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2019 Hajj: 40,821 pilgrims back home – NAHCON

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National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says it has transported 40,821 pilgrims back home  from Saudi Arabia after successful completion of 2019 Hajj.

According to its command and control centre in Makkah monitored by the Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Abuja, the latest returnees were 555 pilgrims from Plateau, including two officials of NAHCON aboard Max Air flight NGL 2110.

Meanwhile, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia,  King Salman, has issued a Royal Decree cancelling the 2000 Saudi Riyal paid as fees by pilgrims, who wish to perform lesser hajj (Umrah)  with immediate effect.

“No more paying additional 2000SR repeat Umrah Fees for intending pilgrims.” (NAN).

AMU/KOO/IM

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FCE Okene appeals for financial support from FG

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The Federal College of Education, Okene, Kogi, has appealed for financial support from the Federal Government to enable it perform its statutory responsibilities more efficiently.

Mr Saad Abdullahi, Chairman, Governing Board of the institution, made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja while speaking with journalists after a courtesy call by the board on the Minister of Education, Mal. Adamu Adamu.

Abdullahi expressed concern that monthly allocation to the college had not been regular, a development he said had resulted in financial difficulty for the institution.

“The minister is our principal and the college belongs to his ministry. We came to tell him some of the problem the school is facing and we suggested what should be done.

“Funding was what we came to discuss with the minister; the allocation of funds to the college is not regular from the government, most especially on capital projects.

“The monthly allocation does not come up regularly.

‘’We have pending promotion arrears, pending allowances for staff and other debts the college is owing,” he said.

He said that the minister responded ”passionately” to the request of the board during the courtesy visit.

The Provost of the college, Dr Umar Hassan, also urged the minister to intervene and save the college from its financial burden.

“Our precarious financial situation is further compounded by irregular releases of overhead grants from the federal government.

“Right now, there is tension in the college over demand by members of staff for promotion arrears for 2015 and 2016, totaling N33.6million.

“It is on this premise that we humbly solicit whatever urgent intervention the minister could use, with the instrumentality of his office, to enable the college ward off the festering tension over unpaid peculiar allowance.

“This will sustain the peace and industrial harmony which have so far facilitated uninterrupted academy activities in the college,” he said,

Earlier while responding during the visit, Adamu assured that the ministry would do the needful to see to the demand of the college.

Edited

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Lagos-Ibadan rail: No cause for alarm over low patronage– NRC

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says there is no cause for alarm over the low patronage of the newly introduced free train ride on LagosIbadan standard gauge rail.

Mr Yakub Mahmood, NRC’s Deputy Director, Public Relations, told the Nigeria News Agency on Thursday in Lagos that the low patronage was expected, being a new service.

NAN reports that the free train ride from Iju in Lagos to Moniya in Ibadan, which was flagged off by the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on Nov. 29, started operation on Monday.

“When you introduce a product into the market, it takes some time before people will start appreciating the product,’’ Mahmood told NAN.

According to media reports, only six passengers took advantage of the free ride on Monday and Tuesday.

Mahmood, however, said that the patronage had started improving as many people were beginning to know about the free ride.

“The ride from Iju in Lagos to Moniya in Ibadan with two luxury coaches has been described as most comfortable, taking about two hours.

He said that the train departs Ibadan for Lagos at 9.00a.m each day (Monday to Friday) and returns to Ibadan each day by 4.00p.m.

Mahmood urged commuters to take advantage of the free ride, while it lasts.

NAN reports that the minister had said the free train ride remained a promise made to Nigerians for the Yuletide, adding that he was pleased with the ride.

Amaechi said that the train would run one return trip to Ibadan each day until Dec. 19 before a break on Dec. 20 to allow for the routine inspection.

According to him, from Dec. 21, the Federal Government is expected to run the service twice a day.

He said that by that time, it was expected that train service would cover more distance from Agege in Lagos to Ibadan.

