Directors In Civil Service Own More Houses Than Dangote – Jonathan

A damning verdict has been passed on the present crop of Directors in Nigeria’s civil service as President Goodluck Jonathan accused them of greed and amassing properties. The president gave this indication last Thursday at the funeral service of late Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa at Saint Paul Catholic Church, Fadan Kagoma, Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna state.

Jonathan urged civil servants to emulate the late governor who never lived a flamboyant lifestyle while serving his fatherland. 
His words: “Yakowa talked about peace, love, and unity always. He was a nationalist but death comes when it will come. When it comes it is what matters. His death is unfortunate, but it is the Will of God. I was encouraged by the speech of the widow (Amina) that Yakowa’s death brought unity and peace.”
Speaking further, Jonathan added that: “Yakowa was a nationalist. He played his roles very well as a civil servant of the old not as a civil servant of today when a director has more houses than Dangote. “There was no ethnic or religious divide in his blood. It is time for all Nigerians to preach peace, love and unity because this is what Yakowa represented when he was alive,” he noted.

Petrol Station Attendant In Police Net After Conniving With Armed Robbers To Rob Boss Of N2.65 Million

A petrol station attendant in Kano State has landed in police net after allegedly conniving with armed robbers to rob the petrol station where he works; and the sum of N2.65 million stolen by the armed bandits has been recovered.
This was made known in a statement signed by the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) ASP Magaji Musa Majia, a copy which was made available to Sunday Tribune. According to the statement: On 20th of December, 2012 at about 09:00hrs, one Monday Joseph ‘m’ 20yrs, Simon Chile Adamu ‘m’ of 22yrs old of Benue State and Umaru Adamu ‘m’ 22 years of Ankpa Kogi State conspired and stormed a filling station at Tudun Wada area of Kano State with armed pistol and robbed the manager of the sum of N2.65m. The robbers also allegedly snatched the mobile phones of all the staff then fled in a Golf car. 

The statement also disclosed that immediately the case was reported at the police station, a manhunt of the hoodlums was launched and with the assistance of neighbouring Police Divisions which blocked all the routes and exits, the Golf car was abandoned in the bush at K/Dangora. He added that the police, members of the community, vigilance groups and hunters, spread into the bush which led to the arrest of the suspects around the area. Following on-the-spot search, the stolen N2.65m was recovered intact.
ASP Majia, further disclosed that two- Pistols and the stolen phones were recovered. Investigation conducted however revealed that it was one Muktar Adamu ‘m’ of Ankpa, Kogi State, an employee of the filling station and elder brother of one of the arrested suspect was the person who organised and invited the robbers at the time sales of the day was counted and about to be taken to the bank.

Bakery Worker Battling For His Life After Hot Pipe Pierces Through His Stomach

A bakery worker simply identified as Timothy Ogunsola is presently between life and death after his stomach was pierced by a hot iron pipe while on duty. Doctors at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, are currently battling to save the life of the 23-year-old.  Ogunsola was hit in an explosion that occurred at a bakery located in Mile 2, Lagos, on December 20, while he was on night shift. However, some of his colleagues have said that medical attention might be hitched due to failure to provide funds for a compulsory scan.

According to them, “They told us to deposit N70,000 in order to take him outside the LUTH hospital for initial test, but we are still looking for the money. We brought him here yesterday. “However, they are doing their best to save his life, but they don’t have the equipment for the CT scanning. They told us to get the money so that he could be taken to a private hospital for scanning,” one of them said amidst tears.
It was gathered that the victim, who hails from Ogbomosho in Osun State, has no relatives in Lagos. One of his colleagues said that he had been taking shelter in the bakery premises and had planned to travel home to spend the Christmas with his family. “I am one of his colleagues, though I was not around when the explosion occurred. I know that Timothy had been sleeping in the bakery and doing some work in the night.

Abuja Stadium Renovation Begins January

The Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission, Bolaji Abdullahi, has said the renovation of the National Stadium in Abuja will commence in January.The Federal Government has awarded the contract for the renovation of the stadium to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and has directed that the renovation begins next month.
Abdullahi told the News Agency of Nigeriaon Sunday in Abuja that he had relocated his office to the stadium to ‘breathe life back’ to the facility. “Of course, we have concluded arrangements with Julius Berger to bring alive the pitch of the main bowl and training grounds in January, after the holidays,” Abdullahi said.
“If we are able to get the pitch fixed, the Super Eagles and other national teams will have a good ground to train. Nobody can say we do not have a field where they can play anymore.” According to the minister, the decision to embark on the renovation was based on President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the stadium in September.
“I think that by relocating my office to the stadium, it will breathe life back into the stadium to a reasonable extent. The facilities on ground are being managed and cleaned up now. “If we are able to sensitise the Nigeria Football Federation on the facilities available here, they can also use it for the various national teams and not just for the Eagles.”
Punch Nigeria

Please Come And Spend $16 Billion In Our Energy Sector – FG Calls On Private Investors

It has been revealed that the Federal Government needs an investment of at least $16bn (N2.53tn) from the private sector to address the myriad of problems in the energy sector. This was revealed by the Project Manager, Bank of Industry/United Nations Development Programme, Mr. Femi Adaju, in Abuja at the second edition of the renewable energy investment forum.

According to him, the project would involve a combination of business chains where many people would be gainfully employed. For instance, he said by 2022, about two million jobless Nigerians would be employed through the introduction of renewable energy to complement regular electricity supply.
His words: “Nigerians spend about $11bn on energy generation through the usage of generators, which involve the usage of fuel. And all what we need for the sustainable energy in the country is $16bn… That is why we are calling on Nigerians to harness these resources for the full operation of renewable energy.
“Renewable energy industry is rapidly growing beyond all projections by the industry experts. For instance, according to Renewable Energy Global Status report, 2012, by the end of 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,360 Giga Watt, up to by eight per cent over what it was in 2010.”

