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Buhari Terminates Appointment of Power and Agriculture Ministers

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President Muhammadu Buhari has relieved two ministers of their appointments. They are the Ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, and his Power counterpart, Saleh Mamman.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, announced this on Wednesday in Abuja after the Federal Executive Council meeting.

He disclosed that the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar, has been redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, while the Minister of State for Works, Abubakar Aliyu, is to take over as Minister of Power.

The exercise, according to Adesina, will continue in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Adesina who read the President’s speech said because the change was constant, the review has become critical in order to reinvigorate the cabinet to deepen capacity and crystallize legacy achievements.

The administration, according to President Buhari, approaches a critical phase in its second term, hence the need to rejig the cabinet to strengthen “weak areas, close gaps, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public good in the country.”

The latest reshuffling comes about a year after the President, in a similar fashion, approved the immediate redeployment of two ministers who swapped their positions.

Those affected are the present Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, and the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura.

Here full text of the statement:

On Wednesday 21st August 2019 the current Federal Executive Council was sworn in after a rigorous retreat to bring returning and new members up to speed on the accomplishments, challenges, and lessons drawn from my first term in office and to emphasize the nine priority areas of government for the second term.

Two years and some months into the second term, the tradition of subjecting our projects and programs implementation to independent and critical self-review has taken firm roots through sector Reporting during Cabinet meetings and at Retreats.

These significant review steps have helped to identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public good to Nigerians.

I must commend this cabinet for demonstrating unparalleled resilience that helped the government to navigate the disruption to global systems and governance occasioned by the emergence of COVID-19 shortly after the inauguration.

The weekly Federal Executive Council meeting was not spared because the traditional model was altered.

As we are all aware, change is the only factor that is constant in every human endeavour and as this administration approaches its critical phase in the second term, I have found it essential to reinvigorate this cabinet in a manner that will deepen its capacity to consolidate legacy achievements.

Accordingly, a few cabinet changes, marking the beginning of a continuous process, have been approved.

They are as follows:

Ministers Leaving the Cabinet:

Mohammed Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and

Engr. Sale Mamman, Minister of Power.

Redeployment:

Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Environment, to assume office as the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development;

Engr. Abubakar D. Aliyu, Minister of State, Works & Housing assumes office as the Minister of Power.

In due course, substantive nominations will be made to fill the consequential vacancies in accordance with the requirements of the constitution.

I have personally met with the departing members to thank them for their contributions to discussions in the cabinet and the invaluable services rendered to the nation.

Today effectively marks their last participation in the Federal Executive Council deliberations and I wish them the best in all future endeavours.

Finally, I wish to reiterate once more, that this process shall be continuous.

I thank you all and May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Travel

High Altitude, Higher Prices: Domestic Airfares Jump 150%

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Nigerian air travelers are reeling from a dramatic increase in domestic airfares with prices skyrocketing by 150% over the past year.

This surge has forced many passengers to reconsider their travel options, opting for road transport despite the risks involved.

Passengers like Dare Adepoju, who frequently commutes between Lagos and Abuja for business and family visits, have expressed frustration.

“It’s unsustainable,” he lamented. “With flights nearing N200,000 for just an hour, I’m exhausted.”

Social media is abuzz with similar sentiments. Akinloa Adejuwon tweeted about the tough choice between costly flights and unsafe roads, highlighting the dire situation many Nigerians face.

The fare increase is attributed to a limited number of operational aircraft. Airline Operators of Nigeria revealed that many planes are grounded due to maintenance needs and lack of access to foreign exchange for repairs.

The current situation sees airlines like Ibom Air and Air Peace charging up to N238,000 for a one-way ticket between major cities.

This price jump, from about N51,000 last year, reflects the severe challenges the industry faces.

Capt. Roland Iyayi, a senior member of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, pointed to the shortage of aircraft as a primary cause.

“Making forex available to airlines is crucial for resolving this crisis,” he stated.

