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Tinubu Makes Numerous Promises at Slain Soldiers Burial

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President Bola Tinubu has directed the military to within the next 90 days ensure that all the benefits of the 17 officers and men of the army killed in Okuama on March 14 be paid to their families.

Tinubu said that government would provide a house in any part of the country to each of the families of the four officers and 13 soldiers.

He said that all the children of the deceased would enjoy a Federal Government scholarship up to University level.

He described the officers and soldiers as patriotic, brave and gallant Nigerians.

The president said that the deceased gave their lives to defend and protect the Nation against internal and external threats.

At the burial ceremony of the officers and soldiers on Wednesday in Abuja, Tinubu said that their death serves as a rallying point for Nigerians to condemn crime and criminality.

“They went as peacemakers and peacekeepers, seeking to bring an end to the hostilities between the two communities.“They didn’t go with tanks, machine guns and other weapons. They were on a mission of peace.“The officers and soldiers who lost their lives that day were patriots, brave and noble men who gave their lives to defend and protect our nation against internal and external threats,” he said.The 17 military personnel killed included Lt.-Col. Ali, Maj. D.E Obi, Maj. S.D. Ashafa, Capt. U. Zakari, Staff Sgt. Yahaya Saidu, Corporal Danbaba Yahaya, Corporal Kabir Bashir, Lance Corporal Abdullahi Ibrahim, Lance Corporal Bulus Haruna, Lance Corporal Sole Opeyemi, and Lance Corporal Bello Anas.The rest were Private Alhaji Isah, Private Clement Francis, Private Abubakar Ali, Private Adamu Ibrahim, Private Hamman Peter, and Private Ibrahim Adamu.Tinubu said that the deceased have all been awarded posthumous national honours.“The four gallant Officers have been awarded Member of the Order of Niger (MON). And the 13 courageous soldiers who also lost their lives have been Awarded Officer of the Federal Republic Medals.“As Commander-In-Chief, I do not take the contributions of members of our Armed Forces for granted. I recognise your valour and bravery.

“I honour your unflinching commitment to making our country safe from criminals, bandits, kidnappers and insurrectionists.”The President urged the officers and men of the military not to be deterred by these setbacks and be prepared to continue to work for peace and harmony.Tinubu also called on Nigerians to rededicate themselves to rebuilding communities and making them places where love, tolerance and harmony reigns.“Leaders at all levels, especially community leaders and traditional rulers, must work to strengthen the bonds that unite us. We must end the cycle of violence and bloodletting.“I want to make it clear, once more, that those who committed this heinous crime will not go unpunished. We will find them and our departed heroes will get justice.“The elders and chiefs of Okuoma also have a duty to help the military in fishing out the gunmen who committed the barbaric crime against our men.”The president commended the Armed Forces for their restraint in choosing not to carry out any reprisal attacks in Okuoma or its neighbouring communities.“We must all ensure that the innocent people of Okuoma are not made to bear the punishment of the guilty and wicked among them.”

On his part, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, said the officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army who were gruesomely murdered in Okuama Community in Delta on March 14, left behind 10 widows three of whom are pregnant and 21 orphans.Lagbaja made this known at the burial of the 17 personnel comprising one Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors, one Captain and 13 soldiers, on Wednesday at the National Cemetery in Abuja.According to him, the Okuama killing has added to the care of the Nigerian army and, by extension, the Nigeria state, 10 widows, three of whom are four, five, and eight months pregnant, 21 orphans, and many other dependents, including parents.“While commiserating with the families of these gallant soldiers, I assure them that the Nigerian army and the good people of this country will not leave them in the cold.“We shall do all within our power to provide succour to them and preserve the memories of their departed loved ones,” he said.Lagbaja said he considered his toughest job to be putting fine men and women in harm’s way, sometimes knowing that they might not return to their families and loved ones.He added that his men, correspondingly and intriguingly, know that in spite of the equipment, training, and other forms of preparations, sometimes some may not make it back alive, while some may return handicapped.According to him, “when soldiers die in the hands of the enemies of the State, we take it as dying for what the nation has considered a just cause; we celebrate them as gallant heroes.“But when they are gruesomely murdered by the very people they are trained, equipped, and took an oath to protect, it is highly demoralizing.“It is no longer news that 17 of the Nigerian Army’s finest men, whom we have come to bury, were murdered in a reprehensible manner on March 14 in the Okuama community of Delta State while they went on a legitimate peace-making mission.

