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BIG STORY

2019: Why We Chose Five Presidential Candidates For Debate —- NEDG

Peter Okunoren

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The Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) has explained how five political parties were selected to participate in the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

NEDG Executive Secretary, Eddie Emesiri, said in a statement on Thursday that the parties for the debate were picked through an independently administered multi-stage process.

The statement was issued in reaction to the criticism triggered by the number of political parties selected by the group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) organizers of the debates.

Emesiri stressed that the decision to select five parties was taken at the beginning of the process to ensure that the debates were managed effectively.

According to him, the stages of the selection process focused on political parties while the organisers considered the importance of diversity in the nation.

The NEDG Executive Secretary insisted that no preference was given to any candidate or party, adding that nobody influenced the organisers to include or exclude any political party from the debates.

The statement read: “Further to our earlier announcement of participating parties for the Presidential Debates, the organising partners of the Debates hereby reiterate the transparency and independence of the selection process that resulted in the five participating political parties.

“Firstly, we would like to state that the Presidential Debates are organised by a partnership of the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), a broad coalition of over 100 public and private broadcasters in Nigeria with coverage of terrestrial radio, television, direct-to-home, digital terrestrial television and multimedia distribution system. The members of BON are responsible for over 250 radio and tv stations across Nigeria.

“The choice of participating parties for the debate was made through an independently administered multi-stage process. The first stage was an independent online poll and the second involved the distribution of survey questionnaires per state, to professionals, artisans, students, etc; respondents were within the voting age and spread across urban, semi-urban and rural classifications. The third stage was to take an aggregate of the stage result and extend invitations to the top 5 parties for the debate.

“Following our disclosure of the participating parties earlier in the week, our attention has been drawn to some reactions in the public space over the decision to limit the participation to five parties and exclusion of some party flag bearers from the debate. Considering the vast number of contending parties, the decision to limit to five parties was taken at the beginning of our process to ensure ease of management for the debates. All the stages of the selection process were focused on political parties, taking into consideration the importance of national spread and diversity. Focus was not on specific individuals or candidates.

“We wish to emphatically state that the NEDG and BON were not influenced or induced by anyone to include or exclude any political party from the debate. We understand the disappointment of some political parties who would have wished to see their candidates share their visions for the country at the Debates. However, Nigerians have spoken through the multi-stage process and we urge all Nigerians to respect their choice as we abide by the outcome of the independent party selection process.”

NEDG and BON had named only five political parties to participate in 2019 vice presidential and presidential debates.

The parties listed were Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).

This meant that the presidential aspirants expected at the debate are President Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Oby Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu.

However, Presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Oby Ezekwesili, has sought for five more influential presidential candidates.

The five candidates include: Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; Omoyele Sowore, of the African Action Congress, AAC; Byron Fagbemj of KOWA Party; and John Gbor of the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA.

The Vice-Presidential Debate and the Presidential Debate are scheduled for Friday, December 14, 2018, and Saturday, January 19, 2019, respectively.

BIG STORY

Killer Juice: Don’t Take Products Not Approved By NAFDAC, Lagos Warns Residents

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, on his part, advised residents to check the expiry dates of the products they consumed.

Omotoso, in an interview with one of our correspondents, also urged residents of the state not to consume products that were not certified by NAFDAC.

Reacting to the story of the sales of expired citric acid powdered drinks in Kano State, the commissioner said the state consumer protection agency would not allow the ‘killer drink’ to be sold in the state.

He said, “We have a consumer protection agency saddled with the responsibility of curbing fake products and prosecuting people selling such.

“People must watch out for expiry dates on the products they consume and they have to ensure that such products are NAFDAC approved.”

Omotoso also assured residents of the state that there was no need to panic about the ‘killer drink.’




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10 Dead, 400 Hospitalized After Drinking ‘Killer Fruit Juice’ In Kano

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The Kano State Government on Thursday said 10 people had died and 400 others hospitalized after drinking a poisonous fruit juice.

The state government had month said the poisonous fruit juice claimed three lives and led to the hospitalization of 183 others.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, in a video recording made available to journalists in Kano on Thursday, stated that out of 400 people hospitalized, 50 persons were undergoing treatment for kidney-related ailments.

As the Kano State Government gave an update on the killer drink, Lagos, Katsina, Cross River, Sokoto, and Osun state governments urged residents to be vigilant before consuming any fruit drink.

Although they urged residents not to panic, they advised them to check the expiry dates of drinks.

The Kano State Commissioner for Health had at a press conference in Kano on March 16 said the outbreak spread to 13 local government areas of the state.

The state ministry of health said the affected patients showed symptoms such as bloody urine, fever, lethargy, and sometimes yellowness of the eyes (jaundice).

On Thursday, Tsanyawa urged residents to be vigilant when consuming any fruit juice during the ongoing Ramadan to avoid catastrophic consequences.

The commissioner stated, “As you are aware, the ministry of health had in the recent past announced the outbreak of a strange disease traceable to the consumption of a substandard drink.

