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Iron Grip of Theresa May Said to Cut Her Off From Key Colleagues




Theresa May approach to Brexit has been meted with opposition from key policy makers that seek soft-Brexit landing as the United Kingdom moves to officially relinquish its membership of the European Union in March 2017.

The U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is increasingly isolated as her demands to control all areas of policy alienate key colleagues, according to more than a dozen officials who worry tensions will undermine planning for Brexit.

Speaking anonymously because the subject is delicate, many of the government figures said an early period of goodwill toward May had given way to division and resentment, leading to policy mistakes that had to be hastily corrected. Much of that stems from the influence wielded by her joint chiefs-of-staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, the people said.

“This sounds like echoes of the end of the Thatcher era with ministers feeling it would be wrong to risk her wrath and stifling rational concerns,’’ said Richard Hayton, who teaches politics at the University of Leeds, England. It’s the feeling that the prime minister’s office “is too much in the bunker.”

May’s office said in a statement they didn’t “recognize this version of events,” and said the premier governs in an “inclusive manner.”

May is said to have been centralizing power more than her predecessor David Cameron while grappling with the most difficult task facing a British leader since the end of World War II. Not only must she extricate the country from the European Union, she needs to orchestrate a set of new trade deals at a time of economic danger, and rally the expertise and talent to pull it off.

May has little time to play with. The government must agree on its Brexit strategy within the next 14 weeks given that May has promised to initiate formal negotiations by the end of March.

Political Missteps

In a speech to the country’s top business group last month, May promised the U.K. would have the lowest corporate levies in the Group of 20 biggest industrialized and emerging economies. However, her comment was made without consulting the Treasury, which sets tax policy, even as it effectively committed the government to slashing corporate tax from 20 percent now to below the 15 percent President-elect Donald Trump has proposed.

Another example: Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was criticized for failing to free up more money for seniors in his budget statement, but it was May’s two top aides who had opposed his proposal to release extra resources, people familiar with the situation said.

Back in October, May’s office had to apologize to Bank of England governor Mark Carney after she publicly criticized monetary policy, saying quantitative easing and low interest rates had “bad side effects.” Again, the Treasury was not consulted before the remarks.

Similar complaints about May’s office intervening were reported by officials across government policy areas, including those working on Brexit plans, health and social affairs.

Tight Ship

Hill and Timothy are said to deny top officials access to May, with even senior ministers and security chiefs finding it difficult to get past them to schedule a meeting with the premier, according to people familiar with the situation. Some are said to be so demoralized that they have given up trying to tell May the truth about what they think of her policies.

The officials fear the breakdown in trust between the premier’s office and other government ministries risks undermining the government’s ability to function when Brexit negotiations begin next year.

Still, however much May’s critics within the government dislike the combative style of her administration, many Conservatives are pleased that the party under her leadership has been 14 points ahead of the Labour opposition in recent polls. The exclusivity of May’s office “either indicates someone who is in trouble or someone who is obviously the only person for the job,’’ said Professor Tim Bale, from Queen Mary University of London. “I suspect it’s the latter.’’

Fear of Defeat

In private, ministers complain that the duo refused to allow even uncontroversial measures to be put to lawmakers because they are so afraid that the government could be defeated in a parliamentary vote. May has a small working majority in the lower house of parliament, which even a minor rebellion would wipe out.

The pair run the premier’s office in 10 Downing Street, holding sway over the operations of the entire government, and also worked with May at the Home Office between 2010 and 2015. They had both left the government by the time of the Brexit referendum in June but returned immediately to front-line politics to run May’s leadership campaign.

They are paid more than any other political advisers in the government, with salaries of 140,000 each per year ($172,000), compared to May’s 149,440 pounds, according to an official pay disclosure.

May’s official spokeswoman, Helen Bower, resigned this month after tensions with Hill, according to people familiar with the situation. In 2014, Hill was forced to step down as May’s aide in the Home Office after a row with the then-education secretary over how to tackle Islamist extremism in schools.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process



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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.

The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.

Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.

Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.

The statement in full:

“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.

The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.

With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;

Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website;

  • applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
  • a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
  • upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
  • that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
  • that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
  • applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
  • a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.

The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.


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INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week



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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.

Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).

He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.

He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities

He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.

“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.

“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.

“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.

“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.

He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.

“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”

Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.

According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.

“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.

“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.

“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission

“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.

Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.

Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.

“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.

“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria

“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.

He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.

In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.

Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.

“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.

“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.

“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said

Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.

Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.

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Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum



House of representatives

The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.

The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.

The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.

The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.

He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”

You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.

Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.

The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.

Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.

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