Community Decries PHCN’s Neglect, Insensitivity

The Ireakari-Olorunfunmi Estate Community Development Association, Idimu, Lagos State, has cried out over neglect and insensitivity by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. The association said for close to one year, all entreaties to the PHCN, Idimu Business Unit, to change the community’s transformer panel and ‘upriser’ cable had fallen on deaf ears.

It said on many occasions, officials of the PHCN had been giving them empty promises.It was learnt that as a result of that, the faulty equipment had been left unattended to, exposing the residents to electrocution. The association wondered why the community should be treated as such more so when the residents had been paying their electricity bills as and when due.
A resident of Lasisi Ladegave Street, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said because of the faulty equipment, the voltage of power coming to the community was usually low. He said many times power had tripped off, leaving them in darkness for days and also exposing the lives of residents to danger.
He said since the beginning of 2012 when the residents identified the problems, their association had made a lot of representations to the PHCN at Ikotun Undertaking and its Business Office at Oke-Afa, Isolo. He said though officials had not asked them directly to pay money, their dance steps indicated that they needed such before they could do anything.
Secretary of the CDA, Mr. Clement Ogundipe, said for quite a long time, the community had been without transformer until his office, Lagos State Ministry of Rural Development, gave one to the community. Ogundipe said when the transformer was brought to the community, PHCN officers were reluctant to install it.
He said, “Because the PHCN officials were reluctant to install the transformer for us, the contractor the community hired, allegedly used substandard cable and panel for us. “After the installation, PHCN officials came and condemned what the contractor had done. Since that time, we have been asking them to replace the panel and the cable but they refused.”
Ogundipe called on the relevant authorities to prevail on PHCN officials at Ikotun Undertaking to fix the cables and panel for the residents. In his response, Deputy Business Manager, Ikotun Undertaking, Mr. Gbenga Acha, asked the community to report to the Business Manager.
He said from investigation, the project was politically-motivated and it was not initiated by the PHCN.“Since we have inherited it, I promise you that we will solve the problem. Let them come and see the Business Manager. The problem will be fixed,” he said.
Punch Nigeria

CBN may revoke licences of more MFBs

Indications have emerged that the Central Bank of Nigeria may revoke the operating licences of some microfinance banks in the country early next year, ADEMOLA ALAWIYE reports. With the financial sector smarting from the 2010 withdrawal of operating licences of 103 microfinance banks, indications have again emerged that more MFBs may soon lose their licences as a result of another impending cleaning exercise by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The CBN, which gave the hint on Friday, said the non-compliance with the Revised Microfinance Policy Framework still remained a possible ground for operators to lose licences early in the year 2013, in view of the imminence of the compliance deadline of December 31, 2012, it gave to MFBs.
The regulator, in a circular, signed by the Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, CBN, Mr. Olufemi Fabanwo, on Friday reminded the MFBs that failure to comply with the Revised Microfinance Policy Framework was a ground for revocation.
The CBN said in the circular, “This is a reminder to all directors and shareholders of all microfinance banks on the deadline of December 31, 2012, for compliance with the Revised Microfinance Policy Framework, particularly in respect of the capital requirements for each category of MFBs and existing branches/cash centres.”
The revised policy framework provides for three categories of microfinance banks and stipulated minimum capital requirements for each category.
Category one is a Unit Microfinance Bank, which is authorised to operate in one location and is prohibited from having branches/cash centres. Category two, according to CBN, is a State Microfinance Bank, which is authorised to operate in one state or the Federal Capital Territory: it is allowed to open branches within the same state or the FCT, subject to prior written approval by the CBN for each new branch.
Category three consists of a National Microfinance Bank, which is authorised to operate in more than one state, including the FCT, and is allowed to open branches in all states of the federation and the FCT, but subject to prior written approval by the CBN.
The CBN gave microfinance banks three options to comply with the revised policy guideline. One option is to raise fresh capital to bring the capital base to the stipulated minimum of N100m shareholders’ fund unimpaired by losses, to become a State Microfinance Bank under the revised framework.
The second option is to obtain regulatory approval of the CBN to close all existing branches and cash centres and remain a Unit Microfinance Bank with a minimum capital requirement of N20m shareholders funds unimpaired by losses, while the third option is to embark on mergers and acquisition, such that the consolidated capital base of the combined institutions meets the stipulated capital requirement of a state or national microfinance bank.
The circular read further, “As you are well aware, all MFBs that have elected to remain unit MFBs (MFBs authorised to operate in one location and prohibited from having branches/cash centres) are required to close any existing branches/cash centres, subject to prior approval of the CBN in writing and adequate notification to existing customers, who should be advised to migrate their accounts to the MFB’s Head Office, while dissenting customers should be settled.”
However, our correspondent gathered that many of the microfinance banks, who had indicated interest to remain as unit MFBs, had yet to close their branches with less than one week to the expiration of the deadline.
Fabanwo pointed out that appeal for a waiver or reduction of penalty or extension of compliance deadline would not be entertained.
He added, “It is also pertinent to remind you that the penalty for operating a branch/cash centre without prior approval of the CBN as stipulated in Section 13.1(b) of the Revised Guidelines for MFBs is N250, 000 per branch for a unit MFB; N500,000 per branch for a State MFB; and N1m per branch for a National MFB.
“In addition, such unapproved branches/cash centres shall be closed within 30 days. Failure to close an unapproved branch or cash centre shall attract a fine of N5,000 for each day of default, irrespective of the category of MFB. Moreover, failure to comply with any directive issued by the CBN, as stipulated in Section 19(i) of the Revised Guidelines for MFBs, is a ground for revocation of licence.”
The CBN said that for the avoidance of doubt, all customer interaction centres and customer service centres or similar outlets, once located outside the registered business premises of a unit MFB would be regarded as unauthorised and unapproved branches or cash centres.
“All previous approvals for such outlets for unit MFBs have become null and void from the date of approval of the Revised Policy Framework by the Board of Directors of the CBN,” it added.
The CBN, in the Revised Microfinance Policy Framework, gave all microfinance banks till December 31, 2012, to comply with the framework.
The CBN, in 2010, revoked the operational licences of 224 MFBs as a result of what the regulator termed ‘below performance’ measuring yardstick.
The CBN had said the microfinance banks were not technically sound, hence the revocation. The regulatory bank noted that the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation would immediately step in to ensure that depositors, who were insured, were paid what was obtainable within the ambit of the law.
However, the CBN later rescinded its decision and granted provisional approval for new licences to 121 MFBs that had been confirmed to have made fresh capital injection, subject to the fulfillment of some specific requirements within a stipulated timeline of three months.
The requirements for the grant of new operating licences to the 121 MFBs included the capitalistion of prior deposits for shares, making available the new capital injection to bring the shareholders’ funds, unimpaired by losses, to the prescribed minimum of N20m; good corporate governance; sound risk management system; and strong internal controls to forestall avoidable losses. Other criteria set out were closure of unapproved branches, cash centres and ‘customers meeting points’; and adoption of true microfinance business model, among others.

