Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New hook to a new-generation long-liner out for cod

Alaskan Leader introduces a $30 million long-liner that’s designed to clean, gut, package, freeze and carry 1.7 million pounds of cod per trip.

By Colin Campbell
Seattle Times, July 31, 2013

Christening sponsor Hattie Albecker, of Ugashik, Alaska, cracks a bottle of Champagne on the rail of the Northern Leader. The fishing vessel includes a processing factory that can clean, gut and freeze fish in less than an hour. Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times

As a bottle of Champagne smashed over the bow of Alaskan Leader Fisheries’ new $30 million long-liner, some of the dignitaries leaning against the railing during the christening realized they’d gotten blue hands.
The paint on the bow, touched up by crew members just the night before, hadn’t even dried.
The Northern Leader was in top form for the hundreds who gathered Wednesday at Seattle’s Pier 91 to tour the boat and hear speeches from business partners and politicians before the big vessel leaves for Alaska waters in about a week.
Once there, it will drag more than 50 miles of line, with a baited hook about every 4 feet, to catch cod along the ocean floor.
At 1,600 tons, the boat is one of the largest long-liners in the world. With nearly 40,000 cubic feet of freezer space, it can bring back up to 1.7 million pounds of Alaskan cod per voyage.
The Northern Leader, built in Tacoma by J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding, is equipped with a unique fish-processing factory to clean, gut and freeze the fish, all in less than an hour after they are caught, said the ship’s captain, Shaun Andrew.
The cod’s trip through the hull from hook to freezer involves an intricate conveyor belt that would have made Henry Ford proud.
Keith Singleton, a marketing vice president for Alaskan Leader, narrated each step of the process as he led Gov. Jay Inslee and a few aides through the narrow passageways in the factory ship after the ceremony.
The 76,000 hooks are automatically baited and lowered into the water. When the line is reeled in, the fish are popped off their hooks, relieved of their heads and dropped into a “bleed bath,” which churns them in freezing-cold water for 20 minutes to remove the rest of the blood from their bodies.
Then, step by step, the fish are gutted by workers staffing a table at the end of the bath, weighed electronically, packaged, then sent down a chute where another crew member packs them into one of the ship’s cavernous freezers.
All this is performed by nine of the 23-member crew.
Using nearly every part of the fish is a point of pride, Singleton said.
Even the heads and guts, byproducts that have traditionally been thrown away, will be kept and sold.
The heads will be sent to Nigeria, where they are made into a traditional soup that is high in protein and can inexpensively feed families in a poorer region of the world.
The guts will become fertilizer or pet food.
The ship isn’t all slimy conveyor belts, though. Its cabin areas are comfortably sized, some with plush leather couches and flat-screen TVs.
It boasts an industrial-sized, restaurant-grade kitchen “a land chef would be proud to work in,” said John Richards, a sales manager for Galley Design and Sales, who helped design it.
These amenities are designed to keep up the crew’s morale, which can be crucial on a long fishing trip in Arctic temperatures.
Andrew, the ship’s captain, said launching the ship is especially gratifying in an industry full of “vintage, World War II-era boats” that aren’t as safe or high-quality.
“Being able to build something like this only happens so often,” he said.
Colin Campbell: 206-464-2033 or

APC Registration: It's A New Dawn - Buhari, Tinubu

By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Bob Gbadebo, Kazeem Akintunde, Taiwo Ogunmola Omiliani, Paul Dada, Midat Joseph, Josua Dada, Abdullahi Olesin and Nnamdi Mbawike

LEADERSHIP, Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) defied all odds yesterday as it formally registered the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a political party.
Former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari and former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu hailed the development, saying it signals a new dawn for the country.
The registration yesterday elicited spontaneous applause from the party’s promoters and even its rival, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which immediately congratulated the new-born party.
In a statement by the INEC secretary, Abdullahi A. Kaugama, announcing the birth of APC, he declared:  “The political parties Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) met all statutory requirements for the merger, hence the granting of their request to be a political party.”
Consequently, the commission declared its approval of the withdrawal of the individual certificates of the applicant-parties and the issuance of a single certificate to the All Progressives Congress.
The statement reads in part:”The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved the application by three political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) – to merge into one, to be known as the All Progressives Congress.
“On considering the application, the Commission found that the applicant-parties have met all statutory requirements for the merger, and has accordingly granted their request.
“Consequently, the Commission has approved the withdrawal of the individual certificates of the applicant-parties, and the issuance of a single certificate to the All Progressives Congress.”
By this merger, therefore, the APC becomes the biggest opposition party going into the 2015 general elections.
Interim national secretary of APC Alhaji Tijjani Tumsah, who applauded INEC for sticking to due diligence in the registration of the party, said a timeline on how the constituent parties would submit their party registration certificates would be communicated to the individual parties soon. Tumsah, who is away in Saudi Arabia on Hajj, told LEADERSHIP, “The registration was in order and I must also thank INEC for taking the time to do due diligence to get our registration done.”
As for when parties would submit their certificates he said, “I don’t have an idea yet, but I will write a letter to the parties on the timeline for submission of party certificates.”