According to him, the contractor is also committed to delivering minor stations along the corridor before the end of the year.

He said the completion of the tracks would afford the contractor to concentrate on the stations and the installation of the signals and communication equipment.

“Without the signal and communication equipment, the train will be mostly ineffective,’’ he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Abdulfatah Babatunde/Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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Airlines business, airports experience module must change beyond 2025- CPC

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The Consumers Protection Council (CPC) on Thursday called for change in the airlines business and airports experience in Nigeria beyond 2025.

The CPC Director-General, Mr Babatunde Irukera, made the call at the Fourth Quarter Business Breakfast Meeting organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) in Lagos.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that theme of the meeting was: “Nigerian Aviation Beyond 2025’’.

Irukera said: “For profitability, airline business modules must change; secondly, airports experience must change beyond 2025.

“This is because airport all over the world today have now become a comfort zone and not a travel port.

“There are far more commercial managers than commercial attenders in JFK, DBX; then, we have security and customs put together.

“There are more shops at these airport than we have offices and the amount of retail business that is going on at these airports is in excess of what aviation gets.’’

The director-general said that FAAN management must make airport places where people want to go and be before passengers took their flights.

He said with the record of delay in the airports across the country, Nigeria still record one of the highest numbers of no show of people arriving for their flights.

Irukera said traffic in Lagos was not different from the ones in New York, noting that average travellers was gaining the situation and arrived at the airport just prior to departure.

According to him, even, the premium class, which is the VIP sittings, is not comfortable enough to the general sitting experience in other country’s airports and now imagine the general passengers.

Irukera said all the passenger want to do was to arrive at the airport and be able to get through the security checkpoints and then proceed to boarding.

“So, this is what we will compete in 2025 and beyond, because we must be able to transform our aviation so that it can stimulate business.

“We still have a challenge to grow our domestic airlines in the country,” he said.

On his parts, the ASRTI President, Dr Gabriel Olowo, expressed his worried about the government intervention in aviation and airlines when the country’s capital expenditure stood at 20 per cent.

“To express my worry about intervention by government, in the budget for 2020, 80 per cent is for the recurrent, while 20 per cent, meaning that we have little or nothing, for capital development.

“We have a deficit budget, meaning that we have element of debt; so, if we are not able to provide what we need on the road and security.

“Then, why bothers on intervention when private sector investors are eager to help us out.

“Should government continues to borrow where private investors can help?

“We have government intervention in our airport. Also, we have government intervention on our airlines that are capital intensive, that is what worries me,” he said.

Olowo said in the last five years in this regime, how had the airlines and airport fair ?

He said if the country go private, like government promised to concessioning the airport, then, it would be better and faster for the industry.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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AMAC chairman tasks female staff to speak up when harassed

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Mr Abdullahi Candido, Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), has called on female staff in the council to be bold and report any case of violence against them.

Candido made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the AMAC Awareness Programme on Gender Based Violence at the Workplace.

The event was organised in collaboration with UN Women, ActionAid and Partners West Africa Nigeria to commemorate the 16 Days Activism against gender based violence which commenced on Nov. 25.

Candido, who was represented by Mrs Ramat Abdullahi, Council’s Secretary, said that anyone found guilty of such act would be sanctioned and referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies for subsequent actions.

“We have heard of cases of sexual harassment at work places, but here in the council, we can say such illicit activity has not been reported.

“We are encouraging all our female staff to be bold and report any case of sexual harassment, intimidation, victimisation, or any form of abuse without fear to the authority and such case shall be taken up.

“However, as we join the rest of the world to condemn this act, we are making it known that anyone caught harassing any female staff sexually here in the council shall be sanctioned and handed over to relevant law enforcement agencies for appropriate penalty,” he said.

Ms Christine Warioba, a representative of the UN Women, commended the council for organising the programme.

Warioba said that such awareness campaigns must be taken to people at the grassroots so as to end the escalating cases of violence against women.