FG Begins Work On 10 New Rail Lines

The Federal Government has announced plans to construct 10 new rail lines to cover other parts of the country currently not linked by rail. The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, said on Friday that already feasibility studies had commenced on seven of the proposed railway lines. Umar, who spoke in Lagos at the inauguration of the Lagos-Kano train service and resumption of fuel haulage by train from Lagos to Offa, said that the feasibility studies on three other planned rail lines would be done in 2013.

The minister inaugurated the Lagos-Kano train, while the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Managing Director, LAMATA, Dr. Dayo Mobereola, unveiled the fuel train.  He gave the total distance of the areas to be covered by the seven rail lines as 3,421 kilometres. The minister said that at the completion of the feasibility studies, the railway development project would be undertaken through public private partnership arrangement.
“Upon final construction of these lines, it will improve mass movement of Nigerians and open windows for rapid economic development and regional integration,” he said. Umar stressed that all the new rail lines would be constructed as standard gauge track for the movement of fast trains. According to him, the new lines will cover Lagos-Sagamu-Ijebu Ode-Ore-Benin (300km); Benin-Agbor-Onitsha-Nnewi-Owerri-Aba, with additional line from Onitsha-Enugu-Abakaliki (500km).
It also included a 615km-high-speed rail track from Lagos to Abuja, passing through Lagos, Oshogbo and Baro. The minister listed Ajaokuta (Eganyi) – Obajana – Jakura – Baro – Abuja, with additional line from Ajaokuta to Otukpo (533km); Zaria – Kaura Namoda – Sokoto –Illela- Birnin Koni (520km) as other areas to be covered. Others are costal rail line linking Benin- Sapele-Warri-Yenogoa-Port Harcourt – Aba –Uyo-Akampa-Ikom-Obudu Cattle Ranch (673km); and Ajaokuta –Eganyi- Lokoja- Abaji –Abuja line (280km).
The other three lines, whose feasibility contracts would be awarded next year, are Port Harcourt-Umuahia-Enugu-Makurdi-Lafia-Kaduna-Bauchi-Gombe-Biu-Maiduguri; Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala-Wukari-Jalingo-Yola-Maiduguri and Kani-Nguru-Gashua-Damaturu-Maiduguri-Gamborun-Ngala. The minister also commented on the inaugurated Lagos-Kano line, saying the segment, which he described as the key to the development of the nation’s economy, “is vital to the start-off of the transformation of the Nigerian economy.”
He said the rehabilitation of the rail line, stretching 1,126km, was executed by two contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (km 0-km 488) and Costain West Africa Plc (km 488). Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, said the rehabilitation project of the track and signalling system was awarded in 2009.
He said, “The opening of Lagos-Kano rail route will no doubt bring a lot of socio-economic benefits to the development of our nation, such as providing employment, enhancing trade and commerce within and outside our communities, as well as taking pressure off our overstressed roads thus reducing frequency of road accidents; it will also strengthen social integration and inter-cultural relationships.”
The NRC chief executive officer said the fuel train from Lagos to Offa had lifted 450,000 litres of diesel.
He said, “The return of freight service on the Lagos-Kano route will give ample opportunities to our numerous clients, such as Flour Mills, Lafarge Wapco Cement, Dangote Cement, Oando, Total, Sahara Energy, A-Z Oil and Inland Container Limited.”

Deregistration: We Are Not Interested In Merging With Other Parties – PDP

Following speculations that the recent deregistration of political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would bring about several mergers among parties in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dismissed any such possibilities as far as they are concerned, saying that they are strong enough to remain a formidable force, come 2015. This was made known by the party’s National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, who said that while the party was ready to accept the members of the recently deregistered parties as individuals, they are not ready to accept them as parties.