A new dawn in Nigeria politics - Buhari, ACF
Reactions have continued to trail the registration. Presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) General Buhari congratulated Nigerians on the registration of APC.
A source close to him told LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity that “General Buhari congratulates patriotic Nigerians clamouring for change and INEC alike on the historic registration of APC.”
According to the source, “General Buhari congratulated all the leaders of the defunct ACN, CPC and ANPP including their governors and legislators on their tenacity, understanding and perseverance during all the merger process.
“It is a new dawn in the Nigerian political engineering and a new baby is born.”
Also reacting, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said the registration of APC as a political party was a healthy development needed for the growth of democracy.
According to ACF’s spokesman Anthony Sani, the registration of the new party is a healthy one, especially when regard is paid to the fact that any democracy without a viable alternative platform is a sham. 
Tinubu excited
National leader of the now defunct ACN Asiwaju Tinubu expressed satisfaction over the registration of the new political party.
Tinubu, in a statement released on his behalf by his media office, said history had been made with the registration of the APC by INEC: “The confirmation of the registration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, by INEC signals the commencement of a new phase in the struggle to bring true democratic change to Nigeria. 
“This is not just a merger. This is the first ever merger in the history of Nigeria and represents a paradigm shift in the politics of our country. Together we must own it.
“As Nigerians we see history unfold before our very eyes and we must rise up to answer the call of history to liberate our people.”
The former Lagos governor congratulated the APC governors and the leadership of the new party.
“I congratulate all our governors, all our members from the North-East, North-West, South-South, South-East, South-West and the North-Central and all would-be members and well-wishers of our great party, APC.
“Let me single out for congratulations the leadership of the merging parties, particularly the executives and the entire membership of APC, for their perseverance, doggedness and the sacrifices they made in the interest of our country. They resolutely stood behind the merger and had trust in the leadership and the process. Their faith in the message of change that APC represents has been aptly demonstrated.
“It is to them that the greatest credit goes. Because we fulfilled the laws for registration as prescribed, we all along were confident that our party would be registered. We worked hard to ensure that our party was in good stead and in good standing with the law.
“Selfish interest and ego were shelved. Personal sacrifices were made particularly by those who hitherto occupied higher positions in the merging parties in the interest of moving Nigeria forward.”
Tinubu also appreciated Nigerians who stood by the merger as well as the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega.
“I congratulate millions of Nigerians who stood by us during the long process to form the  APC party and actualize its objective.
“This registration is a culmination of concerted and diverse efforts and commitment by our people to work for a new Nigeria. With APC, a new Nigeria is necessary and is possible.
“I also want to congratulate Jega and the leadership of INEC headed by him and the entire institution for this positive pronouncement.
“Nigerians must give INEC a pat on the back for complying with the law of the land. What INEC has done is to follow the constitution and the Electoral Act to the letter. We hope INEC will continue in this spirit of independence and respect for the rule of law in all its future operations,” he said.
The defunct ACN leader however called on INEC to allow for the full adoption of the biometric system.
“Our commitment to achieving One Man, One Vote remains resolute. We therefore must demand from INEC the full adoption of the biometric system. Prof. Jega and the institution he leads will not achieve much and their efforts at free and fair elections will not be fruitful until they adopt a modern technologically driven biometric system that will ensure the integrity of our elections and earn the confidence of Nigeria.
“If this is done, we can then say our democracy has advanced several miles forward to join other civilized democracies in Africa.” 
APC’ll live up to expectations – Shekarau
Former Kano State governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau has assured Nigerians that the newly registered APC will live up to expectations. Shekarau who spoke with LEADERSHIP last night through his spokesperson, Yau Sule, from Saudi Arabi congratulated Nigerians especially the members of the three merging parties, ACN, ANPP and the CPC, on the registration of the APC.
In his congratulatory message, the ex-governor said that “the INEC has proved to Nigerians that it is an impartial body out to serve the interest of Nigerians and protect the constitution of Nigeria”.
Shekarau also assured Nigerians that “the APC will be the desired alternative Nigerians have been looking for to bring a positive change to the development of the country”. 
It’s beginning of new era – APC govs
Meanwhile, the 11 opposition governors under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) has welcomed the registration of their new APC by INEC yesterday, saying the official pronouncement ratifying the merger of the opposition parties by the electoral umpire is a welcome development for democracy in Nigeria.
The forum, comprising governors of the now defunct ACN, ANPP and CPC as well as a faction of APGA, said it is also a victory for their party faithful across the nation, democrats and indeed for all Nigerians. The governors added that they salute INEC’s sense of responsibility and courage for upholding the constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
In a statement jointly signed by the state governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), they said their forum joins the members of the APC interim management committee under the leadership of Chief Bisi Akande and indeed the good people of Nigeria in celebrating the day of the new party’s registration.
“It is a day that signals the beginning of a new era in our national life when the collective aspirations of well-meaning Nigerians found expression in a legal entity that will be the rallying platform in our quest to rescue Nigeria,
“We therefore urge all Nigerians to take advantage of this opportunity to be part of this movement for change which has come to stay by becoming members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC),” the governors said. 
Congratulations Nigeria – APC
Basking in the euphoria of its registration, the APC came out with its first ever public statement as a registered party: it congratulated Nigerians and declared that, with the birth of the party, Nigerians now have an alternative to a ruling party that has taken the people for a bad ride in the past 14 years.
In a statement issued by its interim national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Lagos, APC said its emergence is a victory for Nigeria and for democracy and that it has now also propelled the country to the league of top democratic nations with two major political parties.
It said: ‘’The journey has been long and tortuous. All sorts of obstacles were thrown onto our path by anti-democratic forces, but we were painstaking, determined and unrelenting in our quest for a formidable platform that will allow our country Nigeria to achieve her full potential and join the league of respectable nations.
‘’With the approval of our merger by INEC and the emergence of APC, today marks the beginning of a new dawn for our country and her long-suffering people. We thank Nigerians both here and in the Diaspora for standing by us. We thank the media for their fairness, and we commend INEC for doing the right thing and for not succumbing to pressures from phantom political associations that sought to force it to circumvent the law.
‘’We promise not to disappoint Nigerians who have reposed much confidence in us. We say that contrary to the lies being peddled by the naysayers, we are not seeking political power for the sake of getting it, but in order to use it to empower our people and allow their long-nursed hopes and dreams to become a reality.
‘’And to those who have vowed to change their names if APC survives for a year, we hope they will live up to their words.’’
APC said Nigerians can now look forward to a truly democratic party in the best traditions of what the world considers as the best form of government.
The party promised to unveil, in the days ahead, its membership registration plans to give all Nigerians, especially those who have become disenchanted with the way things are going in the country, the much-awaited opportunity to be part of the country’s democratic process in the true sense of the word.
‘’We will also be unveiling our plans to turn today’s hopelessness into a time of great opportunities, to reverse the downward slide in our socio-economic development, and to ensure that every Nigerian benefits from the common wealth, instead of the present situation in which a few fat cats are milking the system dry at the expense of the citizenry,’’ APC said. 
PDP congratulates APC, says registration poses no threat
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday also congratulated the new party but was quick to declare that APC poses no threat to it.
The party nonetheless declared that the registration is a healthy development for the nation’s democracy.
Acting national publicity secretary Barr. Tony Caesar Okeke boasted that the ruling party maintains its pre-eminent position and widest popularity and acceptance among Nigerians across the country.
The ruling party further urged the leaders of the mega opposition party to focus on issues and engage in more robust debates on the economy and that, with the registration of the APC, Nigerians now expect the leaders of the opposition party to eschew all forms of bitterness and desperation and desist from politics of propaganda which characterised their former parties.
The party said, “We hope to see a vibrant opposition that will constructively engage the
PDP on issues of governance in a way that Nigerians will be the utmost beneficiaries instead of overheating the polity by promoting violence and hatred among the people”.
