Saturday, 25 February 2017 07:29


in Foreign

Oil prices fell about 1 percent on Friday as worries about rising U.S. supplies outweighed OPEC pledges to boost compliance with output curbs.

But crude prices were on track for a weekly rise as traders have begun to pull out barrels from pricey storage, with physical markets showing signs of tightening.

U.S. drillers added oil rigs for a sixth consecutive week, extending a nine-month recovery, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said. [RIG/U]

Prices were also pressured by book squaring ahead of the weekend and upcoming Feb. 28 expirations in Brent futures for April delivery, heating oil for March delivery, and March RBOB gasoline, analysts and traders said.

Brent crude oil settled down 59 cents, or 1.04 percent, at $55.99 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate ended the session 46 cents lower at $53.99 a barrel.

However, both benchmarks notched a weekly gain of about 1.1 percent.

"The oil market remains focused on the global rebalancing act, with attention centred on OPEC compliance and U.S. production growth," said Michael Tran, director of energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

"The push-pull situation between stock draws relative to price-elastic U.S. shale remains paramount to the rebalance."

Prices tumbled over the last two sessions after government data showed U.S. crude inventories rose for a seventh straight week. [EIA/S] But they have been supported within a tight $4 to $5 range since November, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers agreed to cut production.

OPEC's record compliance with the deal has surprised the market, and the biggest laggards, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, have pledged to catch up with their targets.

The International Energy Agency put OPEC's average compliance at a record 90 percent in January, and based on a Reuters average of production surveys, it stands at 88 percent.

However, exports from the United States, which is not part of the deal, hit a record high of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) last week and production rose to above 9 million bpd, the highest since April, the U.S. Energy Administration Agency said.

The surge in U.S. exports is opportunistic, said Sandy Fielden, director of oil and products research at Morningstar.

Traders were draining the priciest U.S. storage tanks and selling oil held in tankers due to rising prices of oil for near-term delivery.

Analysts at LBBW cut their year-end Brent price forecast by $5 to $55 a barrel, citing U.S. production growth and technical factors.

"Most market participants realise that the good news from OPEC seems to be priced in," said LBBW oil analyst Frank Klumpp.


Saturday, 25 February 2017 07:26


in News

Naira on Friday sustained its gains against the dollar as liquidity boost by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) forced a crash in the price of the greenback.

In Lagos Naira exchanged at N460 to a dollar at the parallel market, gaining 40 points from N500 it recorded on Thursday.

Pound Sterling and Euro traded at N575 and N480 respectively.

At the Bureau De Change (BDC) window, the Naira closed at N399 to a dollar CBN controlled price, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro exchanged at N610 and N520 respectively.

Trading at the interbank window saw the Naira close at N305.50 to a dollar.

Traders at the market expected the Naira to sell for less than N400 to a dollar if the boost in liquidity by the CBN was sustained.

Meanwhile, Mr Aminu Gwadabe, President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) said that currency speculators were expected to lose billions of Naira to the new forex policy.

Gwadabe said that speculators were already overwhelmed by the policy as they were taken by surprise by the move of the apex bank.

The new CBN policy directing banks to sell forex for school fees, medicals and other allowances was already impacting positively at the market.


Saturday, 25 February 2017 07:21


in News

A call by President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide for Nigerians to patronise locally-made products, ironically at a time the president is receiving medical treatment outside the country, triggered a social media ruckus on Friday, with many accusing the presidency of hypocrisy.

Bashir Ahmad, a media assistant to President Buhari, earned the ire of mostly Twitter users after advising Nigerians to help drive up the value of naira by patronising locally-produced goods.

The clash began when Mr. Ahmad, 25, propped up a newspaper report that said the naira had been making gains against the U.S. dollar at the parallel market, following this week’s foreign exchange decision by the Central Bank.

“Within the last 48 hours, dollar crashed to N470, it was N520 before — and external reserves rise by $3.2bn,” Mr. Ahmad posted. “Good for the Country.”

The jubilatory tweet drew a backhanded response from a Twitter user, Toyin Olakanpo, who sarcastically reminded Mr. Ahmad the president promised an equated dollar and naira during his electioneering campaigns.

“We are waiting for it to crash more. You promised $1/N1,” Ms. Olakanpo, @ToyinO1, said.

To that, Mr. Ahmad offered a seemingly innocuous reply: “When we stop going to overseas for everything, start patronising only #MadeInNigeria this may not be far from possible. Govt can (sic) do it alone”. He apparently meant to say the government cannot do it alone.

Critics promptly leapt at the evident irony at a time the president is on extended vacation in the United Kingdom.

“Buhari that went to Overseas for Medicals when we have state house clinic must be a foreigner then. You just shoot yourself, brother,” a user, Mr. Tony, said.