According to him, “We can accept as individuals but not as parties. PDP cannot merge with any other party. Our constitution does not give room for the PDP to merge with any other party. So, any of the deregistered parties or any other party that is interested in joining PDP will be welcomed, but our party will not be involved in any merger,” he said.
The PDP have also made it clear that they are not bothered by any attempts by other parties to merge. According to the National Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the mergers and alliances planned to defeat the party in 2015 would fail. His words: “Honestly speaking, ganging up is an indication of some weaknesses. Why can’t a party stand on its own and contest elections if it is sure that it would be acceptable to the people? You don’t need to gang up. It has never succeeded; it will not succeed.”
Source: Punch Nigeria

Fulani Herdsmen Invade Ogun Village, Slaughter One, Leave Several Others Injured

Information on the website of the Sun Newspaper has it that nomadic Fulani herdsmen invaded the border town of Oja-Odan in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State on Friday, killing a farmer and injuring dozens of others. The daring herdsmen allegedly slaughtered one Agbaose Sewotan after invading his farmlands and destroying his food and cash crops. An elder brother of the deceased, Mr. Oluwole Sewontan, said the incident occurred in the evening of Friday. According to him, “This is not the first time that our natives were slaughtered like cows on our own soil with impunity. My dear brother was killed simply because he protested the invasion of his farmland by the herdsmen.”

Sewontan added: “not less than forty people, including males and females, were killed over the years and our law enforcement agencies have not been able to bring the culprits to book.” The attack is coming barely one month after a socio-cultural group, Ketu Advancement Front, alerted the state government of the perennial crisis which it said normally happens during the dry season within Ketu communities. The leader of the group, Mr. Lasisi Adewole, said the Ketu communities, which comprise 30 villages had often come under severe attacks by the Fulani herdsmen operating between the boarders of Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Adewole also said that efforts so far made to ensure that the Nigeria Police, State security Service (SSS) and the state government put in place adequate security measures in the area had been fruitless. Meanwhile, reacting to the incident, the Chairman of Yewa North Local government, Hon Tajudeen Alani, assured that the government would look into the matter with a view to preventing future occurrence.
Source: Sunday Sun

Petrol Shortage Worsens

Fuel shortage bit harder across the country on Sunday, few hours to Christmas. The situation, which became evident in Lagos on Friday, worsened on Sunday, with many filling stations not having the product to sell. Those with the product, had long queues of motorists awaiting attention. Also, some filling stations had also resorted to profiteering, as they sold above the regulated price of N97 per litre.

It was gathered that some filling stations at Mile 2, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, among others, sold petrol for between N100 and N150 per litre. This was aside from others that dispensed via adjusted pumps.
Our correspondent gathered from market sources that in Abuja, the problem was worse, as stations with petrol had very long queues of motorists.
A top official of one of the oil marketing companies in Apapa, Lagos, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, said almost all the depots in Apapa had not received any product since Thursday last week.
“In fact, this Saturday, we didn’t do anything. It will be very serious this Christmas because we don’t see any magic happening between now and Tuesday,” he said.
The President, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, South-West branch, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, had said supply was still being rationed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and that there were no signs yet of adequate fuel supply in the Yuletide season.
“Petrol supply is not yet enough. They are still rationing the product,” Korodo said.
This is coming few days after the NNPC pipeline explosion at Ijeododo in Ijegun, located in Ojo Local Government of Lagos State. The explosion occurred on Tuesday night last week. It was said to have been caused by suspected pipeline vandals.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident might have worsened the fuel scarcity in the South-West and other parts of the country, as the pipeline transports petrol pumped from Atlas Cove to Ejigbo, Mosimi, Ibadan, Ore,and Ilorin depots.
The NNPC had discontinued supply of petrol through the line following the explosion. The corporation pumps about 11 million litres of petrol per day through the pipeline.
The Chairman, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Western Zone, Mr. Olumide Ogunmade, had described the incident as “a bad thing,” that would have an effect on product supply.
According to him, the Ije-Ododo axis is a route to all depots, and the explosion on the line was like cutting off the supply route from Atlas Cove.
He said, “It is serious. It is like going back to square one.”Government needs to tackle pipeline vandalism holistically. We must not surrender to vandals.
“Government has the resources to fight this. It should set up the machinery needed.”

Coping With Job Loss

When 44-year-old Dele lost his job just three weeks before Christmas, his first reaction was one of panic. He had worked in a construction company for 12 years and assumed that he had a stable job for many more years. Dele was his family’s main breadwinner although his wife worked part-time. They had two children under six and the usual rent and other bills to pay.
Job loss ranks as one of life’s most challenging events and it hurts at any point during the year, but during the season of “good will to all men,” it tends to have a much more devastating effect on people when it happens at such time of the year. Some of the issues involved include adjusting your finances, looking for a new job, and coping with the emotional and social impact of your new situation. But even if you failed to anticipate this sudden change in your circumstances, here are some practical steps to take with a clear positive outlook if such happens.
Don’t panic
When you think about all your bills and the monthly expenses you have to face without a steady income, it is easy to despair. Remain calm and do not rush into any major financial decisions whilst you assess your situation. Even if you are eligible, be cautious about dipping into your retirement savings account.
It would be much easier to deal with both financially and emotionally if you’d prepared for the worst by planning ahead with an emergency fund or insurance. The importance of an emergency fund becomes glaring in situations like this. Do you have any savings? How long will it last based on your monthly bills? If you have been able to set aside say six months of your income in a high yield money market account, you will be able to settle some of your bills and relieve some financial pressure while you look for a new job. But if you have always lived from month to month, this may not be an option.