Stressing that the APC poses no threat to it, PDP said it “will continue to maintain its preeminent position in the polity”, adding that it remained the party with the widest acceptance and popularity among Nigerians across the board.
 The ruling party noted that Nigerians are not deceived by the change of flag by the opposition. It said such does not remove their “dictatorial tendencies and penchant for deceit and propaganda for which Nigerians have rejected them irrespective of party name”. 
APC registration marks end to one-party state - CNPP
But the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) said the registration of APC has signified the death of one-party state in Nigeria and taken the nation’s democracy to the next level.
According to the spokesman of the CNPP, Osita Okechukwu, in a statement, “Nigerians now have a golden opportunity to make choice between two dominant political parties: one anchored on social democracy, pro-people; and one anchored on conservative and anti-people programmes as is the case in all liberal democracies.”
It congratulated INEC on its forthrightness, steadfastness and obedience to the rule of law.
 “It is heart-warming that INEC captured the intendment of the 1999 constitution not to register phony groups or mischief makers as political parties,” CNPP said. 
Ribadu calls for renewed commitment   
A chieftain of the newly registered APC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has joined other Nigerians in expressing happiness over the emergence of the mega opposition party, even as he charged members of the party to strive harder for the ultimate goal of dislodging the ruling PDP.
Ribadu, in a statement in Abuja, congratulated key players in the merged parties on “shoving their personal interests in order to allow for mutation of a pan-Nigerian party that can provide credible alternative to the ruling party”.
A statement, issued by Ribadu’s media aide, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, quoted the 2011 presidential candidate of the ACN expressing hope that the new party would have sweeping victory come next general election.
“Like millions of Nigerians from all over the country, I am immensely delighted over the successful registration of our party by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” Ribadu said.
According to him, the registration of the party by the electoral body is not the end. “It is the beginning of the end of misrule and cluelessness,” he said, calling for renewed zeal and commitment by members of the party to achieve the desired objective.
He called on Nigerians to resist manipulations of the electoral process either through whipping up religious or sectional sentiments or by the use of money, maintaining that the 2015 elections would be a major litmus test for the opposition and all progressive Nigerians. 
Fashola reacts
Also speaking over the registration of the APC, Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said, “This is not just a merger. It is history. The first merger in Nigeria. I am proud to have been a part of it.” 
Osun government happy
 Osun State government has commended INEC for rising above partisanship by registering the APC.
In a statement issued by the state commissioner for information and strategy, Mr Sunday Akere, it said the new party becomes a necessity because of the alleged torment the PDP threw Nigeria into since the inception of the Fourth Republic.
The statement said that leaders of the merging political parties have demonstrated high sense of commitment to the Nigeria project by burying their differences to liberate the masses from the present conundrum the ruling party has subjected the country.
It added that the eventual registration of the party is a victory for democracy and a victory for the masses who have long sought an alternative to the PDP.
 “This development has shown that Nigerians demand changes and nothing can stop them from achieving it. Many detractors have stood on the way of APC trying to stop its registration, but now their bid has failed. INEC has shown courage and a new party is born,” it added. “The leaders of the new party have demonstrated their commitment to the future of this country and have also shown that individual differences cannot be a cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s progress. The onus is now on Nigerians to embrace change for the sake of the future generations.
“It is our belief that the electoral body has passed the acid test; as a government, we urge it to continue to toe the path of courage and integrity by giving Nigerians the right to freely choose their leaders through a free and fair election during the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states in 2014 and the general elections in 2015.” 
Belgore excited
The registration of APC brings a new dawn to Nigeria’s democratic experiment, the Kwara State ACN gubernatorial candidate in the 2011 elections, Dele Belgore, has said.
In a statement by his media aide, Rafiu Ajakaiye, he added that the APC registration”is a victory for the people of Nigeria who have long clamoured for the coming together of progressive opposition parties to end the years of disrespect for popular wish, executive lawlessness, corruption and widespread poverty, irrespective of the fact that the country is richly blessed with fertile land and huge human potential”.
“For us in Kwara, it is a dream come true as APC would further strengthen our collective efforts to end the state’s peculiar politics of underdevelopment, poverty and self-aggrandisement. It is a moment of joy for all the progressive elements waiting in the wings to work together as brothers in the selfless bid to build a new Kwara, one that would shed the toga of being a fiefdom and be seen as a place where individual potential blossoms without any let or hindrance,” Belgore noted. 
Lagos Assembly hails INEC
The Lagos State House of Assembly has applauded INEC for upholding the tenets of the rule of law and democratic ethos as demonstrated by its registration of the largest and most formidable opposition party in the country, the APC.
Reacting to the news of the APC’s registration, the spokesperson of the House and chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy, Security and Publicity, Hon. Segun Olulade, stressed that the registration of the APC has further widened the political space for the opposition forces in Nigeria, adding that enhancement of a stable and strong opposition is one of the basic conditions for sustainable democracy and development in any polity.
 Olulade maintained that the hallmark of an electoral umpire which INEC represents is to provide a level playing field for all contesting parties without fear or favour and to ensure that electoral activities are not marred by irregularities, adding that democracy can never thrive without electoral integrity. 
Jubilation galore in Enugu
 There was celebration galore yesterday in Enugu State over the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party.
Our correspondent who went round the city saw people discussing the issue in groups.
It was also discovered that some people smiled to drinking joints to celebrate the birth of APC.
In his reaction, the senatorial candidate of the ACN in the last general election in Enugu West senatorial zone, Dr Ben Nwoye, said the registration calls for celebration because it was the beginning of a new dawn in the nation’s democracy.
He commended the national chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, for his boldness, saying with the development the coast is now clear for the opposition party to wrest power from PDP in Enugu State and at the federal level.
Also reacting to the development, a former auditor-general of the PDP, Barrister Ray Nnaji, said it was a good development for democracy. He, however, said though they welcomed the new party, the PDP was not afraid of it.
 Mr Innocent Ekeh, a prominent member of the opposition, said, “We are happy that, at last, the APC has been registered. The emergence of the new party would help to nip the cankerworm called PDP in the bud.
“We are tired of the PDP and we are hopeful that PDP would soon go into extinction. PDP has destroyed Nigeria since its emergence. We are tired of the party and that is why we are celebrating.” 
Reactions galore
A PDP chieftain, Ebenezer Babatope, said that the registration of APC will not pose a threat to the PDP. He however described the merger as the first successful merger in the political history of Nigeria.
Babatope disclosed this in a telephone interview on Wednesday but added that the party is made up of strange bedfellows.
“So we in the PDP are ready for them;  we will tolerate them but work assiduously to ensure that people’s support for our party is not affected, so that, at the end of the day, the so-called APC will vanish into political oblivion,” he said.
 The PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Osun State, Alhaji Fatai Akingbade, said the registration is a welcome development, adding that the party has crossed another political hurdle.
 According to him, “the registration will strengthen our democracy because without a strong opposition democracy cannot survive”.
Alhaji Akingbade added that the registration will also put an end to armchair politics in Nigeria.
For his part, the chairman, Yaba LCDA, Jide Jimoh, described the registration as long expected.
Jimoh said, “I am not surprised at the registration of the new party because our leaders are people with requisite political experience, astuteness and proficiency who are well-grounded in the fields of politics and law. They have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. In short, they did all that was required long ago.”
 According to him, “even the assessment team of INEC gave the party kudos during their assessment tour. So, INEC registration was a given”.
 On people’s expectations from APC, Hon. Jide Jimoh said Nigerians had long yearned for change which has now come with APC, adding the PDP is in for a big problem come 2015.
“They should just pack their bags and baggage and be ready to leave Aso Rock after the general elections in 2015,” he said. “Surely, APC is taking over the federal government in 2015. The people will ensure that.”
 A Lagos lawmaker, Hon. Ajibayo Adeyeye, said that it is a welcome development and a good thing for Nigeria. “Those of us that formed the merger are progressive people and, with this development, the 2015 election will yield a good result.”
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CBN spends N114b yearly on currency, says Lemo

