Press focuses on call by Buhari for responsible press freedom, others

The call by President Muhammadu Buhari for responsible press freedom among media professionals in Nigeria is one of the trending…

The call by President Muhammadu Buhari for responsible press freedom among media professionals in Nigeria is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Monday.ThisDay reports that President Muhammadu Buhari and the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, have urged the media to express its freedom with responsibility.

While Buhari called for responsible press freedom among media professionals in the country, Lawan urged the media to purge itself of bad eggs, promising that the National Assembly won’t pass anti-press legislations.

Buhari, in a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, to mark World Press Freedom Day today, stressed the commitment of his administration to the freedom of the press.

He, however, urged journalists to wield their freedom responsibly and without licentiousness.

According to him, freedom of the press is an irreducible minimum feature of a democracy that would flourish, adding that freedom must, however, be used responsibly.

The newspaper says that with the dwindling allocations from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), state governments nationwide have planned a raft of measures to earn more revenues and enthrone frugality in public spending, THISDAY has learnt.

Investigations showed that many of the states are in dire financial straits and could hardly pay salaries as and when due as well as meet other contractual obligations in the wake of the double whammy of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted socio-economic activities, and the low price of crude oil, the major source of foreign exchange for the federation, in the global market.

The worrisome financial state of the federation was accentuated last week via a letter by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Accountant-General of the Federation warning that it would be unable to make any remittance to the Federation Account in April for distribution to the federal, state and local governments in May because it needed to defray around N112 billion cost of February’s subsidy on petrol.

However, it was gathered that to stave off the financial crisis the NNPC’s letter portends, despite their reservations about the corporation’s claim, the states, while responding to THISDAY inquiry, listed some of the measures being taken to cope with the tough times ahead.

Some states like Taraba and Plateau pledged to continue to implement measures already initiated, such as sustaining 50 percent cuts in the salaries of political office holders, and emplacing other cost-saving measures.

The Guardian reports that chaotic scenes are expected at the check-in counters of Nigeria-bound airlines as a new set of stiffer protocols takes effect today.

The new guidelines, among others, ban air travellers from India, Brazil and Turkey, with a fine of $3,500 per defaulting passenger.

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 at the weekend rolled out a fresh guideline for inbound passengers, reducing the validity period of pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test from 96 to 72 hours.

Besides, non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visited Brazil, India or Turkey within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria will be denied entry into the country. This regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transited through these countries.

For arriving passenger who fails to comply, the airline shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 for each defaulting passenger, while non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the airline.

Nigerians and those with permanent resident permit, who visited Brazil, India or Turkey within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria shall, among others, be made to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a government-approved facility at the point-of-entry and at cost to the passenger.

Officials of foreign airlines, yesterday, hinted that the implementation of the fresh guideline was too hasty and readily puts airlines in a difficult position.

The newspaper says that until last week, many Nigerians without insider knowledge of what goes on behind the banking halls, thought the country could count on a stable financial system as it pulls through the battered economy.

Sadly, on Thursday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) exposed what had become ‘clandestine affairs between it and the country’s topmost old generation financial institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited. And it took rather an attempt at corporate assertiveness by the now-ousted boards of the bank for the CBN to move into action, which raises a question on the genuineness and sincerity of the intention of the regulator.

The bank, known for its historic conservative approach, had on Wednesday rejigged the board with Gbenga Shobo, who was the Deputy Managing Director, elevated to the position of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

A statement issued by the now-dismissed chairman, Ibukun Awosika, said that “the board is confident that Shobo has the experience and understanding of the bank and the know-how to lead the bank through this next phase of growth, which is focused on positioning First Bank as the preeminent bank in our chosen markets, delivering value to our stakeholders”.

What remained undisclosed then was that the appointment, which was “awaiting regulatory approval”, was made contrary to an existing understanding between the board and the Central Bank. It was not surprising the CBN responded with a query, which came after the effort to have the board shift ground failed.

The letter signed by the Director, Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, said: “The CBN was not made aware of any report from the board indicting the managing director of any wrongdoing or misconduct; there appears to be no apparent justification for the precipitate removal.

The Punch reports that the leader of the Ilana Omo Odua, emeritus Prof. Banji Akintoye, has said the agitation for Yoruba self-determination cannot be stopped either by anybody.

Akintoye said this in a statement on Sunday by the Media and Communications Secretary of the group, Mr Maxwell Adeleye.

Yoruba nation agitators had on Saturday defied the police clampdown to stage their rally in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

He hailed the Yoruba Nimi Omo Kootu-Ojire and its founder, Titilayo Ojeleye, for the success of the rally held in Abeokuta on Saturday to drum-up support for the actualisation of the Yoruba nation.

He said, “I want to advise the Nigerian State that the Yoruba self-determination struggle under my leadership shall continue to be peaceful and orderly.

“Therefore, threatening us, or attempting to subjugate our rights to self-determination and peaceful assembly are cowardly.

“We are marching on, and like valiant soldiers without a dint of fear. I make bold to put it to the Nigerian state that no one can stop an idea whose time has come.”

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