Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The shutdown of the Kainji Power Station, the pledge by northern political leaders to deal with security problems and yet another apology from the South African government over the deportation saga with Abuja dominated the front pages in Nigeria this week.
Also reported during the week was the damning allegation of bribery in the Federal House of Representatives, the discovery of illegal routes into Nigeria and the death of four senior police officers in a helicopter crash.
"Kainji Power Station Shut Down Following Excessive Water Leakage" was the headline in the Guardian on Saturday with the story quoting the Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji as saying on Friday that the 760 megawatts Kanji Hydro Power Station in the central Niger State had been shut down following excessive water leakage in the dam which could cause a flooding of the station.
To forestall the flooding, all five units in the power station generating 330MW were shut down early in the morning.
Prof. Nnaji has therefore ordered all divers in the service of the station to be mobilised immediately to trace the point of the water leakage in the dam and rectify the problem as a matter of utmost urgency.
He said if the water leakage problem was not solved immediately, it could affect the operations of the four units of the Jebba Hydro Station which currently produce 335MW.
Built in 1968 with an installed capacity for 760MW, the Kainji Hydro Power Plant has in recent years been generating not more than 450MW due to poor maintenance. In fact, it has not been overhauled since its establishment.
Thisday newspaper captioned its story on the dam "Power Generation Drops as FG Shuts Kainji Plant", reporting that total blackout looms across the nation as the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji, Friday confirmed that the 760 Megawatts Kainji Hydro Power Station in Niger State has been shut.
Apologising to Nigerians for the power outage arising from the shutdown, the minister said it was regrettable that it occurred when there was a considerable reduction in national power supply as a result of shortage in gas supply to thermal power stations.
The minister said President Goodluck Jonathan was personally leading a new effort to draw up a far reaching and composite plan to end all the impediments to the quick realisation of electricity development in Nigeria, including gas shortages.
The shut down of Kainji Hydro Power Station is coming on the heels of a recent loss of 625MW power supply from shortfalls in gas supply to leading thermal power plants in the country.
The gas supply shortfall led to a drop in daily electricity generation from 4400MW to 3775MW; the loss of 330MW from Kainji will mean that the country is now left with about 3445MW daily.
The papers also reported moves by political leaders from the northern part of the country to tackle insecurity. According to the Guardian, with the headline "Northern Leaders Resolve To Tackle Insecurity", political leaders in the North Friday rose from a peace meeting in Minna, the Niger State capital, with a resolve to intensify the search for solutions to threat to the security of the region and Nigeria.
The meeting came barely one week after a similar one was held in Abuja by some prominent citizens from the north to discuss a way out of the current insecurity situation in the region and the country, which is almost crippling both economic and social activities in the region.
The peace forum was conveyed by the former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, under the auspices of Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies (AAIPSDS), to find solutions to the security challenges confronting the country especially the north occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram sect .
The Nation's headline on the story was "We’ll tackle insecurity, IBB Abdulsalami, Ciroma, Atiku, others vow". The paper reported that "The North appears unrelenting in the search for an enduring solution to the Boko Haram insurgency."
According to the Nation on Saturday, eminent leaders across the region, at yet another meeting to check the spate of insecurity in that part of the country, said they are all out for the rediscovery of Nigeria’s unity and the cohesion of northern communities.
The northern elders, who met under the auspices of the Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies (AAIPSDS), resolved to enhance the cohesiveness of the region by promoting inter-faith and inter-ethnic relationship and also assist in the search for better state-community relations.
They also intend to facilitate the emergence of a broad consensus on the basic interests of the North and try to implement strategies in achieving them.
At the forum were two former military rulers, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; one time Finance Minister, Mallam Adamu Ciroma; former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, and former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Pauline Tallen.
Also in attendance was former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop John Onaiyekan.
On the deportation saga between Nigeria and South Africa, Tribune on Saturday headlined its story "Deportation of Nigerians from S/Africa not approved by Zuma - Minister", reporting that the South African Minister of Correctional Services, Mapisa Nqakula, told President Jonathan, on Thursday, that President Jacob Zuma did not authorise the recent deportation of 125 Nigerians from the country.