What do your full entitlements amount to?
If you have no savings and is fortunate enough to receive severance pay or other benefits, use these as a bridge to get over the difficult period. Spend carefully, and do not use all of your entitlements to make large payments as you might have to live off that money for what could be an extended period of time. Don’t let such funds lure you into complacency – actively seek a new job.
Develop a new written budget to cover a period of say six months and longer based on your savings and any expected funds. How much will it cost to maintain your family, your home and lifestyle? Keep your family members fully in the picture so they too can adjust their expectations about what you can afford. Cut back on non-essential expenses. Naturally, your priority will be housing, food and utility bills. You will need to restrain yourself from adding on excessive expenses during the Christmas period.
Try to avoid taking on additional debt except for critically important expenses that cannot be delayed. Whilst more debt can temporarily disguise your true financial situation, it will only make things worse. If you are unable to fulfill your financial obligations, such as your mortgage or car loan, approach your lenders; it may be possible to negotiate new terms to adjust your payments for a limited period of time. It is better to approach them yourself rather than to fall behind with your payments. If you default on your home or vehicle loan, your bank will take steps to re-possess your property.
Stay socially connected
Some people feel embarrassed or inadequate after losing their job. Don’t withdraw and let negative feelings stop you from taking important steps; you need your network now more than ever before. Reach out to family, friends, ex-colleagues and your network and spread the word that you are in the job market. Your CV should be carefully updated and circulated. Use holiday social gatherings for networking where you might hear about new openings and connect with people who can help.
With the sheer number of people looking for jobs, you need to cast your net wide, and not just for the same type of job. Be practical and flexible and don’t be fixated on a specific role or job so you can increase your chances of finding work. Consider temporary or part time work that will generate income and give you the time and flexibility to attend job interviews and actively pursue a more permanent position. This might be a time to upgrade your skills, or go back to school which will all add to your resume. Your hobbies, talents and skills and other interests may be converted to a business as they offer serious possibilities for income.
Apart from the financial issues associated with job loss, there are usually emotional and personal aspects that are too often ignored. Whether yours was the only position that was cut, or an entire unit or department, the feelings caused by being laid off are largely the same regardless of the circumstance. Many people experience a loss of self-esteem, a sense of failure and even depression after retrenchment. But it’s important to take your next steps based on clear rational thought, devoid of emotion.
As difficult as this may sound, consider the loss of a job as an opportunity to re-evaluate your future and, potentially change your career or start a new business. Losing your present employment may well be the impetus, just what you need to take a fresh look at your life and re-define your goals. Often, it is times like this that propel people into greater things.



A compilation of tricks learned by mice using clicker training.

YouTube link.

You can see all of the various tricks individually, and more, here.

Cat rescued after getting stuck to cactus

They call him “Prickly Pete”, and he has certainly earned his nickname. A one year old orange and white domestic cat may have used up a few of his nine lives after he found himself stuck on a cactus.

On Wednesday, Arizona Humane Society’s Emergency Animal Medical Technicians received a call of a cat stuck in a cactus in north Phoenix, near 19th Ave. and Cactus. When the techs arrived on scene, the cat had somehow managed to free himself from his prickly predicament. But crews noticed a trail of cactus pods that led away from the scene, so they knew it was likely the cat had been injured.

Crews followed the trail, and a short time later, they found the animal. But the feline's misadventure wasn't over just yet. He had now become stuck in a fence. The vet techs rushed the unfortunate feline  to the Humane Society’s Second Chance Animal Hospital.  Vets spent two long hours, painstakingly removing cactus spines, one by one, from Pete’s muzzle, eyelids and mouth.

YouTube link.

Now recovering in Second Chance, Pete will remain on pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection. While Pete's being treated, Humane Society officials are trying to track down his owner. If an owner doesn't turn up soon, and if and Pete is cleared medically, he will go up for adoption at the Arizona Humane Society.

Man duped into undergoing vasectomy

A Indian  villager was duped by two persons who took him for vasectomy without his knowledge and then fled with the Rs 1,200 (£13.40, $21.80) that government hospitals pay for family planning. Forty-five-year-old Dayal Mahto, a resident of Sarishakuri village, 32 km from the district headquarters, was drugged before the no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) surgery.

The father of six is in a state of shock and has approached Bokaro DC Sunil Kumar and civil surgeon S N Tewary for help. Mahto, a daily wage earner, met the two persons on his way back home from Chas. They offered him a white-washing job and Mahto accepted it as he did not have any work in hand. Thereafter, the duo took him to a roadside stall and offered him tea. Mahto became unconscious immediately after drinking the tea. When he got his senses back he found himself in an auto-rickshaw with the two men.

They took Mahto to a building, which they said, needed a white-wash. "As I went inside I saw some people wearing masks and they asked me to lie on a table... I can't understand or speak Hindi fluently as my mother tongue is Bengali. Before I could resist they began the surgery and I had to lie there helplessly," said Mahto. After that he was asked to put his fingerprint on a paper. The duo then collected the cash and put Mahto in an auto-rickshaw, asked the driver to drop him near a bus stand and vanished.

Mahto came to know about the vasectomy only after he went to a doctor the next day as he was in pain. Shocked by the incident, he visited the panchayat level Legal Aid Clinic and narrated his story to legal advisor Baldev Pandey, who took him to the police. Though Mahto remembers faces of the two men, he could not recollect where the hospital was. Pandey said performing a vasectomy without the consent of the concerned person is a crime. "Authorities should help Mahto and arrest the duo and identify the hospital where the NSV was performed," he said.

