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Again, victims’ families beg govt to hasten hostages’ release

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Relatives and friends of the abducted passengers of the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna AK-9 train have again appealed to the Federal Government to speed up the process of the release of the remaining 50 hostages who had so far spent 87 days with terrorists.

The PUNCH reported that the bandits had penultimate Saturday, released 11 out of the 61 victims of the abducted train passengers after almost three months in their custody, remaining 50 hostages still in the den of their captive.

But the relatives and friends of the abducted passengers said some of its members are contemplating to committing suicide while thinking of the harrowing experience the remaining 50 hostages were going through at the moment.

While addressing newsmen in Kaduna on Thursday, Dr. Abdulfatai Jimoh, who spoke on behalf of other families, expressed delight on the release of the 11 hostages by the bandits.

He, however, noted that the families thought the 22 women and children would have been set free in the first phase of those released by the terrorists.

According to him, their joy will know no bounds if the remaining 50 hostages are set free by their captors in the shortest time possible.

Jimoh, also urged the security agencies to hasten the process of releasing the remaining 50 hostages as directed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd,).

He said, “Since this dark day of 28th March 2022 only 11 people out of the abducted citizens have been reunited with their families leaving behind 50 innocent Nigerians in the hands of their abductors under horrible conditions of living.

“Our hearts were gladdened on Tuesday, 21 June 2022 when Mr.President issued fresh orders to security chiefs to spare no effort in freeing the remaining 50 hostages alive and in the shortest time possible.

“Our joy will know no bounds if this presidential directive is given accelerated action that results in a positive outcome.

“It is necessary to restate that our family members still in captivity are living under horrendous conditions, many of them are sick with poor medical care addition to poor nutrition, environmental hazards and more frighteningly living in perpetual fear of threat to life. These conditions have led to deteriorating health status – both physical and psychological of the hostages and it calls for urgent rescue efforts.

“Family members of these hostages are not left out in this harrowing experience with some already in depression with suicidal thoughts. We cannot wait to see the end of this nightmare.

“While we had expected all the women and children(22 people in total) held hostage to have been released in the first phase of the negotiation with the abductors, we are glad to receive the 11 persons now rescued, but our joy
will only be complete when all abductees regain their freedom.”

Jimoh commended the efforts of the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs, Heads of Security Agencies, the Presidential Committee, Institutions, Organizations and individuals who had collectively worked tirelessly for the
the success of the first phase of negotiation.

“We learnt that negotiations are ongoing for the second phase and we hope and pray that this phase will be final phase to bring this sad incident to a joyful closure with the release of the remaining 50 captives and in the shortest time possible,” Jimoh added.

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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