However, she ruled out the payment of compensation to the affected persons.
The minister, who led an eight-man South African delegation to President Jonathan at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday, said the incident was being investigated with a view to sanctioning whoever might be found culpable.
She said the South African government had publicly apologised to indicate that the two nations already had excellent brotherly relations which should not be destroyed by actions of staff who did not have the authority to take certain decisions.
Nqakula said Nigeria and South Africa needed to build on the strong relations already existing between them through the Bi-National Commission in order to avoid a recurrence of the unfortunate events of the past few weeks.
"S’Africa rules out compensation for deported Nigerians", screamed the Punch which reported that the South African Government has ruled out the possibility of compensating the 125 Nigerians who were recently denied entry into the country.
Its Minister of Correctional Services, Mrs. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, made known the position of her government in Abuja on Thursday at the head of an eight-man special delegation sent by President Jacob Zuma to formally apologise for the incident, which caused a diplomatic row between the two countries.
She said, “The issue of compensation is out of the question. We don’t understand why South Africa will have to compensate.
“We believe that it is enough that we have come out and apologised. It is enough that we have demonstrated our goodwill to the government of Nigeria; it is enough that the President has sent a special envoy to reiterate his commitment to the bi-national with Nigeria and to improve working relationship with Nigeria.”
She, however, said her country had commenced investigation into the activities of the airport officials who turned back the Nigerians on the gound that their Yellow Fever Vaccination Cards were fakes.
On the discovery of illegal routes into Nigeria, the Sun headlined its story "Illegal immigrants: FG uncovers 1,497 illegal routes", with the rider 'To build 84 border plazas to checkmate criminals'.
The Sun reported that the Federal Government Thursday said it had identified 1,497 illegal routes used by illegal immigrants into the country. Hence to fight trans border crimes and reduce porosity in the nation borders, Federal Government would build 84 border plazas within Nigerian territories.
The paper quoted the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, as saying that government was concerned about the porosity of the borders, hence it has in conjunction with Galaxy Backbone and National Identification Commission moved to ensure adequate data capture of all persons that enter and leave, as well as all persons including Nigerians resident in Nigeria.
Moro, however, stated that these plazas when approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would be built on Nigerian territories and not on the land of the country sharing the border.
“At the moment we are at the drawing board, so without prejudice to when this issue will come to the Federal Executive Council, costing them for example, most of our plazas Seme borders for instance is located in Republic of Benin and so enforcement becomes a problem. For instance if there is a breach of our law in Seme border, we will be unable to enforce Nigerian laws because that part of land is in the Republic of Benin. So we are thinking of placing our plazas in our territories so we can tackle any breach,” he said.
The Interior Minister also noted that just like Nigerians, the government was concerned on allegations that most members of the Boko Haram were foreigners who accessed Nigeria through its porous borders and hence its decisions.
“It is as a result of this concern that the Federal Government has started to increase attention to addressing this border porosity. Only recently, Mr. President ordered the closure of some of our borders and posts and only recently too he had declared a state of emergency in some local governments in some of the flash point states and immigration officials have been drafted to add to the existing operatives on ground with officers coordinating these activities.
He reiterated government’s resolve to capture the biometric data of all persons that enters and leave Nigeria, “this is the primary concern for Nigeria, this is a base that Nigeria does not at the moment have comprehensively and this is what we are pursuing vigorously”.
Thisday captured that story with headline "FG Uncovers 1,497 Illegal Migration Routes into Nigeria".
Thisday quoted Interior Minister, Abba Moro, as assuring that it would not be long before illegal immigrants into Nigeria would be easily apprehended as emphasis would not be on direct data capture of information on immigrants into Nigeria.
Also during the week, the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunma Oteh, opened the Pandora’s box at a legislative hearing when she accused the House of Representatives’ capital market committee chairman, Herman Hembe, of asking her for a bribe of 44 million naira (155 naira = US$ 1).