Another user, John O. Balogun, using ‏@orllumeeday, tweeted “@BashirAhmaad @ToyinO1 You mean when Baba buhari and other govt functionaries begin to equip our hospitals & seek medical help in Nigeria???”

One user even used a parody account of President Buhari to chide Mr. Ahmad.

Tweeting at @idealBuhari, the user said “Bashir, you should’nt say things like this when I am getting medical treatment in the UK, not Nigeria”.

Others accused Mr. Ahmad of passing a subliminal insult at his principal.

“President Buhari is still alive and you’re subbing him this early. You’re the first to decamp! Brother!” @alegallawyer said.

Mr. Buhari has been on medical vacation in London since January 2019. The trip is the third of such since he became president less than 2 years ago.

The first officially disclosed vacation was in February 2016, barely eight months in office. He took the second one in June 2016, apparently to receive treatment for ear infection which Nigerian doctors insisted was not above their paygrade.

The frequent foreign trips by the president was in contravention of his own policy against state funding of foreign trips.

Although Mr. Buhari did not particularly ban public officials from seeking medical abroad, he made it clear his government “will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard-earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria.”


Saturday, 25 February 2017 07:14


in News

Professor Sadiq Suleiman Wali is 76, and he was Chief Physician to five former heads of state, namely General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, the late General Sani Abacha and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Question: People remember you more as a former chief physician to five ex-heads of state. How did you begin your medical career?

Wali: I did my post-graduate studies in the United Kingdom and qualified as a physician. I came back to Kano State and served for about three years. I preferred academic work, so I went to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria. Kano State offered me, or rather, forced me to come and be their Commissioner for Health during the administration of Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, instead of being the physician to then-President Shehu Shagari, who then picked Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, my classmate.


Question: How did you become the personal physician to former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari?

Wali: General Muhammadu Buhari requested that I should be his physician and I knew him very well, personally, because we were in Lagos during the January 1966 coup. Murtala, Gowon, Buhari were all around and that was how we got to know each other. So, I felt I should do it. I was also in the army, as during the civil war doctors had to be dragged into service. I was posted to Awka, the brigade where Buhari was, and I was impressed by his character, integrity and honesty. So when he became Head of State and requested for my services, I accepted. 

But a year and a half after, there was a coup. I was actually in the United States together with Buhari’s family at the time. Eventually, we had to come back, and when we returned I went to then president, General Ibrahim Babangida and said, ‘I took two years leave of absence from the university, and even though it hadn’t elapsed, I could go back.’ But he said shouldn’t. So I stayed there, and for a very long time. After him came Chief Ernest Shonekan, with whom I worked for only a few months. Then came General Sani Abacha, and that was the most challenging one. I would tell each of them that I would like to go, but they would plead that I should stay.


Question: What is your view of the foreign medical travels of the president?

Wali: Foreign medical travel by Nigerian presidents and heads of state are not unusual, so also extension of stay while away on treatment. I remember when President IBB when to France for medical treatment in 1986, for a period of one month, we had to request for an extension by a whole month on the advice of the doctors. 

As for President Buhari, he regularly went for checkups, except for the period of 1985 to 1988 when he was detained. As for the recent extensions requested for by the president on the recommendation of his doctors, it is important to understand the principle guiding the relationship between doctors and patients.

There are four ethical principles, namely: Autonomy, where a doctor has to explain any action he intends to take with its advantage and disadvantage, possible harms and benefits. The patient has the right to accept or reject the recommendations. Then there is Beneficence, where all actions and procedures should be of benefit to the patient. In the case of Malfeasance, it’s ‘do no harm’. Then there is Justice, when benefit to the patient and community should be assessed. If there is danger to the community, the doctor can override the wishes of the patient like Lassa fever, Ebola disease and so on. In such cases, the doctor is obliged to report to appropriate health authorities.


Question: What is your advice to Nigerians on this issue

Wali: We should be patient, sympathize with the president, and pray for his early return home. The acting president is working very hard and governance has continued smoothly. 


Question: As the former personal physician of President Buhari, what is your advice to him?

Wali: He should be patient, accept his doctor’s advice, noting the overwhelming support he enjoys.

Daily Trust

Saturday, 25 February 2017 07:09


Nigerian president's month-long medical leave overseas has empowered his deputy to attack the country's problems with an energy that has surprised observers and led some to suggest he should stay in charge for good.

When he left for London on Jan. 19, President Muhammadu Buhari handed power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a 59-year-old lawyer and pastor. He has embarked on a whirl of domestic travel and meetings, taking on long-standing, seemingly intractable issues like the weakened naira currency and oil militants whose bombings have cost the country billions of dollars.

That isn't silencing some critics who say Buhari's absence has caused a power vacuum, nor calming the concerns of citizens amid an official silence on the cause of the president's leave. On Tuesday, the 74-year-old Buhari sent a message thanking Nigerians for their prayers and saying "I need a longer time to rest."

