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Transcorp Hilton Abuja Wins Big at Global Travel and Hospitality Awards

Gbemileke Ajayi

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It was a night of double honours for Transcorp Hilton Abuja as the 5-star hotel was announced the winner of prestigious industry awards at simultaneous gala ceremonies on 2 continents.

For the 3rd consecutive year, the hotel was presented with SIGNUM VIRTUTIS, the seal of excellence, as the winner of the award for Seven Stars Business Hotel-Africa and Best Luxury Hotel at the Gala Ceremony of the 2018 Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards hosted at the Out of the Blue Capsis Elite Resort in Crete, Greece.

Remarkably, Valentine Ozigbo, MD/CEO Transcorp Hotels Plc, owners of Transcorp Hilton Abuja, was also honoured with the Seven Stars Pantheon of Hospitality award, an industry first designed to award the outstanding achievements and careers of the individuals behind the most successful properties around the world.

On the same night, for the 4th year in a row, Africa’s leading hospitality destination emerged winner of World Travel Awards in 5 categories, including Africa’s Leading Business Hotel at the 2018 Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony which took place at Durban International Convention Center in Durban, South Africa. The hotel also went home with prizes for Nigeria’s Leading Hotel, Nigeria’s Leading Business Hotel, Nigeria’s Leading MICE Hotel and Nigeria’s Leading Hotel Suite.

The hotel, which is owned by Transcorp Hotels Plc, the hospitality subsidiary of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc emerged winner of both prestigious awards through a voting process open to the public as well as the travel trade.

“We’re honoured to be recognized for our commitments to excellence in hospitality,” said Valentine Ozigbo, MD/CEO, Transcorp Hotels Plc. “The industry awards are a testament that our transformation initiatives are appreciated by the travelling public. They also come in recognition of Transcorp Hilton Abuja’s leadership in redefining hospitality not only in Nigeria but also globally. These awards are dedicated to our team members who work tirelessly, to our guests for choosing us always and to our late hotel manager, Ahmed Abdelghafar who died in Egypt after a brief illness.”

Commenting on the awards, Etienne Gailliez, General Manager, Transcorp Hilton Abuja said, “It is a great honour to receive World Travel Awards and Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards at the same time. “Every day our over 1000 Team Members work hard to create exceptional experiences for our guests; the awards are a fitting reward for the hard work and dedication of our Team Members.”

The Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards select only the best candidates in order to identify and to separate the exceptional from the very best. Winning this extremely exclusive award is an extraordinary achievement and signifies that a property is in an elite class.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

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STOP PRESS! Before We Crucify VP Osinbajo

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Hysteria is in the DNA of many Nigerians, especially those who are, for parochial or partisan reasons, decidedly and desperately against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the president announced the dissolution of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and replaced it with an Economic Advisory Council, there has been mass hysteria in the traditional and new media.

This is apparent in the deluge of dilettante opinion articles, editorials, blog posts, blurbs, and tweets all alluding to the fact that the VP has been politically emasculated by a phantom ‘cabal’ in the presidency because of his growing popularity and influence and the need to whittle them down before 2023.

Some even said he has been marked for impeachment on trumped-up charges that could only have been products of a puerile imagination.

What the President simply did was to change the economic direction of his Next Level agenda; not ‘reduce’, as some also implied, the statutory functions of his beloved VP.

As the chairman of the constitutionally created the National Economic Council, the VP will continue to play a pivotal role in all economic matters in singular support and assistance of his Principal, Mr. President.

For emphasis, the NEC meeting, held monthly, deliberates on the coordination of the economic planning efforts and economic programmes of the various levels of government.

The council comprises the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.

Last Thursday, the VP still chaired the NEC at the Presidential Villa.

Osinbajo told attendees at the NEC meeting that both councils (NEC and EAC) are for the benefit of the president; and, “If NEC wants to be briefed regularly by the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, we will request the president to do that.” So, nothing has changed, except for the new song by dissidents.

What further sent the rumour mill into overdrive was an alleged directive that the Vice-President should, henceforth, seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.

VP Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).

He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government; and the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Under the laws setting up the agencies, the president is empowered to give final approvals but those who chose to ignore this constitutional provision went to town, gloating and ululating, that the VP has eventually been cut to size.

A careful introspection is critical here. Apart from the fact that he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Vice President, as the whole world knows, is a Professor of Law. So, if anybody should know what the constitution stipulates as the roles and powers of a VP, it is Osinbajo.

So, why would he want to overreach himself knowing what the constitution states? At what point does doing the right thing require a directive? Some things just don’t add up in the name of playing politics.

Late 2018, the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness invited the VP to explain his role in the N5.8 billion North East Intervention Fund which the lawmakers said was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The NEMA is one of the agencies under the VP. The committee said the authorisation for the release of the fund for emergency food intervention in the North East contravened Section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. And that the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA’s bank account, in violation of the approval limit allowed by law.

Nowhere in the report was the VP alleged to have benefitted from the fund. Good enough, the Presidency issued a public statement to say that the money Osinbajo, in his capacity as the Acting President, approved for release in the dire emergency was sourced from the Rice Levy which had already been appropriated in that year’s budget. And that explanation settled the matter.

