Press focuses on investigative panel on disqualification of 10 athletes at 2020 Olympic, others

The panel set up by Nigeria's Sports Minister to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disqualification of 10 Nigerian athletes at…

The panel set up by Nigeria’s Sports Minister to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disqualification of 10 Nigerian athletes at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.The Guardian reports that Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, has set up a panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disqualification of 10 Nigerian athletes at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Team Nigeria finished in the 74th position on the overall table and sixth best in Africa with a silver and a bronze medal at the end of the Games. The country’s participation was nearly marred by controversies arising from disqualification of athletes over non-compliance with anti-doing rules and the provisional suspension placed on Nigeria’s top sprinter, Blessing Okagbare.

“I have ordered a full investigation that will not only uncover what happened, but will also recommend a process where such lapses can never occur in the future and initiate leveraging compliance monitoring technology to guardrail this,” Dare stated yesterday in a press release made available to The Guardian.

He continues: “First is the mishap resulting in 10 Team Nigeria athletes being ruled ineligible to compete for missing their mandatory Out of Competition Test (OTC). When notice of this ruling got to me, I immediately mobilised my team and the AFN leadership to see how the situation could be salvaged.

“We mounted a vigorous appeal process with Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and had the team members complete the tests. However, timing became the critical issue. Despite our energetic appeal, the deciding committee made its announcement, which gave no latitude to our team members for what was only an inadvertent lapse.

“The adverse decision was painful to accept. We had prepared carefully and eagerly for the Olympics with the expectation that each person, federation, coach and athlete would also complete the necessary preparations required of them. As Minister, I ensured that all necessary approvals were done so that all requisite tests and exams could be timely completed. For me, this unfortunate incident is most painful because these athletes had prepared long and hard and also in view of the challenging circumstances due to COVID-19,” Dare stated.

The newspaper says that markets and businesses closed down on Monday and streets were mostly deserted in cities across southeast Nigeria, residents said after a separatist group called for a protest over the arrest of its leader.

The outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra movement (IPOB), which wants a separate state for the ethnic Igbo people in the southeast, has called for businesses to close every Monday in the region.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu is still being held by the Department of State Services intelligence agency after his lawyers say he was arrested in June in Kenya and extradited back to Nigeria to face trial.

In Owerri, capital of Imo state, normally bustling main roads were mostly deserted Monday morning as many shops and markets closed in compliance with the IPOB protest, residents said.

“I never believed that this order will take effect like this,” said Chinonso Agomuo, a local trader. “See the roads, no one is on the road.

“Nobody goes to the market because no one will come and buy what you are selling.”

In Enugu city in southeastern Enugu state, some main streets were also quiet.

“Banks are not working. Even markets are all locked,” said motorist Christian Ekekwe.

IPOB spokesman Emmanuel Powerful has called for a 6:00 am to 6:00 pm protest every Monday to demand Kanu’s immediate release.

Separatist tensions frequently flare up in southeast Nigeria, where a 1967 unilateral declaration of an independence for a Biafra republic by Igbo army officers triggered a 30-month civil war that left one million people dead.

The Vanguard reports that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, yesterday lamented the state of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH.

It also disclosed that a total of 816 Nigerians have lost their lives to cholera, while 31,425 suspected cases were recorded between January and August 1, 2021.

In a statement signed by the Director-General of the agency, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NCDC called for urgent need to strengthen Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, facilities nationwide.

According to him, poor access to clean water, open defecation, poor sanitation, and hygiene has worsened the outbreak across states in Nigeria.

As of August 1, 2021, a total of 31,425 suspected cases of Cholera including 816 deaths had been reported from 22 states and FCT.

The affected states include Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Enugu, Adamawa, Katsina, Borno and FCT.

“The National Cholera EOC has led to the deployment of Rapid Response Teams to support the most affected states – Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau States. Additionally, NCDC and its partners have provided states with commodities for case management and laboratory diagnosis, materials for risk communications, response guidelines among other support,” Ihekweazu said.

The Punch says that the target of the Federal Government is to increase Nigeria’s oil reserves from 36.91 billion barrels to 50 billion barrels in the short to medium term, the Department of Petroleum Resources announced on Monday.

The Director/Chief Executive, DPR, Sarki Auwalu, announced this during a workshop with industry partners on Monday.

He also announced that the regulator would inaugurate annual awards for companies, projects or individuals who add value to the Nigerian oil sector through enhanced recovery of the country’s oil and gas resources.

Auwalu in a statement issued by the Head of Public Affairs, DPR, Paul OSU, said the Improved Oil Recovery/Enhanced Oil Recovery Awards were part of deliberate engagements with industry partners to achieve maximum economic recovery strategies for Nigeria.

Auwalu noted that the Federal Government, through the MER strategies, was also targeting to increase Nigeria’s proven gas reserves from 206.53 trillion cubic feet to 250TCF.

According to him, companies, individuals, fields, research institutions and technologies were eligible for the IOR/EOR awards.

He said the industry initiative was one of the outcomes of the work of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre, Lagos inaugurated in January by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

ThisDay reports that despite spending an average of N6 billion every month, covering security and maintenance, pipeline repairs, marine distribution, pipeline management costs, strategic holding, vandalism of pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its partners, is far from abating.

According to the Monthly Financial Operations Report (MFOR) of the NNPC, in January 2020 alone, the NNPC spent N1.603 billion on pipelines repair, marine distribution was N1.4 billion while pipelines management cost was N1.666 billion, among other expenses.

A breakdown of the total amount spent within 10 months last year by the NNPC to repair and manage pipelines showed that N5.48 billion was spent in January; N6.74 billion in February; N7.70 billion in March; N7.84 billion in April and N7.99 billion in May.

Although a large portion of the over 5,000-kilometre pipelines across the country is no longer functional due to ageing and vandalism, with products now transported by road, the corporation continues to spend huge resources its management.

The report also revealed that between January 2012 and December 2014, losses from vandalism of crude oil pipelines and petroleum products stood at about N202.68 billion, while petroleum products strategic holding cost and pipeline repairs and maintenance cost for the period gulped N358.88 billion.

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