September 26, 2008

Study: More employees checking work e-mail in off hours

NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Soto, general manager of an advertising firm in Philadelphia, has a complicated relationship with his BlackBerry e-mail phone.

A new study found that 22 percent of U.S. workers said they check office e-mail "often" on weekends.

He felt "awful" and out of touch when he was without a BlackBerry for two days because his unit fell overboard when he was sailing on the Chesapeake.

At the same time, if he could turn back the clock five years, to before the BlackBerry took over corporate America, he would do it "in a minute."

"If everybody also threw their BlackBerrys away, I would too," he said, chuckling. "The only problem is, in my industry, it makes me more competitive."

A study published Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that workers in general have mixed feelings about the increased use of e-mail and the Internet in the last few years.

In a survey of 2,134 adults in March and April, 96 percent used e-mail, the Internet or cell phones. Of them, 80 percent said these technologies have improved their ability to do their jobs, and 58 percent said these tools have given them more control over when to work.
But 46 percent also said these devices increase the demands that they work more hours, and 49 percent said that the technologies make it harder to disconnect from work when they should be off.

Half of the respondents who were employed and had e-mail said they check their work e-mail on weekends, and a full 22 percent said they checked office e-mail "often" on the weekends, up from 16 percent who said the same thing in 2002.

Much of the increase can be attributed to increased use of wireless e-mail devices like the BlackBerry, made by Research in Motion Ltd. Of those who have such gadgets, 40 percent say they often check work e-mail on weekends. A quarter often check in even when on vacation.

"The scariest thing was when I was on vacation a couple of years ago, and my BlackBerry rang. I was in the middle of the Sahara Desert!" Soto said.

Checking work e-mail is considered much more important for people making more than $75,000 a year than it is for low earners, just as high earners are more likely to have longer hours. Also those who work for large corporations are much more likely to be checking their e-mail "constantly" at work, compared to those who work for smaller companies.

For workers in general, it's unclear whether e-mail alone is increasing the amount of work. Other studies show that people have worked roughly the same number of hours every week for the last two decades. In the Pew study, 17 percent said e-mail had increased their work hours, while 6 percent said the opposite -- that e-mail reduced the time they had to work.

The survey was conducted by phone, and the respondents were called randomly. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percent.cnn

South Africa elects Motlanthe president

CAPETOWN, South Africa (CNN) -- South Africa's Parliament chose the deputy president of the ruling ANC party, Kgalema Motlanthe, as interim president Thursday to replace outgoing President Thabo Mbeki, the African National Congress said.

Kgalema Motlanthe would remain in office until elections in South Africa next spring.

Mbeki resigned last weekend at the request of the ANC, which holds a majority in the National Assembly.

Motlanthe, a left-leaning intellectual with roots in South African labor unions, will be sworn in Thursday. He will remain in office until the general elections, now scheduled for April.

The new interim president is a former political prisoner under the apartheid regime who spent 10 years at the infamous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was also incarcerated.

After more than a third of the cabinet resigned after Mbeki's ouster, Motlanthe is under pressure to put together a government that will inspire confidence among investors jittery about South Africa's political stability and direction.

ANC President Jacob Zuma, who defeated Mbeki in an election for the political party's top job in December, is widely expected to win the nation's presidential contest.

Ten days after Zuma was chosen as ANC leader, prosecutors indicted him on corruption, fraud and racketeering charges.

A judge threw out the case this month, calling it invalid, and accused Mbeki's government of political interference. Prosecutors could still revive the case.

Mbeki led South Africa for nearly 10 years before announcing Saturday that he would step down.

In his speech, he listed several of his accomplishments, saying that under his leadership, the country has had the longest period of sustained economic growth in its history and has reached out to indigent people in an unprecedented way.


Former Remedies star Tony Tetuila is not the kind of guy that looks for every opportunity to cause chaos or pick up a fight. But the 33 year old act lost his cool last Friday during a night out with friends.

According to eye witness accounts, Tetuila was partying in the VIP area of Club Papas (a night club domiciled in K’s Place, Victoria island, Lagos) when the incident occurred. ‘‘He got involved in a heated argument with one of the bouncers’’, said a source who was also lounging in the club’s VIP section. ‘‘The guy must have said something very nasty because Tony was very upset and he lost his cool’’.

More than two people got injured in the process, as Tony threw his wine glass, injuring one of the club’s bodyguards in the head. Attempts by friends to hold him back proved futile as he tried to break lose, and wrestle the bodyguard.

Club owner Frank Okamigbo was not seen on the scene. But known names who witnessed the altercation include Banky W, Kaha, Jude Okoye.

‘‘It was a complete show of shame’’, said a source who witnessed the incident. ‘‘No matter what happened, Tony should not have reduced himself to the level of fighting with bouncers, and even injuring one of them’’

It was claimed that one of his friends, a certain Kentro World act called Flo also threw a can of beer at one of the bouncers.

Police was not called in.

And Tony continued to dance away all night, as the injured bouncer had to excuse himself from work and treat his wound.


American soul diva Anita Baker may have to meet the organisers of her foiled Nigerian concert in court, if se fails to refund the fees she was paid for the concert.

A director at Kilimanjaro, the organisers of the event Mrs Toyin Adekoya told me on Tuesday that the company may resort to legal action, if Baker’s representatives do not refund the performance fees through their booking agent.
Adekoya told me ‘‘we have made a request for refund through the booking agent we used, and they have not said they are not making refunds. So, the issue of legal action has not yet come up. If they do not make the necessary refunds, then we will decide what to do’’.

However, speaking the mind of her company, she expressed deep regrets over the failed concert, maintaining that the company will ‘‘never’’ secure the services f the 50 year-old diva again. ‘‘We chose her because of her wide fan base in Nigeria, but we were completely disappointed by her actions when she came over. Our main regret is the disappointment felt by all those who came to watch her perform and were disappointed’’.

Baker had ignored a high-profile audience waiting to see her perform at the Expo centre, Lagos on Saturday August 30, after her reps said she was uncomfortable with the hall arrangement and technical quality.

No one has been able to say whether a clause in her contract, or a rider to the organisers specified her preference for theatre-style settings as opposed to the banquet style which is characteristic of most high profile events in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the organisers continue to make refunds to disappointed guests, as they count their losses and hope to get back a large chunk of Anita Baker’s fees to cushion part of the losses.