By Ugochukwu Ugoji-Eke, Umuahia
The Nation, Friday, August 1, 2013

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spends N114 billion annually on printing, moving, sorting and destruction of bad currency notes, its Deputy Governor, Operations, Tunde Lemo said.
Lemo, who spoke in Umuahia, Abia State, while sensitising the public on the need to embrace the cash-less policy, said the rising cost of cash management confirms the need for implementation of the initiative in the country.
The cash-less policy he said, would help in developing the economy and attracting foreign investors, stressing that the program has been beneficial to the economy.
Lemo said the cash-less policy has assisted Lagos and Ogun states in growing their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) , stressing that these states are ripping the benefits of the initiative.
He said that Lagos state’s internally generated revenue is currently at N29 billion annually with the expectation that it will rise to N50 billion in the next few years. He added that Abia State has the opportunity of achieving the same result when it keys into the policy.
Lemo explained that the policy was introduced to reduce the cash being carried by people in transacting their daily business, adding that a society that does business based on cash will attract corruption and other criminal activities such as kidnapping.
He recalled that the issue of cash-less society started way back in 2004 when the money Laundering Act was enacted. The Act said that transaction on individual bases, which is above N500, 000 and N2 million for corporate bodies should be reported to the fraud control bodies.
The deputy governor of CBN said that the Point of Sell (PoS), which are 2044 in the state, would be increased to about 104,000 in the next few years, stressing that it is one of the ways to help in the reduction of cash flow in the economy.
He explained that the PoS is the point where people use the cards, which are loaded with funds to pay for whatever they would have bought instead of carrying cash. He therefore urged Abia state government to help the CBN to sensitise the society on the need for the people to stop the use of cash in their daily business transactions.
Responding the state governor, Chief Theodore Orji assured the CBN that they will do everything for the state to key into the cashless policy and directed the chairman of the state Board of Internal Revenue to liaise with the officials of the CBN to have a lecture on how the policy works with view to increasing the IGR of the state.
Orji, who was represented by his deputy, Emeka Ananaba, urged the CBN to put into consideration the poor in the state, stressing that many of them are still illiterate and may not know the way the policy operates, if they are not properly educated.

