has become the key. It wasn’t always so. Former governor and presidential adviser, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, once described deputies as spare tyres because, according to him, they have no constitutional role.

Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru: 1948-2014 … DAILY INDEPENDENT

ashiruFor Ashiru, a worthy tribute would be for Nigeria to tread the path of his vision for the country in international diplomacy; a vision for the protection of the dignity of the Nigerian and our collective national aspirations in the comity of nations. Farewell: Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru

As Olugbenga Ashiru begins his last journey to mother earth, Nigerians will surely remember this great icon for his service to the country, which he diligently discharged both as a career diplomat and minister for foreign affairs. Diplomatic observers and analysts will, no doubt, pontificate that his two-year tenure as minister marked the turning point for Nigeria’s relationship with the international community. This Newspaper joins other well-meaning Nigerians in paying tribute and last respect to this great Nigerian for his immeasurable contribution to the nation in the diplomatic world. But death, indeed, is the inevitable destiny of man; we pray his family and loved ones get the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

Born in Ijebu Ode LGA of Ogun State on August 27, 1948, Ashiru

died of brain tumour on November 29, 2014 in a South African hospital after a protracted battle with the illness. Family sources said that he had been battling with the brain tumour for a while and had to be hospitalized for over three months.

Muhammadu Buhari’s Last Card by Olusegun Adeniyi

buhariOn 7th January 2003, the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) held a dramatic (some would actually say hilarious) national convention in Abuja to nominate its presidential candidate for the 2003 general election. In the attempt to foist Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) on the party as the presidential flag-bearer without the rigours of a contest, the ANPP Governors came up with the “consensus” option. The idea was for one of the contenders, the late Dr Chuba Okadigbo to be paired with Buhari as running mate while others would withdraw from the race.

Unknown to the governors and party leaders, however, they merely opened themselves up for the onslaught of the aggrieved presidential aspirants led by former Information Minister, Chief John Nnia Nwodo who would end up stealing the show at Eagle Square that night.
Called to make his speech to the delegates after it was apparent Buhari’s candidature was a fait accompli, Nwodo said he could not believe that a party with so much promise would reduce itself to such level of political chicanery. Before announcing his withdrawal from the race, Nwodo said: “My heart bleeds that our great party is about to be destroyed. The process that has characterized this convention is totally without transparency and as I speak to you now, all of you wearing accreditation cards do not have your name on it. It could be dashed to anyone. As I speak to you, none of you has seen a dummy of the ballot paper that you are about to vote with.”
As Nwodo spoke, one could see embarrassment written on the faces of the ANPP Governors and other leaders as bemused Nigerians watched the political tragic-comedy live on television. But Nwodo was not done yet: “As I speak to you now, all presidential aspirants have been denied the opportunity of effective participation in arriving at this so-called consensus. In all humility, my brothers and sisters, I do not lend my name to this charade. I cannot stand on this ballot to disgrace the democratic process…”
Almost in quick ordered manner, the four other presidential aspirants–the late Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Chief Rochas Okorocha, Chief Pere Ajuwa and Chief Harry Akande–also took turns to castigate their party leaders and the farce that the primaries had become while announcing their withdrawal from the stage-managed exercise. Apparently unprepared for the shocker, the party leaders and the governors didn’t know how to handle the situation. To worsen matters, when it was time to make his speech, the anointed candidate, perhaps still suffering from military hang-over, said whoever wanted to leave the party could leave! It was on that comical note that Buhari’s first aspiration to be president of Nigeria took off.

Threats of a parallel government by Ochereome Nnanna

L-R Founder, Leadership Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah, Governor Rochas Okorocha, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former head of state, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) displaying their Certificates of Clearance after receiving same from Chairman, Presidential Screening Committee of APC, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu at the APC National Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.WITH the emergence of the presidential candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the stage is set for the February 2015 general elections. However, there are certain issues that give reason for grave concern as we get ready to embrace the polls. Of particular interest to me in today’s write-up is the series of threats by the main opposition APC to form a parallel government if the elections are “rigged”.

The first to issue this threat was the National Chairman of the Party, Chief John Oyegun, during the campaigns for the Osun State governorship election earlier in August of this passing year. According to him, APC will no longer recognise “stolen mandate” or any outcome of an election that is not free, fair and credible. Again, in Abuja on November 20th, Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, after a street rally and a barricade of the Police Force headquarters, reissued this warning. The Presidency chided him in a statement, and Oyegun issued a reiteration, saying it is not merely an individual’s opinion but the official stand of the party.

Viewed on its face value, there is nothing wrong or strange in calling for a free and fair election. It is perfectly in order to insist that the outcome of elections must cohere with the wishes of the people. It is very much okay to frown on any attempt to subvert the wishes of the people. But this stance is much deeper than merely calling for a free and fair election. We have to answer these questions: what is a “rigged” election?