However, in the desperation of the strident opposition, the allegation, which had since been dispelled by the House Committee, is now being unearthed as if it were new, in a mere political contrivance intended to distract the President Buhari-led administration.

Every discerning mind should be above this outright fake news and sheer inanity. Just as they should about rumours that some unspecified amount of money was found in some private accounts related to the VP’s family or that some Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, funds were traced to his office. The purveyors of this particular rumour even said that the National Leader of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a former National Chairman of the party, Chief BisiAkande, had been duly informed. Another such report maintained that Asiwaju himself is behind the attempt to smear the VP.

These are mere fabrications intended to drive a wedge between the VP and those he holds in very high esteem. Thankfully, the president and the party leaders are above such frivolous distractions.

Indeed, at no time since Nigeria’s democratic experience began that the President and his VP have enjoyed the kind of cordial relationship and mutual respect that exists between President Buhari and VP Osinbajo.

The president believes so much in the competence, character, and capacity of his VP that he allows him to handle some of the populist programmes of the administration. And, this has not been without politically-motivated hiccups.

The VP is the ‘face’ of TraderMoni, the empowerment scheme of the Federal Government created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. The launch of the scheme saw the VP crisscrossing the country, enlightening the people about it and generally pressing the flesh to the delight of Nigerians. Yet, those who do not know the workings of the scheme have gone to town, falsely accusing the VP of mismanaging the Tradermoni Funds.

Instructively, the Bank of Industry is in charge of the Tradermoni; the funds never get into the hands of the VP or his aides; the money is sent to the people via their phones. The VP has just been monitoring to make sure people received what they were promised and the program was working. So any imputation of embezzlement is nothing but a frantic attempt to soil a hard-earned reputation of loyalty, integrity, and capability which the VP has built in the last four years, and which has helped to steady the incumbent administration in no small measure.

Conclusively, the news and noise of a rift or whittling down of the VP’s powers is akin to a storm in a teacup; both the president and the Vice President are still working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians are genuinely taken to the Next Level in their own time.

Abdullai Rimi, is an Abuja-based media practitioner and businessman

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Rotary Club Of Ikeja South Partners Old English, IDCL On Polio Eradication [PHOTOS]

Gbemileke Ajayi

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As part of efforts to contribute to the global effort of polio eradication, the Rotary Club of Ikeja South has collaborated with Old English Superstores and Indoor Design Concepts Limited.

The partnership was announced during a ceremony where End Polio donation boxes were launched at Old English Superstores, GRA, Ikeja.

In his welcome address, President, Rotary Club of Ikeja of Ikeja South, Rtn Michael Effiong James told members and the general public that the End Polio Project is a battle that must be won, noting that as far as there is still one case of polio in the world, then the disease is still a major threat.

According to him, the desire to end polio forever prompted the club to team up with Old English Superstores and IDCL to raise funds to support the work being carried out by Rotary International in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Rtn James revealed that while Old English Superstores has offered its facilities in GRA, Ikeja, Omole Phase 1 and Isolo, IDCL has agreed to design and produce the boxes and create branding materials to promote the initiative.

He thanked the two organizations and called on other corporate organizations to deploy their CSR budgets to worthy causes like this.

In his remarks, special guest at the gathering and District Governor, Rotary International District 9110, Rtn Jide Akeredolu applauded the initiative of making end polio donations boxes available for all to contribute to the End Polio campaign.

He went down memory lane, giving a vivid description of how Rotary International has worked since 1985 when there were 350,000 cases of polio worldwide to today where only a few cases of the wild poliovirus are found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“A few weeks ago, we celebrated freedom from the wild poliovirus in Nigeria but we must not lose our guard. The work goes on. We should remain vigilant and keep the advocacy on so that the government and all stakeholders will be on their toes,” Rtn. Akeredolu said.

He also tasked non-Rotarians to key into the project, saying that though a lot has been done, a lot more needs to be done to kick polio out of planet earth forever.

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Drunk Policeman Stabs Nine In Akure Nightclub

Gbemileke Ajayi

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A policeman identified as Sergeant Taiwo Orisadare has allegedly stabbed nine persons at a popular nightclub in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

Trouble started at the nightclub, which is located in Alagbaka GRA area of Akure over the weekend when the policeman attached to the Akure Area Commander’s office allegedly began to behave in an erratic manner.

According to eyewitnesses, the drunk policeman became unruly and started harassing the victims who had come to unwind at the club.

One of the eyewitnesses, who narrated the incident, stated that “It was so clear that he (Sergeant Orisadare) was so drunk and was already becoming something else at the club.

“He won’t just listen to those trying to tell him to take things easy. Things went awry as he started attacking everyone he could lay hands on.

“He stabbed nine people before he could be overpowered.”

Meanwhile, some of the victims, who were attacked by the police officer, are currently recuperating in various hospitals, while some are in critical condition.

The Police Public Relations Officers of the state command, Femi Joseph stated that both parties were engaged in a brawl.

“They were both fighting. The policeman did not stab anyone to death. Do you even know the condition of the policeman now?” He asked.

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