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Sanwo-Olu Speaks On His Cabinet, Promises Not To Abandon Ambode’s Project, To Make Appointments Within 90 Days

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Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos state, has disclosed the kind of people that will make it into his cabinet.

Speaking with select journalists in Lagos on Thursday, the incoming governor said only those who have shared vision with him and Obafemi Hamzat, his deputy, will make it into his government.

He promised to hit the ground running, promising to run an inclusive government.

“There are so many intelligent people in Lagos. It’s just for us to identify them. Some could work full time, some part time, others could be technocrats or politicians but the bottom line is for us to identify square pegs into square holes and round pegs into round holes. That’s number one” he said.

“Number two, those who would work with Dr Hamzat and I must share our vision. They have to be on the same page with us from day one. The moment a politician or technocrat is appointed, he or she should see himself as a commissioner or staff adviser of Lagos, not for a sect or an area or jurisdiction.

“We are out to empower the people of Lagos state… These are the basic things, we will not compromise. Femi and I have been on this journey for the past eight or nine months. So, immediately we come on board, we will organise a crash course for them (cabinet members) to see where we are going. The moment we all see a common vision, it will be easier for us to drive a common agenda. But I can say Lagosians will be happy with us when we finally bring out those names.”

‘I’ll MAKE MAJOR APPOINTMENTS WITHIN 90 DAYS’

The governor-elect said he would make all the major appointments of his government within three months.

He also spoke about his plans to tackle traffic which is a major problem in the state.

“In the first 90 days or so, we are hoping that we would have a working government in all the cabinets, all of the major appointments that we need to have, we would have them running very quickly,” he said.

“We should begin to see huge solutions in our traffic management. I mean there will be some that we would have solved, there would be some that would still be working on because we are going into a rainy season and when it’s raining, for instance, you can’t pour concrete.

“So, some of those issues will come up. But in terms of the design, identifying those corridors that would need traffic improvement, we would have done all of that. In terms of places where we need to improve and increase waste management solution, we would have done all that.

“Like I have also said, the solution of Apapa gridlock. I am believing that we would have solved it as promised but the sustenance of it is another issue. So, sustaining what we solved is key. It’s going to cost us some money to ensure that people are on ground to ensure that the situation doesn’t get bad again but those are the things we need to do.

“In terms of infrastructure, before the end of the year, you will see our road plan in terms of which road, which bridges we would need to complete in the next two or three years.”

‘EVERYBODY HAS A ROLE TO PLAY’

Asked what he plans to do differently in government, Sanwo-Olu said: “I really don’t know if a man in his 50s would change how he dresses but my style would be to be very humble, transparent, accessible and to be very engaging.

“Let people have a voice, let them have a say. You might not necessarily have your way, but you can have your say. Everybody has a role… it is only if you don’t have any business here and you creating a security challenge for us that you won’t be guided by the style. Other than that, the style would remain to be the governor of everybody.”

On the resources of the state, Sanwo-Olu said no matter how much is in the treasury, it cannot be enough because the challenges are numerous.

COMPLETING INHERITTED PROJECTS

The outgoing governor exchanging pleasantries with the man who will succeed him on Wednesday

However, he promised that his administration would find a creative way to get revenue for its projects.

The governor-elect also promised to put finishing touches to some of the projects which Akinwunmi Ambode, the outgoing governor, is yet to complete.

“No matter how the situation is, money will never be enough but we cannot continue to give money as an excuse not to work,” he said.

“There are creative ways by which you can finance, manage all of the things you want to do, for as long as you are right and people can see the charge out, money will look for you. Money will move to people who need it the most.

“In terms of completion of projects of the outgoing government, oh yes, we will complete them because what doesn’t get completed, wasn’t done in the first place. So, we will ensure that we do that and there shouldn’t be any problem.

“Given my sense of understanding of government, it is a continuum, anyhow it is, we really cannot begin to give excuses. Just go out there go fix it, that is the way it is. Wherever it is that things are wrong, we can make it better, quicker, that is what we have promised.”

The Cable

BIG STORY

U.S Exempts Nigeria From Trump’s New $15,000 Visa Bond Policy

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The United States Mission in Nigeria says Nigeria is not currently part of the pilot visa bond programme.

The Trump administration had introduced a new temporary policy issued to discourage nationals of some countries with higher visa overstay rates.

Under the new policy, visitors to the US from such countries may have to pay up to $15,000 in bonds.

The visa bond pilot programme is said to target mostly African countries with high visa overstay — the visitors are believed to have entered the country legally on student, tourist, work visas and then stay past their visa expiration date.

According to data from the DHS, almost 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their B1/B2 visas in 2018, ranking as the 5th country with the most visa overstays in the US.

This makes Nigeria the African country with the most visa overstays.

In 2019, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had reported that Nigeria might be affected by the move of the Trump administration to check the tide of countries whose immigrants overstay their visas at relatively high rates.