Wheelchair-bound boy placed in back row of his school graduation photo

The parents of a wheelchair-bound boy are considering legal action against the NSW Department of Education and Communities in Australia over what they believe is an act of discrimination. Luke Smith, 11, who suffers no mental disability from his condition, hydrocephalus – water on the brain, was left staring at the backs of his classmates in a photo taken to celebrate the year 6 graduation at Beresfield Public School, near Newcastle. In the image only his wheelchair is visible between the legs of his mates in what should have been a lasting memento of his primary education.

A month of preparation and planning – including a rehearsal – failed to ensure Luke was placed in the front row. “I bawled my eyes out,” his distraught mother Vicky Smith, who snapped a damning photo of the situation, said. “I’m just shattered,” his father Phillip Smith said. “If he wasn’t in a wheelchair he would be in that photo.” When asked if the photo was a spur of the moment event, Mr Smith shook his head.

“No, it was all planned,” he said. “It was his year 6 farewell and that photo is something he should be able to look back on.” The DEC spokesman said it was an ­oversight. “They had rehearsed the photo and ­somehow between then and photo being taken he ended up out of place,” the spokesman said. “The students were grouped alphabetic­ally for the photo – being Smith he ended up at the back, it wasn’t discrimination. It’s all an unfortunate misunderstanding.”

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Apologies from the principal and the department have failed to wash with the Smiths. The department even offered to reconvene the students for a photo and place Luke front and centre. “Luke doesn’t want to be part of it, he’s done with them,” Mrs Smith said. “If only one thing comes out of this we don’t want another child with a disability to go through this again.” The DEC backed an apology from the principal and assured the family it would not happen again. “The school is reviewing the procedures in how the photos are conducted,” the spokesman said.  “The school is proud of the support it has been able to give to Luke and is very sorry.”

Boeing uses potatoes instead of people to test wi-fi

US planemaker Boeing used an unusual substitute for passengers to test its in-flight wi-fi system - potatoes. Passenger seats on a decommissioned plane were loaded with huge sacks of the tubers for several days as signal strengths were checked. The company's researchers say that potatoes "interact" with electronic signals in a similar way to humans.

The technique also took advantage of the fact that spuds - unlike humans - never get bored. Boeing's engineers did a number of tests to ensure that passengers would get the strongest possible wi-fi signal while in the air, all while meeting safety standards that protect against interference with an aircraft's electrical systems. Wireless signals fluctuate randomly in the enclosed space of an aeroplane cabin as people move about.

This means that signal distribution is uneven throughout the cabin, with weaker and stronger connectivity in different seats. "You want your laptop to work anywhere it's located on your seat, [but] there can be significant signal changes just due to the location of the laptop," said Boeing engineer Dennis Lewis. To test the signal distribution, the firm turned to spuds instead of human test subjects, filling the seats with 20,000lbs (9,000kg) of potatoes in sacks.

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According to Boeing, potatoes' "interactions" with electronic signals mimic those of a human body, making them "the perfect stand-in for people who would otherwise have had to sit motionless for days while the data was gathered". Frederic Rosseneu of the European Potato Trade Association Europatat said the organisation was "looking forward to other experiments in which spuds can help to make our lives more convenient".

Breastfeeding restaurant owner sparked food safety investigation

A Nova Scotia restaurant owner says customers complained about her breastfeeding, sparking a food safety investigation. Hannah Gibson, who owns Rocco's Ristorante Italiano in Dartmouth, said when things get busy at the restaurant she'll pitch in even if her son Carson, who is just eight months old, is hungry. "I was clearing a table while breastfeeding," she said.

A few days ago the restaurant received its second official letter of complaint in six months from Nova Scotia's food safety inspectors. When the officer came to investigate, Gibson said, she asked him "how is this a food-safety issue? His response to me was, 'I don't know. Maybe the complainant thought milk could get in the food.' " Gibson said the inspector told her the complaint "was very much an issue of public perception."

She said the officer then offered her some advice: "Really, in the future, if you can kind of separate yourself so that the patrons can't see you." In a province where breastfeeding has been declared a human right, Gibson said, the investigation has left her feeling both embarrassed and angry. She said it's frustrating one provincial department is handing out warnings while another provincial program promotes breastfeeding in public.

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The Department of Health supports several campaigns, including a promotional video called Make Breastfeeding your Business. The Department of Agriculture later apologized for the way it handled the complaint. "Babies in restaurants in and of themselves don't represent a food safety risk," read the statement. "Our minister has been in contact with Ms. Gibson and regretted any misunderstanding with regard to the province's support for breastfeeding," said the department.

Ukrainian woman stripped naked at Beirut airport in protest at smoking ban

A Ukrainian national took her clothes off on Saturday at Rafik Hariri International Airport to protest the smoking ban.

The woman was swiftly detained by airport security for questioning.

The ban came into effect in September in accordance to Law 174, which passed a year ago.

The National Tobacco Control Program of the Health Ministry says more than 3,500 Lebanese die each year from tobacco-related diseases.

Santa fined and his truck banned from roads for having dazzling lights

Santa and his Christmas truck were banned from the streets of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia, on Saturday night leaving the community and Mayor Paul Pisasale dumbstruck. The 14-year-old tradition may have been brought to an end when the spectacularly lit truck was booked by an Ipswich Traffic Branch police officer for 'using lights to dazzle other road users'. Cr Pisasale said he hoped common sense would prevail and the truck would be allowed back on the road.

The truck was making its annual pilgrimage around Ipswich streets on Saturday night when it and two Ulysses Club motorcyclists following, were pulled over at 9.20pm. A police statement said the officer had followed the procession for 2km, sighting a number of traffic offences, including a motorcycle proceeding through a stop sign with flashing blue lights. The drivers of the truck and each of the motorcyclists were fined $44. The incident left a number of children upset when it appeared Santa might be taken into custody.