As the industry grapples with these challenges, passengers continue to hope for relief. The aviation sector’s future hinges on addressing these issues, ensuring safe and affordable travel for all Nigerians.

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Education

Southern States Skeptical as NELFund Disburses First Loans

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The National Education Loan Fund (NELFund) officially launched on Wednesday, a significant step in providing financial aid to students across Nigeria.

However, the initiative faces skepticism, particularly from the southern states.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the first tranche of funds, amounting to N32 billion, aimed at empowering Nigerian youth and breaking financial barriers to education.

The NELFund portal has registered 164,000 students, with 103,000 applying for loans.

Despite the promising start, many southern states remain doubtful about the fund’s implementation.

Akintunde Sawyerr, NELFund’s Managing Director, acknowledged these concerns, citing data challenges in verifying indigent applicants as a primary hurdle.

Sawyerr highlighted the lack of comprehensive data needed for credit assessments. The fund relies on bank verification numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), and educational institution data to determine eligibility.

More applications have been received from northern states, where students have shown greater confidence in the fund.

Sawyerr pointed out that skepticism in the south might stem from uncertainty about the program’s viability.

NELFund offers two types of loans: educational fees paid directly to institutions and upkeep loans for student stipends.

The focus is currently on government-owned institutions to ensure a smooth rollout.

President Tinubu emphasized education as a critical tool against poverty and insecurity, linking the nation’s challenges to a lack of educational opportunities.

He reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive growth through education.

As NELFund continues its rollout, efforts to address data issues and regional skepticism will be crucial. By building trust and ensuring transparency, the program aims to support more students nationwide and foster a fairer society.

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Travel

UAE Lifts Visa Ban on Nigerians, Introduces N640,000 Non-Refundable Application Fee

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban imposed on Nigerian passport holders, effective July 15.

However, this positive move comes with a substantial caveat—a new non-refundable visa application fee of N640,000.

The announcement, made following bilateral discussions between Nigerian and UAE authorities, ends a prolonged period of restricted travel between the two nations due to diplomatic disputes and financial issues.

New Visa Regulations

Under the new guidelines set forth by the UAE government, Nigerian passport holders seeking to travel to the Emirates must adhere to several stringent requirements:

  1. Application Fee: Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of N640,000 for visa processing. This fee represents a significant increase compared to the previous $100 fee before the ban.
  2. Document Verification Number (DVN): Before applying for a visa, applicants must obtain a Document Verification Number (DVN). This number is valid for only 14 days from issuance or until the visa application is processed, whichever comes first.
  3. Application Process: The application process for UAE visas remains stringent, emphasizing the importance of meeting all specified criteria to enhance the chances of approval.

Public Reaction and Outcry

The introduction of the N640,000 visa application fee has sparked widespread criticism and public outcry among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Many have expressed their discontent, labeling the new fee as exorbitant and financially burdensome, especially in light of economic challenges facing the country.

Social media users have taken to various platforms to voice their concerns:

  • @firstladyship: “It is obvious the UAE don’t want Nigerians. They reluctantly unbanned the Nigerian passport, but slammed a hefty N640,000 on Nigerians. Guess what? The money is nonrefundable & has expiration date. This is see finish.”
  • @Peco3D: “This is just extortion in fine words. Shameless.”
  • @Comr_lucky1: “This is exploitation and shameful if allowed by Nigeria government.”

Government Response

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced the lifting of the visa ban and emphasized that Nigerian passport holders are now eligible to apply for visas to the UAE.

The government has acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens and assured them of continued engagement to address the issue.

Background

The UAE had imposed the visa ban on Nigeria approximately two years ago amid diplomatic tensions and financial disputes.

Efforts to resolve these issues included discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian and UAE governments, leading to the recent breakthrough in visa restrictions.

Despite the imposition of the N640,000 visa fee, the lifting of the ban represents a step forward in diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation and economic ties.

As Nigerian travelers navigate these new visa regulations, reactions continue to pour in, reflecting the broader impact of international relations on individual mobility and economic opportunities.

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