Who determines it under our laws? And what is a parallel government? What are the consequences of forming a parallel government? By the time we ruminate through these questions it becomes clear that this issue is far more sinister than it appears on its face value.

Dr. Adesina’s agriculture reforms: Food for thought, food for the stomach By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

Akinwunmi AdesinaLET me honestly admit that the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, permanently leaves me breathless in my effort to understand the statistics he regularly churns out about the successes Nigeria’s agricultural sector has recorded under his watch, in the past three years. My friend, MD Abubakar, is one of the most successful Nigerian farmers today, and his Kano-based farm has become an example of modern agricultural production and management.

Early this week, I called him just to seek clarifications about agricultural policies today. MD Abubakar confirmed that Dr. Adesina has put in place incentives that are redounding to the benefit of people like him, who have turned agriculture into big time business. Dr. Adesina is one of the most visible ministers of the Jonathan administration,and he is regularly launching new agricultural initiatives. He is also a lover of media exposure, regularly winning awards at well-publicized media events at home and abroad.

Yet, it is looking like there are some people who don’t accept the way that Dr. Adesina seemed to have almost concluded that agricultural policies in Nigeria began to make sense only when he happened on the scene three years ago.

Claims of achievement

Last week, Alhaji Adamu Bello, Minister of Agriculture, between 2001 and 2007, described as “uncharitable and misplaced” claims of achievement by Dr. Adesina. Adamu Bello said these claims were unjustified and could not be verified from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS). As a matter of fact, according to him, the performance of the agricultural sector “in terms of GDP growth has been on decline (SIC) since former President Olusegun Obasanjo left office”.

He said that according to the NBS, “the last time that growth was recorded in the sector was 2007 with a rate of 7. 20percent. Between 2008 and 2011, the growth rate was 6.30percent, 5.90, 5.60 and 5.60. In 2012 and 2013, even though a target of 8percent was set, the growth rate was 3.97 and 4.50percent growth”. Adamu Bello said these indicate that agricultural growth rate had been declining since Obasanjo.

Is Buhari Nigeria’s Charles de Gaulle? BY YOMI OBADITAN


If General Muhammadu Buhari is voted into power, come Feb­ruary 2015, the army general-now-turned democrat, will follow the footsteps of Charles De Gaulle of France, who was the man of the moment in the crucial hour of that nation.

De Gaulle was a statesman, domi­nant military and political leader of France for much of the period from 1940 to 1969. Like Buhari, he was a man of integrity, who refused to ac­cept armistice with German invaders in 1940, and thereby set up his base in London, proclaimed himself the incanation of France, and created the Free French Movement. During the war, he rallied the overseas colonies (especially Africa), organized the re­sistance from abroad, and struggled to gain full recognition from the British and Americans. He was a firm propo­nent of democracy, who later became the leader of the Provisional Govern­ment of France following its liberation in 1944.

De Gaulle like Buhari, was a retired military officer; a Brigadier General, who retired in 1946, but returned in 1958 as France verged on civil war over the Algerian crisis. He was voted in as President in 1958 to 1969; the New fifth Republic of France. De Gaulle was a political stabilizer; who stabilized the turbulent political system of France, and restored the nation’s economy. He made France to dominate the European Common Market by vetoeing British entry and keeping the U.S at arms length.

It is on record that Buhari overthrew a democratically elected govern­ment of Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari on the 31st of December, 1983. The military intervention was welcomed by majority of Nigerians, who were already disgusted by the corrupt and ineptitude regime that had just rigged its second term election. The Buhari/ Idiagbon regime brought changes that remain a reference point till date. “War Against Indiscipline” led to orderli­ness in every sector of Nigeria. For the short period the regime lasted, war against corruption and criminality were successfully fought.

Jonathan vs Buhari: Nigerians have a clear choice BY GODWIN NZEAKAH

“Let him that would move the world, first move himself” Socrates At long last, Gen. Muham­madu Buhari has won his party’s presidential ticket for the 2015 election. Of course, the news did not come as a surprise to ardent observers of the Ni­gerian scene, especially those who have intimately followed the berthing and internal politics of the All Progressives Congress (APC). What surprised many, anyway, was the dismal performance of the former Vice President, Atiku Abuba­kar, who was widely touted to be not only in a position to upset the apple cart, but also defeat Buhari with the help of his stupendous war chest. Atiku came a distant third, polling fewer votes than the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwa­so, who placed second with 974 votes.

With the emergence of Buhari, the stage is now set for for the 2015 epic contest as the PDP has already welcomed the APC’s standard bearer, saying he posed no real threat to President Goodluck Jonathan.