Senate Recess Delays New Ministers’ Appointment

Nigerians anxiously aw-aiting President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s new cabinet will have to wait a little more.
However, the list of the prospective ministers is ready and only waiting for the Senate, which is at present on recess, for the confirmation of the nominees.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of yesterday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which lasted exactly two hours and presided over by President Yar’Adua, the Minister of Communications and Information John Odey said the announcement of a new cabinet would be done at the President’s discretion.
Asked if the cabinet reshuffle was discussed at the FEC meeting, Odey said: “Definitely, there is a way forward because council resolutions have been passed today and the structure as listed to you has been approved.”
On when to expect the new cabinet, the minister replied, “That is at the pleasure of Mr. President. All cabinet ministers and members are at the pleasure of Mr. President and of course that will be done by Mr. President himself.”
But the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Olusegun Ade-niyi, said in a chat with State House correspondents last night that the ministerial list had been completed and was only waiting for the Senate, which at present is on recess, to confirm the new ministers.
“Well, the cabinet reshuffle is not a public relations gambit for the President. It is based on the need to galvanise government and improve on service delivery by identifying areas where there ought to be changes and bringing in new talents that would do the job.
“That process I can assure you is completed but since the Senate, which is the confirming authority, is currently on recess, there is no wisdom in creating vacuums at a period finishing touches are being put on the 2009 budget.
“The better part of next week is public holiday, so there is no hurry and I know the President to be a very painstaking person when it comes to crucial decisions as in this instance. And perhaps to assure you I have not been gagged, you can quote me on that, there will be a ministerial reshuffle,” he added.
However, the fate of ministers nominated from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) remains unknown in the impending cabinet reshuffle as their political parties are yet to be contacted.
Two ministers from ANPP and one from PPA are currently serving in the President Yar’Adua’s Gover-nment of National Unity (GNU).
The National Chairman of ANPP, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, told THISDAY last night that his party was yet to be contacted on the impending cabinet changes.
“We are members of the GNU, but I can tell you that up till this moment, the President is yet to contact us on the planned cabinet changes. We nominated ministers to the GNU and therefore we ought to know what is happening. Though we defer to him that as the Commander-in-Chief and President, he may choose not to contact us,” the ANPP chairman said but refused to accept that the refusal of the President to contact the party was responsible for the latest outburst against PDP.
He insisted that PDP was a cancerous political party without any idea to move Nigeria forward.
A source from the office of PPA National Chairman also told THISDAY that the party was yet to be contacted.
Also yesterday, Adeniyi denied insinuations in some section of the media that Tuesday’s oath of secrecy administered on political office holders serving in the State House meant they were being gagged.
He said: “It’s been discovered that the special advisers and the chief economic adviser were not supposed to be part of the oath taking as they like ministers and permanent secretaries had already been sworn in by the President.
“The oath taking is a public service ritual that ought to be in our file and it was the new State House Permanent Secretary who discovered the omission on the part of many of us and insisted we all had to do it. While it imposes responsibility on public officials, it is not an attempt to gag anybody and I can say categorically that nobody can gag me.
“I have even discovered that there was an error because the oath of secrecy is not for myself, the Chief Economic Adviser and other special advisers who, like ministers and permanent secretaries, had already been sworn in by the President.
“If it was an attempt to muzzle the media as it is being erroneously interpreted to mean, why would we make it public and allow the event to be covered by the same media? That is not realistic. I allowed reporters in because there was nothing to hide otherwise, we could have done it secretly. The truth is that it was a mere procedural thing and the idea that it is targeted at the media is not, and cannot be correct. I would never be part of such an exercise and neither would the President allow such to happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved the restructuring of federal ministries, which increased the number of the ministries from 22 to 28, as announced September 10.
FEC also granted approvals for the awards of some contracts which included contract for the completion of the University of Abuja Permanent Site’s core ring road project in favour of Messrs Exsa (Nig) Ltd, in the sum of N57,430,424.86.
The initial cost of the project was about N642 million before the contractor was asked to carry out variation as there was no fund to continue the project which had at that time reached about 65 per cent completion stage.
Another contract awarded was the one for sole sourcing of surveying and geomatic equipment for three universities in favour of Messrs Geoqinetiq Limited in the sum of N496, 502,150.58.
University of Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria were the three beneficiaries under the second phase of the project.
The phase one of the project covers four institutions; Kaduna Polytechnic, Federal School of Survey, Oyo, Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu and Federal Polytechnic Nekede were approved by FEC last year.
The project which is in response to the President’s initiative of revamping Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) is under the sponsorship of Education Trust Fund (ETF).
The purpose, according to Odey, is to develop and deliver a geomatics capacity building initiative to transform seven institutions of higher learning as identified by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and ETF, into world class geomatics centres of excellence.
FEC also gave anticipatory approval for a credit worth $250million and $200million for the proposed 3rd National Fadama Development Project (FADAMA III) and support of Community and Social Development Project (CSDP).
The total project cost for the FADAMA III project is $450 million out of which $250 million is IDA credit.
The highly concessional credit facility has 0.75 per cent service charge per annum on the amount withdrawn and it is payable over 40 years with a grace period of 10 years.
The balance will be sourced among the three tiers of government as follows: Federal Government $23 million, state governments $77 million, Local Government $40 million and communities $60 million.
The minister said 20 per cent of the communities contribution would be in kind (materials and labour) while Global Environment Facility (GEF) is expected to provide grant in the sum of $7million.
The objective of the proposed FADAMA III project, according to Odey, is to increase the incomes of users of rural water resources on a sustainable basis.
He noted that the project has six components that would be executed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources over a period of five years (2009-2013).
The 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are expected to benefit from the project.
The community project, which is targeted at promoting the use of participatory planning, budgetary and monitoring process is aimed at increasing the access of the poor rural people to improve social and natural resource infrastructure services.
According to the minister, the project fits into the programmes of NEEDS, President Yar’Adua’s 7-point Agenda and the country Partnership Strategy Framework agreed with World Bank and DFID.
The credit, he further said, would be on lent to participating states on the same terms and conditions in which they are offered by IDA to the Federal Government.
However, a subsidiary Credit Agreement is to be executed between the Federal Government and the participating 24 states.
But in what appears to be a subtle protest over the United Nation’s non-recognition of Nigeria’s contributions to the South-South Development Cooperation (SSDC), FEC frowned on the UN Secretary-General’s 2007/2008 speeches, which did not reflect the country’s contribution. thisdayonline

September 25, 2008

Nigeria has potentials to lead the world — Israeli envoy

Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Moshe Ram, has posited that Nigeria has the material and human resources to be the leading country in the world. Ambassador Ram said this in Osogbo, Osun State, yesterday when he called on Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
He said with the endowment of natural resources, Nigeria could be atop if the resources were properly harnessed.

Ram opined that what his nation, Israel, lacked in natural resources, it has in human resources, which, according to him, had been used to turn round its fortune.

With commitment and development of the educational sector, the Ambassador said Nigerians too could positively change the face of their country.

Ram, who commended Oyinlola for the development of the state, said the country could better be appreciated when every part is touched.

“Nigeria can better be appreciated when one visits other parts outside Abuja. This is a great country.”
In his remarks, Oyinlola noted that his administration’s partnership with Israel had been successful.
According to him, no nation could be developed without recourse to education, adding that his administration has given adequate attention to the sector.

The governor added that a number of exchange programmes had taken place between the state and Israel in the areas of education, agriculture and others.

He said efforts would always be made to foster broader unity for the benefit of the country and Israel.
Meanwhile, a memorandum of understanding has been signed between an Israeli firm and the state on waste management conversion worth $10millon. vanguard online

Ace broadcaster, Yinka Craig, dies in America

The protracted cancer of the bloodstream which has kept ace broadcaster, Yinka Craig bed-ridden for months, finally claimed his life at about 6.00a.m on Tuesday in Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America.

Craig, who has suffered greatly from the ailment, died at Mayo Clinic where he was receiving treatment thus putting a final stop to his 40 eventful years as broadcaster-producer at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). Aged 60, the late Craig was loved by all and sundry as he was a household name among television loving Nigerians, both old and young.He is survived by wife, Dr Kehinde Craig and three children.

It would be recalled that the late Yinka Craig battled with his ailment for months before the Lagos State government donated the sum of N15 million out of the N38 million needed for his treatment. The donation enabled Craig to be flown to America where h e was hospitalized. Following this, hopes were raised that the once bubbling and humorist broadcaster would bounce back to life and return to his beat at the N TA. It was, therefore, a tragedy to learn of his death yesterday.

Loved and highly respected by the high and the low, the late Craig was a favourite of top government functionaries, politicians, industrialists, monarchs and diplomats. He was also until his death, a man of many parts. He was known to be multi-talented, quick-witted and incredibly knowledgeable about many things. He exhibited his knowledge about astronomy and space technology, as well as computer science, outside entertainment for which he was most popular. Aside this, Craig was equally knowledgeable about sports, politics and oil explorations.

He was, among others, a comedian with an incredible mastery of rib-cracking anecdotes, just as he was an entertainer extra-ordinaire and a talented instrumentalist – he used to play the guitar the same way he was perfect on the piano and saxophone. He was also a singer and composer aside being a voracious reader.

As a thorough professional, the late Craig spent most part of his life in radio and television. He was an outstanding broadcaster with a knack for innovative programmes. He was a major and favourite anchor of such programmes as Newsline, Sports and AM Express. One of his closest friends who was quite devastated by Craig’s ailment described him as “a broadcaster who warmed the hearts of his audience with his immutable style of presentation, genteel humor and a characteristic toothy smile. His 40 years in broadcasting, from the days of the old WNBS, is almost as old as the history of broadcasting in independent Nigeria.”

In a prompt reaction to Craig’s death, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State said yesterday that Craig’s exit is not just a great loss to the state, but also to the country and the journalism profession.
Daniel, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Wale Adedayo, also observed that the late Craig could be listed among the first 11 who have done the country proud in his chosen profession.

According to Daniel, Craig was “one of the first 11 of TV professionals in Nigeria. His passion, professionalism and sense of patriotism in a profession that prides itself as an epitome of quality service was almost without equal…” We pray that Almighty will grant his family, friends and colleagues the fortitude to bear the loss.”

However, all efforts by Daily Sun to contact his family proved abortive yesterday as a close friend informed of the incident. The man who spoke anonymously confirmed Craig’s death but declined to comment or give his tributes saying “we are just trying to contact his wife (Dr Kehinde Craig) and I don’t think we should start lamenting his death on the pages of the newspaper.”

Also, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, described the death of the sportscaster, as shocking and a great loss to Nigeria. Fashola, in a press statement signed by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Oyeyemi Bamidele, said the renowned broadcaster would be greatly missed by Lagosians having lived all his life, and attained professional excellence in Lagos.
While expressing his condolence to the bereaved family and friends, Governor Fashola, beseeched God Almighty grants them the strength to bear the loss.