Intrigues As LG Autonomy Failed In The Senate

By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
Leadership, Thursday, August 1, 2013
A fortnight ago, the senate voted against direct funding to the local government from the federation account which would have granted them autonomy. In this piece, JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH x-rays how the voting pattern for Local government Autonomy went and why it is in the interest of the country for the local governments to be autonomous.
The Senate recently passed the Bill for and Act to Further Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, and for other Matters Connected Therewith, 2013. The Committee proposed a total of 31 clauses affecting 26 sections and second schedule of the 1999 constitution. According to the chairman of the committee and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu some clauses were passed in their entirety, some clauses were passed in part, while distinguished senators, in their wisdom, did not pass some clauses. This is not an exception because each senator voted according to his/her conscience, and mandate of his or her constituents, and the overall national interest.
Out of the 31 clauses,13 were passed  while 10 did not scale through. After this this stage, the Senate will await the version of the Constitution Amendment Bill that will be passed by the House of Representatives,. As is the tradition, both chambers will meet in a conference to harmonise the two positions. The harmonized Bill will subsequently be transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for ratification of each clause by a simple majority of two-thirds of the House.
Among the ones not passed is the alteration of section 162 of the constitution to provide for direct payment to the Local Governments from the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the Federation (financial autonomy).Many Nigerians were outraged at the senate and felt the lawmakers voted against the wishes of the people. Based on the backlash and condemnation that the senators got for voting against Autonomy, it’s obvious most Nigerians feel the local governments are overdue for autonomy. Most of the Senators who voted against granting financial autonomy to the local governments were of the view that granting autonomy to the local governments will be in conflict with what we have right now, as it will amount to creating a state within a state and will in time, result to anarchy, saying the best way is to strengthen the  state House of Assembly so that they can do proper oversight of the local governments to ensure that funds allocated to the local governments get to them and are used judiciously
The local governments are regarded as the closest to the people and are seen as more of a grassroots administration and granting them autonomy will make them perform their functions better to develop the local governments which will in turn speed up development and reduce the level of illiteracy and underdevelopment in the country. Its no secret that most state governors have frustrated the plan to grant autonomy to the local governments by starving them of funds. Most of the senators who have plans to contest the governorship positions in their states voted against it for their selfish reasons. Granting autonomy to the local governments, they feel, will weaken the power and influence of state governors.
During the debates, most of the senators spoke in glowing terms of how the local governments were ripe for autonomy and most Nigerians were confident that the Senate will vote in favour of the autonomy proposal but it was not be as 73 senators are required to vote yes for any clause to be passed . 99 senators registered to vote and only, 59 voted in favour of granting autonomy to the local governments while 38 voted for the retention of the extant law. Two senators abstained.
In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP recently, Senator Sadiq Yar’Adua(Katsina CPC), accused the PDP senators of frustrating the votes and that the PDP senators voted against granting autonomy to the local governments but the opposition senators too didn’t fare any better as they voted overwhelmly against autonomy
The south west senators rejected local government autonomy because out of 18 senators in the region only  Senator Ayo Adeseun (Oyo), Senator Sefiu Kaka (Ogun) and Senator Ganiyu Solomon,  voted in favour of the autonomy. It was later gathered that they were told to vote against the autonomy by top politicians in their party and it was a party directive. The rejection of autonomy by the south west senators has landed them in hot water as the Nigeria Union of Local Government employees has vowed to mobilise against the Action Congress Of Nigeria and to ensure that the party is voted out of power because of its opposition to local government autonomy. This move is by the south west who are predominantly of the opposition and the yet to be registered APC is an own goal by the opposition as this move is counterproductive and the senators who voted against autonomy are seen as anti people. senators from the opposition voted against the autonomy but if they were in favour, twenty-two, it would have scaled through
 The South East senators voted in favour of local government autonomy. Out of 14 senators from the region, nine voted in favour of autonomy. Senators from the South South were divided on the issue as seven voted for autonomy against six/.The north voted overwhelmingly for autonomy as 35 senators voted in favour, while 13 voted against with six abstaining.
Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe State, confessed during the debates how he frustrated the plans for the local government autonomy but now he knows better. But former governors in the Senate voted against it, out of 10 former governors in the senate six voted against it with only four approving which are Senators Kabiru Gaya,Danjuma Goje, Ahmed Makarfi and Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
From the voting pattern, it is clear that most of the senators are not disposed to the idea. According to them, granting autonomy to the local governments is like creating a third tier of government. Most state governors are definitely not in support of the idea as it will make them lose relevance in their states. Governance is all about power and exercising power and once the local governments have direct funding from the federation account, they will no longer be answerable to the state governments which will be counterproductive in some states.
The state assemblies are meant, through oversight functions, to supervise the funds to the local governments but in most cases, the state assembly are just rubberstamps just doing the bidding of the governor.
But The House of Representatives took a different stand to the Senate by endorsing autonomy for the councils with 293 lawmakers voting in support, 39 against and seven abstaining. They however, barred unelected local government chairmen from getting funds from the Federal Government allocation. Now, when the Senate and House of Reps meet in the conference committee to harmonise the positions of the two chambers, local government autonomy may scale through but may run into troubled waters at the state Houses of Assembly that kill the idea as most times, they do the bidding of the governors who must have arm twisted the state legislators to vote against the idea. So, Nigerians yearning for autonomy for local governments will have to wait a little longer.
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Actress AlgeRita Wynn's Web-Series "Retire My Room"

AlgeRita who played Cynthia in the NBC series "The Office" and appeared in the movie "Crazy Stupid Love" has created her own web-series "Retire My Room", a weekly online lifestyle web series she says was to "extend a positive example of humanitarian kindness to retired seniors age 65 and over from all economic backgrounds by empowering them to stand and make a conscious choice to improve their living conditions one room at a time, uplift their spirits and infuse a sense of fun, camaraderie and comfort into their lives."