While we congratulate Buhari and wel­come him to the turf, he should be made to understand that he is now a leader of a shadow government and therefore should not expect the media to continue to treat him with the same kid gloves he has been enjoying all this while as a yet-to-be con­firmed presidential flag bearer. Therefore, in the next couple of weeks, not only will his past performances in public posts be brought to critical scrutiny and question, even his personal life and profile will come under critical searchlight.

Again, since the APC claims to be a government in waiting, Buhari should expect no less a treatment as we have meted out to Jonathan and the ruling party. In fact, Buhari ought to expect more critical focus because having so whetted our appetite, the expecta­tions from any APC government are very, very high; more so when Buhari has just re­newed his promise of revolutionary change in the country should he win the 2015 elec­tion. Or, how else do we explain his accep­tance speech tinged as it was with a radical pledge to “to rescue the country from bad government” and finally “end this demean­ing chapter in our nation’s history whereby the lives of the poor are bled dry while those of the wealthy soak in abundance.”

Averting another round of fuel scarcity …. THE SUN



As is often the case in the ap­proach to the Christmas and New Year celebrations, fuel queues are building up in many filling stations in Abuja and some other cities in the country. The situation became worse last Monday as oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PEN­GASSAN) and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) began a warning strike to protest the failure of the govern­ment to abide by the terms of certain agreements signed with them.

Other grouses of the oil workers in­clude the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law and the very poor access roads to the refineries that have become a threat to petroleum products distribution in the country. They are angry about the failure of the government to repair the refineries, address oil theft and pipeline vandalism and reduce the price of petrol in line with the slump in global prices of crude oil. They are also insisting on a prompt resolution of some labour issues concerning a major oil exploration company.

The warning strike has raised fears that the forthcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations may wit­ness scarcity of petrol. Worse still, it has brought black marketers back into operation in some parts of the country, thereby hiking the price of petrol by between 50 and 70 percent in some states.

This situation should be addressed immediately to avert a major energy crisis. This is more so as there are al­legations that there are backlogs of payments owed major oil marketing companies amounting to N180 billion which could lead to disruption of sup­plies, as well as delays in clearing of vessels at the Lagos jetty.

For 2015, religion is no issue, intellect is! By Nnedi Ogaziechi

jonaThe party primaries have come and gone. We have seen candidates emerge. We have observed the repeated roles of money in our politics, we have seen parallel primaries, we have watched flawed primaries, we have observed power show, we are not oblivious of politicians who have decided to brazenly thwart the will of the party delegates through various manipulative tactics but sadly, we are on a familiar route.

The near chaotic primaries cut across party lines and permeated the various tiers of the pre-general election primaries. The question we should be asking is, with so much desperation shown by aspirants in these party primaries, how many of the candidates are really going to SERVE the people?

Observing the various degrees of desperation for party tickets by most of the aspirants, it is doubtful whether our leadership vacuum at various levels can be filled any time soon. The party leaderships equally appear helpless in making sure that members no matter their status play by the rules.

For an election that is barely two months away, the political parties should feel worried that post primary election disputes in most states are the matters of discourse for the party leaderships rather than efforts at discussing their manifestoes and convincing the people about their readiness to either repeat laudable feats as incumbents or improvements. As opposition at any level, the people expect new ideas about how the incumbents can be surpassed by a new party on the saddle.

New strains in Nigeria-US relations by Dapo Fafowora

Obama and JonathanA fortnight ago, new strains (never too far away from the surface) emerged in relations between Nigeria and the United States. The US Embassy in Abuja and the US military training mission in Nigeria issued public statements that the Federal Government of Nigeria had suspended the third phase of the agreed military training programme for the Nigerian Army.

Two phases of the programme, initiated by the two countries to counter the current Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, had been completed. In the circumstances, the US military training mission understandably expressed its regrets that the third phase, which it considered crucial to the success of the entire programme, had been unilaterally cancelled by the Federal Government.

The announcement by the US of the cancellation of the training programme was obviously intended to embarrass the Federal Government. The Nigerian government had not announced the cancellation. It should have been more appropriate for any announcement of the cancellation of the programme to have been made by the Federal Government, rather than by official US sources. It is a serious breach of protocol on the part of the US military training mission to have pre-empted the Federal Government.

Growth of insurgency disturbing – Ibekwe

Dr. Ngozi IbekweHis royal majesty, Dr. Ngozi Ibekwe, is the Mayor of non-indigenes in Lagos State. In this interview with SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, AUGUSTINE ADAH, he suggests, among other things, why non-indigenes cannot win elective positions in the state. Excerpts…

As a leader of the non-indigenes in the state, are you satisfied with the well-being of non-Yoruba’s in the state?  