Also expressing pains and shock at the demise of the T.V presenter, his former colleague and ex-Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Alhaji Danladi Bako, described Craig as a quintessential gentleman.
“He remains one of the most efferverescecy, most professional and most irrepressible broadcaster, Nigeria ever had. He knew a bit of everything and everything about a bit,” Danladi noted.courtesy sunonile


A beaming Jeremy Piven spoke to ET backstage at the Emmy Awards moments after he won the Best Supporting Comedy Actor award for his role playing Ari Gold on HBO's "Entourage."
Watch Jeremy continue his acceptance speech to our cameras, in which he explains that he forgot to thank the cast and crew of "Entourage" while on the Emmy stage. He also tells ET about his silent, heartfelt thank you to his father!
Sunday's award is Jeremy's third Emmy win in the same category for the series. etonline


They're second to go!
Their dancing days are numbered! Actor Ted McGinley and his pro partner Inna Brayer became the second pair to get voted off "Dancing with the Stars."
"I'm gonna miss everybody, it's been a lot of fun," Ted said on Wednesday night's results show. "I know there's a lot of guys at home on the couch with a beer in hand having a chuckle at me -- and thank you for that."
"I'm so proud of him," Inna admired. "He's come such a long way."
Toni Braxton and Alec Mazo were the other pair seemingly up for elimination, prompting judge Len Goodman to say: "This shows that nobody's safe. Anybody can be in the bottom two!"
Musical performances by Jesse McCartney and the Jonas Brothers lifted spirits -- Joe Jonas even danced mid-song for a few beats!

September 23, 2008

Warner Bros. Studio turns 85 this year, an anniversary now marked by two of the most recognizable symbols of success, High Hollywood style: a No. 1 summer blockbuster -- "The Dark Knight" -- and a long, thoughtful PBS biopic.

The three-part “You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story," which premieres tonight, is written and directed by Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel, and is based on his book by the same name. It bills itself as a five-hour walk through the studio's history.

But the "this" you must remember is that the film is essentially a birthday present from Warner Bros. to itself, an endless toast rather than a purely journalistic examination. Which is perfectly fine, of course.
And Schickel has certainly constructed a rich, tasty birthday cake. There are layers of Hollywood history ordered both chronologically and by theme, filled with commentary from players, stars and critics (including our very own Kenneth Turan) and iced with a series of delicious film clips.

Certainly there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours than watching Martin Scorsese wax lyrical about "Baby Face" or "Bonnie and Clyde," or hearing an elderly James Cagney dismiss the modern methods of acting -- "we worked six, sometimes seven days a week," he says at one point. "It was factory work, but it was the job and you did it."

Just don't come looking for behind-the-scenes dirt, deal-making, career-breaking or even much in the way of historical tension. Things like Bette Davis' famous flouting of her Warner Bros. contract and Jack Warner's "friendly testimony" before the infamous House Committee on Un-American Activities are mentioned, but only in passing.

In fact, most things are mentioned only in passing. Even with five hours to play with, it's difficult to explore 85 years of any influential company too deeply, much less one that employed the likes of Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Davis and Joan Crawford. And that's just the early years.

Narrated by Clint Eastwood, who has worked with Warner Bros. extensively, from the "Dirty Harry" years, through his Oscar-winning "Million Dollar Baby," "You Must Remember This" opens in 1923, when Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack officially incorporate their new motion-picture company. These first two hours, which take us to 1950, are perhaps the most interesting, if only because this was when the studio was at its purest. No television to compete with, no subdivisions, no multimedia marketing -- the brothers just made movies. Lots of movies, that created many of our most beloved stars.

Warner Bros. started with Rin Tin Tin and worked its way up, through John Barrymore and Al Jolson, coping first with the advent of sound -- which the brothers initially had little regard for except as a means to convey the clash of swords in their swashbucklers -- and then with a country transitioning from post-World War I bubble to pre-World War II bust.

The films of the 1930s remain among some of the industry's strongest, particularly at Warner Bros., which unlike many other studios starkly addressed social issues. Sex, drugs, and the almost obsessive fears of a floundering working- and middle-class were all served up in films such as "Baby Face" "Heroes for Sale" and "I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang." (Note to viewers: You might want to have a pad and pen ready for your next trip to Netflix or Amazon.)

Although the studio embraced all manner of themes and genres, from swashbucklers to gangster films to Looney Tunes, the early years set a philosophical and political tone that would define Warner Bros. for the coming decades -- a willingness to explore the darkness, but buoyant in its belief in America (see "Yankee Doodle Dandy").

Using subtitles like "The Gathering Storm," "The Reluctant Romantic," "Dreaming Democracy" and "A Touch of Insolence," Schickel lays out an über-narrative extolling the studio's finest films and greatest stars. In a way this is an impossible task -- there is just too much ground to cover.

Still, some structure is required to keep the film from becoming simply "Warner Bros.' Greatest Hits," which is essentially what it becomes on the second and third nights, when we move through the low points of the '60s through the industry renaissance of the '70s and '80s.

By the time we reach present day, Schickel's thematic thread begins to fray, and in its place is a series of critical commentary about films such as "Bonnie and Clyde," "Mean Streets" and "Unforgiven." While most of us are happy to wallow in conversation about our favorite movies, the most interesting observations come from Eastwood and George Clooney, who both speak with something like longing of Warner Bros. as being the last studio that still feels like a studio.

While so much of moviemaking is outsourced and freelanced, underwritten by hedge funds and multitiered distribution deals, there is something comforting in the fact that Warner Bros. still occupies the bit of Burbank it has occupied since 1929 -- still marked by the signature water tower bearing the initials that have indeed meant so much to so many for so long.

Hugh Hefner: Relationships "In Transition"

Rumors of Hugh Hefner and his girls calling it quits have been greatly exaggerated.

The Playboy captain just told me that he is very much still dating Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt.

"The reality is the girls and I are all together," Hefner said.

He quickly shot down reports that Madison has been seeing Mindfreak illusionist Criss Angel.

"Holly shares my bed on a nightly basis," Hef said.

And Hef had a lot more to say...

Hefner does acknowledge that the relationships are "in transition."

"Are there going to be changes in the relationships, I'm sure there are going to be," Hefner said. "I think that in the future, the girls are going to, in time, be dating others and moving out of the mansion, and when that happens we will not be keeping it a secret," Hefner said.

He says he's not surprised by the constant gossip and false rumors because the girls have become celebrities in their own right because of the success of E!'s The Girls Next Door.

Season five premieres Oct. 5, and Hef and the girls have committed to a season six if there is one.

Nigeria needs $17.5bn to modernise railways –World Bank

Nigeria will require about $17.5bn to modernise its railway system, World Bank Country Director, Mr. Onno Ruhl, has said.

In a paper presented at the just concluded conference on the revitalisation of railway infrastructure in Abuja, Ruhl said studies estimated capital cost of conversion from the present narrow gauge railway to standard gauge at between $1.5m and $5.0 m per route km.

“For a railway system of about 3,500 route-km, this would translate into an investment of between $5.25 and $17.5bn,” Ruhl said in the paper which was made available to our correspondent on Monday.

In order to improve on infrastructure, Nigeria is seeking investments in the railway sector in order to match the increasing rate of freights and passengers.

Last Tuesday, the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mazi J. C. Nwankwo said Nigeria would require about $15bn in the next 10 years to fix its dilapidated railway sector.

Ruhl, however, said from an economic and financial viability point of view, the modest traffic volumes of five to 10 million tonnes per year of freight and nine million passengers would not support the high level of investment on gauge conversion.

“There were also alternative recommendations that the present narrow gauge railway, after rehabilitation, could effectively meet the expected traffic volume for the foreseeable future (10-20 million gross tonnes per year) and render competitive service quality,” he said.

According to him, the narrow gauge railway was quite capable of transporting 100 million tonnes of freight per year at competitive costs as was the experience in South Africa where about 150 million tonnes of freight moves on the same type of gauge.

While citing several research studies on the prospects of the railway sector, Ruhl said it could be conservatively estimated that a rehabilitated and an efficiently operated railway system in Nigeria had the potential of growing freight traffic volume to 4.2 million tonnes over a period of four to five years (by 2010) on the narrow gauge system.

“In subsequent years, the traffic by rail would grow further in line with seven to eight per cent rate of economic growth of the country,” he said.

According to him, the traffic volume on the narrow gauge system can possibly grow to 5.6 million tonnes by 2015 and to 7.5 million tonnes by 2020 assuming an average growth in traffic volume at six per cent per year.