Suggestions that Buhari is too incapacitated to run one of Africa's largest economies and its No. 2 oil supplier have prompted a few calls for his resignation.

Citizens' advocacy group Opinion Nigeria cited the country's many challenges in calling for "the immediate resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari ... followed swiftly with the immediate confirmation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as a substantive president."

But putting Buhari's deputy in charge for good could provoke antagonism between majority Christian southerners like Osinbajo and mainly Muslim northerners like Buhari. When former President Musa Yar'Adua was ill abroad for months before coming home to die in 2009, northerners blocked his southern Vice President Goodluck Jonathan from assuming power, creating a months-long political paralysis.

Jonathan was eventually confirmed, but his subsequent successful run for election angered many Muslims, breaking an unwritten agreement that power rotate between northerners and southerners.

That scenario is unlikely to be repeated now, a Eurasia Group risk analysis wrote this week. Buhari's "practice of handing over authority to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his absence would probably facilitate a calm transition if Buhari is unable to complete his term",  it predicted.

The analysis said Osinbajo, who is new to politics and has no national power base, likely would not run in 2019 presidential elections.

This week, the Daily Post newspaper quoted presidential spokesman Garba Shehu as denying that "some close appointees of President Buhari had constituted themselves into a cabal with the aim of whittling down the influence of Acting President Osinbajo."

Osinbajo last week presided over an hours-long meeting where the National Economic Council demanded urgent action on the naira's freefall. This week, the Central Bank offered a devalued naira rate to those who can afford medical services and education abroad. It is seen as a test for a further devaluation of the currency.

Buhari had long resisted pressure to devalue the naira until Osinbajo announced the move last year during another of the president's medical leaves.

When Nigerians protested earlier this month against rising food and fuel prices, ongoing corruption and a feeble government, Osinbajo did not send troops to break up their march, as had happened in the past. Instead, he met with labor leaders and enlisted their help in fighting corruption and inflation running near 20 percent.

"We hear you loud and clear", he said in a message to protesters.

Also this month, Osinbajo traveled to the heart of oil militant country in the south, where he declared that young men must be provided proper jobs to stop militancy and that the government will work to transform illegal oil refineries - often the only source of fuel in impoverished villages - into legal ones.

Osinbajo said he was there as an emissary of Buhari to offer "a new vision" for the oil-producing Niger Delta, where militant attacks resurged after the president's government tried unsuccessfully to halt payments under a 2009 amnesty program.

Buhari has never visited the region himself.


Friday, 24 February 2017 21:53


in News

Forty-four students from various faculties were on Friday asked to withdraw from the Federal University of Technology, Minna over poor academic performance and examination malpractices. 

The university’s spokesperson, Mrs Lydian Ledgu, said in Minna that the affected students have been ordered to vacate the campus.

She said that 22 students were advised to withdraw due to poor academic performance while the 22 others were expelled for their involvement in examination malpractices.

“The university authority will not tolerate any act that will tarnish its highly earned academic standard,’’ Ledgu said.

She advised students of the institution to take their academic work seriously and shun all vices that could lead to their expulsion.


Friday, 24 February 2017 21:48


in Foreign

South African police on Friday arrested 136 suspects in connection with their involvement in the xenophobia mayhem unleashed on immigrants in Pretoria.

The arrests followed a fresh wave of xenophobic attacks in Gauteng Province heightened by an anti-immigrants march held in Pretoria on Friday.

The march saw numerous shops around the city centre closed, with customers still locked inside.

The 15km march left a trail of destruction when marchers struck makeshift shelters of a religious group camping outside the Tshwane Events Centre.

Police fired rubber bullets to try and disperse protesters as well as the large number of foreign nationals who gathered together for safety.

Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane said they had stepped in and the situation in Pretoria was now calm and under control.

Officers found a 5 litre container filled with petrol as well as clothes on one of the suspects.

Lt. Gen. l Phahlane said: “136 people have been arrested over 24 hours but we are unable to confirm how many of those arrested are South African and how many aren’t. We cannot allow situation to be overwhelmed by crowd. We use proportional force.”

A man was shot with rubber bullets when he got caught in the crossfire between police and protesters during the anti-foreigner march.

Mr Sello Tshatswayo said he was trying to stop a taxi to go home from school in the Pretoria CBD.

“They just started shooting, we were in a group and we all just ran in different directions,” Mr Tshatswayo said.

Fears were mounting among residents that the clashes could spill into the weekend.

“It was really scary with lots of police in our area and choppers over Pretoria west. This can’t be right, we can’t live in fear like this. Authorities need to deal with it otherwise it will continue throughout the weekend,” said Ms Hlengiwe Mabhena, an Atteridgeville resident.