Launched in June with the following Press Release:



It's not for young rappers, cute 30 year olds, and singles looking for the next party. Finally, creator and executive producer, AlgeRita Wynn, has turned home decoration, comfort and beauty in the direction of baby boomers and seniors. It's a weekly lifestyle web series that stirs up joy, energy, and hope. The show is an energy pill for new life for aging America. It inspires the elderly in a weekly web-series tagged "Retire My Room."

The show is a weekly on-line web-series housed for You-Tube Channels aiming at hitting over a million visitors a month. It consists of selecting retired seniors from all economic backgrounds looking to improve the status of their living conditions, and uplifting their spirits. The senior homeowners will retire an old outdated room and receive a lovely space that is comfortable, serene, and functional. Each week will feature a new home owner, new challenges and a new design team to make the transition.

There are several homeowner locations: Pilot and 2nd Episodes - Los Angles; 3rd and 4th Episodes - Atlanta, Georgia; 5th and 6th Episodes - Santa Paula, California; 7th and 8th Episodes - Houston, Texas and 8th Episodes are scheduled for the first season.

Pilot Episode and Episode #2 featured Bronwyn Hardy, 65, retired hair stylist from Los Angeles, California. Episode 3 and 4 featured James Mahone, 67, retired interior designer and disable veteran from Atlanta, Georgia.

Nigerian Man Can Bring Religious Bias Suit, 7th Circ. Says

Law360, Los Angeles (July 31, 2013, 6:09 PM ET) -- The Seventh Circuit on Wednesday reopened a Nigerian expatriate's religious discrimination suit alleging his U.S. employer fired him after he took leave to lead his father's burial rites in Nigeria, ruling a jury could reasonably find he had given his employer adequate notice of the religious nature of the ceremony.

The three-judge panel reversed the lower court's ruling granting summary judgment to Heartland Sweeteners LLC, ruling Sikiru Adeyeye's requests for five weeks of unpaid leave to preside over his father's burial rites contained sufficient details to convey the ceremony's religious character. 

"A reasonable jury could certainly find that the letter's multiple references to spiritual activities and the potential consequences in the afterlife provided sufficient notice to Heartland that Adeyeye was making a religious request," U.S. Circuit Judge David Hamilton said in the opinion. 

Attorneys for Adeyeye and Heartland did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. 

Adeyeye, who moved from Nigeria to the U.S. in 2008, sued Carmel, Ind.-based Heartland for religious discrimination under Title VII in August 2011. He is described in court documents as a Christian whose beliefs incorporate elements of traditional African religious practices.

Following his father's death in Nigeria in May 2010, Adeyeye made two requests to Heartland for five weeks of unpaid leave to preside over his father's burial rites, according to the opinion. Heartland denied both requests, but Adeyeye still went to Nigeria in October 2010 to lead the rites, and upon returning to Indiana, he was fired, court documents said. 

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence granted summary judgment in favor of Heartland in December, saying Adeyeye's two written requests for leave didn't offer sufficient details for a reasonable jury to find that he had provided notice to Heartland of the religious character of his requests.

But the Seventh Circuit disagreed, holding that, while the letters didn't contain explicit references to religion, they included enough details to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether Heartland was aware of the requests' religious nature. The letters referred to a "funeral ceremony," a "funeral rite" and animal sacrifice, and Adeyeye indicated it was his customary duty as the first-born and only son in his family to lead the burial rites, the opinion said.

Adeyeye said that, if he failed to participate in the ceremony, he and his family members would suffer "at least a spiritual death," according to the opinion.

While the religious practices and beliefs Adeyeye referred to are not as familiar as those closer to the "modern American mainstream," Judge Hamilton wrote, Title VII protections "are not limited to familiar religions."

Heartland had argued that it was entitled to summary judgment because Adeyeye had participated in his father's funeral rites not because of sincere religious beliefs but out of his perceived duties as a son, which are not protected under Title VII. But the appeals court said the evidence Adeyeye presented was sufficient to show his request to attend his father's funeral stemmed from his own personally and sincerely held religious beliefs.

Furthermore, examining an individual's conscious and subconscious motives for holding beliefs is not appropriate territory for the courts, Judge Hamilton wrote. 

"We are not and should not be in the business of deciding whether a person holds religious beliefs for the 'proper' reasons," the opinion said. 

The appeals court reversed Judge Lawrence's decision granting summary judgment to Heartland and remanded the case for further action.

U.S. Circuit Judges David Hamilton and Diane Sykes and U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller sat on the panel for the Seventh Circuit.

Adeyeye is represented by Jeffrey A. Macey of Macey Swanson & Allman.

Heartland is represented by James Braden Chapman II of Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP.  

The case is Sikiru Adeyeye v. Heartland Sweeteners LLC, case number 12-3820, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

--Editing by Elizabeth Bowen.

