By Adedapo Adesanya
The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Kayode Fayemi, has called for more investments into the arts and culture sector of the country.
This charge was given by the state governor at the opening session of the 34th National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST).
Declaring open the cultural fiesta themed Celebrating National Unity in Diversity, the Ekiti State Governor, who is also the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), described the annual cultural celebration as a vital tool for integration, unity, economic prosperity and political stability of the country.
He maintained that the current economic and political state of the country requires concerted efforts and investment in arts and culture to give room for the expression of talents, promotion of the unity of the country in its diversity and harnessing human potentials for economic prosperity.
Stressing the import of culture for national development and economic growth, the Governor said culture impacts economic growth by strengthening social virtues, creating a trust which facilitates relationships and inspiring motivation that stimulates entrepreneurship.
“We know and understand that culture is one of the main pillars of development, for, without culture, it is certain that development would be greatly hindered. The critical state of our nation requires that efforts be intensified to revive our diverse culture and enhance the potential of our arts to ensure social and political stability, both of which hinge on the viability of the economy.
“The burden of our national commitments which has rested solely on the performance of our crude oil in the international market has continued to render the nation immobile. This calls for an innovative solution. Investing in culture is crucial to the general development of any society.
“As a country with diverse cultures, it is imperative for us to take advantage of the innate strength in our diversity, and our human and natural resources, to build a united, just and prosperous country for the present and future generations,” he said.
The Governor disclosed that his administration in Ekiti has taken arts and culture beyond mere performance to the realm of cultural re-orientation, attitudinal change, value orientation and its integration into the State’s educational curriculum to be taught at primary and post-primary levels.
Mr Fayemi added that the national event was in fulfilment of his administration’s efforts at exposing Ekiti to both national and international attractions to woe more stakeholders in the culture, tourism and creative world to the State.
On his part, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Mr Segun Runwese, commended Governor Fayemi for not only demonstrating strong political will in hosting this year NAFEST but for also mobilizing government apparatus to take an active role in ensuring the success of the event.
He disclosed that this year event would feature several completion including tales by moonlight, Drama, traditional board games, children’s drawing and painting, children’s essay writing, traditional cuisines, archery, indigenous fabric and fashion and the cultural market display where winners would be given prizes and award.
Mr Runwese added that participants would also have the opportunity to visit the rich cultural tourist centres in the State like the popular Ikogosi warm spring, Arinta waterfall, Fajuyi park and amusement, Ogun Onire groove and others in the course of the week-long event.
At the event, where representatives across the states of the federation observed a cultural parade that reflected their rich cultural heritage in colourful attires and peculiar cultural instruments witnessed the staging of a melodious drama titled “Children of the rolling hills” that was orchestrated by the Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
BEDC Promises to Restore Electricity to Delta Community
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has promised to restore electricity to the Agbarho community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
This was disclosed by the Head of the Community Relations of BEDC, Mr Simple Ugherakpoteri, at a meeting between the company and leaders of the community.
He explained that the prolonged power outage in the community was caused by a heavy downpour that destroyed electric poles.
He stated that BEDC’s men were already working and power will be restored immediately they are through.
Mr Ugherakpoteri also promised to look into the issue of overbilling and estimated bills complained about by the community.
Responding on behalf of the community, President General of Agbarho Urhobo Improvement Union, Mr Monday Igho-Odiphri, described the meeting as fruitful and expressed hope that power will be restored to the community as soon as possible.
He urged BEDC officials to keep to their own part of the agreement and promised to give all necessary assistance, assuring that the BEDC office will not be relocated from the community.
Recently, members of the Delta community took to the streets to protest against the incessant power outage in the area and outrageous estimated bills being imposed on them by the company.
BEDC is responsible for the retail distribution of electricity in Delta, Edo, Ekiti, and Ondo States with geographical coverage of 55,770 square kilometres.
The company operates from 25 business districts with approximately 350 offices located across the four states with about 13 million people and about 4 million households.
The DisCo is the 4th largest in distribution capacity and 3rd largest in the number of households among the Distribution Companies (Discos) in Nigeria.
Apprehension Over AMCON MD’s Visit to EFCC
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The visit of the Managing Director of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Kuru, to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already causing apprehension.
Mr Kuru was reportedly grilled by the anti-graft agency on Wednesday after he was invited by the organisation for questioning.
Already, it is being speculated that his ordeal with the EFCC may be connected with the plans by AMCON to name and shame chronic debtors, who took loans from commercial banks but refused to repay as promised.
Yesterday, the AMCON MD was grilled by the agency over allegations bordering on the diversion of assets and the sale of the properties to his associates at ridiculous prices.
According to reports, Mr Kuru allegedly sold properties valued at billions of naira belonging to Atlantic to another despite a court case on the assets.
Atlantic was accused of loan default with Skye Bank and the properties in collateral were seized and allegedly sold below the prevailing market value while the action was instituted in court.
Amid these accusations, the EFCC is yet to comment at the time of filing this report.
AMCON is an agency set up by the federal government to acquire all toxic loans of commercial banks, with the aim of recovering them.
In November 2021, the agency submitted a list containing its top 1,000 obligors owing N4.4 trillion to the National Assembly.
Mr Kuru had said with the support of the parliament and the Judiciary, recovering the total current exposure on all Eligible Bank Asset (EBAs), which stands at N4.4 trillion, may be possible before the sunset period.
He had lamented that more recently, due to the socio-economic downturn, the market values of assets have significantly reduced, lower than the valuation at the point of EBAs purchase, making it extremely difficult to consummate sales transactions.
“To enable AMCON to succeed in its national call to duty, AMCON solicits the continued support of this Distinguished Committee. The Judiciary must be encouraged to respect the provisions of the law that require them to fast-track cases before them, issue certificates of judgement on properties, which the Corporation has no collateral and demand debtors to deposit Judgment sum before proceeding to appeal any judgement,” he had stated.
NSCDC Denies Operating Illegal Oil Bunkering Site
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked the rumour that its marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro jetty, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was an illegal oil bunkering site.
This was made known by the Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Aliyu Bature, who explained that the Ogbogoro jetty has remained its marine exhibits yard for over 10 years.
He added that every marine exhibit like boats, vessels, barges drums, arrested by or handed over to the Corps by sister agencies for oil theft are usually detained at the yard, pending investigation and court prosecution.
This follows claims made by Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman, Mr George Ariolu, that the NSCDC marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro was being used for illegal bunkering activities.
In the reaction to the allegation, Mr Bature disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant General, Mr Abubakar Audi, in December 2021 visited the said yard, maintaining that it was a known fact that the yard has been the Corps’ marine exhibits yard.
The agency said some of the exhibits, including 220 drums of AGO and eight Cotonou boats in the yard were seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the NSCDC last week, while other vessels were taken by operatives of the Corps.
He disclosed that the agency has got an intelligence report that hoodlums were planning to attack the yard, by setting it ablaze in order to destroy the exhibits, assuring that such plans will be strongly resisted.
“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. Most of the exhibits here were arrested by the Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests too were made by us.
“The commandant general was here in December and he’s aware that this place is our exhibits yard.
“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen.
“We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that,” the statement said.
The NSCDC also urged members of the public to report any personnel of the organisation who is involved in the business of aiding and abetting oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism, warning that the agency will not hesitate to show such person the way out.
“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.
“The NSCDC leadership does not in any way condone acts of indiscipline. We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved, we will not take it likely.
“That is why those who were in charge of the anti-vandal unit have been disbanded, and are being investigated currently by the committee set up by the Commandant General,” the statement said.
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