The truck is renowned around Ipswich and draws thousands of residents onto the streets each year. Scott Ryan, dressed as Santa, and Suzanne Barnard, a Christmas Elf, couldn't believe their run had ended. They were told on Sunday afternoon to keep the truck off the road while the traffic tickets were reviewed. "This is the first time it won't go ahead and we didn't know anything was wrong," Ms Barnard said.

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Cr Pisasale said the incident was not reflective of the city's relationship with the Ipswich police force. "They have been doing it for 14 years and I think this officer needs to be transferred to the North Pole to chill out for a bit," he said. Acting Police Community Safety Minister Steve Dickson said he was aware of the alleged incident. I would like to remind all Queenslanders that nobody is above the road rules. The number one concern during the holiday season is to ensure that everyone has a safe Christmas," he said.

Church offers mince pie reward for return of Homer Simpson

A Manchester church is appealing for help to find a seven foot figure of Homer Simpson, which went missing from the roof.

Ivy Manchester Church, on Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, said the illuminated inflatable was last seen on Thursday. Members at the church think the figure, which had been up for two weeks, was taken between 01:00 and 08:00 GMT.

Church leader Anthony Delaney has promised a reward of a box of mince pies for any information. He said: "He had become a bit of a local landmark, we were starting to say that we were the church with the Homer on the roof.

"I went to check it in the morning and he had gone, so we are all feeling a bit deflated. We would forgive whoever it was that took it if they brought it back, in the spirit of Christian Christmas forgiveness."

Four Kidnapped S. Korean Expatriates Freed

Four South Korean workers who were kidnapped earlier this week in Bayelsa state have been released unharmed, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday. The four workers from South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, were abducted by armed men Monday while working at a construction site in the state of Bayelsa.

They were freed unharmed late Friday, the South Korean foreign ministry spokesman said.
Two Nigerian co-workers were kidnapped alongside the South Koreans, with one apparently released soon after the incident, according to Hyundai. There was no information on whether the other Nigerian was also set free Friday.
It is not known if a ransom was paid.
Gangs looking for ransom money have frequently abducted expatriates working in the oil-producing Niger Delta.

Photo: Man Excretes 90 Wraps Of Cocaine In 2 Weeks

A suspected drug trafficker recently excreted 90 wraps of a substance believed to be cocaine in 14 days.
The suspect, Peter Onyeagba, 40, allegedly tested positive for drug ingestion after his arrest at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos during an inward screening of passengers on a Kenyan Airways flight. He was arrested by officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
NDLEA Airport Commander, Hamza Umar, confirmed the arrest. He said, “Onyeagba is the longest observed drug suspect since January 2012. He began excretion the day he was arrested and took two weeks to complete observation. Some others conclude the evacuation of ingested drugs in three days, while a majority last for a week. This is the longest observed case since January.”

Onyeagba, who sells building materials for a living, is a resident of Lome, Togo. After travelling to Brazil on Nov. 15, 2012 through Ghana, Onyeagba reportedly spent two weeks in Brazil before his return to Nigeria.
Ingested drugs, according to the agency, could last for a few weeks with minimal effects on a courier if the pellets of drugs remain sealed. It could however kill in a few minutes if there is a leakage.
Onyegaba told CRIME DIGEST that he was a victim of greed. He said, “I have been selling building materials in Togo for over 10 years. I was on a business trip to Brazil with $8,000 and had planned on visiting Nigeria. Some of my friends that we usually meet in a drinking bar introduced me into drugs.
“They told me that instead of going back to Nigeria with nothing, that I should take some drugs and earn $3,000. I was not forced to smuggle the drug; I only decided to give it a try after much persuasion. I was interested in making an additional $3,000.”
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, reiterated the agency’s decision to continue the fight against drug traffickers.  He said, “One of our strategies is to be vigilant and ensure that any suspect caught is duly prosecuted to deter others. Most suspects are just lured by greed.”

Angry Youths Set Suspected Okada Thief Ablaze In Nasarawa

Apparently some suspected thieves are more innocent than the other or how else can one rationalize the craze for dispensing jungle justice on ‘petty’ thieves while those alleged and known to have looted the public till still walk freely on the streets like peacocks? 

Friday would mark an unfortunate day for a man suspected to be a motorcyclist thief, when he was set ablaze by angry youths at a workers’ village, along Kilema Doma road in Lafia, Nasarawa State, while allegedly trying to snatch a motorcycle, popularly called okada in the area.

The unfortunate incident which was confirmed by the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer (DPPRO), Nasarawa State command, Mr Cornelius Ocholi, revealed that the victim was set ablaze by a local vigilante group in the area while his accomplices escaped. 

He explained that before his men got to the scene, the deed had already been done even as “effort made by the police to get the names of the accomplice proved abortive as nobody could be found at the scene of the event, where the suspected thief was set ablaze.” He however cofirmed that seven persons have been arrested in connection with the incident. 

Different eye witness, accounts say angry youths, who arrested the suspect, told him to take some of them to the scene of the incident, where he was beaten and set ablaze, while another claimed that the suspected thief died while receiving medical attention at Araf Dalhatu Specialist Hospital, Lafia. 

However, the Nasarawa State Police Commissioner, Mr Abayomi Akaremale, has warned members of the public to desist from taking laws into their hands as according to him, what the mob did was unlawful, adding instead of setting the suspect ablaze, they should have reported the matter to police.