Inside Politics in Germany and the September General Elections

A woman holds her German citizenship papers after she has been nationalised at the Britz Estate in Berlin July 16, 2013. After decades of tending to depict the millions of residents of Turkish origin in Germany as a drag on society, policymakers are now courting foreigners and learning to be more inclusive. With elections approaching in September, the changing attitudes are reflected in the rhetoric of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives. Image: Thomas Peters/Reuters

Karamba Diaby, a German Social Democratic Party candidate talks with citizen Heidi Juergens during an election campaign in Halle , central Germany, Thursday, July 25, 2013. He was born in Senegal and moved to the former GDR to study at the University of Leipzig. Diaby, now 51, is campaigning for a Bundestag seat to become the country's first black member of Parliament. Image: Jon Meyer/Associated Press

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and State Premiers Reiner Haseloff of Saxony-Anhalt (R) talk to residents during a visit to the village of Fischbeck damaged during the recent flood by the river Elbe, north of Magdeburg July 23, 2013. During the flood in June tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Image: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Weighing in on a debate that could influence September's federal election, Germany's president Joachim Gauck said whistleblowers like U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden deserved respect for defending freedom. Gauck words struck a very different tone from that of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has assured Washington that Berlin would not shelter Snowden. Former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden would not face the death penalty or be tortured and would have all the protections of the U.S. civilian court system if he were sent home, the chief U.S. prosecutor wrote in a letter to his Russian counterpart this week. The influential women-in-politics group EMILY's List will tell supporters that as far as sexting New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner is concerned, "It's time to end this.""New Yorkers deserve better than the circus their mayoral race has turned into.

Senegalese-Born Chemist Karamba Diaby Wants To Be Germany's First Black Parliamentarian

Frank Jordans, Associated Press
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In this picture taken July 25, 2013, Karamba Diaby, a German Social Democratic Party candidate , SPD, second right, talks with people during an election campaign in Halle , central Germany, Thursday, July 25, 2013. He was born in Senegal and moved to the former GDR to study at the University of Leipzig. Diaby, now 51, is campaigning for a Bundestag seat to become the country's first black member of Parliament. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer) 

HALLE, Germany (AP) — Karamba Diaby makes his way through the historic heart of Halle with the speed of a seasoned politician: slowly. More than two decades of involvement in local politics means the 51-year-old immigrant can't go more than a few steps without being stopped for a chat.
Two months before Germany's general elections each handshake and greeting carries added significance because Diaby is intent on becoming the country's first black member of Parliament. He listens patiently to his constituents and responds in fluent German with a strong Franco-African accent, courtesy of his Senegalese origins.
Nationwide just 81 — or about 4 percent — of the candidates running for the roughly 600-member parliament in the Sept. 22 election have an immigrant background. It is the highest number yet but still far behind countries such as France and Britain. Most of the immigrant candidates belong to the Greens or the Social Democrats, while Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party has only six immigrants on its slate.
Diaby's Social Democrats badly need candidates who will pull in enough votes to hold onto the three seats they won in the state of Saxony-Anhalt in 2009. Diaby has been placed third on the party list, making him one of the few immigrants with a strong chance of being elected.
"I didn't throw my hat in the ring," he said, a touch apologetically. "I was asked by others."
The decision to place him near the top of the ticket is all the more remarkable because, like other states in the former East Germany, Saxony-Anhalt has a reputation for being more hostile toward immigrants — especially those from outside Europe — than western parts of the country.
While the trained chemist is reluctant to criticize his adopted home — he moved to Halle in 1986 and gained German citizenship in 2001 — Diaby nevertheless acknowledges that he was once physically attacked because of the color of his skin.
Still, the father of two puts this down to the fact that under communist rule East Germans had limited exposure to immigrants and that time will change old habits.
Another tradition he would like to see broken is that politicians from ethnic minorities are automatically pigeonholed as experts on immigration. "I want everyone to talk about immigration, not just immigrants," he said.
Germany urgently needs immigrants to make up for the country's falling birthrate, though few politicians are prepared to campaign on the issue. Diaby's pet topic is education and how it can help people from all parts of society — immigrants, the unemployed, school dropouts — improve their lot.
To make his point, Diaby cites the story of Anton Wilhelm Amo, a former slave who became the first West African to study and teach at a European university about 300 years ago. By coincidence, it was the University of Halle.
As an example of the way black immigrants were treated in Germany, Amo's story remained unique for more than two centuries — except for the racism he reportedly endured, and that prompted him to return to West Africa.
That racism reached its horrendous peak with the Nazis' 12-year reign, which ended in 1945 with millions killed in death camps. Among them were many of Germany's small black community at the time, said Nkechi Madubuko, a Nigeria-born former athlete and TV presenter who has researched the history of Afro-Germans.
The biggest influx of African immigrants to Germany occurred in the post-war period, when newly liberated countries in Africa sent their best and brightest abroad to study. Diaby was one of them, receiving a scholarship to study in East Germany at a time when communist rule was slowly unraveling.
By 2005 there were about 200,000 people of African origin with full German citizenship, and about 303,000 more Africans with residency permits in Germany, said Madubuko.
While Afro-Germans have become more visible in recent years as athletes, actors and journalists, none has broken into national politics. This reflects the general lack of minority representation in German political life. Although nearly one in five people in this nation of 80 million are first-, second- or third- generation immigrants, only a handful has made it into the federal legislature — and most of them are ethnic Germans from eastern Europe.
Three have a parent who was born in India, another is of Iranian origin, while several more belong to Germany's sizeable Turkish community. Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler is an ethnic Vietnamese who was adopted by German parents before he was a year old.
Ekin Deligoez, a member of the left-leaning Green Party whose family came to Germany from Turkey when she was a child, said immigrants were long discouraged from becoming involved in German politics by the country's restrictive citizenship rules and a general sense that they were not welcome.
"Every step of the way immigrants get the signal that they don't belong here," she told The Associated Press. "A foreign name will get you worse results in school, turned down for jobs, and rejected by landlords."
The period after 1990, when the unification of East and West Germany sparked a burst of nationalist sentiment, was particularly difficult, she said. But hostility remains today. "I'm pretty sure that some of the farmers in my Bavarian constituency still have a problem with me," she said.
Germany's political parties are beginning to accept that they can be represented by immigrants, even in senior positions, because of changes in the law over a decade ago that made it easier for immigrants to adopt German citizenship. This made them interesting as potential voters, said Madubuko.
"It's a whole new development for parties to actively court immigrants, rather than just use them for negative propaganda," she said. "So it would definitely be important for Afro-Germans if Mr. Diaby is elected."
Putting down his distinctive African-patterned briefcase to exchange Facebook contacts with two university students, Diaby said he hopes that his candidacy alone will encourage other immigrants to consider entering politics.
"The fact that I'd be first African-born lawmaker is not something I would want to dwell on," he said. "But a lot of eyes are on me and I hope they realize I'll be just one of over 600."