“At the same time, it was conservatively estimated that railways, when restored, would possibly carry about nine and 10 million passengers per year by 2010,” he added. punch online

Dancing With the Stars Returns: Lance Kills It, Brooke and Toni Strut, Jeff and Rocco Stumble

Lisa O'Connor/, Jeff Frank/, Joe Kohen/Getty Images, Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Dancing With the Stars kicked off its three-night seventh-season premiere extravaganza tonight, with all the sequins, tuxes, predance jitters, trips to the emergency room and Bruno Tonioli metaphors that such an endeavor entails.

While all 13 contestants had a go Monday, only 12 will dance Tuesday and then, on Wednesday, yet another will get the boot, leaving 11 to tango on in week two.

But in the meantime, find out who starred, who stunk, what the judges said, what we think and then—if you have any energy left—tell us what you thought...

Cody Linley: The 18-year-old Hannah Montana star and closet beat-boxer has great potential. With all that teenage energy, he matched two-time champion Julianne Hough cha-for-cha in the opening dance of the season. His footwork wasn't perfect, but he moves well and has a great attitude, not to mention a partner who, if all else fails, can keep all eyes on her with costumes such as that backless, one-sided fringed number she was sporting tonight. Well done!
Judges Said: 18; "I'm just freaking out that both of you—your combined age—is younger than my age," judge Carrie Ann Inaba fretted.

Rocco DiSpirito: We were glad to see that Karina Smirnoff was still able to wear a barely there dress despite all the pasta the celebrity chef appeared to be feeding her—mainly because this duo's going to need all the help they can get, considering DiSpirito couldn't land a toe-heel lead to save his life. All of which makes us wonder, did Smirnoff sprain her ankle on purpose?
Judges Said: 14; "A fox-trot on the brink of chaos," per Bruno.

Toni Braxton: It was a bit nerve-racking watching the 40-year-old singer after she revealed that she had recently been diagnosed with microvascular angina, which occurs when not enough oxygen is making it into the heart. But Braxton's body rivals the female pros and she cha-cha'd like a natural, curing our stage fright in one session. This could finally be Alec Mazo's chance to reclaim that season-one glory.
Judges Said: 22; "Everybody knows I like my divas—slinky, sultry, sexy—and you are all of that," Bruno growled.

Maurice Green: The Olympic track star started off in the middle of the pack, ably dancing a fox-trot but not necessarily to the extent that we think Cheryl Burke will be winning another disco ball any time soon. But we know that Green's feet can really fly on a good day, so if he survives to dance a mambo tomorrow, it'll give us a better sense of what he's capable of.
Judges Said: 18; "I feel like I should call you Mo James Brown," Carrie Ann offered.

Brooke Burke: The 37-year-old mother of four (including a 6-month-old) has moves to spare and a tummy to envy. Suited up in skintight pants, Burke didn't suffer from the stiffness that has afflicted DWTS' past model contestants, such as Josie Maran and Paulina Porizkova. Instead, she gave Derek Hough his first-ever week one lead by trotting out a graceful, sexy cha-cha.
Judges Said: 23; best dance of the night.

Ted McGinley: The 50-year-old Married With Children star could have been the Steve Guttenberg of the bunch, but instead the handsome actor donned a tux and proved a dashing partner for DWTS newcomer Inna Brayer. Sure, there were mistakes and there was a bit of a sitcom dream-sequence element to it. But unlike Rocco, the man knows how to lead with his toes.
Judges Said: 18; "At moments you had the elegance of Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief—and then you turned into Steve Carell in Get Smart," per Bruno.

Lance Bass: First off, there was some butt-kicking choreography from former So You Think You Can Dance finalist Lacey Schwimmer, a welcome addition to the pro fold and Hough's main rival for resident hot young thang. As for Bass…Worst dancer in 'N Sync, our foot. The 29-year-old popster fulfilled all of his boy-band potential and more, instantly becoming a front-runner by acing a technically complicated, hot 'n' sexy cha-cha right off the bat. They should have received a 24, but Len Goodman is a fuddy-duddy.
Judges Said: 22; "A cha-cha-cha for now!" Bruno declared.

Cloris Leachman: Flashing some intense cleavage in a gorgeous blue gown, the Oscar-winning 82-year-old is the oldest contestant the show has ever had. While Leachman could easily prove to be a fan favorite, especially for those who always enjoyed watching their grandparents cut a rug, there technically isn't much to watch, dancewise. But we recommend keeping her around, if for no other reason than we feel she's the contestant most likely to drop an F-bomb on live TV.
Judges Said: 16; "I've always wanted to be a [boy-toy], and this could be my chance!" said Len. And there's no need for Carrie Ann to fret—Leachman and partner Corky Ballas (Mark's dad) have a combined age of 129.

Jeffrey Ross: Edyta Sliwinska needed more than her legwarmers-and-nothing-else ensemble to salvage this cha-cha. The curse began early this year, as the stand-up comedian and Friars Club roastmaster needed a trip to the emergency room earlier Monday after getting poked in the eye during rehearsal. So, we'll just blame his scratched cornea for his lack of coordination...yup.
Judges Said: 12; Carrie Ann noted that it didn't look as if he was having much fun out there.

Kim Kardashian: The reality-TV star came down with a slight case of modelitis (symptoms: stiffness, weird look on her face, unflattering hair), but she moved well and seems really, really excited to be there. Defending champ Mark Ballas has his work cut out for him.
Judges Said: 19; a better score than most, but they said she needs to work on her approachability.

Susan Lucci: More than one Daytime Emmy isn't the only thing beyond the soap star's grasp. Freakishly toned, yes, but the 62-year-old Lucci is going to have to lose the heavy-handed (or footed, in this case) approach if she wants to make it out of week two. This lady's got a lot of fans, so we think they're going to let her slide tomorrow and Wednesday. And Tony Dovolani is going to have to come up with some innovative choreography, if he dares.
Judges Said: 15; meaning Cloris Leachman outdanced her.

Misty May-Treanor: The two-time Olympic gold medalist has the good fortune to be paired with Maksim "Look at Me" Chmerkovskiy, who has enough female fans on his own to buy his partner at least a few weeks. Not that May-Treanor's going to need his help—her body's slammin', and she didn't look all Monica Seles uncomfortable while dancing an elegant fox-trot.
Judges Said: 21; "I have never seen anyone dance a fox-trot with such intensity," Carrie Ann observed.

Warren Sapp: Just when we were thinking that the roly-poly football star did himself no favors by wearing one of Emmitt Smith's old suits, his toes started twinkling. This Super Bowl winner can move, and Kym Johnson's finally got herself a shot at the title.
Judges Said: 21; "You're a great big bundle of joy!" Len exclaimed.

So, there you have it for tonight. Who do you think has a shot, and who would you like to see hang up their dancing shoes for good?

September 19, 2008



1) Awards & Achievements

Zenith Bank remains outstanding in the pursuit of excellence and commitment to high quality service, a result of which has enhanced our performance in the year under review.

arrow Best Bank in Nigeria (2008)

Vanguard Bankers' Award
arrow Best Bank in ICT (2008)
arrow Best Bank in Export Finance (2008)

This Day Award of Excellence
arrow Bank of the year, 2008
arrow Corporate Citizen of the Year, 2008
arrow CEO of the Year, 2008
arrow Most Corporate Socially Responsible Company in Nigeria, 2007

arrow Most Customer-Focused Bank (2008)

Africa Investor
arrow Africa's Bank of the Year (2007)

Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE)
arrow Quoted Company of the Year (2007)

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Back to top

African Banker
arrow Most Corporate Socially Responsible Bank in Africa (2007)

Federal Inland Revenue Service
arrow Best Collecting Bank (2007)

Fitch Ratings (AA-) 2007
arrow "The ratings reflect adequate levels of capitalisation and the potential
that capital levels will be further enhanced"

Standard and Poor's (BB-) 2007
arrow "The stable outlook balances the bank's ability to benefit, in terms of
size, profitability, from strong macroeconomic growth"

Web-Jurist Award (2002, 2004, 2005 & 2006) Phillips Consulting
arrow Best Bank Website in Nigeria
arrow 1st Overall rating

The Banker, Financial Times of London
arrow Bank of the Year (2005)



Our financial capacity to meet obligations as they fall due has been recognized by several rating agencies.

* Agusto & Co, (one of the foremost credit rating agencies in Nigeria) has reaffirmed the Bank's triple A (Aaa) risk rating every year for the last four years. Guaranty Trust Bank plc is one of only two banks in Nigeria with such a rating.

* In 2005, Fitch, one of the foremost international rating agencies assigned the Bank a double A minus (AA-) risk rating in recognition of the its strong domestic franchise, good quality assets and sound earnings record. This is the highest rating ever received by any Nigerian or West African based bank.

* In 2006, Standard & Poor's, another international rating agency assigned the Bank a double B minus (BB-) risk rating. The Bank is the only Nigerian financial institution with such a rating, which is the same as the Agency's Sovereign rating for Nigeria.