Oteh, who the lawmakers on Wednesday accused of large-scale fraud, fired back Thursday, saying Hembe made two different demands for money, totalling 44 million naira.
She said her refusal to give the funds was behind the hostility of the committee to her during the hearing.
Hembe first asked for 39 million naira to fund the public hearing on the activities of the capital market, she said, adding "Then, a week before the commencement of the sittings, he asked her for 5 million naira, which she also turned down.
"Oteh: Reps demanded N44m bribe from me" was the headline of the Trust on that story while the Vanguard called it "CAPITAL MARKET STABILIZATION: Reps asked me for N44m bribe – Oteh".
According to the Vanguard, the House of Representatives was Thursday embroiled in controversy following mutual allegations of corruption between the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arumah Oteh, and the House.
Ms Oteh who was on Wednesday accused of expending 850,000 naira a day on food and raking in other irregular expenses, Thursday threw her own mud at the House, alleging that the Chairman of the House Committee on Capital Markets, Rep Herman Hembe demanded 44 million naira bribe demand from her. She also accused the lawmaker of collecting estacode and other travelling allowances for a foreign trip from SEC but neither went nor returned the money.
The House committee on its part also unveiled more allegations against Ms Oteh, accusing her of renting an accommodation for herself at 66 million naira and irregularly purchasing four official vehicles for herself. The purchases, according to the House officials, were in violation of existing government regulations on monetization of allowances.
The Tribune also reported the story under the headline "N44 million bribery allegation rocks Reps....As SEC DG accuses House committee of demanding bribe".
And on a sad note, the papers reported the police helicopter crash in which four senior police perished.
"DIG, three others killed in police helicopter crash", the Sun headlined its story, saying that a pall of sorrow enveloped the Louis Edet House, Force Headquarters, Abuja Thursday over the death of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Operations, Mr. Haruna John, aboard a police surveillance helicopter which crashed in Jos, Plateau State.
It was indeed a tragic blow to the force as some officers and men wept openly over the demise of the DIG, who was highly respected and loved by his superiors and surbodinates for his charisma, courage, cheerfulness and operational acumen.
Ironically, he died at the peak of his career exactly 21 days after he was promoted to the rank of DIG, a double-leap which he enjoyed alongside four other Commissioners of Police (CPs), including Marvel Akpoyibo, Abdurahaman Akano, Peter Gana, Emmanuel Udeoji, all of whom are now DIGs.
Checks indicated that the late DIG had shuttled twice between Abuja and Jos in the last 72 hours on official engagements before he died about noon Thursday.
He was in the Plateau State capital on Sunday in the company of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin, shortly after the bomb blast at St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church, during which he momentarily took charge of police operations until the situation was put under control before returning to Abuja.
Giving a blow-by-blow account of the crash, the Trust headline its story "Smoke, fireball ...crash - How faulty chopper killed DIG, 3 others". It said the helicopter that killed DIG Haruna John and three other senior police officers Thursday in Jos appeared to have developed a problem during take off and soon began emitting smoke, burst into flames and then crashed in the Kabong area of the city.
Quoting witness accounts, the paper said the chopper took off from the Jos Prison field with indications that something was wrong with it as it headed to Abuja, a day after the late John attended a security meeting in the Plateau State capital.
As it flew away, the helicopter drastically lost altitude and residents followed it from the ground. Moments afterwards, smoke oozed out of the chopper before it burst into flames and crashed in Kabong, a residential area at Gada Biyu, Jos North.
“The way the aircraft took off after the state Police Commissioner Emmanuel Ayeni bid farewell to the DIG clearly showed it had some technical problem,” an official who was at the take-off point said.
A witness at the crash site, Oluchi Right, said, “I saw this big fire ball come down from the sky and I thought: ‘what is this?’ It just hit the ground.”
The late John was killed along with his orderly, Sergeant Sonatian Shirunam; the pilot, assistant commissioner Garba Yalwa; and the co-pilot, chief superintendent Alexander Pwol-Ja.
A nine-year-old child on the ground was also killed by the impact of the crash, which destroyed five homes in the area.
-0- PANA VAO 17March2012