Frank Jordans can be reached at

Nigeria Approves Opposition Political Coalition

Wednesday, July 21, 2013

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's electoral commission on Wednesday approved the creation of an opposition coalition that will join three political parties and is expected to present a strong challenge to President Goodluck Jonathan and his party in 2015 elections.
The commission announced that the parties met all statutory requirements for their merger into the All Progressives Congress that includes powerful Muslims from the north and equally influential Christian southerners.
Among them are former military ruler Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a popular northerner who some consider a strong anti-corruption fighter. Jonathan is largely perceived as failing despite promises to halt the endemic graft that is debilitating to the economy of Africa's biggest oil producer.
The coalition's most powerful figure from the south is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former senator and past governor of Lagos State who is considered a kingmaker.
"All sorts of obstacles were thrown into our path by anti-democratic forces," said coalition spokesman Lai Mohammed, welcoming the decision. He said the coalition's emergence is "a victory for Nigeria and for democracy" that propels the country into "the league of top democratic nations with two major political parties."
Jonathan now is presented with the double challenge of a strong opposition and rifts within his own People's Democratic Party that could damage any bid to extend his presidency. Jonathan has not yet decided whether he will run, his office announced this week. He came to power by default as he was vice president when President Umar Yar'Adua died in 2010 and he then won the presidential election in 2011.
Northern politicians are opposed to Jonathan, a southerner and Christian, running for a second four-year term in 2015, objecting that northerners have been cheated of their chance at the presidency by Yar'Adua's death. While there is nothing in the constitution about it, there is an unwritten agreement in the ruling People's Democratic Party that power must be shared between the north and the south and a northern president should be succeeded by a southerner, to balance power in Africa's most populous nation. Nigeria has more than 160 million people, divided about equally between Muslims who dominate the north and Christians who live mainly in the south.
Traditional rivalries between Christians and Muslims have intensified because of an Islamic uprising in the northeast of the sprawling nation. The Boko Haram terrorist network is accused of the killings of more than 1,600 civilians since 2010, according to an AP count.
The People's Democratic Power has won every election since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999 and democracy was restored.
Tinubu's support ensured Jonathan won the vote in the southwest in the 2011 elections, clinching the president's victory. Jonathan would have difficulty securing those votes without Tinubu's backing.
Jonathan is also confronted by a revolt within his own party, from some governors with presidential aspirations. In the most dramatic manifestation of the divisions, a handful of pro-Jonathan legislators who want to impeach Rivers State Gov. Rotimi Amaechi led thugs into the National Assembly and started a fight in which one legislator broke the mace — the symbol of authority of the house — beating up another legislator.
The new coalition is considered the first viable option to PDP rule. But it too faces challenges in deciding who to present as its presidential candidate. Buhari, who appears an obvious choice, is a strong contender in the north but likely would have difficulty garnering votes from Christian southerners, even with the support of the coalition's southern partner, Tinubu's Action Congress of Nigeria.
The coalition's statement promised "plans to turn today's hopelessness into a time of great opportunities, to reverse the downward slide in our socio-economic development, and to ensure that every Nigerian benefits from the commonwealth, instead of the present situation in which a few fat cats are milking the system dry at the expense of the citizenry."
Bashir Adigun contributed to this report from Abuja, Nigeria.

Suspected Islamists steal 125 kg of dynamite in north Nigeria

REUTERS, July 31, 2016

DAMATURU, Nigeria, July 31 - Gunmen suspected to be allied to Islamist sect Boko Haram have stormed a construction site in northeast Nigeria, carting off 125 kg (275 pounds) of dynamite and hundreds of detonators, two security sources said on Wednesday.
The militants struck the Bara area of Yobe state at around 2 a.m. on Monday morning, the two security sources in Yobe told Reuters, but no shots were heard. One of the sources said the men arrived on four motorcycles, beating and overpowering the site's private security guards.
The police and military both declined to comment. Officials from the company, a Nigerian firm called Ric Rock, were not immediately available for comment.
The Nigerian military launched a major offensive in May aimed at defeating the Islamists in three northeastern states -- Borno, Yobe and Adamawa -- but that has pushed many of them into hiding, from where they can still launch deadly attacks.
Multiple bomb blasts in Nigeria's biggest northern city of Kano killed at least 15 people on Monday, underscoring the continuing threat the rebels pose in the north.
Since its initial uprising in 2009, Boko Haram has grown in sophistication, learning bomb-making technology from al-Qaeda linked militants in the Sahara to the north.
Videos shown to Reuters by a counter-terrorism official on Sunday showed Boko Haram militants giving detailed instructions on how to make bombs -- including a suicide vest and a car bomb -- in the northern Hausa language, filming how it is done.
(Reporting by Joe Hemba; Writing and additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Lagos; Editing by Joe Brock and Sonya Hepinstall)