How Anenih, Alison-Madueke, Others Robbed Nigeria Of N234bn Meant For Road Construction - PREMIUM TIMES

By Ogala Emmanuel
Despite his indictment, Mr. Anenih has now been appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to head the NPA board. Tony Anenih, recently re-appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to head the board of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, does not have a clean past in managing public funds, a 2009 senate report said.

In December 2009, a damning report detailing how Mr. Anenih, a former works minister and then leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), allegedly mismanaged billions of naira meant for the rehabilitation and construction of Nigerian roads, was listed for debate – for the third time in a row – by the Senate.

The transport probe report is filled with revelations of alleged serial malpractices, and shows how, in 10 years (1999 to 2009), through multiple contract inflation frauds, connivance between contractors and government officials, some N645 billion was spent on 4,752 kilometres of road; shortchanging the government to the tune of N49 million on each kilometre of road worked on, amounting to approximately N233 billion.

The report, produced by a senate ad-hoc committee on transportation, led by Heineken Lokpobiri, blamed Anenih and his successors in the ministry, for the poor state of Nigerian highways during the period and called for their prosecution.

The report

The report shows that Nigeria’s public transportation sector, under the watch of Mr. Anenih and three others, was a cesspit of monumental corruption and fraud as contractors connived with government officials to defraud the country.

The report contains details of what its authors said was one of the nation’s largest portfolio of official scams at the time.
During its 20-day sitting in 2008, the ad-hoc committee said it scrutinised 532 written memoranda and listened to 248 presentations.

The committee said ministers and other senior officials of the ministries of transportation and Finance between 1999 and 2009 awarded multiple contracts for the same roads and paid for unapproved contracts.

According to the report, between 1999 and 2009, the ministry of transportation gave contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of 11, 591 km roads at a cost of N1.008 trillion – about N87 million per km.

During the same period, only 41 per cent of the roads were worked on, after close to 64 per cent of the contract value was paid.

In the 10-year period, work was done on only 4,752 kilometres of roads for N645.8 billion, at very high cost of N135.8 million per kilometre, defrauding the government N49 million on each kilometre.

“There was no commensurate value for funds expended on the roads from 1999 to 2009,” the committee said.

The committee said contractors, who were usually selected on questionable grounds, liaised with the leadership of the ministries and reduced the scope of awarded contracts without an equivalent scaling down on costs. In all cases, no one received any query from the internal audit.

The report said that under the reign of Tony Anenih, Adeseye Ogunlewe, Obafemi Anibaba and Cornelius Adebayo, road contracts were awarded depending only on estimates that were submitted by the bidding contractors, without prior design by the ministry.

The ministry also “fixed prices even before the roads were actually designed by the companies,” the report said.

The report detailed how about half – 46 per cent – of the companies that got jobs under Mr. Anenih and the three were not registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission at the time they were awarded contracts, against contract management rules.

It described the engineering representatives of the transport ministry as some of the most corrupt and lacking in technical expertise. “They granted clearances to the contractors when the jobs were far from finished,” the report said.

The current Petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who – as minister of Transportation and Works – literally wept while inspecting the condition of the Benin-Ore road, was also indicted in the report.

The panel said Mrs. Alison-Madueke paid more than N1.2 billion into the private account of a company called Digital Toll Gates Limited, against the written advice of the Due Process Office.

Recommended for prosecution

The senators recommended that Tony Anenih, Adeseye Ogunlewe, Obafemi Anibaba and Cornelius Adebayo, who headed the transport ministry within that period, along with their Ministers of State and the Permanent Secretaries be prosecuted by the government for defrauding the nation.

The report also recommended the prosecution of Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who was the permanent secretary during the administration of all the ministers except Mr. Anenih’s. He was alleged to have crafted a means of splitting contracts into sizeable amounts to bring the values within the approving authority of his office. With this, projects with single appropriation were allegedly awarded by him separately sometimes to non-existing companies.

Swept under the carpet

That report was never considered on the floor of the senate.

The report, which took the ad hoc committee 18 months to produce, kept appearing on the senate’s order paper as a matter to be considered at the next plenary till February 2010 when it was again listed to be debated and adopted in March. That was its last listing before that senate session ended in June 2011.

Ayogu Eze, a member of the committee and spokesman for the senate at the time, said the report could have “skipped the minds of those in the Senate leadership” or, perhaps, the Rules and Business committee of the Senate failed to slate it for discussion.

The Rules and Business Committee schedules matters handed down to it by the Senate leadership for discussion.

Alloysius Etok, then chairman of the Rules and Business Committee explained at the time he could no longer schedule the probe report for debate because he got no green light from the then senate leadership, led by David Mark.

“I’m trying to prioritise them (issues to be discussed by the Senate) and again, they (the authors of the report) did not finish that job,” Mr. Etok said. “I was trying to weigh the options which I am still trying to talk to the leadership to see if we can now take the report in part. If the leadership agrees that we treat it in parts, then I will bring it up for the interest of the public and Nigerian people. If the leadership says we should wait till they bring the second part of the report, then I will wait.”

The report indicting Mr. Anenih was the first part of a larger investigation of alleged corruption in the transport sector since 1999 by the Lokpobiri led Senate ad-hoc committee.

The second part of the report, which lawmakers said detailed the misuse of the funds meant for the marine and air transport sector during that time, was never submitted.

Mr. Jonathan ignores indictment to reappoint Anenih

President Jonathan has now brushed aside that indictment hanging on Mr. Anenih’s neck, appointing him to head the board of the NPA. Critics say the appointment has once again underlined the president’s non-commitment to the war against corruption.

The presidency could not be reached to comment for this story. His spokespersons, Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe, did not answer or return calls made to their telephones.