The Bank has over the years been a recipient of several awards for superior financial performance, customer service delivery, excellent share performance, management efficiency etc. some of these are:

* Nigerian Stock Exchange President's Merit Award - 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2006
* Bank of the Year 2005 - ThisDay Awards
* Banker of the Year 2006 - ThisDay Awards
* Brand of the Year 2007 - ThisDay Awards
* Subject of case studies:

o Harvard Business School,
o Cranfield University
o Lagos Business School

* Africa's top 23 2005 - Africa Business Magazine
* Highly Commended Bank of the Year Award in Africa 2005 - African Investor
* ISO 9001:2000 Certification 2006 - International Standards Organisation
* $350 million debut Eurobond issue; the first of its kind by any financial institution in West Africa
* Most Respected Financial Institution in Nigeria 2006- Pricewaterhouse Coopers:
* Most Customer friendly Bank 2007 - Vanguard Awards
* Best Bank for Brand Development 2007 - Vanguard Awards
* Deal of the Year Award 2007 - The Banker Magazine Awards
* Listing on the London Stock Exchange 2007
* Best Bank in Mobile Banking Awards 2007 - Nigeria Telecoms Awards
* Brand of the Year 2007 - Lagos State Enterprises
* Grand Prix Award for Reputation and Credibility - 2007 Fortune & Class Enterprise Awards
* Corporate Best Practice Award - 2007 Fortune & Class Enterprise Awards
* Best Work Place Award - 2007 Fortune & Class Enterprise Awards
* Most Respected Company in Nigeria Award 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers & BusinessDay Survey Awards
* Sectoral Award for the Financial Services Segment 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers & BusinessDay Survey Awards
* Runner up in the 2007 Most Respected CEO in Nigeria Award 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers & BusinessDay Survey Awards
* Winner of the Nigerian Stock Exchange 30th Annual President's Merit Award for the 2006 financial year
* Transaction of the Year 2008 by ThisDay Newspapers
* Most Customer Focused Bank (Retail) 2008 by KPMG
* Bank of the Year 2008 by Vanguard Newspapers
* Best Bank in Corporate Governance 2008 by Vanguard Newspapers
* Most Customer-Friendly Bank 2008 by Vanguard Newspapers
* Best Architectural Bank Branch 2008 by Nigerian Institute of Architects
* Deal of the Year 2008 for Nigeria by The Banker Magazines published by Financial Times, London
* Best Bank in Mobile Banking 2008 by Logica Communications Limited organizers of the Telecoms Awards


Awards 2008
ThisDay Corporate Social Responsibility Award

UBA Foundation, the social responsibility harness for the entire company, was voted as the most Corporate Socially Responsible organization in Nigeria in 2007, clinching the highly contested ThisDay Newspaper Award.

City People CEO of The Year Award

Tony Elumelu recieved the accolade, CEO of the Year 2008 at the 11th City People Awards for Excellence Ceremony

------------------Awards 2007-------------------

ICAN (Institute of Charted Accountants) HONOURS UBA PLC

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc added another feather to its cap at the weekend by winning the coveted Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Award for the corporate category. A recognition for the bank’s support towards the upliftment of Accounting profession in Nigeria.

The Award was bestowed on the bank at the Institute’s 2007 Annual Dinner and Awards ceremony held in Lagos.



------------------Awards 2006-------------------


Thursday, 9th of November, 2006 at the luxury Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, Tony Elumelu, GMD/CEO of UBA Plc, emerged winner of the prestigious and highly coveted AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR award.
The AI awards, dubbed the “Oscars” of the African corporate world, are the only Pan African awards that recognise and reward exceptional business practices, economic achievements and investments across the continent, as well as corporate responsibility towards the society. It is organized by Africa investor; a United Kingdom based bi-monthly business magazine which targets international investors with an interest in Africa’s commercial development. This year's awards is the third, following successful ceremonies in 2004 and 2005 in Dakar, Senegal and Johannesburg, South Africa.
This Business Leader of the Year was the hotly anticipated finale of the 15 different award categories in a glittering ceremony that saw a stellar gathering of representatives of leading organizations and some of Africa’s best, including Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Professor Charles Soludo, Executive President of the African Business Roundtable & Chairman, NEPAD Business Group Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Kenyan Minister of Trade & Industry Dr. Mukhisa Kituyu, and Director, African Investment Advisory, Dr. Ken Kwaku, amongst many other distinguished guests, celebrating African excellence.

Tony Elumelu was voted winner in a strongly contested category, amongst finalists that include some of Africa’s finest and most successful Chief Executive Officers, including Phutuma Nhleko Group Chief Executive of the Telecoms giant MTN (South Africa), Papi Molotsane, CEO of Telkom (South Africa), Vimal Shah CEO of Bidco Oil Refineries, Kenya; the largest manufacturer of edible oils and fats and soaps in East and Central Africa, with operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Gerald Mahinda of East African Breweries which has extensive operations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and Jim Ovia, CEO of Zenith Bank.


On January 21, 2006, UBA Plc beat other banks namely; Intercontinental Group, Access Bank, PlatinumHabib and Skye Bank to win the Merger & Acquisition of the Year Award at the 11th Annual Thisday Awards. Below are excerpts of the citation on UBA at the awards ceremony which held at the Muson Centre, Lagos

“United Bank for Africa: August 1 2005, marked a watershed in the history of Nigeria's financial services industry, with the emergence of United Bank for Africa Plc as Nigeria's first mega bank following the merger of UBA and Standard Trust Bank Plc. Apart from its record as the first successful merger in the ongoing banking consolidation, the consolidated UBA's aggregate financial and non-financial strength clearly ranks it above its peers in the industry.

With a network of over 425 business offices across the country, balance sheet size of over N600 billion, and an active customer base of over two million, United Bank For Africa Plc ranks as the biggest on-line, real-time bank in Nigeria and indeed sub-Saharan Africa”.


Nigerian celebrity magazine; City People, at the Eko Hotel, Lagos on Sunday April 9, 2006 adjudged UBA as banker of the year 2005 on account of its historic merger with Standard Trust Bank and several initiatives embarked upon to bring banking convenience to the unbanked and the underbanked.




Other UBA awards include;



Bank of the Year 2005

Newsday Newspapers

Sales Promotion of the year 2006 Award

National institute of Marketing of Nigeria

Best Bank of the year (Social Responsibility)

Ikeja City Awards

Bank of the year 2006

Thisday Newspapers


White vertical stripe sandwiched between two green stripes of equal dimensions.

Symbolism of flag elements:
White stripe denotes peace and unity and is also symbolic of the Niger River bisecting the countryside. The green stripes represent agriculture.


Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria's call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love and strength and faith
The labor of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and

Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice
shall reign.



upcoming events in the month of september

20 Sep 2008 - 21 Sep 2008

The Julian Bluegrass Festival is the oldest festival of its kind in California. Many of the finest bluegrass artists today started out here in contests and in performances. The park is beautiful, and the town is a charming, historic gold mining town located approximately an hour's drive east of San Diego. A lovely, peaceful atmosphere and some excellent bluegrass music await visitors to this event.
The 38th annual Julian Bluegrass Festival takes place in 2008

Sat 0900–1800; Sun 0900–1600.


Frank Lane Park (Venue)

Frank Lane Park

Getting There

Road: Detailed directions are available from the festival website

How Much?

For More Information
World Tourist Attractions and Events Guide Cover
Buy The World
Attraction & Event Guide

Melissa Hague Entertainment (Tourist Info)
PO Box 2322
CA 92033
United States

Tel +1 (760) 480 0086


Future Events

01 Sep 2009 - 30 Sep 2009
Date to be confirmed
The 39th annual Julian Bluegrass Festival takes place in 2009.

As above

More Information
As above

Musica Contemporary Music Festival,
Strasbourg, France

Musica Contemporary Music Festival - © Musica Contemporary Music Festival
© Musica Contemporary Music Festival
20 Sep 2008 - 04 Oct 2008

The aim of Musica is to present important 20th century works in the light of contemporary musical trends. Audiences are encouraged to appreciate innovative and challenging interpretations of the great classics and also to discover new works from young composers. An extensive programme runs through 16 days at venues across the city. There is a definite bias towards youth, and this is reflected in the audiences, although music lovers of all ages are welcome. The festival also encourages collaboration between music, dance and theatre, and gives young musicians the opportunity to meet and exchange views with composers and performers from all over the world.



Palais des Fetes and various other venues (Venue)

Various orchestral concert venues including Palais des Fetes, Salle Erasme, Pole Sud, Opera du Rhin

How Much?

