The number of Nigerians that made it back to Nigeria drastically reduced following moves by the South African government to frustrate the evacuation efforts.
Only about 187 adults and children were successfully evacuated on Wednesday as against the 320 Nigerians expected back home.
The flight arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.43pm.
One of the returnees, Uche Victor, told journalists that he left his wife who he said was a Cameronian and a young daughter behind.
He said, “I’m bleeding because I left my wife and baby but I have to come back because my mother cries for me to return. If something happens to me she will suffer.
“I left my business, I came back with nothing. South Africans believe all Nigerians are drug pushers, but I don’t know the colour of any drug.”
Victor, who explained that he left Nigeria for South Africa in 2007, explained that the attacks were anger against the government.
“They are only venting their anger on foreigners. They started with black and will move to whites,” he said.
According to him, the flight would have returned earlier but the South African government made it difficult.
“They didn’t want us to go but for Nigeria’s consulate,” he added.
Another returnee from Abia State, who gave his name as Onuoha, said a lot of Nigerians were still stranded as they could not return with their properties.
Aliu Saheed, from Osun State, said his shop was burgled and he came back home empty-handed.
“But I’m happy to be home, I’m not going back again,” he said.
One of our correspondents learnt that the South African authorities went further to cancel visas that were issued to the returning Nigerians.
A picture on Facebook showed a Nigerian passport with a cancelled South African visa as of September 10.
The Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said there was 15 hours delay before the flight left South Africa.
She had earlier told journalists that the South African authorities brought new immigration rules before the affected Nigerians could be allowed to board the aircraft.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the Federal Government is giving N40,000 worth of airtime to last them for two months as well as stipend of N10,000 for transport.
She also said there were plans for the Bank of Industry to provide some money for the returnees to start small businesses.
Meanwhile, the Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs Toyin Olajide, said the evacuation would cost the airline about N300m.
Olajide said the cost would include payment of passenger service charge, aeronautical and other charges.
Honorable or Horrible Members? Lumumba Questions Nigerian Lawmakers
Nigeria’s development has been slow-paced for too long, largely due to lack of visionary leadership, an anti-corruption advocate told federal lawmakers on Wednesday.
Patrick Lumumba, a former director of Kenya’s anti-corruption commission, also asked the Nigerian lawmakers if they are ‘honourable members or horrible members.’
He referred the lawmakers to late nationalists, Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikwe, asking them how much of their legacies have been preserved.
He said the clarity of vision and the instinct to marshall people is the antidote to tackle Nigeria’s many challenges, as this was what worked for the nation’s founding fathers.
The don who is also the Director, Kenya School of Laws, spoke at the launch of the House of Representatives Green Chamber magazine Wednesday in Abuja.
“Nigeria has been becoming great for too long,” Mr Lumumba said in his speech. “The time is now that Nigeria must be great. In fact, Nigeria should be in the same space economically as Germany is; Nigeria should be in the same space politically as the United States is.”
“You are the successors of Nigeria’s great leaders. The question that you must ask yourself now that you have been given the honour and privilege of serving Nigeria, you should ask yourself, are you honourable members or horrible members?” he asked amidst laughter from his audience.
He said being “honourable” or “horrible” members is determined by the quality of service they deliver to Nigerians. He urged the lawmakers to be servants, rather than masters of the people, whose sole aim is to deliver the common good to Nigerians.
“Now that Nigerians have given you the opportunity to think for them, the question is: are you midwives of the good things of Nigeria or are you midwives that kill the children of the creator.
“Today you are the leaders, even as I am congratulating you, ask yourself do you deserve to be congratulated?”
Mr Lumumba lauded the move by the lawmakers to tell their stories themselves by launching the magazine. He urged them to ensure the publication remains within the ambit of facts and to tell the legislations the House is introducing to give Nigerians social and economic security.
“I hope that through this magazine that that ghost of ignorance which has not allowed Nigerians to appreciate and embrace their leaders will now be exorcised.
“I hope that that ghost would be consigned to Jahannam so that it will not rise again; so that going forward, Nigerians will understand their leaders for (whom) they are.”
Accountant General, Customs CG Disagree over N28bn Unremitted Fund
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), on Thursday disagreed with the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over the N28bn allegedly under-remitted into the Federation Account in 2015.
Ali and Idris appeared before the Senate Public Accounts Committee to address the panel over the audit query issued to the Accountant General Office by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine.
Ayine had in his Financial Statement for 2015 asked the Accountant-General to explain the differentials in the amount remitted by the Customs Service and the figures contained in his own records.
The audited report showed that the NCS remitted N185bn as against N157bn in the Accountant-General’s document.
The Accountant-General who was represented by a director in his office, Feyintola Olusegun, had earlier referred the Auditor-General and the Senate Panel to the NCS for clarification.
The NCS boss while appearing before the Senator Matthew Uroghide-led SPAC on Thursday absolved his agency of any wrongdoing.
Ali said the query was strange to the service because the mode of Customs collections was purely automated.
The Accountant-General therefore said the N28bn was for ECOWAS Stabilisation Fund for 2015.
The members of the panel said the Accountant-General’s latest explanations did not reflect in his earlier written submission to the Senate Panel.
He was also unable to provide documentary evidence to back up his claim.
On the query of non-remittance of pension fund, Ali admitted that his command defaulted in 2015 because it did not have sufficient funds to meet up with the obligation.
But the Accountant-General was asked to explain the N37.8bn borrowed from the 10 per cent Rice Level Account for urgent expenditure in 2013.
The Senate Panel asked why the Accountant General had failed to include the loan in the budget since then.
The Customs Service benefitted N4.5bn from the said loan.
Other beneficiaries of the unpaid loan are the Independent National Electoral Commission, PHCN, and NIMCOMSAT.
The Senate panel, however, asked the Accountant General to come forward with details of the loan that could help it conclude its probe.
The Chairman of the Senate panel expressed disappointment with the MDAs over their inability to defend audit queries issued to them.
Urhogide lamented that for over five years, many MDAs hadn’t produced their audited accounts.
He said, “How can we say we are fighting corruption under this situation?
“The Customs Act says you must send in your audited accounts, six months into another financial year.
“We must clear the outstanding unaudited accounts. What the President does with this will tell us how we are fighting corruption.”
Prepare for Increase in Electricity Tariff, Nigerians Told
Nigerians should be prepared to pay cost-reflective electricity tariffs in order to enjoy the benefits of the liberalisation of the power sector, the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria has said.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, TCN, Mr Usman Mohammed, who said this on Thursday, noted that the government had continued to pump money into the power sector despite privatising it more than six years ago.
Mohammed spoke in Lagos during the groundbreaking for the replacement of old wires on the Ikeja West-Alimosho-Ogba-Alausa-Ota transmission lines.
He said when completed, the project would allow Ikeja Electric to take the full capacity of all the transformers along the substations to be supplied by the lines.
He said, “We are working to transform the TCN to be one of the best transmission companies in the world. But I want to tell the Nigerian public that we cannot move forward if we don’t pay for electricity.
“I want to tell Nigerians that there is no relationship between poverty and payment for electricity.”
According to the TCN boss, Nigeria has the cheapest electricity tariff in West Africa.
He said the government had sunk N1.5tn into the power sector in terms of payment assurance guarantee for power generation.
Mohammed said, “We have to stop this government intervention and we can only stop it when contracts become effective. Contracts can only be effective when you have cost-reflective tariffs.”
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in its December 2019 Minor Review of Multi Year Tariff Order 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2020 for the 11 Discos, had said on January 4 that consumers would start to pay more for electricity from April 1, 2020.