Well, you know that the history of non-indigenes can be traced to over a decade ago before we came up with the idea of having a mayor. Long before the idea, non-indigenes have been staying in Lagos and if I can Give assessment of their wellbeing, I will say that it is 50 percent. I can say that the indigenes have not been handling the non-indigenes badly because they have been mutual relationship between the two groups in the state.

Looking at the large population of non indigenes in Lagos, why is it difficult to have some of them in elective positions in the state?

You see, the politics of the day does not give room for non-indigenes to thrive alongside the indigenes of the state. Mind you, they are certain positions, not only in Lagos but also in other states of the federation, that non-indigenes are not allowed to get, like it is impossible for a non-indigenes of Imo or Abia states to become a governor of that state.  I believe that we have a sizeable number to enable us win elective positions either in the state house of assembly or other elective positions, but the politics of the day makes the ambition unrealizable for the non-Yoruba.

In the forth coming general election, many candidates are counting on non-indigenes to win elections. What is your position on that?

Buhari: Fundamentalist or Demagogue? by Akin Osuntokun

buhariCalls for ‘Total’ Sharia in Nigeria

2001-08-27 21:32
Lagos – A former military ruler of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has called for the introduction of ‘total’ Islamic law across the country, reports said on Monday.
Buhari, who ruled Nigeria from a coup in December 1983 to his ouster in 1985, told a seminar in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, at the weekend that the strict Islamic law code known as the Sharia should be introduced in full across Nigeria. “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria,” Buhari said, quoted in press reports.
“God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country,” Buhari said.

A frica’s most populous country has been shaken repeatedly in the past by religious unrest. In February 2000 between 2 000 and 3 000 people were killed by Christian-Muslim riots in Kaduna over the introduction of Sharia.
Buhari’s comments were interpreted by the southern-based papers as a call for the imposition of Sharia all across the country, even in the mainly Christian south. “Buhari calls for Sharia in all states,” was the headline of the respected newspaper The Guardian.
Buhari’s comments were defended by supporters as simply a call for the full implementation of Sharia in areas where Muslims predominated.But the comments are the second by Buhari that have courted controversy after he called earlier this year for Muslims to vote at the next presidential elections only for someone who would defend their faith.


The ease with which the arm-bearing aircraft is released is worrying

The recent seizure and the sudden release of a Chad-bound Russian arms cargo plane by the federal government penultimate Monday, still leaves much to ponder about. The question still begging for answer is: were all necessary steps taken to ensure that critical questions leading to the seizure and detention of the aircraft in the first place were satisfactorily answered?
According to the federal authorities, the Russian-built Antonov Aircraft was seized early Saturday, December 6, 2014, at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA). Records showed that the plane departed Bangui, Central Africa Republic on the fateful day for Ndjamena, Chad, but had to make emergency landing in Kano as Ndjamena airport runway was said to be busy at the time. Explaining the incident, Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Adesola Amosu, had said at the time: “We followed standard procedure to check, and we did not get adequate clarification from the crew. One of the issues has to do with language.”
However, as the Nigerian public anxiously waited for more details about the detained aircraft, the same Air Force Chief who had earlier said he would not be in a hurry to release the aircraft until after a thorough investigation, announced within 48 hours that the Russian plane was being released to continue its flight to Ndjamena. Meanwhile, the seized plane was said to have been carrying an assortment of goods some of which happened to be military hardware.

In the words of the French defence attaché to Nigeria Col. Marc Humbert, “what we have on board are two gazelle helicopters for light liaison, a rover armoured-plated SUV for VIPs, propeller blades and some items for entertainment.” In fact the French ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, admitted that his country chattered the Russian aircraft to help it convey some military hardware from Bangui to N’djamena. He, however, denied there were arms and ammunition aboard the plane.

Did Buhari/APC get it right? by Bolaji Tunji


The All Progressive Congress presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari finally announced his running mate on Wednesday. The announcement came six days after the party’s presidential primaries. Before the announcement, there had been a whole lot of speculations on who would emerge the vice presidential candidate of the APC.

Names of party governors such as Rotimi Amaechi ( Rivers), Babatunde Raji Fashola (Lagos), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) and former Ekiti state governor, Kayode Fayemi were touted, including that of Party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. While this lasted, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not miss the opportunity at throwing salvos at the opposition that the delay was due to lack of preparedness on the part of the APC.

With the emergence of Professor Yemi Osibajo, former Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the dust, especially on that scores has finally settled. The questions since the announcement have been what led to the choice of the political dark horse among the plethora of candidates jostling for that position, which is what Osibajo is in the entire calculation? What electoral value is Osibajo bringing to the calculation and whether this would make any difference in the forthcoming election?