For More Information
World Tourist Attractions and Events Guide Cover
Buy The World
Attraction & Event Guide

Festival Musica (Tourist Info)
6, rue des Charpentiers
BP 306

Tel +33 (0)3 8823 4646.
Email info@festival-musica


Future Events

01 Sep 2009 - 31 Oct 2009
Date to be confirmed

As above

More Information
As above

50 Tools that can Increase your Writing Skills

* Writing Tool #1: Branch to the Right
* Writing Tool #2: Use Strong Verbs
* Writing Tool #3: Beware of Adverbs
* Writing Tool #4: Period As a Stop Sign
* Writing Tool #5: Observe Word Territory
* Writing Tool #6: Play with Words
* Writing Tool #7: Dig for the Concrete and Specific
* Writing Tool #8: Seek Original Images
* Writing Tool #9: Prefer Simple to Technical
* Writing Tool #10: Recognize Your Story’s Roots
* Writing Tool #11 Back Off or Show Off
* Writing Tool #12: Control the Pace
* Writing Tool #13: Show and Tell
* Writing Tool #14: Interesting Names
* Writing Tool #15: Reveal Character Traits
* Writing Tool #16: Odd and Interesting Things
* Writing Tool #17: The Number of Elements
* Writing Tool #18: Internal Cliffhangers
* Writing Tool #19: Tune Your Voice
* Writing Tool #20: Narrative Opportunities
* Writing Tool #21: Quotes and Dialogue
* Writing Tool #22: Get Ready
* Writing Tool #23: Place Gold Coins Along the Path
* Writing Tool #24: Name the Big Parts
* Writing Tool #25: Repeat
* Writing Tool #26: Fear Not the Long Sentence
* Writing Tool #27: Riffing for Originality
* Writing Tool #28: Writing Cinematically
* Writing Tool #29: Report for Scenes
* Writing Tool #30: Write Endings to Lock the Box
* Writing Tool #31: Parallel Lines
* Writing Tool #32: Let It Flow
* Writing Tool #33: Rehearsal
* Writing Tool #34: Cut Big, Then Small
* Writing Tool #35: Use Punctuation
* Writing Tool #36: Write A Mission Statement for Your Story
* Writing Tool #37: Long Projects
* Writing Tool #38: Polish Your Jewels
* Writing Tool #39: The Voice of Verbs
* Writing Tool #40: The Broken Line
* Writing Tool #41: X-Ray Reading
* Writing Tool #42: Paragraphs
* Writing Tool #43: Self-criticism
* Writing Tool #44: Save String
* Writing Tool #45: Foreshadow
* Writing Tool #46: Storytellers, Start Your Engines
* Writing Tool #47: Collaboration
* Writing Tool #48: Create An Editing Support Group
* Writing Tool #49: Learn from Criticism
* Writing Tool #50: The Writing Process
courtesy :poynter institute

Military Won’t Be Intimidated in N’Delta

The Nigerian Armed Forces will not be intimidated by militants operating in the Niger Delta to abdicate its responsibility to defend the country, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike, has said.
Dike said the military was committed to its constitutional duty of defending the territorial integrity of the country, particularly in the Niger Delta, “and nobody can intimidate the military forces into abdicating that responsibility.”
The CDS made the remarks yesterday while on a working visit to the headquarters of the Joint (military) Task Force (JTF) in Warri, Delta State.
He was accompanied on the visit by military top brass which included the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Adbulra-hman Bello Danbazau.
Also yesterday, former Delta State Governor James Ibori sued for peace over the escalation of hostilities in the Niger Delta
He said: “If there is a season for everything under the sun as the Bible says, there being a time for war and a time for peace, then this is the time for cessation of hostilities in the entire Niger Delta.”
Militants operating in the Niger Delta have declared an all out war, attacking and destroying oil facilities.
In the offensive launched last weekend, two flow stations in Rivers State believed to be operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Agip were attacked, leaving the militants and men of the JTF to trade accusations over the attacks.
The attacks on the oil facilities, which have allegedly resulted in more oil shut-ins were carried out as Dike visited military installations in Rivers State to assess the security situation.
Dike, who reaffirmed the position of the armed forces, however, admonished all military personnel to adhere to their professional disciplinary norms in order to effectively deliver on their constitutional obligation.
In a subtle but firm response to the reported threat of “full-scale war” on the country’s security personnel in the area by militants, the CDS stressed that the military would continue to work for the restoration of peace in the area.
He also charged the officers and men to respect the people especially the civilian population in their area of national service, but avoid any act that could tarnish the image of the armed forces.
He, however, expressed satisfaction with the level of performance by the JTF personnel, saying the on-the-spot assessment of the troops’ battle-readiness was the primary reason for his visit.
In his statement last night, Ibori said: “Having heard the anguished cry of the people of the South-South, President Umaru Yar’Adua is determined to end the suffering of the people, and has therefore approved a large scale intervention in the form of the Niger Delta Ministry to reverse the decades old under-development which the area has suffered.
“So, what is called for now is discussion over the activities and funding of the ministry and how best to make it meet the aspirations of the people. Owing to this, I call on all persons of goodwill to join in this peace effort. Hostilities must cease to give the development process the Federal Government has put in place now the chance to succeed.
“War is like malignant cancer; it usually spreads uncontrollably to other areas. Therefore both sides must listen to the voice of wisdom and stop the conflagration - now.”
Ibori called on the angry youths of the Niger Delta to have faith in the President and his new initiative.
According to him, “The Niger Delta and Nigeria need their energy re-channelled into really productive ventures. The educated among them should be encouraged to contribute their talents to the needed battle of speeding Nigeria and Africa on the part of swift development and global respect, and themselves towards personal fulfilment and glory. “The uneducated must face intellectual and skill acquisition to enable them compete in the national and global space.
“Fortunately, the focus of the new ministry is two-pronged. While one corrects the abysmal lack of infrastructure in the area, the other faces the task of upgrading the intellectual and talent pool of the area.”
According to Ibori, the youths of the area must take advantage of this by ending the hostilities; emerge from their camps and exploit the opportunities that now beckon.
To the militants, he said: “You have made your point. The whole world now knows that your grievances are genuine, and for the first time, the Federal Government is truly addressing them. In every journey, there is always a place to stop. Your predecessor in arms, the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro realised this, came out from the bush, and reintegrated himself into the society – after leading the first Niger Delta uprising in the 1960s. You too must do like-wise.”
In Port Harcourt yesterday, Dike also expressed satisfaction with the performance of JTF, though he said there might be some areas needing improvements.
The CDS thanked Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi for providing a conducive environment for their men to operate in addition to helping out with some logistics.
He called for further cooperation between the state and the armed forces, pointing out that such cooperation had existed right from the time of the civil war.
Responding, Amaechi pleaded with Dike to do everything possible to improve on the present security situation in the state.
He regretted that those he called criminals masquerading as freedom fighters had unleashed terror on the state, but expressed happiness that JTF was working to restore normalcy.
In Bayelsa, the state Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, asked the Federal Government to urgently consider the establishment of a military command in the state.
Sylva made the call when Dike and Dambazau paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Yenagoa.
He said the call became imperative due to the strategic position of Bayelsa as a border state and one of the highest producers of oil, the mainstay of the nation’s economy.

September 18, 2008


Indications emerged on Wednesday that the European Union and China were currently wooing the Federal Government over the construction of the proposed N2.4tn ($21bn) Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline project. The project, which stretches from over a distance of 4,300 kilometres across the Saharan desert, is to be shared among Nigeria (1,050km); Niger (750km), and Algeria (2,500km). Upon completion, the project would connect Nigeria’s gas reserves, estimated as the world’s seventh largest, to Europe through Algeria’s Mediterranean coast. A source in the Presidency disclosed that the EU and Russia were making spirited efforts to get the nod of the Nigerian authorities for the execution of the project. The source noted that the renewed interest from the two power blocks followed deliberate efforts by President Umaru Yar’Adua to execute the age-long proposal. The source also said the EU, which had previously displayed a cold shoulder towards the project, renewed its interest following fears that Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, was planning to gain access to Nigeria ?s vast gas reserves. Gazprom had offered to back the planned 4,300km Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline. The EU feared that by gaining control of Nigeria’s gas reserves, Gazprom could effectively succeed with its deliberate plan to further tighten its grip on energy supplies to Europe. According to the source, the EU’s fears heightened when Gazprom signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Moscow to cooperate on gas exploration, production and transportation. The source added that, as a result, the EU had offered Nigeria financial and political backing for the project. The EU intends to use the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline to pump its gas supplies from Africa directly to Europe. According to a recent report by The Financial Times magazine, the EU’s renewed interest may not be unconnected with its rising desperation to reduce its dependence on Russian for gas supplies following the conflict in Georgia. Punch


