The Big 5: Saraki challenges Jega to list corrupt Senators, Health Minister insists no pay for striking health workers and other stories


These are the stories you should be monitoring today:

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the new President of Sierra Leone, Mr Julius Maada Bio, of Nigeria’s support, including military assistance, as the country works towards a stable and improved economy.

The president gave the assurance on Wednesday, while receiving the Sierra Leonean President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He also congratulated Bio on the successful elections and the transition that had ushered in a new government in the country,

President Bio in his remarks, said his country remained grateful to Nigeria for the brotherly role it had played in ensuring an end to the protracted civil war in the country and the successful political transitions since then.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has lamented the allegation by a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, that members of the National Assembly are bribe takers.

Saraki at the senate’s plenary on Wednesday, in response to a point of order raised by Senator Isa Misau to call the attention of the Senate to Jega’s allegation, noted that he was at the event and witnessed how Jega made the allegation.

The Senate President in his ruling, described the comment as embarrassing and challenged Jega and all respected Nigerians, on issues that have to do with the institutions like the parliament to name the bribe takers in the National Assembly, while reiterating that the legislature will not condone corrupt practices by members.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Wednesday said that the Federal Government would not pay members of the Joint Health Sector Unions, who had been on strike since April 17.

“We are not paying them any arrears. We will only pay them for the 17 days they worked in April. However, any health official who worked during the strike would be paid in full. Some of them actually worked all through the strike,” Adewole said.

He, said for every day that the JOHESU workers embarked on a strike, there would be no pay but however told The PUNCH that the workers would be paid for the work done from April 1 till April 17.

The Federal Government has budgeted the sum of N100 million as grants to carry out research in the mining sector in the nation’s universities.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi stated this at a valedictory ministerial briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, explaining that the programme is aimed at creating innovation hubs nationwide as well as deepen expertise to grow the sector.

Fayemi, who resigned from the Federal Executive Council Wednesday, added that there are ongoing capacity developments for the staff in South Africa active mine sites, adding that training of security personnel of Presidential Special Mines Surveillance is on.

Gernot Rohr, Head Coach of the National Football Team, the Super Eagles coach has released a 25-man list ahead of FIFA’s deadline of June 4, 2018 for the announcement of the 23-man squad representing Nigeria at the World Cup.

The players selected are: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Ola Aina, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Abdullahi Shehu, Elderson Echiejile and Tyronne Ebuehi.

Midfielders John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Joel Obi and Mikel Agu also made the team list. Others include: Odion Ighalo , Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Simeon Nwankwo

Dropped from the squad are Standard Liege defender Uche Agbo, Bulgaria-based Stephen Eze, Dele Ajiboye of Plateau United and Nigerian Professional Football League top scorer, Junior Lokosa.

Gent winger, Moses Simon will however travel with the team to London for the proposed scan on his thigh injury. just before another pre-World Cup friendly against England’s Three Lions at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

And stories from around the world:

Twenty two-year-old African Spiderman, Mamoudou Gassama, has accepted to be employed as a firefighter in France.

After hours of trying to convince Gassama to join the military, the young Malian who is now a French Citizen rejected the offer from his home president to be made a General in the Malian Army, as he started his first day at work with the fire department in Paris.

Taking to his Twitter handle yesterday, Gassama shared photos of his visit and commencement of training at the Champerret barracks of the Pompiers De Paris, including those illustrating his being shown the workings of a firefighter vehicle, as well as getting his hands dirty with some on-the-spot training.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Pyongyang Thursday, ahead of a landmark summit between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s state media said.

“Sergei Lavrov, foreign minister of the Russian Federation, arrived here on Thursday at the invitation of Ri Yong Ho, foreign minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)”, KCNA news agency said in a brief dispatch.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier they were expected to discuss “vital issues of bilateral relations and key international and regional issues”.

The North Koreans will have to lay out a disarmament plan in the next few days if a planned summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is to go ahead on schedule in two weeks’ time, a senior US state department official said on Wednesday.

The official was speaking in New York as the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and a top North Korean official, Kim Yong-chol, met over a dinner ahead of a day of talks on Thursday aimed at defining negotiating positions and narrowing differences before the summit.

Pompeo tweeted that he had had a “good working dinner” with Kim on Wednesday night of steak, corn and cheese. (The Guardian,UK)

United States First Lady, Melania Trump,  has sought to scotch rumours about her health and marriage after her absence from public since a hospital operation this month.

 A tweet posted on her account read, “Rest assured, I’m here at the @WhiteHouse w my family,” in what is seen as a response to gossip that has mounted in the 20 days since she was last seen, with President Donald Trump,though some suggested on twitter that her husband had written the tweet that appeared on her account on Wednesday.

The speculation only intensified after she skipped the White House Sports and Fitness Day on Wednesday – an event heavily promoted by former First Lady Michelle Obama, leaving the president’s daughter and senior adviser,  Ivanka Trump to address the audience instead.

The White House has already dismissed claims about the Trumps’ relationship.

An Australian government minister has apologised for swearing repeatedly at the mayor of a Northern Territory town.

Health Minister, Greg Hunt said he was wrong to use “strong language” during a private conversation with Katherine Mayor Fay Miller in December.

Ms Miller also accused him of wagging his finger in her face. She called his manner “misogynist”, an assertion to which Mr Hunt has not responded.

Mr Hunt, said he “sincerely” regretted his language. “I accept that and I think it is important for me to both repeat that I have apologised to the mayor but to repeat that apology publicly.”

“It was my fault and my responsibility,” Mr Hunt told reporters on Thursday,

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