On Monday, the US government announced that it had introduced the visa bond pilot programme for B-1 visas (for business travellers) and B-2 visas (for tourists).

It said the pilot programme will run for six months.

There have been concerns that Nigeria may be affected by the policy.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the US mission in Nigeria said the most populous black nation on earth will not be affected by the policy.

“In response to the April 2019 Presidential Memorandum on Combating High Nonimmigrant Overstay Rates, the Department and our embassies and consulates overseas conducted an in-depth analysis to identify and address root causes of overstays,” the statement read.

“Among other efforts to address this challenge, the State Department is considering additional steps to address overstays, including piloting a limited visa bonds program to test, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the operational feasibility of posting, processing, and discharging visa bonds as means to ensure the timely departure from the United States of certain travelers. Accordingly, the State Department will begin a limited six-month visa bond pilot program beginning on December 24, 2020.

“We are committed to combating visa overstays and making sure travelers to the United States respect our laws. The implementation of this pilot builds on our engagement with foreign governments in recent years and will ensure continued progress to reduce overstay rates. Nigeria is not included in this six months pilot program.”




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Family Of Slain Newspaper Vendor Demands N500m From Gbajabiamila

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The family of Ifeanyi Okereke, the vendor killed by a security aide of Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, is demanding N500 million from the number four citizen.

Last week, Okereke was shot by Abdullahi Hassan, a Department of State Services (DSS) operative attached to the speaker.

According to PUNCH, the demand was contained in a letter addressed to the speaker by Mike Ozekhome, counsel to the family.

In the letter dated November 23, the Okereke family said the demand is not enough to replace their son.

“Our clients have instructed us to make from your good self, the following modest demands: That you use your good offices to ensure the immediate prosecution of your security aide (Abdullahi Hassan), who went on a frolic of his own, clearly acted outside the purview of his duty and responsibility by shooting to death an innocent, harmless and armless citizen,” Ozekhome said.

“That you adequately compensate the Okereke family with a modest sum of N500m only.

“This monetary demand can never adequately replace or take the place of their son, husband, brother, and breadwinner’s life. But it will at least mitigate the obvious trauma and hardship the premature demise of their irreplaceable breadwinner has placed on them.”

The lawyer said if the speaker fails to accede to their demand in seven days, they would take legal steps.

“Take note therefore that it is our clients’ firm instruction that in the event that you fail, refuse and/or neglect to accede to or proffer reasonable compensatory terms to our above modest demands within seven days from the date of this letter, we shall without any further correspondences from us, take appropriate legal steps to enforce our clients’ constitutional rights,” he said.

Gbajabiamila said he has handed over the aide to the DSS for discipline.

He has also visited the family of the deceased to condole with them.




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Six Foreigners, Nigerian Jailed Seven Years For Oil Theft In Rivers [PHOTOS]

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced six foreigners and a Nigerian to seven years imprisonment for oil theft.

Justice Kolawole Omotosho gave the sentence yesterday after three years of prosecution of the convicts by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They include Mohammed Ejaz and Nasser Khan – Pakistanis; Oleksandr Nazarenko and Oleksandr Kashernvi – Ukrainians; Romeo Annang – Ghanaian, Fredrik Omenu – Indonesian; and David Otuohi – Nigerian.

The convicts were arraigned for oil theft alongside four other persons – Victor Mikpayi (Beninois), Francis Ahorlu and Kwesi Attah (Ghanaians), and Victor Azebiri (Nigerian).

But the four others were discharged and acquitted by the court.

They were all docked alongside a company – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a Vessel, MT. TECNE (also known as MT STAR), on four counts of conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a license, and tampering with oil pipelines.

When the charges were read to them, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to them.

Their pleas prepared grounds for their trial that lasted three years during which the EFCC presented evidence and witnesses who testified against the defendants in court.

In his judgment yesterday, Justice Omotosho found the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eleventh defendants guilty of all the four charges and sentenced them to seven years imprisonment, with an option of a fine of N2 million each.

According to the court, the sentences run concurrently from their date of arraignment.

On the other hand, the first, eighth, ninth, and tenth defendants were discharged and acquitted on the ground that “they were not linked to the commission of the crime”.

The company involved in the crime – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA – was wound up by the court while the vessel carrying the offensive crude oil was forfeited to the Federal Government.

The suspected oil thieves ran into troubled waters when their ship was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA on April 25, 2017, at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The ship was seized for illegal loading of petroleum products suspected to be crude oil.

Members of the crew, according to the EFCC, connived with Victor Azeberi, one Peter Ala, and David Ogoma (who is at large), to siphon about 1905.836 cubic liters of crude oil.

The ship had no clearance from relevant Nigerian maritime agencies to navigate in Nigerian waters and all the foreign crew on board the ship had no valid documents to enter the country.




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