Oil prices rebounded yesterday, retracing part of a two-day $10 a barrel drop. Analysts said the decline may have been overdone. Prices also got a boost on news of the U.S. Federal Reserve's $85 billion emergency loan to rescue insurance giant American International Group, which helped stabilise global markets rattled by the recent failure of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers. "Prices had really fallen off a cliff," said Peter McGuire, managing director at investment firm Commodity Warrants Australia in Sydney. "When a market falls 25 per cent in three weeks and 40 per cent in two months, it tends to find some support for a bounce back." Light, sweet crude for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $2.34 to $93.49 a barrel in electronic trading by mid afternoon in Europe. The contract fell $4.56 to settle at $91.15 on Tuesday, after dropping $5.47 on Monday. At one point Tuesday, oil touched $90.51 a barrel, its lowest since Feb. 8, and down 39 per cent from a record $147.27 on July 11. "Worries about the U.S. financial system, a lack of liquidity and fears for world oil demand all pressured the market," wrote analysts at JBC Energy in Vienna, Austria. But they added that a rebound in early trading yesterday could be attributed to the Federal Reserve's decision to bail out AIG. The Federal Reserve said in a statement Tuesday that a disorderly failure of AIG could hurt financial markets already reeling from a yearlong credit crisis that led to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers earlier this week. It also could have led "to substantially higher borrowing costs, reduced household wealth and materially weaker economic performance," the Fed said. It said in return for the loan, the U.S. government would receive a 79.9 per cent equity stake in AIG. With so much uncertainty surrounding the U.S. financial system and fears that slowing economic growth will undermine crude demand, Wednesday's jump in oil prices probably has not broken the recent downward trend, McGuire said. Events that would usually boost prices - such as Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cutting output by 520,000 barrels a day last week, or damage to oil installations on the Texas coast by Hurricane Ike last weekend - haven't done so. "The OPEC cut didn't have any impact," McGuire said. "Then Ike didn't slow the market either." Guardian

September 17, 2008

7 Principles of an Eagle - Dr. Myles Monroe

Eagles fly alone at high altitude and not with sparrows or other small birds. No other bird can go to the height of the eagle. Stay away from sparrows and ravens.

Eagles fly with Eagles

Eagles have strong vision. They have the ability to focus on something up to five kilometers away. When an eagle sites his prey, he narrows his focus on it and set out to get it. No matter the obstacles, the eagle will not move his focus from the prey until he grabs it.

Have a vision and remain focused no matter what the obstacle and you will succeed.

Eagles do not eat dead things. They feed only on fresh prey. Vultures eat dead animals, but eagles will not.

Be careful with what you feed your eyes and ears with, especially in movies and on TV. Steer clear of outdated and old information. Always do your research well.

Eagles love the storm. When clouds gather, the eagles get excited. The eagle uses the storm’s wind to lift it higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm, the eagles uses the raging storm to lift him above the
clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime, all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees.

We can use the storms of life to rise to greater heights. Achievers relish challenges and use them profitably.

The Eagle tests before it trusts. When a female eagle meets a male and they want to mate, she flies down to earth with the male pursuing her and she picks a twig. She flies back into the air with the male pursuing her.
Once she has reached a height high enough for her, she lets the twig fall to the ground and watches it as it falls. The male chases after the twig. The faster it falls, the faster he chases it. He has to catch it before it
falls to the ground. He then brings it back to the female eagle.

The female eagle grabs the twig and flies to a higher altitude and then drops the twig for the male to chase. This goes on for hours, with the height increasing until the female eagle is assured that the male eagle has mastered the art of catching the twig which shows commitment. Then and only then, will she allow him to mate with her.

Whether in private life or in business, one should test commitment of people intended for partnership.

The Eagle Prepares for Changes: When ready to lay eggs, the female and male eagle identify a place very high on a cliff where no predators can reach. The male flies to earth and picks thorns and lays them on the crevice of the cliff, then flies to earth again to collect twigs which he lays in the intended nest. He flies back to earth and picks thorns laying them on top of the twigs. He flies back to earth and picks soft grass to cover the thorns. When this first layering is complete the male eagle runs back to earth and picks more thorns, lays them on the nest; runs back to get grass it on top of the thorns, then plucks his feathers to complete the nest. The thorns on the outside of the nest protect it from possible intruders. Both male and female eagles participate in raising the eagle family. She lays the eggs and protects them; he builds the nest and hunts. During the time of training the young ones to fly, the mother eagle throws the eaglets out of the nest. Because they are scared, they jump into the nest again.

Next, she throws them out and then takes off the soft layers of the nest, leaving the thorns bare When the scared eaglets again jump into the nest, they are pricked by thorns. Shrieking and bleeding they jump out again this time wondering why the mother and father who love them so much are torturing them. Next, mother eagle pushes them off the cliff into the air. As they shriek in fear, father eagle flies out and catches them up on his back before they fall and brings them back to the cliff. This goes on for sometime until they start flapping their wings. They get excited at this newfound knowledge that they can fly.

The preparation of the nest teaches us to prepare for changes; The preparation for the family teaches us that active participation of both partners leads to success; The being pricked by the thorns tells us that sometimes being too comfortable where we are may result into our not experiencing life, not progressing and not learning at all. The thorns of life come to teach us that we need to grow, get out of the nest and live on. We may not know it but the seemingly comfortable and safe haven may have thorns.

The people who love us do not let us languish in sloth but push us hard to grow and prosper. Even in their seemingly bad actions they have good intentions for us.

The Eagle Knows when to Retire: When an Eagle grows old, his feathers become weak and cannot take him as fast as he should. When he feels weak and about to die, he retires to a place far away in the rocks. While there, he plucks out every feather on his body until he is completely bare. He stays in this hiding place until he has grown new feathers, then he can come out.

We occasionally need to shed off old habits & items that burden us without adding to our lives.

September 16, 2008

100 People feared killed as oil war enters second day

Operation Hurricane Barbarossa, an oil war declared by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, entered its second day on Monday with the death toll put at 100 by Reuters.

Reuters, which attributed the figure to two security sources, also reported that Armoured Personnel Carriers and more troops had been deployed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Reuters, a global news agency with a strong presence in Nigeria however, did not give a breakdown of the figure. MEND and the military authorities have since the “war” began on Sunday claimed inflicting heavy casaulties on one another.

The Associated Press, which described the oil war as the heaviest between MEND and troops of the Joint Task Force, otherwise known as operation Restore Peace in the Niger Delta, so far, quoted its correspondent as saying that Port Harcourt was “on edge.”

The AP correspondent said, “I drove into Port Harcourt from the neighbouring state of Imo. It’s a distance of about an hour and 30 minutes by road and I counted no less than 20 checkpoints manned by heavily-armed police and troops.

“Within the city of Port Harcourt itself, there are sandbags protecting government installations. There are troops on pick-up trucks with machine guns.

There are APCs deployed at strategic parts of the city. People are moving around, but there’s some kind of tense situation. It’s a city on edge.”

MEND on Monday attacked the Alakiri Flow Station, a major oil platform operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company.

A community guard was killed and four others injured in the incident. The attack forced the SPDC to withdraw more of its workers from the Niger Delta.

MEND had, in an e-mail to THE PUNCH, said it burnt down the flow station around 12.15am on Monday.

It also claimed in the statement by its Spokesman, Mr. Jomo Gbomo, that scores of oil workers and soldiers, who violated its order to vacate facility, perished inside it (facility).

The statement reads in part, “Heavily armed fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta stormed the facility and have razed it to the ground as promised.

“Resistance was non-existent as the soldiers fled their dug-in positions leaving behind their colleagues and the workers inside the facility to their fate. The foolhardy workers and soldiers who did not heed our warning perished inside the station. The facility was still burning when we left.”

MEND also warned that any oil vessel that violated its advice not to sail into the Niger Delta would be blown up.

The Director of Public Relations, Defence Headquarters Brig.-Gen. Emeka Onwamaegbu, dismissed MEND’s claim that it killed some soldiers.

He said, “There is absolutely no truth in the claim by MEND. MEND is employing propaganda to achieve its aims.

“There is an encounter quite alright between our men and MEND. We have just two of our men that were injured. I hope the MEND or whoever is behind all these will embrace dialogue. We have no reason not to disclose casualties if we have any.”

The JTF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, who spoke with one of our correspondents said the militants in 10 speedboats attacked a military post located at the facility.

He claimed that during the gun duel that lasted for about an hour, some of the militants probably died while detonating dynamites.

Musa said, “It is greatly feared that the flow station might have caught fire due to crossfire during the encounter.