“It grieves my heart that it took our search and recovery effort over 72 hours to recover some vital organs of the decapitated and disembowell bodies of my men that were scattered all over the Okuama community by the community youths and their friends.“I consider it the most barbaric act any citizen or community can commit against the authority of the state, and I must place on record that a lot of restraints have been exercised so far in our search and recovery efforts for missing arms, ammunition, other equipment, and body parts.“I assure the President and all Nigerians that the Nigerian Army remains committed to its constitutional responsibilities and will not be deterred by setbacks such as witnessed in the Okuama community.“As tasked by the President and Commander-In-Chief of our Armed Forces, the Nigerian Army, with the assistance of its sister services and other security agencies, is committed to bringing the perpetrators of the Okuama murder to book and recover all service and personal belongings taken from the murdered troops.“The Nigerian Army will continue to seek the cooperation of all well-meaning Nigerians, particularly in the affected area, towards swift and successful conduct of our search and recovery operations,” he said.The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, said the fallen heroes exemplified the very best of service to nation and love for country.Musa said they were the vanguards of peace, the guardians of freedom, and the sentinels of security, adding that their selflessness and unwavering dedication to duty would forever be etched in their hearts and memories.He assured the families of the deceased officers of the support of the nation and the armed forces in every way possible, urging them to find solace in the knowledge that their loved ones made an indelible mark on the nation’s history.The defence chief said the military would honour their memory by continuing the fight against those who sought to undermine the peace and security of the nation.

“We will remain steadfast in our resolve to build a nation worthy of your sacrifice.“The loss we feel today is immeasurable, but we must not allow it to dim the light of hope within us.“Instead, let us use this moment as a rallying cry to come together as a nation, to support our armed forces, and to work tirelessly towards a Nigeria free from the grip of violence and insecurity.“We owe it to these fallen heroes to honour their memory by redoubling our efforts to create a safer and more prosperous nation for all.“Let us build a nation where every citizen can live without fear, where communities can thrive, and where our children can grow up knowing the true meaning of security and stability.“To the men and women who continue to serve in the armed forces, I want to express my deepest gratitude for your dedication to duty.“Your commitment to defending our nation, even in the face of great peril, is truly commendable,” he said.Speaker, House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, and governors of Delta, Bayelsa, Kano, Kogi and Imo states amongst others attended the burial ceremony.

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My Intention is to Reposition PDP – Suswam

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By Donald Andoor, Abuja

Former Governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam, vying to be the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has pledged to work with critical stake holders to revive, reorganise and reposition the Party as a viable alternative ahead of the 2027 general elections.

“I know all that is involved in the PDP since I joined the party in 1998, under which I was elected as a member of the House of Representatives, then as a governor and a Senator.
I know what the party stands for and most of its major players either dead or alive…“With this experience, my intention is to provide focused leadership to revive reorganize and reposition the party as a viable alternative” he said adding “the only way to prevent absolute dictatorship is to have a virile opposition party.
”Suswam who spoke to some journalists over the weekend in Abuja dismissed allegation of different camps in the PDP but rather insisted the party needs a strong leadership to lead the way.Flacked by Hon. Richard Gbande, former member of the House of Representauives for Katsina Ala/Logo/Ukum Federal Constituency, Suswam emphatically said the party needs a strong leader.“I am not insisting it must be me but if it is me it will be better for the party.”Acknowledging he was widely consulting with the critical stake holders of the party, he explained that the PDP was not planning a national convention for the election of the National Chairman that has been vacant since the exit of the former National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu but the National Executive Committee (NEC) would come together to choose a replacement in line with the provision of Article 47:6 of its constitution.He explained further that the provision empowers the NEC to appoint a successor from the geo-political zone where the removed National Chairman comes from to complete such a tenure. He cited several instances to expatiate how the party had complied with the provision of its constitution in the past, including the appointment of Chief Audu Ogbe by the NEC to replace Chief Barnabas Gemade who was elected at the national convention of the party.

He debunked allegation that the former National Chairman, has a pending case in court against the party over his removal with a terse dismissal that “Ayu is not in court.”The PDP NEC has slated April 18, 2024 to appoint a replacement for the vacant position of the National Chairman following the exit of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu last year.Amongst others contesting for the vacant position are: the 2023 governorship candidate in Nasarawa State, David Ombugadu and a former Minister from Kogi State, Humphrey Aba.Suswam, faulted some policies of the Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress (APC )-led governmentas he regretted the dangerous economic slide as a result of ill-thought policies.He said the ruling – APC failed to learn lessons from the economic woes of Ghana and other Latin American countries, including Brazil that floated their currencies and attendant consequences on their economies.