Mrs Abiodun Essiet, a Special Assistant to AMAC Chairman, said women from major communities in the grassroots were selected to be part of the event to enable them take the message back to their people.

“There are some attitudes against women that should not be tolerated and AMAC is joining the world to raise awareness on the need to end such acts,” Essiet said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the event had women representatives from the six area councils in the FCT. .

Edited & Vetted By: Razak Owolabi/Tajudeen Atitebi
(NAN)

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Metro

Installation: Onaiyekan officially hands over to Kaigama

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His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has officially handed over to His Grace, Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, as the new Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja.

During an Order of Mass for Installation of the New Metropolitan Archbishop on Thursday in Abuja, His Excellency, Most Rev. Anothonio Fillipazzi, Apostolic Nuncio prayed that God hide him under His shadow.

Fillipazzi noted that the Holy Father, Pope Francis on Nov. 9, officially announced the retirement of His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, as the Archbishop of Abuja Dioceses.

According to him, in the letter from Rome, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama as the new Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that Kaigama was the Archbishop of Jos from 2000 to 2019, when he became the first Archbishop Coadjutor and then Archbishop of Abuja.

NAN further reports that the Pope recently accepted the retirement of Cardinal Onaiyekan, who clocked the retirement age of 75 on Jan. 29, 2019.

The announcement coincided with the opening of the first plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

Filipazzi had named Kaigama as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Abuja and administrator of Jos archdiocese, where he served as its chief Shepherd in the last 19 years.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was among dignitaries present at the Installation Mass.

Edited & Vetted By: Dorcas Jonah/Ali Baba-Inuwa
(NAN)

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Akwa Ibom erosion, Oron people cry for help

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Residents of Iquita and its environs, Oron Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom have appealed to the Federal Government for help over the menace of gull erosion confronting the area.

The News Agency or Nigeria reports that the big gully which is eating deep into residential areas of the local government has damaged a lot of houses and forced a lot of people to move out of the area.

Some of the residents who spoke with NAN on Thursday, said the situation had been threatening the area for some years, destroyed so many houses, and forcing a lot of them to become tenants to others.

Pastor Gideon Ettia, a resident, who decried the incident, said he was not aware that such a situation would occur in the area before he decided to build a house in the area.

“I came to build my house in this place and as at then, there was nothing like this and I believe it is erosion which is passing through the adjoining streets down here,’’ he said.

According to Ettia, many government agencies have visited the scene to assess it, but noted that nothing has been done to give the residents hope of surmounting the problem.

“We are at the mercy of God here and those of us left behind don’t know what may happen; you may just wake up one day, before you know another house will be gone.

” I want government to come to our aid to fix this place for us. If they government do that, I believe it will be something that Oron people will be happy about.”

He also pleaded with both Akwa Ibom and Federal Governments to intervene in the matter to avoid further escalation.

Mr Friday Bassey, another resident, explained that some of the residents living within the area were currently under the threat of erosion since nothing had been done to rescue the situation.

Bassey said though the residents made series of complaints to the state government at different occasions over the incident, no attempt made to savage the situation.

He, therefore, appealed for urgent intervention by both the state and the federal governments, stressing that further escalation of the situation might cause disastrous consequences in future.

Mrs Hannah Efiong, whose house is seriously affected also made appeal to government to assist the community to curb  the erosion menace in the area in order to give them a sense of belonging.

Responding, Mr Anietie Okon, Secretary to Oron Local Government Area explained that the incident occurred several years ago.

Okon, who spoke with NAN in a phone interview said that though the attention of both State and the Federal Government had been drawn to the situation ‘’they were yet to respond.’’

He said the entire people of Oron would be happy, if Federal Government in particular could come to rescue the situation.

“It is a very big challenge to those living in Hospital lane, Elvis Okpo Abasi, Etim Inyang streets and others. I pray that Federal government would come to our help as the challenge is beyond local government financial strength,’’ he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Dada Ahmed
(NAN)

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