“It was bad in the morning because anybody who was not part of the march was becoming a target. They even uprooted trees and damaged highways’ side barriers‚” another resident, Mr Bonnie Molefe, said.

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga said the anti-immigrant sentiments have no place in our society.

“The issue of rising unemployment requires all our collective efforts to turn this tide around. Tshwane, like other urban centres around the globe is faced with an urgent need to address the increasing rate of urbanisation and create more work opportunities,” he said.

Friday, 24 February 2017 21:44


in Sports

Cristiano Ronaldo is most definitely light years ahead of his rival, Lionel Messi, at least in  the social media.

A report released by HookIt – a company dedicated to monitoring accounts for sports stars and organisations – claims Ronaldo has become the first sportsman in the world to break the 200,000,000-follower mark across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Given Messi has not even registered himself on Twitter as yet, it’s little surprise that the Portuguese is miles in front of the Argentinian, but it’s only when Ronaldo’s reach is compared to other major international figureheads within the global sporting community that the scope of his online presence is truly understood.

According to the HookIt report, Ronaldo has more followers than all the teams and players currently competing in MLS combined and three times more than the entirety of Major League Baseball.

Cristiano Ronaldo: world record as sportsman with over 200m social media fans

The former Manchester United man accrues an average of 137,000 new followers across social media each day, with more than half of his audience coming via the star’s Facebook page – which currently has close to 107million likes.

Ronaldo’s reach is significantly wider than Messi, whose Facebook and Instagram accounts leave him with less than two-thirds of the Real forward’s tally, while there are few other footballers to rival Ronaldo’s 40.7million-strong Twitter audience.

Neymar has a total of 21.2million followers on the micro-blogging platform, Wayne Rooney has 12.6million and Luis Suarez a little over six million.

In the US, basketball stars Lebron James (28.2million), Kobe Bryant (8.7million) and Michael Jordan (2.6million) are all significantly behind Ronaldo when it comes to Twitter followings, while the frontman has more than double the number of followers than his club side Real (18.3million) and Messi’s team, Barcelona (16.3million).

Ronaldo’s lead over his rivals on Instagram is much narrower, with Neymar boasting 43.4million to the Portuguese’s 49.5million followers, with Messi lagging in third place with a comparatively measly 37.3million.

Messi moves into second place on Facebook with 83.3million likes, as Neymar languishes behind with just over 55million.

Ronaldo still has work to do to beat American singer Taylor Swift, however. Swift’s haul of 71.8million Twitter followers, 67.1million Instagram subscribers and 74.2million Facebook fans puts her more than 13million in front of the footballer.

Friday, 24 February 2017 21:37


in News

Reactions have continued to trail the death of a  man, identified as Ada Kole, who reportedly killed himself in Kubwa, Abuja, on Monday after he was said to have lost N750, 000 to the popular ponzi scheme, MMM in December last year.

Kole was said to have drank insecticide  in December 2016 following the crash of the MMM scheme. He reportedly drank the insecticide last year before he died on Monday.

It was gathered that Kole was scheduled to go to the altar last December but the wedding was shifted till May 2017.

Nigerians have reacted to his death in various ways. One Facebook user said:

“MMM says don’t participate with all your money but your spare money. Why would he put is life saving.”

“We warned them, they refused to listen, we told them it is haram, they said we are too religious, we adviced them it is sin in the sight of God as the scheme is rubbing Peter to pay Paul, they said they are providing help to others.

“Now the burble has busted. For all those that benefited from MMM you contributed to the death of Kole either directly or indirectly. May God have mercy on him.”

Yet another said MMM was deceiving gullible Nigerians: “MMM is getting back to normal, time to invest and invite friends.

“That’s what they get instead of their monies. Where are those screaming MMM for life? I dey laugh from London!”

Another gave practical advice: “His family should make sure they get his username and password on mmm and also get his phone number on incase he’s merged to be paid!”

One particularly harsh Facebook comment was this:

“You are very stupid are u the only one affected by mmm now u have poisoned yourself yet you haven’t gotten back your money.”

Friday, 24 February 2017 17:38


in News

Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City has sacked the lawmaker representing Ovia South West Constituency in the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Sunday Aghedo.

It ordered Mr. Godwin Adenomo, a member of the All Progressive Congress, to be sworn in immediately.

Adenomo had dragged APC and the Committee that conducted the party primaries to court over imposition of the sacked lawmaker as the winner of the party primaries to the State House of Assembly in 2014.

He claimed he won the primaries but was denied the party’s ticket which was given to his opponent.

A judgement of the High Court asked the APC to conduct a fresh primary for the position but Adenomo rejected the ruling and headed for the appellate court to get proper judgment.

Reacting to the judgment, the sacked lawmakers said he was already consulting with his lawyers.

His words, “I have no reaction. I am still consulting with my lawyers on what to do next.”

The Nation

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