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Electricity: Labour Rejects Tariff Hike, Demands N615,000 Wage

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By David Torough, Abuja

National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has asked the Federal Government to withdraw the new tariff, saying it will push the price of goods upwards and affect the poor.The union wrote to the Minister of Power, describing the increase as absurd for a country already facing huge increases in prices of goods and services.

The letter signed by the Acting General Secretary, NUEE, Dominic Igwebike said the increase would inadvertently push citizens to purchase foreign products as local products are beyond their reach.
According to the workers, this is capable of grounding companies.The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on April 3 increased electricity tariff for customers enjoying 20 hours of power supply a day, branded as Band A.
Such customers now pay N225 kilowatt per hour from the former N66.The workers said they are at the risk of being attacked by customers when they go for disconnections.They said the Minister of Power did not adequately consult stakeholders before making the proclamation.“The recent hike in electricity tariff from N68/kwh to N225/kwh is absurd in a country where the majority of the masses are grappling with basic survival and an electricity access rate of about 55 percent.“The justification given by NERC is that the hike is attributed to only Band A consumers who make up only 15 percent of electricity consumers and utilize 40 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption.“It begs to understand the sensibility of the person(s) that uttered such a statement purporting that it would not affect the general public.“They need to answer these questions: Who are the Band A consumers? What do they do? Who are the customers of the Band A consumers? Who bears the brunt of the electricity hike? The general public is the one that will be most affected by this.“They are the customers and end users of the Band A products and services. The additional costs will be transferred to the common man so they are indirectly being exploited, notwithstanding their dwindling purchasing power and increasing impoverishment.“The Honourable Minister of Power and NERC didn’t consult with the stakeholders in the sector before the increase.

“What of Service Reflective Tariffs as it relates to consumers? We, as a stakeholder, do not know the energy policy of this present administration.“As a critical stakeholder in the power sector who is concerned with Nigerians getting constant and affordable power supply, we state categorically that the hike in the electricity tariff is not beneficial to Nigerians and should be withdrawn.”Electricity generation has gone down to 2,775 megawatts. Electricity generation hovers around 4,000 megawatts.Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress have demanded N615,000 as the new minimum wage for workers in the country.An executive of organised labour, who did not want to be named because told Sunday Punch that the new wage of N615,000 monthly was reached after consultations by the NLC and TUC.The source, who was a member of one of the sub-committees set up by the government to work on getting a new minimum wage for the country said the wage might still increase following the recent hike in electricity tariff.The source said, “We [NLC and TUC] have given our figures to the government [on the minimum wage] and it is N615,000.“That is the position of the NLC and TUC on the matter. The government has been informed as well.”On Jan. 30, President Bola Tinubu set up a 37-member panel to recommend a new national minimum wage.At the inaugural meeting of the panel, Vice President Kashim Shettima urged members to “speedily” arrive at a resolution and submit their reports early as the current N30,000 minimum wage expired at the end of March.Labour representatives in the different zones of the country advocated different figures ranging from N1 million to N500,000.The Federal Government is expected to make a declaration on the matter on May 1.

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Geregu Power Earns N50.4bn from Electricity Sales, Capacity Charges

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Geregu Power Plc has generated N50.4 billion on electricity sales and capacity charges to Nigerians in the first quarter of 2024.The power company which is the first listed power company of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd disclosed the performance in its Q1, 2024 financial statement.

The company grew its Q1 revenue by 225 per cent from N14.
2bn in 2023 to N50.4bn in 2023.A breakdown reveals that Geregu Power sold energy worth N31bn and received N19bn as revenue from capacity charge.
Recall that the power company posted an annual revenue of N82.9bn in the full year of 2023 but it has covered half of the amount in Q1.The revenue was above the company’s forecast for Q1 2024 when it projected its revenue to rise to N31.
24bn.Geregu Power recorded a profit before tax of N21.9bn up from the N5.3bn recorded in Q1 of last year, reflecting 307.8 per cent growth.During the period under review, the company saw its profit after tax rose by 307.3 per cent to N14.46bn from N3.54bn recorded in Q1 of last year. In the full year 2023, the company made N16.1bn net profit.The net profit was above the company projection of N5.5bn.Geregu Power took an income tax charge of N7.43bn, up from the N1.8bn in Q1 2023. The tax charges were higher than the N2.7bn projected for Q1 2024.The company also spent N21.5bn on the cost of sales involving gas supply and transportation, up from the N6.6bn spent on gas supply and transportation in Q1 2023.

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