“The consumption of this fake and substandard product has telling effects on the kidney and other vital organs of the body.

“Due to excessive heat that coincides with Ramadan, there is a possibility for high patronage of juices; I want to use this opportunity to caution residents to be on the watch-out.”

Kano has over the past couple of weeks been battling with an outbreak of a strange disease that has further stretched the health challenges of the state.

Thursday’s update by the health commissioner came after a major breakthrough by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s arrest of the suspects behind selling the Kano killer drink.

The Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Hajiya Hadiza Namadi, in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, said the video on the update of the incident was meant to further warn residents against taking the killer drink, traders were still selling in the state.

NAFDAC) had last week explained that it found out that the chemical added to the drink that led to the death of three persons contained ‘Hyroxylamine,’ used for terrorism.

The regulatory agency disclosed that all the merchants of the deadly chemicals and additives had been apprehended while further investigations were ongoing.




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Sanwo-Olu Performs Ground Breaking Ceremony Of Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red Line Project [PHOTOS]

Peter Okunoren

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History was made today (Thursday) in Lagos, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu breaking the ground for the construction of the 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line, which will traverse from Agbado to Marina, moving more than one million commuters daily.

The rail corridor will be constructed in three phases. The first phase (Agbado-Iddo), which will be completed in 24 months, will be sharing the track with the Federal Government’s Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project up to Ebute – Metta. It will have its dedicated track from Ebute – Metta to Oyingbo and reduce travel time from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes. The passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily.

The ceremony was held at the proposed site of the Ikeja Train Station. It was witnessed by Minister of Transportation Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who was represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh.

To be fully operational in the last quarter of 2022, the Red Line, a project of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), will have eight train stations – from Agbado to Oyingbo.

The Red Line is to raise mass transportation capacity in the State, complementing the Blue Line that traverses from Okokomaiko to Marina. The Blue Line is at 78 percent completion.

Sanwo-Olu, who was at the event with the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, handed cheques to property owners affected by the right-of-way, described the project as another initiative of his administration to deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity.

He said the traffic management and transportation pillar in his Government’s development blueprint – Project THEMES – was being implemented with the goal to develop an efficient and sustainable transportation model that would improve mobility, promote economic growth, and enhance the living conditions of residents.

He said: “Today’s flag-off of the construction of infrastructure for the standard gauge Red Line is another promise kept and it demonstrates, in practical terms, our commitment to achieve the objectives of traffic management and transportation pillar in our development agenda.

This is because we recognize the role which an efficient transportation system plays in enhancing people’s quality of life and as a major driver of socio-economic development.

“The State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which encompasses a number of projects that are germane to achieving our vision for a Greater Lagos, is founded on imperatives that seek to increase transport choices for all users and make the transit system integrated, attractive, convenient, affordable and accessible.

“Since efficient transportation is the backbone of any economy, we are happy to be committing this investment in our transport infrastructure, so that our people can meet their daily targets and aspirations. This all-important transport project we are all gathered to witness today represents a major step in this direction.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the implementation of the Red Line was being supported under the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) programme – a financing package put in place by the State Government through the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN). The Governor expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN Governor, Dr. Godwin Emefiele, for supporting the State in the bid to make the project a reality. He praised also the bankers who facilitated the funding.

To facilitate smooth operations of the Red Line, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be constructing ancillary infrastructure, including six overpasses at strategic level crossing points along the rail corridor to eliminate interactions between the rail system, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The overpasses will provide grade-separated crossings that will enhance safety for the rail system and road users.

Sanwo-Olu said: “The unique characteristics of the Red Line is its integration with the Ikeja Bus Terminal, Oshodi–Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane, the future Orange Line, which goes from Ikeja to Agbowa, and the General Aviation Terminal One of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport through a skywalk.

“Another unique feature of the Red Line is that all the stations have elevated concourses with either at grade island or side platforms for easy boarding and alighting of passengers. The Red Line also integrates with our Bus Terminals at Oyingbo, Yaba, Oshodi, Ikeja and Iju, giving modal options to our people in their daily commute, either for business or leisure.”

The Governor presented cheques of varying amounts as compensation to 25 residents whose properties, businesses, and accommodation will be affected by the project. Over 263 properties are affected. Many of the property owners and tenants were smiling as they got their cheques.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladehinde, described the Red Line as a continuation of the implementation of the State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which made provision for six standard rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors, and over 20 waterway routes.

He said the intervention was a deliberate effort of the State Government and its development partners to make Lagos livable beyond the Year 2032.

Managing Director of LAMATA, Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, said the project was a bold step and commitment of the Governor to solving transportation challenges in line with his administration’s development blueprint.

She noted that the construction would not be delayed by funding and human factors, as stakeholders were duly carried along in the projects.

The Lagos mass transit rail dream began in 1983 during the tenure of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, but it was stopped by the then Federal Government. Sanwo-Olu has vowed to ensure that the Blue Line and the Red Line are completed to the memory of the late Jakande.





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