“No casualty was recorded on the side of our forces and the situation is being closely monitored and is under control. The battle lasted for one hour, with the militants using dynamite and bombs, but the attack was repelled.‘”

Musa wondered how soldiers would be killed without their corpses being found anywhere.

He said, “The claim that soldiers were killed is just a wild propaganda. The so-called militants should know that the time is up. They are advised to come to terms with reality as the status quo will be reversed for the good of all.”

The Public Affairs Adviser of the SPDC, Mr. Tony Okonedo, confirmed the killing of the guard and the wounding of four others during the attack.

Okonedo said, “We confirm that our Alakiri flow station was attacked by unknown gunmen, and regrettably, a community guard was killed in the incident. Four other people also sustained injury during the attack and are being treated in our facility in Port Harcourt.

“As a precautionary measure, we have down-manned facilities in some of the field locations. That is, we have reduced the number of men in such facilities.

“The SPDC is aware of the difficulty the security situation places on staff and continues to monitor developments.”

He, however, refused to say how much production was shut down as a result of the attack.

Okonedo, who denied that the facility was torched, said, ”We cannot talk about production shut down because we do not give out our production figures. But I can tell you that the flow station was not raised.”

Also on Monday, MEND claimed in another e-mail statement that it had killed more than 17 soldiers since its repraisal attack on the JTF began on Saturday.

Another of its spokespersons, Cynthia Whyte, said most of the soldiers were shot dead while engaging in illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta.

The statement reads in part, “On behalf of the larger coalition of the heroic combatants of the MEND, we wish to declare the ongoing success of operation Hurricane Barbarossa which began an hour after midnight of September 14, 2008, leaving in its trail about 17 to 24 dead soldiers of Northern Nigeria stock, many of whom are engaged in illegal oil bunkering across the creeks of the Niger Delta.

“This operation will continue and will remain undeterred. Our strategic objective will be to question the supposed might of the armed forces of the Nigerian state especially bandit units of the JTF who believe that they occupy our lands, rape our women, attack fishermen and render our lands desolate. They will fail.”

MEND also said that it would not surrender to the “violent approach” by the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and vowed to bring him to his knees through serial attacks on strategic locations.

It said, “We wish to remind the Supreme Court-appointed Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Amaechi, that this will not be over in a while. He chose the path of force and violence and that is what he will get.

“To the bandit soldiers of the Nigerian state, we will meet in the creeks. Welcome to the new edition of The Rumble in the Creeks.”

Fighting started on Saturday in Elom Tombia, Rivers State, when the suspected hideout of a militant leader, Mr. Farah Dagogo, was pounded by troops during an aerial and maritime onslaught.

In a reprisal action, MEND attacked the Soku Gas Plant and Chevron facility at Kula, where it said many soldiers sent as reinforcement were ambushed, killed and dispossessed of their weapons.

It also claimed that its men blew up several points on a major crude trunk pipeline at Nembe Creek.

The JTF has since denied the claim.

Meanwhile, the Association of Licensed Customs Agents of Nigeria on Monday said that activities of militants in the Niger Delta had slowed down the work of its members.

The Zonal Eastern Ports Chairman of the association, Mr Emenike Nwokeoji, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt, that people were scared to go and bring many cargo vessels on the sea into the wharf.

Nwokeoji said that the militants obstructed the activities of his members in several ways, adding that it was expensive to provide security for the vessels.

September 15, 2008


The European Union (EU) is to commit about N100 billion for execution of developmental projects aimed at building structures that could effectively tackle poverty, assist Nigeria to attain the Millennium Development Goals and also strengthen democratisation between 2010 and 2015. The union had spent about N82 billion between 2002-2007 in the execution of projects in the areas of water supply, state reform and anti corruption, support to democratic process and implementation of Micro-Projects in nine states of the Niger Delta. Minister of National Planning, Senator Sanuai Daggash, who disclosed this when he received European Commissioners responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Mr. Louis Michel and his Energy Counterpart, Mr. Andris Piebalgs who were on a visit to Nigeria said that out of the amount, only 50 per cent has been utilised while the remaining part might be released between now and December 2008. He stressed that EU is the greatest support of grant in Nigeria, adding that the country has an agenda to fight poverty as well as attain a double-digit growth and would adopt a pragmatic approach to actualise the dream. In his address the Head of Delegation Amb. Robert van der Meulen said that the partnership between Nigeria and European Commission, which dates back to 1976, is aimed at assisting the country's economic, political and social development, with an increasing focus on good governance. He observed that a lot has been achieved over the years ranging from EU support to Nigeria's 2006 national population and housing census, micro economic projects in the Niger Delta and the ongoing polio eradication actions. Meulen stressed that the partnership between EU and Nigeria is increasingly becoming one of crucial strategic importance for both sides, adding that the commission is working to develop an enduring partnership with Nigeria, built on mutual trust and respect and exemplified through regular and high level political and economic contacts. The ambassador said that as the 2002-2007 country support strategy agreed between EC and Nigeria comes to an end, a new strategy would soon be put in place with renewed expectation for the enhancement of mutual cooperation for both sides. Guardian.


There are a few things that can be done in
times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone
can actually be a life saver or an emergency
tool for survival. Check out the things that you
can do with it:

One: Emergency One: Emergency
The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is
112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area
of your mobile; network and there is an
emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search
any existing network to establish the emergency
number for you, and interestingly this number
112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.
Try it out.

Two: Have you locked your keys in the car? Two: Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This
may come in handy someday. Good reason to
own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car
and the spare keys are at home, call someone at
home on their mobile phone from your cell

Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car
door and have the person at your home press the
unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone
on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves
someone from having to
drive your keys to you. Distance is no object.
You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you
can reach someone who has the other 'remote'
for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the
Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it
unlocked our car over a mobile phone!'

Three: Hidden Battery Power Three: Hidden Battery Power
Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To
activate, press the keys *3370# Your mobile will
restart with this reserve and the instrument will
show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will
get charged when you charge your mobile next

Four: How to disable a STOLEN mobile
Four: How to disable a STOLEN mobile
To check your mobile phone's serial number, key
in the following digits on your phone!: * # 0 6 #,
a 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This
number is unique to your handset. Write it down
and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone
get stolen, you can phone your service provider
and give them this code. They will then be able
to block your handset so even if the thief
changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally
You probably won't get your phone back, but at
least you know that whoever stole it can't
use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there
would be no point in people stealing mobile

This is the kind of information people don't
mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and

September 13, 2008


Can the rules of a game be changed midstream? This is the poser that multinational oil companies are raising as the Federal Government is set to order them to divert a great percentage of their gas exports to the local market. This is part of the government's efforts to meet its power emergency target. Sources told the Nigerian Compass that the companies are set for a showdown with the government, noting that the plan will result in huge financial losses to them. The companies believe that the government's plan is "an ambush," and a "strange" introduction into their operational agreements with Nigeria. The plan, it was further learnt, will badly hurt the revenue targets of the companies. They are already exploring the options available to them, which may include litigation. State assemblies have begun to pass power emergency spending budgets, which will enable the Federal Government to spend $5.5 billion to complete various independent power projects scattered across the country. President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is currently working on how to compel the international oil companies (IOCs) to divert a greater portion of gas from exports to domestic use. The plan has been acknowledged by the Economic Adviser to the President, Tanimu Yakubu, who said that to Yar'Adua, "emergency power declaration is about seizing gas from the exporting companies to meet our energy needs." Yakubu made the declaration during his recent visit to Moscow, Russia, to witness the endorsement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a Russian multinational company, Gazprom. He said: "The President has fulfilled all the necessary conditions precedent to declaring a state of emergency in the power sector. He has now stabilised power generation at more than 3000 megawatts (MW), his threshold before emergency power declaration which, for him, is about seizing gas from the exporting companies to meet our energy needs." Yakubu added: "Power output is now heading towards 4000MW. He would not tell it himself. He hates that he deserves accolades for being so performance biased." The Special Adviser on Energy, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, also confirmed the development, disclosing that the government was in the process of reviewing "the oil contracts in place to provide for periodic review and renegotiation (and) that time has arrived." Presidency sources told the Nigerian Compass that Yar'Adua was particularly "convinced that more gas must be put into the domestic market to overcome chronic electricity supply problems, but the multinational companies, whose investments are based on exporting, are less convinced". The Federal Government Committee on Emergency Gas Supply Strategy to Power Plants and the Domestic Sector submitted that gas should be prioritised for emergency supply to power plants and homes. A source at the NNPC expressed doubts about the possibility of the President realising his plan, noting that some of his advisers are canvassing the discontinuation of some gas projects initiated by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. Nigerian Compass front page.